Haven't You Heard? Bacchus is Dead.



I'm not nostalgic for the 80s, when I was in my teens and twenties. Actually, that's not entirely true; my high school years were pretty exciting and there were lots of good times afterward as well. But I went from a year in art school straight into a high-pressure work world, back when a cocky 20 year-old could walk off the street and get a job with a decent salary and health insurance if he or she tried hard enough. 

But that was back before NAFTA and GATT and all the other salvos launched against American workers, especially young American workers.

The 90s though, the 90s are another thing altogether. I can't quite explain why. I suppose it was a question of my generational cohort discovering their potential and learning how to make things happen. Computers and the Internet had a lot to do with it, back when some of us were naive to believe they could be used as tools of personal liberation and not just tendrils of the global Panopticon. 

But the 90s were also a time when my cohort- Generation X- made their mark on the culture and came into its own, in a way that hadn't really happened since the late 60s.

The 90s started early, maybe as early as 1988. Music was a huge part of this, particularly the driving New York hip-hop you seemed to hear bursting from every corner. Jane's Addiction's Nothing Shocking was the first album of the 90s in many ways, followed by Nine Inch Nail's Pretty Hate Machine the following year. Those two albums marked out the territory, erasing arbitrary distinctions between dance music and hard rock that had been calcifying since the mid 70s. 

1990 was the touchstone, though. Especially in New York. In my mind, 1990 Manhattan is forever a landscape of dark beauty punctuated with the erotic, phosphene bursts of otherworldly intrusion. It wasn't a safe space. It was a very dangerous city but also a city alive with possibility.*

I prowled the streets with the zeal of a pilgrim after work or during lunch breaks, hellbent in digging out every cache of hidden treasure, every hidden record shop or second hand book or magazine store I could unearth. Though I had exoteric goals in mind, I realize now that was really out there to soak up the city's arcane energy, plugging straight into its sorcerous heart before its last gasp of magical possibility exhausted itself, which it most certainly did by the decade's end. 

Of course, I was surrounded on all sides by sigils, icons and totems, most placed there a century prior by men well versed in the esoteric sciences. These were all playing on my unconscious, as they did everyone in the city. I was just a little bit more tuned in than most,  so maybe they were driving me than I realized at the time. 

So much so maybe that a strange kind of New York eventually became the venue for my secret sun dreams and remained so for a very long time. (I should also mention I spent most of this time working in the Big Daddy occult obelisk of them all, the Empire State Building).

There were also the places like East West Books, which served every conceivable spiritual or occult interest and other, edgier shops where you could find all kinds of books on weirdness, conspiracy culture and underground politics. These places were usually stocked  with all other types of arcana and contraband; tarot cards, drug paraphenalia, fringe porn. 

Friday nights were spent with friends in Bacchus' embrace, at places that served up ten-dollar pitchers of Budweiser for NYU students on a budget. Later, I'd fall in with a different crowd and we'd set up at fancier places, specifically The Slaughtered Lamb in the West Village.

And in the middle of this came the last great cresting of the Rock n' Roll wave, the alt.rock explosion that followed in the wake of Nirvana. All of that music was dropping like cluster bombs during this whole period. It all came so fast it was hard to keep up with.

My last job in the city was in an art department on the 47th floor of the Empire State and it was like an urban treehouse. There were no suits around our little outpost and the radios blared in every room. And right on time; one instant classic after another dropped in our laps while we listened to the Long Island alt.rock station WDRE and later Q-Rock when it (ever-so-briefly) existed as an alt.rock station.  (We got artier sounds from Delphine Blue on WBAI, Trip-Hop out of England, neopop out of Europe).

Most of this the new rock music seemed to burst forth from the West Coast, Seattle most famously, but also California, which was once was the great laboratory for rock and pop, both as producer and consumer.

Of course, one of those classic West Coast albums was Stone Temple Pilots' 1994 sophomore effort, Purple. I was initially skeptical of STP, since their first album was hit or miss with me. But Purple felt like an instant classic, and plugged into the ferment of the time, the birth of the Internet nation and of course, the rise of The X-Files (many of the bands of the alt.rock explosion would contribute tracks to the various X-Files soundtrack projects, like Songs in the Key of X).

