Hello, and welcome to my website. RANT is basically where I babble on about whatever I want - mostly punk rock, diy culture, anarcho-socialism, and general politics. There are no chats, no guestbooks, no comments sections - just RANTS.

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Shadowed Force

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Current Rant

RANT #10

i saw a legend live in concert and all i got was this lousy moral dilemma

This last weekend, I drove to Des Moines to see a couple of artists who I've loved for a very long time.

The Freaks on Parade tour: Filter, Ministry, Rob Zombie, and Alice Cooper. I have no real investment in Filter, but Ministry and Rob Zombie are among my favorite artists of all time, and Alice Cooper is also up there. Al Jourgensen of Ministry is someone who has a political viewpoint I can respect, if not always agree with 100%, and Rob Zombie tends to be vague about any potential political beliefs outside of just kind of being an atheist and a vegan. As far as artists go, I can see them with zero moral ambiguities as far as I know.

Which brings me to Alice Cooper.

I already knew that the Godfather of Shock Rock had, at the very least, a conservative lean, but I honestly did think that I was fairly safe with seeing him. Before a little more than a week ago, he seemed conservative-ish but not bigoted - so I probably wouldn't vote for the same shit he'd vote for, but I'm not going to avoid seeing someone over a heated political debate. But then he did this Stereogum interview, where he parrots basically every lite beer transphobic talking point in the book.


I'd already bought the ticket and booked the car and hotel. I was committed-ish, especially since I was seeing this with a couple of friends who were just as excited as I was. It left a bad taste in my mouth, but when I talked over it with my friends we all decided to go anyways for Rob and Ministry.

Everyone's a hypocrite, but that doesn't make my decision morally right.

I could make the argument that our group was very queer, both in the sexuality and gender-y senses of the word. I could make the argument that cancelling 3 low-tier tickets wasn't going to do much, especially since we were all careful to only get the non-Alice merch. It still stings. Everyone's a hypocrite, but as someone who tries to be less of one the whole thing lost its luster a bit.

Outside the venue, I saw this one guy wearing the already classic "leave trans kids alone you absolute freaks" t-shirt. I don't know whether he'd read the interview, but if he had he was definitely wearing the thing directly AT Alice Cooper. Where any of this - my friends and I being trans and nonbinary people at the Alice Cooper show, this guy going with a rebuttal pasted across his chest - falls on the hypocrite scale is your call.

We're still all hypocrites. I saw a legend live in concert and all I got was this lousy moral dilemma.

Current Review


Angst - Lite Life (LP, 1985)

At some point in the early 2000s, I read an interview with Pixies lead singer Francis Black where he referenced this album as an influence. I was REALLY into Pixies back then, so of course I wanted to check it out. Unfortunately, this was the early 2000s - pre-Youtube, pre-streaming, and pre-Greg Ginn giving a shit about any bands that weren't Black Flag, Husker Du, Minutemen, and one of his dozens of side projects.

At that point, Angst's first album, Lite Life, had been out of print since the mid-'80s. It had only ever been released on vinyl and cassette, and with the state used cassette sales were in at the time it would have been a miracle if I'd found a copy that I could sort of, kind of play at the time. The state of online music was fragmentary - only a fraction of even major label artists were available on iTunes, pirate sites closed with frightening regularity, and mp3s of even middlingly successful indie artists were incredibly difficult to find in the wild.

I did manage to get a couple of Angst's songs - a cassette rip of "Love Dissolves" was one of them. But I hadn't been able to listen to the whole album until around 2016, when a vinyl rip made its way onto Youtube. Greg Ginn finally allowed the old out-of-print SST catalogue onto streaming and Youtube earlier this year. If there's one advantage to be found in the streaming age, it's that albums like this can be more widely heard, either through legal or less-than-legal means.

Because Lite Life is an awesome little album. Like Everything Falls Apart-era Husker Du, it's definitely a missing link when it comes to tracing the American indie scene from First Wave New York punk to New Wave to hardcore to, well, what it eventually became in the late '80s and early '90s. The harder edge of Sonic Youth and co. - its punk predecessors so to speak - comes and goes, mixed in with gestures towards country ("Glad I'm Not In Russia") and radio-friendly power pop ("This Gun's For You"). It's easy to see how Angst's genre-blending sensibilities with a distinct rock tone inspired Pixies, who in turn inspired countless members of the grunge scene.

With how much I genuinely love this album, I can't help but mourn its obscurity. SST has its underappreciated artists through a combination of label money troubles during its peak years, flawed contracts leading to countless lawsuits, and Greg Ginn's general disinterest in any part of his label's legacy that doesn't include Greg Ginn. But you don't have to have blatant label mismanagement and Ginn's stubborn refusal to allow bands to capitalize on their own work to cause unjust obscurities - there are plenty of labels that simply ceased to exist. They were liquidated, sold off for parts, and the music - which is, after all, why we care about them at all - was either never released or fell into a sort of strange copyright black hole.

Nothing would please me more than for bands like Angst to get their day in the sun. The easiest method would obviously be for bands to have a way to get their music back into their own hands, so they could be able to negotiate reissues, remasters and remixes, and streaming rights on their own terms. Anything to avoid the kind of difficulty that used to plague 11-year-old me when I was trying to find songs off Angst's Lite Life.