Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 7, 2015
This is funny and painful at the same time, something the writer, Deborah Coughlin, gets in spades.
There is no such thing as a punk credit card
One of a new range of credit cards featuring the Sex Pistols, with the group’s name and record sleeve artwork appearing on the cards from Virgin Money. Photograph: Virgin Money/PA
Tuesday 9 June 2015
Loads of big businesses like to think of themselves as being a little bit edgy. They’ll plunder and pillage pop culture to find inspiration then try to sell it back to us – whether it’s some kind of generic revolutionary spirit, feminism or, most often, punk.
Yet like a perfectly nice dad having a midlife crisis, most of the time this punk edge is as flimsy as a Marks & Spencer leather jacket. It ends up coming across a bit “Danger would be my middle name, if my real middle name wasn’t Derek”. Not cool capitalism, not cool.
Of course this wouldn’t be possible if punks stuck to their anti-establishment, nonconformist guns. But punk really has become a big business bitch, coz, ya know, we’ve all got mortgages to pay.
This can be the only explanation behind Virgin proclaiming on Twitter: “Introduce a little anarchy to your wallet with our new Sex Pistols credit card.”
First off, there is no such thing as a punk credit card. It’s impossible to be in the midst of an anarchic frenzy while committing to 18.9% APR. Second, for Virgin to suggest that their customers should treat this new product of theirs in anyway nihilistically seems to be a huge commercial risk. “It’s a big bit of our history”, pleaded Virgin, as Twitter went WTF? True, but that was before you became a bank. This is, as one of the card designs states, bollocks.
Here’s a rundown of four other ways in which punk has never been so unpunk.
Former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon in adverts for Country Life butter. ‘This is often cited as the moment punk died.’ Photograph: Country Life/PA Wire
1. John Lydon’s Country Life butter advert
“It is important to realise that in all the years I have been in the music industry the only people that treated me with any real respect was a butter manufacturer,” said Lydon in 2009. This is often cited as the moment punk died – and it was way before the artist formerly known as Johnny Rotten signed up to those credit cards. I’d actually suggest that it’s last spit dried up a few years earlier, when in 2004 Lydon joined the cast of I’m a Celebrity, the series best known for Katie Price and Peter Andre getting it on. Forget punk, the only music that inspired was Andre’s “classic” single Insania.
2. Iggy Pop sells Swift insurance
I’m not sure how Iggy got away with slightly less ridicule than Lydon. Maybe he’s more likeable. Maybe internet-based insurance is a less firebrand issue than butter. Or maybe it’s because this advert came two years after Lydon’s and by this point we’d all resigned ourselves to a future where middle-aged musicians will end up selling us crap. The advert was later banned for being misleading, as the insurance didn’t cover musicians.
3. Vivienne Westward going to the 1997 Cool Britannia party at No 10 and accepting her damehood
Westwood now says that not only would she never have darkened Blair’s doorstep if she’d known what he was going to do in government, but also claims she thought she was going to the party of Tony Banks. It is very punk not knowing whose house you’re going to and not really caring. However, when she turned up at Buckingham Palace I’m guessing she knew who she was going to curtsy to – albeit knickerless.
4. PIL and Ramones merch in Primark
How was Primark going to get more rebellious, edgy teens through its doors? By flogging Ramones cushions and Public Image Ltd T-shirts, that’s how. Assuming a high level of punk ignorance in their target customer base, Primark make a handy factsheet including things like the “key looks” for being a Ramone: “Leather jackets and lots (and lots) of hair!” Plus historical background: “Fun fact: This lot are often noted as the first punk rock group. Ever.”
Capitalism bred punk; today it well and truly buried it.
Posted in life, music, music industry, punk, punk rock | Tagged: Deborah Coughlin, Iggy Pop, John Lydon, music, music industry, PIL, punk, punk rock, Ramones, rock, rocknroll, Sex Pistols, There is no such thing as a punk credit card, Virgin, Vivienne Westward | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 19, 2014
Rest in peace Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny and Tommy.
Though I’m not sure heaven is the right place for the Ramones.
Posted in life, music, punk, punk rock | Tagged: Dee Dee Ramone, Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, life, music, punk, punk rock, The Ramones, The Ramones go to heaven, Tommy Ramone | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 11, 2014
Archie McPhee is a well known novelty/toy/curio company now located in Seattle, Washington. When I first became acquainted with AMcP, in the mid-1980s, they were more the traditional whoopie cushion/dribble glass/rubber chicken/x-ray specs kind of outlet, with a strong penchant for the idiosyncratic and exotic. They’ve continued to stock up with zany, wacky products from pugilistic nuns and bacon bandaids to Bigfoot action figures and two groom/bride cake toppers. But the passing years have taken a toll on what AMcP is allowed to sell.