STP was part of a wave of bands who bypassed cornball 80s metal to return to the late 60s and 70s roots of hard rock, leavening the batter with punk/postpunk attitude and economy. STP was like many of the big acts of their time in that they had a great singer in Scott Weiland, who understood the value of light and shadow in hard music.

Weiland was also like many of his contemporaries in another, less fortunate way. Drug problems were almost de rigeur for big name rock stars (legend has it that record company publicists would even invent drug problem rumors for artists who had none) but Weiland's generation came out of the cauldron of punk rock, whose thermonuclear intensity tended to deaden one's responses to normal stimulation. It was a major problem for a lot of people I knew.

Weiland's addictions shortly overshadowed his considerable musical talent, at least where the press was concerned. At first vital, lithe and aggressive, he came to seem increasingly fragile and brittle as his demons had their way with him.

His bandmates reached the end of their ropes more than once, forming ersatz STPs with new singers (Talk Show and Army of Anyone) before finally sacking Weiland for Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington for the short-lived MKII incarnation of STP. But all they accomplished was prove how much they needed Weiland to hammer their often-obtuse riffing into actual songs with proper melodies.

Weiland formed a new band and began working the third-tier circuit, where he died on Thursday. His performances were famously erratic, with videos of disastrous misfires circulating on YouTube. But he seemed just as often able to summon some of the old magic, most recently a New Jersey show I wanted to attend but missed. I'll never have the opportunity again.

It seems all too fitting that this Californian golden god would die the day after California was murdered. California has been a terminal patient for a long time, the longtime American promised land now the land of the nation's worst poverty and inequality

In the early 80s San Bernardino was the setting for the Us Festivals, ersatz Woodstocks thrown by Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak. He used his millions to hire every rock band of any importance at the time, presenting the festivals as a showcase for his vision of a brave new future driven by an embrace of Globalism ("unite us in song") and technology. Today San Bernardino a notoriously high-crime city in which even the shooting of 31 people wasn't seen by locals as overly shocking. 

But it's not alone in its misery. California's once mighty middle class has been decimated or sent packing and the state is now populated by a feudal elite lording over the poor, its very landscape cursed and forsaken by the gods, who smite it with fire, earthquake and drought, not to mention more mysterious afflictions.

So it's all too fitting that California's last great Dionysus finally succumbed to the years of self-abuse and heartache. These are terrible times for most working musicians, no matter how much propaganda you might hear to the contrary from the pirate lobby. No 48 year-old man wants to spend his life on the road, traveling from one small theatre to another mid-sized club, remembering the glamour and good times of the gravy days. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.



Another shaman with deep roots in both New York and Southern California also succumbed to the lifestyle around this time of year some thirteen years ago now. Although the press had it that Joe Strummer died of a faulty heart valve, one of his biographer's discovered that the coroner's report told a different story. 

Strummer (who played at the Us Festival with the Clash) was playing the same game Weiland was, working the third-tier circuit and offering up a mix of new songs and old. He was famous for his all-night blowouts while on tour, and his much younger band later complained of his endless partying. Of course, middle-aged men can't stay up for days on end without chemical augmentation and doing so plays havoc on your cardiovascular system. 

Like Weiland, Strummer  was probably bipolar (one of STP's greatest songs is called "Bi-Polar Bear") but could take audiences out of their heads on a good night, even into middle age. The last time I saw him (in Brooklyn in 2002) was one of the most intense performances I'd ever seen from any artist. I'm amazed more and more with the passage of time.

Strummer's rebirth bookended the collapse of the Generation X dream, as he returned in 1999 (just as the dotcom boom began to crack) and died in late 2002, as the post 9/11 economic order dug its teeth in.  

Strummer and The Clash had become icons to the wave of punk and ska bands that emerged in the wake of Grunge's collapse (many GenX veterans of the first wave punk wars like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones) and his death seemed to presage the passing of another era, as Generation Y would rise soon after and a new sensibility took root. 

