Welcome to my new monthly column, which, like “Seinfeld,” will be about nothing. I’ll just kind of write stuff, and you just sort of read it, OK?
I’m not really an authority on much of anything that doesn’t involve a guitar, but that never stops me from putting in my two cents in plenty of other areas. Plus, I’m not really that enamored of modern culture, it tends to bore the hell out of me. I don’t feel qualified to write for the younger generation, even though I know I am, and that I should try. The 21st century is more my nine year old son’s area of expertise. He likes it here, thrives here, and knows full well that this is where he belongs. I just feel like most guys my age, pissed off that things have deteriorated so rapidly and wishing my son could have the childhood I had, crappy as it was. At least I could go out and ride my bike all day with my friends, play in the woods, live life without the complications that have come along since the ‘60s. Since he can’t, he really likes staying in playing video games and hitting the indoor skate park, and since he’s been traveling with me since he was 2 months old, he has developed a taste for good hotels and room service. Not so bad really, he’s a hell of a lot cooler than I was at his age, and we still get to play catch and kick a soccer ball around.
His America is very much a divided place. It was then too, but in a very different way. The politics really aren’t all that different, but the politicians sure are. They do nothing but posture now. It has become increasingly obvious that the fix is in, the game is rigged, and there isn’t a whole lot that your vote can do, regardless of which party it is cast for. It’s possibly too late to fix. The only difference between the two parties is the Democrats at least buy us dinner before they screw us.
And the people are different now too. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, we took to the streets in numbers to show how we felt. We did everything we could to get on the nightly news so the world would see that we weren’t happy with the status quo, that we were mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore. Protests like this are given credit for helping to shorten the Vietnam War, because we had politicians who actually considered the will of the people and could compromise toward a solution. That sure as hell isn’t the case now, when a Vice President can be asked how he feels about two thirds of the American people being against a war he helped start illegally, and his answer is, “So?”
Occupy Wall Street tried this with some success before being usurped by a bunch of homeless fringe characters who played right into the hands of the Right, and finally even pissed off the liberal Occupiers enough that they just went home. A shame too, because it was actually having an effect.
Americans today seem to be happy to sit around either watching rich, uninteresting people who get on TV simply because they’re rich (Kardashians, Chrisleys, Hiltons, etc…), or what I call the New Vaudeville, a whole slew of crappy talent shows and dance contests designed to keep the masses from thinking too much about, well, anything.
We’ve become a laughing stock to the rest of the world, consistently deciding against our best interests in favor of what is more convenient, what’s easier. Quantity has become quality, quick and easy has replaced painstaking and well crafted. Instant gratification has begun to destroy our culture – why read a book when you can Google a CliffsNotes version? Why go to a museum to see a painting when you can see it online, and zoom in to see it closer than the artist ever could? Why listen to music on vinyl, in my opinion still the best medium for recorded music, when you can pay the same price for an mp3, get 5% of the actual music instantly, then listen to it through cheap headphones made in China? Why go see a band live when it’s a click away on pay per view, or Youtube?
It’s a shame that our kids miss out on these things, and I do my best to try and make sure mine doesn’t, but it’s damn near impossible. And I also have to accept that I’m not doing him any favors by trying to keep him in my century when he’s got his own.
Cheetah Chrome is a founding member of Rocket From The Tombs, The Dead Boys, and The Batusis (with Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls), and an acclaimed author. He has lived in Nashville for the past 15 years. He is the Creative Director/A&R Director at Plowboy Records.
Cheetah Chrome New York City Performances:
September 11 – Niagara in the East Village across from Tompkins Square
Doors 8:00 pm // Cheetah Chrome solo acoustic set 10:00 pm // THREATS 11:00 pm
September 12 – Bowery Electric in the East Village
Doors 6:30 pm // Cheetah Chrome at 10:00 pm playing electric set with band featuring Enzo Penizotto (Blackhearts) on bass, Pete Marshall (Misfits, Iggy Pop) on guitar, Shannon Pollard on drums
Tickets $12 advance or $15 day of show
September 14 – Bowery Electric in the East Village
The Ramones 40th Anniversary featuring performance by Cheetah Chrome on electric guitar
Tickets $20 to benefit cancer charity, Love Hope Strength, more details TBA