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Askew Review 15

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Itís not my fault. Here is the phrase that plagues the 1990ís. Nobody takes any responsibility for their own actions. Whether the blame is placed on parents, music, movies, or the school system, responsibility is passed on to the next guy. In todayís society, there is more finger pointing going on than a fat ass police officer at Dunkin Donuts. Take a look in your local telephone book. Can you believe how many lawyers exist! They exist to help the public get reimbursed for the fact that they donít know how to take care of themselves. Common sense should help a person determine what is the wrong or, better yet, stupid thing to do. No, not today. Iím stupid-give me money! Then when these geniuses get the money, they blow it all on the lottery. When the money is all gone and bills need to be paid, thatís right, they sue again. This time claiming that all this money was handed to them without any knowledge of how to handle it. Never fear when there is a lawyer near.  Along with all the lawyers, you can find just as many psychiatrists. These people are here to help you ďdealĒ with everything from your lifeís failures to why you feel manipulated by the toilet paper every time you go to the bathroom. The best part about these mind doctors is they help you blame everything wrong with your life on others by bringing suppressed memories to realization. Hey, you can blame your stupidity on somebody for a reason you didnít even know existed. Even better, after youíre finished screwing people over for your failures, feel free to write a book and hit the TV talk show circuit. Money and fame. Youíll be such a success.
Since I touched on the book idea, try this. Go to your nearest book store and check out the self help section. There are more books to help people deal with such insignificant and petty problems than there are other books put together. Do you know which book category is experiencing the largest increase in sales for the past couple of years? These very same self-help books. Worse than that, the sales of self-help audiotapes are skyrocketing. I guess people with ďspecialĒ problems feel they just donít have the time to read. I know there are children being raised by lousy parents, but these books are not geared towards children, they are geared towards adults. Save yourself some time and some money. Get over it and move on with your life.
A few days ago, I had my Grandmother over for dinner. Knowing that I listen to ďweirdĒ music, she asked me ĒWhy do you listen to that kind of music?Ē Being the quick thinking fellow I am, I replied, ďUh, I donít know.Ē After she left I started thinking. Iím the only one out of a huge family who listens to punk rock. In high school, a friend and I were the only two who listened to punk. It wasnít easy either. I grew up about twenty minutes outside of Boston. To get any type of punk records, we had to find different ways of getting to Boston, which is a story within itself (and possibly a future article). Punk fanzines with mail order info never even made it my way. Why was I drawn away from the ďmain streamĒ and thrown into the world of punk music? Well hey, why should I miss out on all the action? After all, it canít possibly be MY fault! I feel obligated to blame my musical taste on some thing. Hmmm, lets see. I know! Iíll blame my love for punk music on the popular music of the 1980s. During the span of the 1980ís, I was age 12 to 22. These years, I feel, are the music years. One can almost predict what their music listening future will be by how their teen years and early twenties unfold. Lets pretend that punk and independent music didnít exist during the 80s. Lets take a look at and dissect, musically and not so musically, the alternate choices.
The mainstream, popular music in the 80s can be broken into a few sections;
1)                              The end of disco
2)                              Heavy Metal
3)                              New Wave
4)                              Glam, hair spray metal. 
    First, the end of Disco. By the time 1980 rolled around Disco was tired and basically done. Nobody follows something when the end is so close. I still remember to this day New Yearís Eve 1980. The Village People were on The Dick Clark Special. I remember the grown ups in the room making fun of those guys. I really didnít understand why they hated the Village People so much, when only a few years before they were so popular. Any of you kiddies remember the song ďMacho ManĒ? I hope not. Go to your parents album collection, (you know the large black, plastic circles) Iím sure youíll find a copy of some Village People record.
There were some other disco singers around, but I canít remember them. Maybe this is a good time to bring in a psychiatrist to help me with my suppressed memories. Never mind, I might remember the cloths. This is the same era when pants were known as slacks.
Wait a minute. I have found an answer to my question. I was left out of the Disco years. I have done it. I placed blame for my musical taste. But who can I sue?
Next comes Heavy Metal. Wasp, Judas Priest, Krokus and Motley Crue. All these bands were popular during my freshmen and sophomore years in high school. The lead singer from Wasp wore a circular saw blade on his penis. Even at age 14 I couldnít take a person like that seriously, nor did I want to listen to any music he produced. Motley Crue put more effort into their hair and make up then their music. I know these clowns are still around, in fact theyíre playing with Quite Riot at a pool party down the street. Krokus plain out sucked and Judas Priest wore leather pants that were just a tad to tight for me.
Besides the reasons mentioned above I can think of another reason for not liking Heavy Metal. Where are they all today? Bands from the 60ís and 70ís are still rolling around. How come none of the popular heavy metal bands stuck around? Iíll tell you, because they stunk! The Rolling Stones, Kiss, Aerosmith (yuck!) and The Who are all still kicking. This proves that even though a band produces boring music, if they have some talent, they can stick around. Speaking of The Who, does anybody know anyone that actually likes The Who? The Who and Beck have a lot in common. They stick around and make money, but I donít know a single soul that likes either one of them.
O.K. Van Halen is still around. Although, they are going on their 50th lead singer. Van Halen was huge in the early, David Lee Roth days. Stop and think about them for a minute. All of their hits were cover songs. ďYou Really Got MeĒ, ďPretty WomenĒ, ďWhere Have All The Good Times GoneĒ, and ĎDancing In The StreetsĒ were all rip-offs. So much for originality. I remember hearing Van Halenís ďWomen And Children FirstĒ album over a friendís house and thinking it was pretty cool so I bought it. When I opened the album, I found enclosed a poster of David Lee Roth chained to a fence shirtless and wearing leather pants so tight his feet were dark blue. That was it for me. I felt like I had just bought the bonus issue of Teen Beat magazine.