Meanwhile, Scott Weiland joined forces with members of Guns n' Roses for the Velvet Revolver supergroup, disappointing many STP fans who thought he was slumming with glorified bar band hacks. The project ran its course before the curse of Dionysus did what it does and Weiland was fired or quit, depending on whose story you believe.

Make no mistake, the new order has no place for Dionysian ecstasy. A wall of darkness is descending across the world as the chessboard is arranged for the next Great Game of Nations. There is no free expression as the term is generally understood, there is only provocation and reaction. A new generation begs to return to the safety and certainty of the daycare environment that formed their consciousness, such as it is. There's no place for Dionysus anymore. 

Not even in the timeout chair.


 For all its over the top violence, Abel Ferrara film King of New York takes a snapshot of that very unique moment. There are other artifacts that do as well even if no one has ever given it a name. The films Flatliners and Jacob's Ladder also give you a taste of the times, if not the place.

55 comments:

  1. I really agree about that period 1988 to 1992, there was a great music happening during that period, Jane's Addiction, and even The Pixies seemed really vital. Even bands in SF like Primus, like them or not, could get away with what they got away with. There was even great music to be found in Jazz, World Music, and Funk, there was just this vibe of possibility that was inspiring regardless of where you were. I've never seen it look so grim before in my lifetime, I don't know if Dionysus can be brought back, but I remain hopeful something will shift. But it will take each individual to wake up and do their part to make that shift happen.

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    1. Well, when the rents went through the sky in the early 90s that was when cities like New York just fell off the map as creative bellwethers. You need a place where young people can congregate and pursue their dreams. Economic stratification has made that impossible for nearly everyone but trustfund babies which is why you don't have any movements either doing anything new or speaking to anyone outside their circles anymore. Luckily, electronic music- Hermetic to its core- didn't need the same medium Dionysian music does.

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    2. Yeah, 1988 to about 1996 was for me the most musically inspiring and ambitious time of my life. I was writing far more complex rock music than the "grunge" groups were, but I remember thinking how great it was to hear actual ROCK music on the radio again. Electric guitars driving the music and composition again, rather than keyboards. I moved out to southern California in 1992 and left in 1994. I was a small town boy with big musical dreams and no clue how to achieve them. I was quite naive and Cali made me pay for that. Still, that time frame was magical for me, coinciding with most of my 20's. What I find a bit depressing now is that in 1991 I was inspired by the first gulf war to write my own anti-war type of song. Every time I think of the lyrics, I find that nothing has really changed on the world stage since then, or ever, really. "Here I stand on my pedestal, looking down at the masses. They do not know, that I will send them to their doom. I have no pangs of conscience for their fear and misery, and I have no concern for their petty needs." (from my song written in 1991)

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  2. when this was all actually happening, and I am younger than you, the sixties seemed a hundred years in the past. Now the early nineties are farther away than the late sixties were then, but it still feels like a moment ago in time. I guess that's how it works. 89-94 was incredible. I feel sorry for the boomers, they missed it.

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    1. The Boomers seemed pretty hostile to it. It got pretty ugly towards the end- that wretched "Woodstock" in 1999 was really the deathknell for everything. What a horror show.

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  3. I sense the oncoming transmutation of Dionysus into Bacchus*, right on time for proper commodification by control/profit centers - something Strummer et al. constantly warned us was coming, or was already here.

    Of course, this is nothing new; I suppose I'm sensing rather a shift in their balance, a final tipping point. The void in popular culture of music, art or discourse with any true content or challenge will be filled with generic product. We've seen this before, but now it is become perfected, sold in walled gardens that those who thirst will never compare to the prisons they are.

    The "BOB" crowd would label it False Slack, that nutritionally bereft product which, like the poisoned grain of Star Trek, kills the Tribbles by starving them to death while they gorge themselves on the stuff. Humans will react the same, ignoring all warnings with harsh laughter and comment that they don't lack culture because look at all the cable channels we have.

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    1. Well, I don't see the ship righting itself because there's an economic war being waged against the citizenry, especially the young people. The record industry sealed its own fate by flooding the market with imitation music and turning the population against it. 18 dollar CDs with one good song on them apiece didn't help the situation at all.

