Thursday, January 05, 2006
I was chatting with a good friend of mine today who went to high school with Jack Abramoff and remembers him simply as a "weird fat kid" and we got sidetracked onto the subject of blogs and cultural energy in general. We both concurred that the blog world has the feel right now that the punk rock scene of the late 70's had, and for much the same reasons.
The music business in the 70's had grown bloated and moribund and disconnected from its audience. Record executives busied themselves buying Rolexes for REO Speedwagon and paying millions for Casablanca records and nobody cared. They were perfectly horrified at the spectacle of kids paying $3 to see the Clash play a benefit for Marxist youth at the Geary Temple in 1978, but even as a kid it was perfectly obvious where the energy was, where the zeitgeist was shifting. Punk rock became a beacon for creative people of all walks, and oh so many years later the shadow it casts looms far greater than the corporate culture merchants of the time were able to envision.
It's not that the movie business or the book business or the magazine business is dead, or that the blog world is any challenge to any of them, but creativity is a very fluid thing and when it becomes difficult to achieve any kind of satisfaction in a particular medium the quality talent will siphon off into an arena that allows it expression. I could stand at a magazine stand for 24 hours straight, reading every issue on the racks and not come across the clever, relevant, insightful things I know I can find in a half hour on the blogs.
As a side note -- it's also apparent who hasn't been the beneficiary of this energy, and that would be in the right wing blogs. You can say my estimation is clouded by contempt but you would be wrong. I am perfectly able to appreciate and even (reluctantly) defend the filmmaking skills of people I loathe. I can count exactly two times I have ever read anything on the right even slightly insightful. For reasons too innumerable to go into right now, a philosophy that promotes totalitarianism and a system of endless repetition of someone else's talking points simply won't drawing the same quality thinkers. Period.
We thought punk rock and the energetic counterculture it produced would last for ever, but it didn't. It was over quite quickly.
Enjoy the blogs while you can. These are the salad days.