free-geek

because cool kids are boring

Nerdcore and the New York Dolls

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I had a bitch of a time trying to sleep last night. At one point I got up and ended up flipping through music critic Frank Kogan’s Real Punks Don’t Wear Black. In an essay where he talks about the times he saw the New York Dolls back in the 70s he writes the following paragraph,

That was a year when a few crucial critics (Christgau, Paul Nelson, Dave Marsh) liked the Dolls, but most others and the music press in general had a general attitude of contempt. “All flash and no music” was what they said. I remember constantly reading putdowns. One jerk I think it was in Rolling Stone joked that the Dolls were really dental students who only dressed that way for the money. This was part of the atmosphere too, part of the event for me, standing up and dancing, withstanding the contempt.

And of course, that was part of what was happening with the Dolls. Yeah, I’m sure they wanted to be famous, but the contempt ran both ways. The fact that the established music media didn’t get the Dolls just showed how out of step they were. It created an elite group that anyone was open to join, but few bothered to. Entrance was simple, if you dug the Dolls you were cool. If you didn’t, then you were out of the loop. To borrow a metaphor from the wrong time period, the bus came by and you either got on or you didn’t.

After reading the quote though, I started wondering about that idea though. Taking all the negative press and dismissals and flipping them around. For those in the know about the Dolls. For the select few who ‘got it.’ Magazines didn’t write bad reviews because the Dolls weren’t great. The wrote bad reviews because they didn’t get it.

Specifically, I started wondering if something like that could be pulled of in the Nerdcore scene to fight the ‘those wacky nerd rappers’ stories (nod to Benjamin Bear for the quote). I’m not sure if it would work though. There doesn’t seem to be the necessary level of contempt to pull something like this off.

OK, there’s more to this idea, but I’m operating on three hours sleep and I don’t think I’m going to last much longer. Instead of going into a half coherent rant about post-structuralism and identity politics and the glory of geek kind, I’m just going to stop this here.

Nighty Night.

Written by Matt

January 16th, 2007 at 8:11 pm

Posted in Nerdcore,Thoughts