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  4. Great post. As someone who was a musician and NJ native visiting New York as often as he could in his teens and early 20's, much of what you wrote really rings true with me. My archetype for the time is a lot of Jeff Buckley. But I had a strange experience with regard to the Dionysian experience, and it happened to have happened in New York. I saw Eric Church, massive country star of the "outlaw" brand, at New York City's temple of music, Madison Square Garden. At one point late in the show, the band creates a swirling, intense cacophony of sound and raises a 40 foot Satan into the arena. It was shocking because of country music's roots in Jesus territory, but it also felt like something far deeper, a symbolism I still can't figure out the full meaning of. Now, Eric Church borrows music from the 70's and hard rock and metal from the late 80's and the 90's into his outlaw country sound at times, so the music seemed more at home in MSG than most of his genre. But the experience was a certain kind of ecstatic devil raising, at a point in the show when most attendees were probably Dionysian drunk and revelling. Anyway, thanks for your consistently thought provoking work. I've been a fan for years.

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    1. It's odd- I only hear new country from a distance but so much of it sounds like 70s rock. I guess it's inevitable the way culture cycles through. All too fitting given how anemic and generic most new rock music is. But it's a sign of how American culture is cleaving apart.

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  5. Chris, people above are saying all the words. I just want to say your cultural touchstones and particular way of expressing how you experienced them are so similar to mine - and your conclusion resonates so much. I was incredibly fortunate see Jeff Buckley in a small cafe in Athens GA with the stage backdrop a window onto Cars passing on Prince Ave, Michael Stipe in a folder chair on the front row. Ah, I am ruminating. Moments of Magic. Thank you for this.

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    1. That sounds like a magical moment indeed. It's hard to explain what it was like when the magic was in the air. It was so elusive and fleeting. I don't want to leave the impression it was anything else.

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  6. I could read your thoughts on music all day, Chris.

    I remember when STP's "No. 4" album came out, and the commercials that aired featuring the track "Down". I thought it was great.

    The song didn't seem to grab many other people though. "Sour Girl" was the hit instead. Even with Weiland's problems around this time - not touring, jail (?), that video got a lot of airplay. Didn't make sense to me.

    It looks like GNR, well at least Axl, Slash and Duff, are about to come together in some way. The optimist in me wonders if they can, even briefly, reignite that late 80's early 90's something something.

    Supposedly, before everyone minus Axl jumped ship, a album worth of material was made around 95-96.

    Other than J. Homme (another 88-95 "survivor") and his collaborators, this is about all I look forward to music wise, these days.

    People keep saying that music isn't dead. "You just have to hunt for it", they say. I don't know what to make of that.

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    1. Well, I listen to electronic/ambient music almost exclusively now. It's rewired my brain to the point that I have no interest in searching out new rock music. STP were best known for their first album which is their most atypical. No 4 is great aside from a bit of sag in the middle.

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    2. Good rock is being made on the micro scale. Check out these: Legendary Divorce, Mitski, Creepoid, Hop Along, Palehound, Kississippi, Pwr Bttm, Grace Vonderkuhn, Heavy Temple, King Woman (and her other project, Miserable). You may notice a slant towards queer/female artists in this list. The best art is made by the marginalized and the poor. House shows still happen. Small labels, tapes, bandcamp/soundcloud releases...these are the places to find new music that isn't crap.

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    3. Well, as I said my taste runs towards electronic/ambient/postrock music these days. Rock is a very limited form, there's only so much that can be done with it. I've been into the nonrock stuff for a long time- since high school, actually. That music thrives on the kind of hermetic, isolated atmosphere musicians work in whereas rock music is greatly inhibited by it.

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  7. Immediately after reading this, I had memory recall of seeing Waterman's Hollow at an art deco basement all ages venue in Spokane circa '93 or '94. For the life of me, I couldn't remember the band name despite trying for months (years) lost in the haze.

    So many precious memories of shows in Eastern Washington and Seattle in the 90's. People who missed it will never know talented even the "no name" bands were back then, the fresh vibe at the community college shows, or what the Velvet Elvis, Sit n Spin, and countless other vanished venues felt like.

