Saturday, February 09, 2013

Punks with Laptops

Photo by Beck Diefenbach for the Chronicle
of Mansbach trying hard to look cool

We have Punks with Guns, Punks on Bikes, Punks with Spraycans, and now we have Punks with Laptops, like novelist Adam Mansbach in this morning's Chronicle, who romanticize and enable the Punks with Spraycans who vandalize our neighborhoods:

When Adam Mansbach was thinking about the protagonist of his new novel, "Rage Is Back," he wanted a narrator who would be "digressive, funny, stoned a lot, and would take the reader on a wild ride." He envisioned a street-savvy Brooklyn teen who was versed in high and low culture, in the writings of the ancient Greek poet Homer and the lyrics of the rapper Jay-Z.

Here's a sample of Jay-Z's lyrics from a "song" on his first album:

Aiyyo Jay word up; these motherfuckers
Fuckin talkin that comeback shit like they cookin crack
Shit I ain't frontin all I want my pockets green like slum change
Yaknahmsayin? Front the roll we roll back like rubbers motherfucker
For real; with no trace of AIDS
We keep our pockets fully blown, Roc-A-Fella click nigga

Aiyyo we pattin down pussy from Sugarhill to the Shark Bar
Fuck a bitch D in the marked car
We got the bad bitches gaspin for air in Aspen
Searchin for aspirin when I ask then, we swing
You cling we do our thing and bring
Sling your ding-a-ling from Bed-Stuy Brooklyn to Beijing

You can see how much this drivel has in common with Homer.

With stories like this, the Chronicle is trying in vain to interest the backward children---chronological adults only---who dominate our popular culture.

The city's print media has often pandered to the city's "youth culture," a contradiction in terms. Back in 2007, after violent incidents during Critical Mass, the Chronicle pandered to the bike people with a positive front-page story on that monthly, traffic-snarling demonstration. The Bay Guardian thinks graffiti/tagging vandalism "gives the city a nice flavor" and runs stories about teaching children how to commit this kind of vandalism. The SF Weekly thinks the city should "deprioritize" the fight against graffiti/tagging vandalism, and runs a front-page story on a so-called "spray-can" artist. Progressive former District 5 Supervisor Matt Gonzalez invited a tagger to deface his office walls in City Hall.

It's not just San Francisco. The LA Museum of Contemporary Art did a show on graffiti a couple of years ago. It's a little surprising that SF Moma hasn't followed suit yet.

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