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The 21st Century Breathing Down My Neck

by Shawn FitzGerald

Welcome to the first installment of what will become a semi-regular column here at Mindjack. I occasionally have thoughts about things that I wish to rant about. Frequently these thoughts are ill-conceived and not at all well thought out. Too bad for you that I choose to use my position of privilege, as a member of the alternative media, to cram these things down your throat.

Harlen Ellison wrote that people only have a right to an informed opinion, which I agree with. That doesn't stop everyone from having instantaneous opinions on topics from abortion to Olean. More polite people choose to keep these opinions to themselves. Others choose to voyeuristically flaunt them in front of the world.

Welcome to the peep show Chief.

Today's topic concerns, appropriately enough, the title I've chosen for this feature. It is a line from the Smith's song, Frankly Mr. Shankly, which goes (more or less):

Frankly Mr. Shankly I'm a sickening wreak
I've got the 21st Century breathing down my neck

Etc., etc. If you're familiar with the Smiths you've heard the song. If you aren't, then you're either too old or too young to understand, but suffice to say that the rest of the song continues in a most depressing and melodramatic fashion. If I were a grad student, I would have to give this tract a sub-title, to make myself sound more pompous and self-important than everyone already knows I am. The subtitle for this column would then be, "the trouble with kids today . . ." but of course I'm not a grad student. Hell, I'm not even a student at all anymore. Praise Allah!!!!

[I told you this stuff was unedited and rather discursive. Hey Chief, Mindjack is full of gritty realism, and this is just one fine example of what we do for you, the reader. You write in hypertext for ten years and then tell me how to write a complete sentence.]

So the problem with kids today is . . . they have no good depressing music. Everything I hear today is either blatantly happy or blatantly angry (oh, and lest we forget: blatantly stupid). What ever happened to stuff like the Smiths, the Cure, and to a lesser extent Depeche Mode? There isn't anything that could possibly speak to deep rooted angst and pain these days. And trust me, teenagers today have just as much right to their angst as I had to mine.

See, there was this girl (this is your cue to click Back)…I was in love with her. Or I thought I was. Or I thought I might be. Or well…you know how it is. Mostly I didn't know shit. I was pretty sure that all the unrequited jibber-jabber and moping wouldn't matter much in ten years time. Of course, at the time it was quite important and meaningful.

While I was screaming "WHY DON'T YOU WANT ME" to the inside of my skull, I was listening to Disintegration by the Cure over and over and over again. I would put track one, Plainsong, on endless repeat and listen to it for hours. I can still hear the chimes at the beginning, and then the cymbal crash and swelling synth sounds leading to . . .

I think it's dark and it looks like rain you said
And the wind is blowing like it's the end of the world you said
And it's so cold like the cold if you were dead
And you smiled for a second.

I'm listening to it right now, and I'm sorry but there's nothing in the past two years that I've heard that can compare. Not that I'm saying this is great art or anything, but it spoke to me in a way that was unique. I listen to it and there is a sense of longing that I can almost touch, even in remembrance. I was 17 and I must have been a terrible wreak of humanity.

Maybe I'm just getting old and starting to earn that future hearing aid. I remember listening to Metallica and being such the rebel for it. Now they're Top 40 and getting airplay on all the Classic Rock stations. Don't get me wrong, I'm still buying loud obnoxious music. My taste might, if anything, be getting worse. You would never have caught me listening to Sepultura four years ago, now I put on Roots and dance around the living room with my cat. He loves it. I watch MTV and honestly don't get it. If it isn't some stupid game show it's Y.A.R., Yet Another Rapper. I turn on VH-1 and can have an enjoyable hour.

I'm sure, in some way, that Snoop Doggy Dog speaks to the kids today in a way Robert Smith, Morissey, and Gorden Gano did to me. I just can't see it.

b i o
Shawn FitzGerald spends his spare time in front of his Mac trying to do constructive things, but usually ends up screwing around.

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