Fresh on the heels of not one but two grumpy old man posts from me (one lamenting how the way music is experienced and consumed has irreparably changed, and another practically weeping over a long-closed record shop), I stumbled upon a very funny and very cutting piece by Deadspin’s Hamilton Nolan titled “Vital Cultural Activity of Our Era is Not Music, But Rather Something I Still Participate In, Says Old Guy.”
In a nuthsell, Nolan came across a somewhat hapless think-piece by stodgy Bloomberg View columist Tyler Cowen about food replacing music as the dominant cultural currency of relevance, a hackneyed assertion in 2017 to be sure (and that’s being charitable). Without hesitation, Nolan set his snark-phaser on euthanize. In exceptionally short, hilariouus order, he giddily vivisects Cowen’s piece, exposing the poor fellow’s desperatley tenuous grasp on the zeitgeist. It’s rough -– and arguably a bit agist -– but Nolan’s not wrong. Cowen’s piece is ultimately dated, bloated, strenuously self-important and laughably out-of-touch. The ensuing rermaks in the comments section pull even fewer punches.
Of course, I caught myself laughing just a little too loud at this, because Nolan’s same, unflinching snark-ray could just as easily slice into my own salt-&-pepper-bearded bloviation. I mean, check out my third paragraph in the afore-cited piece about the reprise of the Lifetime Listening List (the one wherein I bitterly assert that “music-listening has become a piecemeal affair,” and then draw a clumsy analogy to streaming being the equivalent of eschewing a banquet in favor of blithely picking at an array of hors d’oevres). I mean, that’s not too far from the vantage point Cowen was writing from. I can only take some solace that, in the paragraph that precedes it, I admit that my perspective on such matters could invariably be the result of my advancing age and the diminished amount of time I’m afforded to worry about music. At least I’m willing to cop to that.
That said, that doesn’t take the sting out of Nolan’s well-worded indictment of Cowen (and, for that matter, me) as being “ashamed” of our own “cultural mortality.” I don’t know that I’m necessarily ashamed of it, I just think I hadn’t thought of it in terms of it pertaining to my impending death -- which, I suppose, is just a more macabre way of saying “my advancing age.” I hadn’t really considered the bigger implications of my failure to invest in or get excited by the music of, say, Lil Yachty, the Chainsmokers or Future as symptomatic of my own encroaching decreptitude. I just consider that stuff shit I don’t care about. Sadly, the shit I do care about -– music-wise, at least -– is in increasingly short supply.
In my defense, however, I am going out to see live music tonight, and I’m sure it’ll run late. So take that, Hamilton Nolan. Although, if I’m being totally honest (and why shouldn’t I be?), I’m going to see Boss Hog, a band from the same, long-since-graduated class as Cop Shoot Cop (yes, I’m still working on that book) who are on what is ostensibly a reunion tour to promote a new record. Yeah, nothing too clichéd about that. Hell, Boss Hog were even recently profiled in the New York Times with the headline “Boss Hog’s Punk Rock Revs Up as It Hits Middle Age.” So much for the cutting edge.
Whatever. I’ll be there. Look for the guy with the salt-&-pepper beard raging against the dying of the light in the front.