Friday, September 29, 2006

Vox Clamantis in Deserto

I've long had my suspicions that, far from being the Punk Rock paragon that he (and only he) claims to be, Warren Kinsella is much closer kin with the "boring old fart" oft lamented by such real punk luminaries as Johnny Rotten.

But proving this has been very difficult. Because, of course--in true Boring Old Fart fashion--BOFs like Warren have, post hoc, sewn themselves into the very fabric of the movement (indeed, have miscontrued it as a "movement," in stark contrast to what it truly was: an intentionally inartistic expression of pure cynicism--punks did not so much shriek defiance into the Nietzschean abyss, as pass out next to it in a stew of their own puke), and by so doing have, of necessity, plucked out Punk Rock's real substance and authority.

This is rather fittingly illustrated, I think, in the infamous transformation of the historical (that is, the real life) Sid Vicious, who notoriously dared to sport a swastika across his shirt front for all to see and be affronted by, to that simpering, obtusely personal Sid Vicious--played by Gary Oldman in the catastrophically boring Sid and Nancy--sporting a barely politically shocking hammer and sickle across his. (I have no doubt that the miscarriage of Punk Rock occurred long before 1986, but as one of the more glaring pieces of revisionism to have been conjured up by the BOFs since its demise, Sid and Nancy stands out as one of Punk's most conspicuous (as it were) Bodies.)

But the devil is in the details ... And when it comes to Punk Rock, any inordinate attention to detail is itself an indictable offense. Bothering to make a movie about Punk Rock--unless it is the sort of intentionally exploitative movie grimly reconciled to the inevitability of 'filthy lucre'--is not Punk. But, as far as I know, Alex Cox wasn't a punk. So, personally, he risked nothing by making his rather tacky little contribution to the "love kills" oeuvre. Warren Kinsella, on the other hand, does claim to have been a punk--indeed claims, at the ripe age of 46, to still be a punk--and he's gone and bothered to write an entire book about it. Not Punk! ... The fact that he has recast that necessarily short lived trend as an ongoing and aggressive "search for the real" is not only not Punk, it's lame by any standard (including an academic one).

But I have reason to believe that there's more than just a bit of irony at work in this conflict between the various appearances of Warren Kinsella and what lurks, darkly, beneath ... In spite of their expressly formless response to the ubiquitous fact of boring-old-fartdom, Johnny Rotten et al's disdain of same did spring from a fairly defensible (even, rudimentarily noble) notion of what, at least, the world shouldn't be. In the end, they thought it more fitting that the BOFs (and the rest of us with them) should simply be made to choke on their own filth ... Kevin Michael Grace, however, with his incurable faith in worldly justice, has undertaken a "search for the real" of his own (here, here, and most recently here) and, it seems to me, he might actually have found it.