Most of the British Heavy Metal bands were into the devil-worshipping thing (ha, I bet you kiddies thought Marilyn Manson was the first to do that). Grim Reaper and Iron Maiden are good examples. Fire, explosions, blood and violence are fine if youíre in a war, but leave it out of my music thanks. Speaking of violence, have you noticed how the younger kids today can fight? Iím talking about the kids age 4 to 10. I think itís because they learn how to fight at such an early age by watching The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on TV. These children can land a flying spin kick to your scrotum while strategically landing a fore arm chop to the throat before you even know theyíre in the room. People my age canít fight because we grew up watching The Six Million Dollar Man and Kung Fu. Remember these shows? All the fight scenes were in slow motion and thatís how we fought. One canít fight in slow motion and win. 
O.K., Iíll admit it. When I was a freshman in high school I-this hurts so much- went to an Ozzy Osborne concert at The Boston Garden. It gets better. Motley Crue was the opening band. Look, the tickets were free and a friend and I just wanted to go to see what it was like. We were in the seventh row and were amazed at how the entire crowd did the same three things; 1) every one cried over some jerk guitarist named Randy Rhodes who died in an airplane crash; 2) every one made the same hand signals to each other. It looked like Spiderman shooting a web out of his hand. Not only that, but when people did this, they always felt the need to hang their tongue out; 3) for every slow song the crowd lit their lighters and swayed together to the music. I have one question to ask-WHY? Needless to say, my friend and I left early. As we exited The Garden, a security guard said if we left we are not allowed back in. We graciously thanked him.
Hereís another thing that disturbed me about Heavy Metal bands. Why was it whenever a band played, the lead singer, guitarist, and bassist would always line up together and bob back and forth to the music. All the bands did this strange line dance. I always felt sorry for the drummer. I often wondered if he felt left out and isolated.
I have another reason to blame for my love of punk rock. The Heavy metal bands of the 80ís lacked talent in a big way and partook in strange rituals.
New wave. Now here was a great idea. Get a band together, get funky haircuts, press one button on a synthesizer, record one hit and then disappear. That was the life of a new wave band. It was almost impossible to really get into New Wave because every New Wave band that existed only did for two weeks. When was the last time you heard from A Flock of Seagulls? How about The Fixx? The list goes on.
Not only did New Wave bands have a shorter life span than an infant pulling on the genitals of an underfed pit bull, but there werenít any good songs. Sure, there were a lot of songs that were O.K., but not many earned itís keep. Think Iím crazy? Go to a record store and find three or four 80ís New Wave compilations. Each one of those compilations will be 95% the same. Maybe one or two songs will be different on each, but still, thatís not much to choose from. Check out a 1970ís compilation. 70ís comps are usually five CD sets.
Not only did these bands quickly disappear, but it wasnít too hard to be in a New Wave band. Take New Order for instance. These goons were known for walking off stage in the middle of a concert. Thatís fine, but the instruments kept on playing after they left. That was when computers started to make an impact on every day life. Why was it in the 80ís if you were into computers, you were the geek from hell? However, in the 90ís, the more you know about computers, the cooler and richer you are. In the 80ís, computers equaled pocket protectors. In the 90ís, computers equal inline skates.
I know this excuse is pretty lame, but it drove me insane during the New Wave craze. There was a German woman named Nena, who I considered very cute until I saw the giant bush under her arms, who sang a song called ď99 Red Balloons.Ē Well, thatís what I called it. If you were cool and hip to the scene, one referred to this song as ď99 Luft Balloons.Ē You could always tell which people were really into New Wave just by how they referred to the name of this song. I loved to annoy the New Wavers by calling this song ď99 Red BalloonsĒ and having them correct me. 99 Luft Balloons, please, the last time I checked we were in America waving the olí Luft, White, and Blue.
  New Wave also brought with it a new clothing style. The androgynous look. Half the time I couldnít tell if the person I found sexy was a boy or a girl! Being a straight male, I didnít like this. The men dressed very girly and prissy often making their gender a tough call. At least the Heavy Metal men looked as if they had been severely beaten with the ugly stick. To this day I still have nightmares of Boy George.
I have plenty of places to lay blame on New Wave for my love of punk. Ultra short life for all bands, not many good songs, and too damn sexually confusing.
Glam, hair spray metal. God help me with this one. Poison, Warrant, Faster Pussycat, Bon Jovi -YIKES!! If you were lucky enough to own stock in a hair spray company during the late 80ís, then you are a very rich person today. These types of bands were mutations of Heavy Metal and New Wave bands. They took the guitar and tight leather from Heavy Metal and mixed it with the androgynous look and hair from New Wave. These guys came and went just as quickly as Heavy Metal and New Wave. If it werenít for Stewart on Beavis and Butthead, I would have completely forgotten about Winger. 
    These hair bands were often very sexual. All the songs were about sex, sex, and more sex. Even the woman bands, Lita Ford and Vixon etc., were all sex. This is where music became dangerous. All of the music was getting everybody horny. The problem was AIDS was just getting ďpopularĒ then. The general public was not very educated when it came to aids in the late 80ís.As far as we knew, only heroin addicts and homosexuals got AIDS. As long as you slept with the opposite sex and didnít stick dirty needles in your arm you were fine. We all know this is not true. Condoms? Nobody taught us about using condoms. Hair Metal became popular when I was around 19. Those years were my sex years. Not that I had sex all to much because all the girls I knew loved the way these lead singers dressed and looked. Since I refused to dress like that, I never got it. Not only did I not dress like them, but Iíve always had really short hair. Iíve never even used a hairbrush or comb let alone hair spray and mousse.
How about those headbands those jerks always wore. You know why they wore headbands donít you? They didnít want the sweat to make their mascara run.
Hereís another thing that pissed me off about these bands. The bandís first release would always be a happy hair metal tune. The second release would undoubtedly be a soft, crybaby, love ballad. I think this started with Bon Joviís ďDead Or Alive.Ē Motley Crue became a blast from the past by re-releasing ďHome Sweet Home.Ē More proof that Heavy Metal bands lacked talent. They kept recycling old sappy songs. Reasons to hate Hair Metal; Mutation of two lousy musics, too sexual for my taste, caused a drought in my sex life, predictable ballads, and in one word-headbands.

