A couple of rock birthdays today: Iggy Pop turns 63 (!) and Robert Smith of the Cure, 51.
The continued existence of the man born James Osterberg as a living, breathing organism on planet Earth—along with those of his contemporaries Lou Reed and Keith Richards—must be considered something of a miracle. Consider this passage from Marc Spitz’s Bowie describing Iggy’s state in 1976:
Iggy Pop resurfaced again once the White Light tour rolled back into Los Angeles. Since being dropped from MainMan, Iggy had sunk even further. He was arrested for shoplifting, sleeping in a garage, and trying to write songs with James Williamson but mostly in a drug haze.
“Iggy was in such bad odor with the rest of L.A. that most of the dealers refused to let him into their apartments,” Nick Kent writes in his classic anthology The Dark Stuff. “He’d made such a mess of his life during the two years he’d been based in L.A. that everyone had him written off as nothing more than a washed up loser….”
When he began to vomit fluid of unrecognizable origin and indescribable color, and with the police threatening to prosecute him for vagrancy, he finally committed himself to the Neuropsychiatric Institute in L.A.
Knox of Pixels at an Exhibition fame (an excellent site devoted to iPhone photography—check it out sometime) recently pointed me to the blog Dangerous Minds, which in turn pointed me to a couple of recent news items involving the Beatles.
One concerned Ringo’s response to the Vatican’s recent decision that the Beatles were OK after all:
The Vatican offered its latest peace offering to The Beatles in its recent issue of L’Osservatore Romano, its official newspaper, on Monday.
“It’s true they took drugs, lived life to excess because of their success, even said they were bigger than Jesus and put out mysterious messages that were possibly even satanic,” the newspaper said.
But, “what would pop music have been like without The Beatles?” it reasoned, describing the band’s music as “beautiful.”
I am learning a lot from Tom Lutz’s Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America. For instance, not being much of a fan of Jethro Tull the band, I never knew that Jethro Tull the person was (says Wikipedia)
an English agricultural pioneer who helped bring about the British Agricultural Revolution
or that (this is Lutz now):
Tull’s seed drill, first introduced in 1701, not only improved the germination rate and thus harvest yields but also inaugurated a long line of machine inventions and improvements.
These inventions and improvements, by enabling larger amounts of food to be grown by a smaller percentage of the population, had a great deal to do with the creation of slack as we know it today. There’s very little romance in a farmboy who sleeps late and fails to get his crops in; considerably more in the kind of urban idler who hangs around cafes writing poetry, or more likely talking about writing poetry.
The whole concept of the literature of slackerdom is an interesting one. The purest literary creations of the slothful cannot be found in any library or bookstore; they remained in the heads of their creators, who of course were too lazy to write them down. Therefore, what we do have by way of a written record is by definition compromised. Lutz writes quite a bit about Samuel (Dr.) Johnson, who in 1758 began a series of essays titled The Idler that sing the praises of indolence: (more…)
After I finished the Bowie book, next in line was a book that’s been sitting on my shelf, but that I have been too lazy to actually read, for a couple years now: Tom Lutz’s Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America. A subject near and dear to my heart; these are my people, as you know, but I had no idea we had such a rich literature and history. Consider:
“Slack”1 has been around since Old English variants, as a physical property of objects like ropes. And in the seventeenth century “slacken” became a common way to denote a relaxation of activity. By the nineteenth century, a “slack” could mean a slowing or a lull in business. But 1898 is the earliest instance of “slacker” in anything like its modern sense — in the OED, when it began to replace some earlier epithets for people not pulling their loads…. (more…)
Responding to my plea for comments, The Old Man writes:
Maybe you should post something on politics, religion, or sex, or maybe all 3 – that should get things going!
And you know I rarely write about controversial-type topics, partly because there’s already so much of that stuff on the Web, and partly because I abhor conflict. But I have to admit, this latest scandal involving the Pope and his minions has me thinking controversial thoughts — like, maybe it’s time for the Catholic Church to call it a day.
Frankly I just don’t see what purpose the Church serves in the modern world. (Or any organized religion for that matter…but let’s stay focused; I don’t have all day.) That’s assuming it ever did have one; authoritarianism and spirituality have always seemed like a strange mix to me, and while no doubt sincere Catholics and Catholic charities have done a lot of good in the world, in historical context the Church looks more like an instrument of control than a positive force. (more…)