Saturday, April 4, 2009

what will be left when you really have 'seen it all'

Sioux City Pete and the Beggars were a group of long-haired mean-eyed Seattleites who had walked into Goodbye Blue Monday, one of Brooklyn’s many free cover music bars, intent on rocking the shit out of me.

It didn’t happen, but they were a fun band to watch. Scraggly scrawny frontman Pete and his buxom red-wigged bassist scowled at one another as they swayed inches apart in consistent sexual rhythm, his thrusting hip nearly impeding her single-chord strumming. The glitter vest drummer and dreadlocked lead guitarist played along, their overindulgent prog-metal melody really mere background music at this point. It was the kind of spectacle that would’ve caused Colorado Springs to implode.

Thirteen minutes later, when the song ended and all eleven patrons applauded, an unsmiling Pete nodded in appreciation. He then told us: “This next song is about having sex with children,” and the band immediately stormed into the next freak fit.

Surrounded by a circle of newfound New York University friends, I scoffed, rolled my eyes, all the necessary showings of disapproval. But truth be told, Pete’s inflammatory remark had filled me with glee (“Look at me, watching the present-day Sex Pistols, I’d never see this back in Colorado.”) The New York kids, meanwhile, watched on stone-faced, no reaction apparent. I was terrified that my attempts to fit in had exposed myself as the outsider I was. But no one seemed to notice.

But I had to wonder what was going on with them. Were they, dwellers of a city that is easily a full year ahead of the rest of the world in the culture curve, already desensitized to (hopefully) tongue-in-cheek references to pedophilia? If so, what does that mean for the rest of us? How long do we have before every shock and surprise has been used up?

In retrospect, this outsider probably shouldn’t have been shocked either. I do, after all, belong to the generation of 2 Girls, 1 Cup. The internet has given us an instant window to the vilest corners of existence and few of us have resisted the urge to keep from at least peeking. It’s been great fun seeing messy dismemberment and puppies thrown off cliffs and gaping buttholes, but it has taken our sense of surprise and compressed it into JPEG format.

Now, not every taboo in the book has been worn down. Human imagination will always expand on ideas. There’ll always be trends. But I don’t think it takes long for long-term NYC residents to stumble across everything there is to see in life within city limits. And if the aforementioned culture curve really does exist, then the morality’s rapid decay will be a global phenomenon by 2017 and nothing will be “shocking” ever again. Enjoy your filth while it’s fun.

It’s disappointing realizing this, but I’m content with the fact that I’m experiencing the last vestiges of inner city shock firsthand instead of on YouTube like all you Northern Colorado losers.

Last month, for example, I caught Les Savy Fav at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple. Frontman Tim Harrington does his darndest trying to be different from other indie rock acts and even if not being anything new, he is immensely entertaining. He would parade through the audience wearing his not-so-tighty-whities and confront individuals mid-song, shoving his microphone in their face even if they didn’t know the lyrics or tried to avoid him.

For the encore, he disappeared into his dressing room before sneaking back into the audience. In his raggedy overcoat and all-too-familiar hockey mask, the heavyset Harrington made for a pretty convincing Jason impression. He surfed the crowd to the stage to announce that “the makers of the Friday the 13th remake are sponsoring us tonight,” he joked, waving his rubber machete. “Go out and see it after the show.”

Corporate sponsors getting plugged on stage? Welcome to the last days of edgy.

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