There are a few major bands that were extremely popular and successful in the 80ís that I havenít touched yet.

  • Michael Jackson- If I have to explain, you wonít understand.

  • Madonna- Hey! In the 80ís she was fat. Sex and fat donít mix.

  • Prince-First off, this guyís head is so huge Iím surprised he doesnít need training wheels to keep him from tipping over. Listen to any of his 80ís songs and try to count how many times you hear a high-pitched ďHee, heeeyaa.Ē He also liked to lick his lips to appear sexy-ick.

  • U2- No matter who you are everybody likes one or two songs from these dudes (yes, you too punker). While becoming millionaires here in the States, they always took cheap shots at America. No support here.

  • Billy Idol- Insert your own hysterical laughter here.

  • AC/DC- If you heard one song, youíve heard them all.

  • REM- I could write a bunch about these clowns, but I will probably fall asleep from remembering how boring they are.

    There is another reason for turning away from the popular music of the 80ís. Videos. During the 80ís we saw a huge boom in the music video industry. There was MTV and, for the people without cable, Friday Night Videos. On a daily basis musicians were paraded in front of us on TV. This most likely turned me away the most. I actually got to see how these popular bands acted like such jerks. I know there were some punk bands who made videos, but they never got air play, so nobody ever saw them. Donít get me wrong, I donít think there is anything wrong with a band making a music video. It is how the video is made that matters to me. Videos often steer the attention away from the music and focuses it on the overacting and artificial flashiness of the band. Iíll never forget when a female friend said she thought Poisonís lead singerís (pictured) image was cool. Cool? What is so cool about having a hairdresser, make up artist, and a wardrobe consultant fix you up for five hours before you hit the stage or get in front of a camera? If a music video is made, it should glorify the bands musical talents. Put the band on a stage, point a few cameras at them, and let them play. It still amazes me when I hear how it takes days, and some times weeks, to shoot a video. With the way most popular music was marketed in the 80ís, and even more in the 90ís, people were and still are most likely to like a video before the band or itís music. I believed then, and now, that these giant record labels think that my (our) musical sense and taste is so shallow that I (we) will fall victim to their marketing ploy. WRONG!
    I know Iíve painted some pretty broad strokes, but Iím sure you get the picture. As you just read, I had no choice but to follow the punk rock music scene. It wasnít my fault. I now feel as if Iíve been accepted by the 1990ís. I have cast aside responsibility for my taste in music. Even better, I did it while goofing on and insulting popular 1980ís bands and their faithful followers. Just think, this was nothing. Can you imagine the bashing I gave my cousin after I thumbed through his cd collection. While searching for a cd to listen to, there it was. Out of nowhere. Like a ferocious, venomous cow lurking in the shadows waiting only to scare one with a frightful moo. Second to last row from the bottom. Eighth disc in from the right. Vanilla Ice- To The Extreme.  
    Copyright© 1998 Denis Sheehan




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