    Thanks for helping me remember the magic a little more clearly.

    Lived in Seattle ever since; it's been awful watching the new order gentrify the soul out of the city.

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    1. Well, Seattle is not alone. The last time I was in San Francisco I was shocked by hard and cold it felt. It was a city I no longer recognized. So much of what is happening in our cities is due to offshore investors pricing Americans out of their own cities, with loads of spaces sitting empty. I don't see much good happening in these places.

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    2. I wish I spent more time in NYC or SF before they changed. It's tough to hear reports from lifer New Yorkers about how bad it's become.

      You're right, though, these formerly cool places are hardcore establishment enclaves now.

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    3. I took my editor from Classic Rock on a walking tour of the Village a few years back. I was stunned when I realized how much was gone. All I had to show him were shoe stores and nail salons where all the great record stores and head shops used to be. It's heartbreaking.

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  8. As I see it, there is a war on between two world domination projects: the "New World Order" of corporate capitalism, technocracy, globalism and materialism, and the "Caliphate" of theocracy, holy war, eradication of idols and submission to Allah's law. Neither project has much use for old Aeon gods like Bachhus.

    The new Aeon is shaping up to be an age of genocidal war gods – especially Yahweh/Allah and Skynet. The challenge for the rest of us is to summon up potent new gods who can inspire a vital new civilization, and defeat both totalitarian, apocalyptic projects.

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    1. Who's to say they're at war with each other? Maybe they're at war with everyone else and get on just fine with each other. Maybe places like Dubal are where the real truth comes out.

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    2. You're not wrong about that, Chris. I have a friend who used to work for the British government. He told me some crazy shit about Neo-cons and Radical Caliphate types yukking it up at cocaine and Russian hooker parties. It'd make you throw up. Seriously.

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    3. Oh, I believe it. It's all a big con.

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  9. Soundgarden. All is not lost dear ones. Dennis

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  10. I guess this is part of the reason Gen Y kids at the bar I work at are always putting Led Zeppelin and the Buzzcocks on the jukebox where I work.

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    1. Yeah, I've noticed that too. Good for them.

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    2. A good friend of mine has been in a band called Velveeta since the early 90's here in my little town. They are reportedly the highest paid band in the town, and often do gigs in other places around the state and even out of state (it is the sole means of income for all the band members). They also do corporate "functions" and weddings and private parties and such (which apparently pay quite a lot of money).

      Anyway, they started out doing almost exclusively hits from the 80's (hence the name of the band). Nowadays, presumably to keep bringing in people to see them, they seem to be pulling a lot of their repertoire from the 70's, and have even added some 90's stuff. They still pull in the biggest crowds in this college town, which seems sort of telling to me (though there is a band now that plays nothing but contemporary "hits" and seems to draw good crowds as well).

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    3. Music doesn't emerge in a vacuum. The really memorable songs emerge when people are tuned into the culture. I hear this stuff my daughter likes and it's all retreads from the 80s, tuneless retreads at that. The tell is how easily disposable it all is.

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  11. The mixing of dance music and heavy metal I always associate with Anthrax, Faith No More and Living Color. The late 80's and early 90's were a particularly fruitful era for pop music. I still listen to many of the records from Bill Laswell's Axiom Label from back then. Material Hallucination Engine from 1994 and Seven Souls from 1989 are still albums that still speak to md.

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    1. Well, mixing disco and metal goes back to Killing Joke, where FNM certainly got the idea.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPWQfAv_qBQ

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  12. I FIND your examination interesting, because I was born in 1990 and am extremely nostalgic of the 90's. One would expect someone like you, who was not a child in the 90's, would feel nostalgic for the 80's, but you do for the 90's as well. I think there was some kind of change from the 90's to the 00's where things got worse...

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    1. Oh, indeed there was. It's called 9/11.

