Simon on the age-old authenticity question nails several points squarely on the head & all the way into the wall, really quite brilliant; makes me hope for more general-critical-response occasions that rub Simon the wrong way, since he, when he disagrees with someone, zeros right in on the issues in play - none of the stale ad-hom junk that characterizes a lot of the debates around, say, hip-hop.
I used to flex the anti-authenticity/pro-pop-as-King-Arthur critical-theory rod, and I flexed it all day long, too; I think I was one of the first indie kids on board that particular ship. Nowadays, I'm less sure about the whole matter, which along with Simon's thoughts makes me wonder whether we're not navigating some age-related waters. I know, I know: we all hope not, and what if we are? But I think "authenticity is for squares!" is a resolutely apolitical stance to take, and that long engagement with the culture has a tendency to politicize a person, at which point the ideal of a pure aesthetics begins to lose a little of its sheen. But what do I know? Last night I saw the Baptist Generals and Centromatic rock the living God outta the Duke Coffeehouse, and felt, as I have already once this year listening to Will Johnson's new South San Gabriel album & as I often do watching the Baptist Generals, that Texas rock has got something vital to say to me & maybe to everybody here about what it means to be alive in the world. The Texas bands that get me right now - the aforementioned, plus Rusted Shut & obviously the entire Rap-a-Lot posse - are authentic but playful, emotional and wry, at once personal and kabuki'd-out in their finest silks. You really can have it both ways, and unless you're still rather anachronistically wedded to the notion that transient pleasures trump all, you should.
(As to the Haysi Fantayzee comparison dangled like a plum on the hook at the end of Simon's piece, though: well! The world has waited long enough for Haysi Fantayzee's reemergence and I'd rather not wait any longer. This is a direct threat: I am gonna write about Classix Nouveaux, and sooner rather than later, I'm afraid.)
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