Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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July 18, 2006
boom for real: 3 Basquiat-related items

Richard Edson's reminscences from the liner notes to the new reissue of the first Sonic Youth EP capture 1) the feeling of living in a non-homogenized, pre-gentrified, culturally patchworked urban environment, and 2) being young in the way that you invent/discover who you are indirectly by contrasted reference to the tribes of which you feel you are not:

I believed that Lee and his Soho buddies were financially better off than my East Village friends and therefore less authentic. . . . We (the cooler, mixed, multiracial kids in the East Village) felt superior to our artistic counterparts in Soho. . . . We were poorer but realer. We were in it for fun and community, not status, "art," and fame. . . .

This was all a little simplistic and self-serving, but there it was.

The tension between the East Village and Soho wouldn't be eliminated until the ascendancy of Jean-Michel Basquiat (a quintessentially East Village kid who straddled the divide) a few years later.

Nicholas Taylor's captivating photo remembrance has a charming alternative version of the "boom, for real" sequence from Schnabel's movie, and a more believable version insofar as it sounds more like a byproduct of collective intellectual flirtation amongst a bunch of young and perhaps stoned artists:

One evening Michael Holman and I went up to [Gray member] Wayne’s loft [Vincent Gallo remembers Wayne Clifford's building and purported living arrangement, here] where Wayne and Jean-Michel were taking vocal samples from the television news. Wayne pushed the record button while a homeless person was commenting on the icy conditions in New York City. The man said to the reporter: "Fell on my ass, boom, for real!"

Since the tape was at the beginning, Wayne could push "play" and then "rewind" quickly, and the audio was "ignorantly" looped to sound like: "Fell on my ass, boom, for real, boom, boom, boom, for real, fell on my ass, boom." We all picked up on this and found ourselves saying "boom" all the time as an expression of shock and realization. If you saw something you liked, you said "boom!"

Finally, the Last Days of Man on Earth blog has done the world a service by posting sound files of each track from the Offs' First Record, for which JMB did the cover art. Haven't heard the album in years but it holds up well, from the musical arrangements to the coherence of its coolly nihilistic, street scarred worldview. And the late Don Vinil's singing: While it's often said that jazz horn players approximate the human voice, the reverse happens here. Vinil's screechings, skronks and howls are perfect mirrors of and complements to Bob Roberts' atonality.