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    2. Interesting. I'm cooking up a blog for second half 2016. I'll see if you like it then, so maybe we can exchange links. I have an x-files analysis that no one has done before. But I admit I have no text yet, it will take long as I want to research. I don't want to reveal more now

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  13. The nineties were my formative teenage years so I'm nostalgic for them anyway, but looking back things did feel more vital. The soulless evil yuppiedom of the eighties seemed behind us...like we were breaking new ground. I tend to think of the nineties as the birth of the digital age. It was a strange liminal time where we weren't just rehashing the sixties, seventies or eighties. We were blazing trails with some kind of weird techno shamanic spirit. Internet, X Files, The Matrix, industrial rock, etc. We could more clearly see the arcs of our millennium. Exciting times, just before Skype came online and gobbled up the future. We still had a little dissent in our psyches and pioneer spirit in our culture. The counterculture still had some teeth. But then 9/11 happened, Morpheus was caged, and now our dreams are troubled. The Sandman no longer speaks of open vistas, but closed binary systems. Samael slipped the noose around our necks and we were none the wiser. Our legs twitch as we dangle. We don't have selves anymore, we have selfies. But I believe Morpheus is a canny motherfu*ker. And that Dionysus is just waiting for the right kind of sacrament. But it's gonna get darker before we wake to those rousing gods.

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    1. Well, England and London were certainly the place to be in the 90s. There were all kinds of exciting things going on- I'm thinking TripHop out of Bristol to name just one. Then there was Acid House, jungle, and Britpop. There were loads of creative things coming out of the UK in the 90s- films, novels, comics. And now we sit and wonder what the fuck happened? Maybe all this technology isn't the savior we imagined.

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    2. I actually meant Skynet, not Skype! But, you know, splitting hairs and all that. :) Bloody predictive typing!

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    3. Yeah, the rave scene was massive in nineties London. Lots of illegal raves in warehouses and abandoned churches. Even the punk scene was still kicking in the early nineties. Lots of awesome local bands still stoking the fires. I regret none of it. :)

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    4. Well, they clamped down on that whole thing hard. Very reminiscent of the Romans busting up the Bacchanalia.

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  14. He died doing what he loved - lots and lots and lots of drugs. I mean, a drug OD seems like a pretty decent way to check out, all things considered. You don't spend years with tubes down your throat making big pharma rich. No years in the trenches losing your body one gangrenous piece at a time. Just a short, sharp blast-off that sends you into permanent orbit around this rock of screwballs.

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  15. Well, he certainly went out with his boots on. Perhaps it is better to burn out than to fade away. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/scott-weiland-a-photo-history-of-his-wild-life-20151204

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  16. I've found, oddly enough (I just put on the Orphic Hymn to Dionysus before going to your post), that our problem is cultural. Western thought, starting from Greece, has long been about adventure and the exploitation of extreme situations, and that will burn itself out, given the chance, and leave the participants far out in the cold. For that same reason it's important to return to nature-as-it-is, peacefulness and things that just carry on, listening little to human petty wants and occasional ambitions. A lot is still going on, and will continue to go on, there.. Bacchus is perhaps in timeout, outgunned by the military-industrial complex he is brother to, but Mescalito, say, the underexploited gods of cultures who have been sleeping, have never gone away and are now close at hand, if we dare look that deep. You could make a point that the Neighbors cycle in and out according to what will be required, and have richness stored exactly for these times. Great blog, BTW, I never miss a post. -Lakeofmarch

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    1. Well, it's a good time to see what the Hermetic energies have to offer. Bacchus can be pretty hard on the system. The party can't last forever.

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  17. Great post, Chris. What you say really resonates with me because I was having a very similar experience here in the UK at a similar time. I was exploring Manchester, which was also having a cultural renaissance with such bands as the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, etc. I would spend days exploring Manchester for hidden treasures – second hand book shops were popping up all the time, visiting the excellent Odyssey 7 comic shop and Paramount Book Exchange. Then, in 1996, an IRA bomb changed the face of Manchester forever. A year later the Hacienda Night club (co-founded by Tony Wilson and Joy Division / New Order) closed down. It was the end of an era.

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    1. I remember that scene, we got all that stuff over here on alternative rock radio. That was a big part of the 1990 vibe. That movie All Night Party People pays tribute to that scene- if anyone hasn't seen it, I recommend it. There's also a doc on Netflix about Creation Records that I highly recommend.

