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Monday, December 15, 2008

Fiddling While Rome Burns

The part of the headline that is hinted at in the Intelligencer - Lancaster PA's daily paper (where a thumbnail photo of yours truly and the term "punk photos" make it ABOVE THE FOLD in an Amish country daily!!) "Automake..." is indeed a full reportage about the sad economic situation our country is in through the filter of Detroit's Big Three automobile manufacturers and their day on Capitol Hill with their hands out.

Seems like the only ones who did not recognize all the sure-fire signs of a recession / depression were the politicians... those of us in the trenches have known it since it began a year ago.

A year ago today, I was in Atlanta, Georgia, exhibiting the Unguarded Moments: Backstage and Beyond show at the Star Bar during their Toys for Tots event, with music by The Gore Gore Girls and The Burmese Crush. Despite the beginning the downward economic spiral, the event did record numbers, as did I.

postcard from ATL
Hanging out at the Star Bar, December 2007

On this date 1,971 years ago, the Roman who grew up to be the Emperor Nero was born as Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. You know him as Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus, the fifth and final Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He was famous for being a right bastard - not only fiddling while Rome burned, but ordering the executions of his mother and adoptive brother. Did I mention his mother was sister to Caligula ? What does this cast of tyrants have to do with punk rock?

Kim Fowley
Kim Fowley - some punk rockers would call him a tyrant; others a genius: you decide

You know that I love to ramble but eventually get to the point... and the point is - punk rock has always fiddled while Rome burned. It laughs in the face of convention because it doesn't, didn't and doesn't want to fit in. Punk rock does things its own way. Now, that way has become a tried and true practice... so what do we do now that so much of what we were castigated for is acceptable?

The youthful indiscretion we committed and promulgated 30 years ago - punk rock - is now not only acceptable, but is mainstream and a subject worthy of study in academia and in business. It never fails to flabbergast me (if "to flabbergast" is indeed an acceptable usage. Is "flabbergast" an actual verb anyway?) But you get the picture.

Ten days ago, my touring exhibit opened its run at Metropolis Gallery and it was accompanied by an impressive explosion of ink and pixels (I'm talking about press) and an even more impressive walk up for look-sees by actual humans in the coldest cold of a Central Pennsylvania winter night, not one but two nights running!

It goes back to the daily paper, where I found myself and the word "punk" above the fold and right under the paper's banner, above the bad news of the economy and America's manufacturing sector. I was here to have a good time, as were all the nice folks who came to the Gallery on First Friday and on the Saturday night for Metropolis's private gathering for me to talk about all things punk to the locals who dig that kind of thing. You know, culture of the pop sort.

All of us, fiddling while Rome burns.

We got some really nice coverage in the venerable yet hip Juxtapoz. Be still my beating artiste heart! Read it and see pictures from the opening here!

In celebration of the anti-hero, inspired by the birth of Nero... I present today some more anti-heroes and tyrants - whether for real, or just reputed.

Johnny Rotten & Steve Jones
Johnny Rotten & Steve Jones, The Sex Pistols

and menacing, but no tyrant - Lux Interior of the Cramps


Finally the reputed (and if you pay attention to his lyrics, you'd agree...) misogynist, Stranglers' Hugh Cornwell who manages to make this young lady feel "in" on his chauvinist jokes...

hugh cornwell topless girl

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