I’ve been outta the loop re: many of my favorite magazines for a spell, especially those I normally buy at the newsstand.
So I missed several iterations of Greil Marcus’ “Real Life Rock Top Ten” (A MONTHLY COLUMN OF EVERYDAY CULTURE AND FOUND OBJECTS) in THE BELIEVER, which ranks 10 seemingly-random items from around the popular culture 10 times a year. Greil came up with the basic format in 1980 or so, and it has appeared in NEW WEST/CALIFORNIA MAGAZINE, ART FORUM, THE VILLAGE VOICE, SALON, and MINNEAPOLIS CITY PAGES, before finding its ideal home seven or eight years ago.
This selection appeared in the September 2012 issue—
(2) “State of Disconnect” (State Farm). Thirty-second spot: State Farm agent on the phone, selling, in a clipped tone: “You name it, we’re here, anytime, anywhere, any way you want it.” Customer, in his kitchen, flatly: “That’s the way I need it.” “Any way you want it?” “All night?” “All night.” “Every night?” “Any way you want it.” “That’s the way I need it,” the customer says, then pausing, as if replaying the conversation in his head: “We just had ourselves a little Journey moment,” he says. “Yep,” says the agent. “Saw them in ’83 in Fresno,” the customer says. “Place was crawling with chicks.” His wife comes into focus at the other end of the kitchen and gives him a dirty look. “I gotta go”—and as much as I loathe Journey, this was a perfectly crafted little fiction about pop music as real life. The agent and the customer aren’t proud or embarrassed or fannish, but kind of weirdly stoic: We’re fated to share this stuff to the end.
That last line is likely the great implied message of “Taxonomizing Sludge!”
Also reminded me of more than a few amusing exchanges WE’VE had o’er the past not-quite-three years! LOL
- Tom Kipp
P.S. In this entry from last summer (July/August 2012), Greil quotes my EAST PORTLAND BLOG obituary of Levon Helm—
(3) Levon Helm, 1940–2012. Watch him at what might as well have been the end, as the blind, cursing desert rat in his friend Tommy Lee Jones’s 2005 movie The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada; listen to him at the beginning, in 1961, roaring through Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Further On Up the Road” (collected on The Band—A Musical History, or on Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks: The Roulette Years) as if he’s not the driver but the car. And then, in the Band’s “Chest Fever,” as he marshals what Tom Kipp, once of the Montana punk band Deranged Diction, calls “THE BACKBEAT OF GOD” to summon a sound that feels far more like a civil war than “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” let Helm describe an American epic of love and madness, home and flight—a sound so rich you can listen and watch at the same time. That was 1968. The music had no temporal frame of reference clinging to it then, and it doesn’t now.