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  18. As someone who moved to NYC in 88' as an 18 year old, your description resonates. Definitely not a safe space, better described as a town manifesting a pervasive sense of menace and decay... and I loved every minute of it.
    I feel genuinely bad for the millenials who move to NYC now, hoping to find some shard remaining from the last explosion of creative power that marked the 80's/90's.
    I'm still here, with 2 kids, but something has been amputated. Most New Yorkers I know, native and transplant alike, feel 9/11 was the real turning point at which old New York died and hypergentrification went into overdrive. It's difficult to describe to people arriving now how intense New York was then. I lived in an SRO until 96' and my building was around the corner from Weisers, a great bookstore, and one block down was the old Gramercy theatre on 23rd. This place was a cavernous old theatre with a balcony that would show double features or retrospectives. I got to see all of Jack Nicholson's films from the 70's as well as stuff like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf on the big screen on any given weekend.
    I still mourn the passing of the sprit of a once great city, a sprit that at the time seemed indestructible. Now it's a sanitized city filled with banker bro's and millenial hipsters paying literally $2,500 a month for a studio.
    And so it goes.

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    1. 9/11 was the burial. I think the city's spirit was long dead by then. The real estate speculator war on the East Village really cut the heart out of Manhattan's cultural soul. I remember working for an advertising agency on the Bowery in the mid 90s, that's how crazy it was. Right across the street from CBGB. Which is gone now, of course.

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  19. Meant to say spirit of a once great city.

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  20. That is a really nice piece of writing. Weaving the mythic and pop culture together is a brilliant touch. I may be late with this observation but is it somehow prophetic irony that the band at the Paris concert, Eagles of Death Metal, wrote the grainy pulp classic “San Berdoo Sunburn”. To me there is something spooky about that.

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    1. I'll have to check that out. I'm not real familiar with that band at all. Now they're world famous for reasons no band would wish for.

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    2. At the risk of being a reductionist I have pulled out this particularly creepy line in light of the attack, "Yes we're freaks but they can't touch us out west
      In San Bernardino"

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  21. I don't know if you remember Sounds records on St. Mark's place. Well, it closed for good in October, the last actual record shop on St. Mark's. The owner, Brian Fair, passed away several days ago. He was a true curmudgeon but also a true fixture on the old LES. Before closing in October he sadly remarked that "the mp3 fucking killed me".
    The experience of going through the stacks on a random evening in the East Village is a fond memory, and one that can no longer be replicated with iTunes and Youtube.
    As a true music aficionado I thought you might like to know that in light of the nature of this thread.

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    1. Oh, I remember Sounds quite well. I found a lot of treasures there that I couldn't get anywhere else. And I got them for a song. Vinyl is making a big comeback, which I guess is encouraging. But the entire cultural and socioeconomic environment that gave rise to rock is long gone. The days of new bands selling 15 million records and headlining football stadiums are long, long gone.

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  22. Great post Chris. Scott Weiland and STP really started to grow on me and after songs like Vaseline and Big Bang Baby- the video for this is awesome in it's low fi simplicity, and it's a great homage to him and the band. Everyone should give it a watch, you can tell they were in the groove. I had tickets in to see his solo album show in NYC with Daniel Lanois backing him, but Scott got busted hours before he would take the stage and the show was cancelled. I really hope his soul is at rest now- at least for a while. Who knows what incarnation it will take next. Self sabotage is tough to watch, but everyone's journey in life is sacrosanct even when we throw stones. You brought back a lot of good memories of living in NYC in the 90's. I remember taking long walks myself thinking wow, this is really the end of an era in this amazing town. Time to begin again. Around 2000 I moved to LA, and my thoughts mirror yours as far as this city is concerned. Los Angeles is the wild west- but in the few hours of silence late at night, it's vulnerable spirit breathes softly, and that morning sun longs for the afternoon high.

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  23. There's no place for Dionysus anymore.

    Which goes a long way towards a screaming explanation of why there is so much rage, insanity and violence in the news every frigging day.

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