"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, November 14, 2005

Welcome to Hell, aka American Culture

Journeyman professional basketball player Paul Shirley writes in his latest ESPN.com column of his visit to a rock music show in which a band he likes, Stellastarr* [sic], opened for the Bloodhound Gang. Shirley and his brother enjoyed the opening act greatly, though the sound quality was poor, and they stayed to check out the first three songs by the headliner, expecting "some semi-funny rap/rock by some guys from Philadelphia."

They were treated to a bit more than that, in an experience the likes of which we have all had, where a fairly dubious but essentially trivial cultural product suddenly turns perfectly putrid:

The fact that their first tune was perhaps the worst song I have ever seen performed live did not help their case. Their fate was sealed when, between songs, one of the members of the band had the tank top he was wearing torn off by the lead singer in order that we in the paying audience could be treated to a viewing of his naked torso. The now-shirtless troubadour played along, in that staged-funny way, and acted as if he were surprised by the action. He then gathered up his shirt, rubbed it into his already-sweaty armpit and faked a toss into the crowd -- which probably would have been enough to convince my brother and me to leave the scene. But he took it to another level. Seeing the madness in the eyes of the crowd, he jammed the shirt down the front of his pants and pulled it, through his crotch, out the back. And then threw it into the crowd, where people actively clamored to catch it. If I had been in possession of a hand grenade at the time, I would be writing this from prison.

Any reasonably civilized American today knows exactly how he feels.

9 comments:

Hunter Baker said...

Man, have I been there. How many times have I wanted to confront someone in their swinishness, but worried too long about being thrown out of school or incurring an assault charge.

Worse yet, what about the command to turn the other cheek?

Kathy Hutchins said...

Hunter, there are many, many wonderful things about being a middle-aged female, but one of the most useful is the freedom it confers to loudly dress down anyone who annoys you with no practical fear of consequence. You can even hit people with your handbag -- really hard -- and no one would seriously think of pressing charges. It would be too embarrassing.

Hunter Baker said...

Kathy, you've just found another one of those playing field levelers. I've seen it in action, myself.

connie deady said...

ha, ha. I constantly fight with rude youth on message boards. Somehow rudeness has become acceptable in American culture. Why anyone would want to be rude or think it is funny is beyond me.

And I sure agree with Kathy, at my age, I don't care if people get mad at me or think I'm an intolerant old lady.

Tom Van Dyke said...

STK, popular music flirted with art there for awhile, but now it's happily back to its original purpose, sonic wallpaper for the bacchanal.

S. T. Karnick said...

Truly brilliant wording, Tom: "Sonic wallpaper for the bacchanal" indeed!

Jay D. Homnick said...

Well, Tom, I'm with S.T.; that is a cool phrase. But I can only give it a 95; minus five for marginal plagiarism of Jerry Seinfeld's characterization of television as "iridescent wallpaper".

Jay D. Homnick said...

Incidentally, I only once in my life exploded into action in response to uncouth behavior.

I was living in Israel circa 1990, a time when there was very little Palestinian terrorism. Two Israeli kids were taunting a teenaged Palestinian on a city bus. It was completely unprovoked and inappropriate; I launched myself out of my seat when the bus stopped, grabbed a fistful of shirt front on each kid and physically threw both of them backward out of the rear entrance of the bus. As I was enacting this great movie scene, I was yelling (in Hebrew): "What gives you the right to treat a person this way?"

Now that the Palestinians have proven themselves to be so rotten, I sometimes wonder whether I did the right thing.

Hunter Baker said...

Jay, you probably did and I sort of hope I do the same someday. Jesus did blow up at the money changers in the temple, so it's surely right at some point.