During the 90s, I’d purchase their super awesome surprise boxes/bags chock full of goofy toys and trinkets, whereupon I would sort through my treasure, divide the loot into smaller piles for reshipment to friends in NYC, and further cull favorite items for my personal use. AMcP at one time offered a line of anatomically correct miniature skeletal parts–hip bone, clavicle, femur, or what have you–all made of hard white plastic in exquisite detail with a metal ring inset to make the toys into keychains. One of those items in question was a replica human skull, pictured below.
As I was heavy into punk rock at the time, I collected the skulls from the treasure boxes/bags and slowly doled them out as favors to special friends. But then, AMcP stopped stocking the anatomically correct tiny plastic toys, and I couldn’t order them from their catalog anymore. When I called to ask about getting more, the AMcP rep informed me that they had been discontinued because the toys were hard, plastic, and little enough to be potential swallowing hazards for small kids. Such were the consequences of protecting the children from the harm of these trinkets. I kept one skull as a personal keychain (note the grit and grime from decades of handling) and reserved one in case I lost the original. Now I worry about losing my one-of-a-kind AMcP skull keychain, having already lost my source for replacement plastic keychain skulls. Everything changes, and eventually we lose everything, including our lives. But I still resist these inevitable losses.
That’s one teensy step for a thumbnail-sized panda bear.
A NYC friend, Pickles of the North
, talks about “The Rapture of the Tiny
” on her website. I certainly enjoy the extraordinary detail to these no-longer-available plastic keychain skulls. But my anxiety over losing these ultimately inconsequential objects in my life is not yet capable of overcoming any rapture of the tiny inspired by them.
Posted in life, punk, punk rock | Tagged: "The Rapture of the Tiny", Archie McPhee, novelty/toy/curio company, NYC, Pickles of the North, punk, punk rock, resisting loss, toy skull keychain | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 3, 2014
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….
Maximum Rocknroll, the magazine I write for, used to publish “Book Your Own Fuckin’ Life” as a kind of Whole Earth Punk Rock Booking Catalog. Then it went online, then it died, and now its back. I can’t vouch for its quality, but here it is.
Also, a local Bay Area booking resource is now in play, called “Burn Down The Bay.” Again, I can’t vouch for its quality, but it is available online. Enjoy.
Posted in Book Your Own Fuckin' Life, Burn Down The Bay, DIY, Do It Yourself, life, Maximum Rocknroll, punk, punk rock | Tagged: Book Your Own Fuckin' Life, Burn Down The Bay, DIY, Do It Yourself, Maximum Rocknroll, punk, punk rock | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 29, 2013
Ah, Yiddish. It’s such an expressive language. With the violent destruction of most of eastern European Jewry, the immigration of those who survived to the United States or Palestine has seen Yiddish threatened by assimilation in the case of the former and by outright disapproval in the case of the latter. I’ve discussed the potential revival of Yiddish with a local book vendor who once recommended I read IJ Singer’s The Brothers Ashkenazi. He contends that without a truly vital large-scale (read “national”) Jewish culture in which Yiddish can be nourished, the language is ultimately doomed.
Be that as it may, consider the variety of Yiddish words for the word penis alone. Putz, schmuck, schmeckel, shlong, shvantz, and the one I’m featuring here, pud. I recently wrote a science fiction story in which PUD features prominently as an acronym for Public or Private Urban Drone. P.U.D., get it?
In my near future, urban drones are ubiquitous, owned and operated by public or private entities such as the police or corporations. First off, it is perfectly legal for individuals to own their own drones and spy on their neighbors. Then, there’s the potential for corporate ownership of drones, already a reality. The use of police drones is a highly contentious issue, as is the FBI’s use of drones for domestic spying. Perhaps the most interesting, and most scary site I’ve linked to in this post is DIY Drones, which speaks for itself.
DIY?!? Remember when punk rock first started using the term do it yourself? Now we’re talking about DIY drones!
Yiddish is discouraged in Israel as a gutter or mongrel language by the Israeli state and the Hebrew speaking Israeli society. Which is why I love this joke:
Retiring from a big corporate job in LA, Marvin moves to Tel Aviv. (So nu, you were thinking maybe he’d move to a kibbutz?)
Wanting to contribute to nation-building somehow he focuses on stock-trading, the only vocation he knows. But, to commute to his new humble penthouse office, he refuses to drive a Mercedes like everyone else so he buys himself… a camel.
Every night Marvin parks his camel in the garage under his Tel Aviv Condo and the next morning he mounts the camel for the commute to his new office in Ramat Gan.
One day Marvin comes down to the parking garage and the camel is gone… stolen!
He calls the police who arrive within minutes. The first question is “What color was your camel?”
Marvin replies he doesn’t remember, “Probably camel colored I guess… sort of brownish-greyish.”
“And how many humps on your camel?’ asks the policeman.
“Who counts humps… one, maybe two, I don’t know for sure.”
“And the height of the camel, sir?”
“What’s with these dumb questions?” Marvin asks. “The camel was about three feet taller than I am. So maybe 9 feet, 10 feet. I can’t be certain.”
“Just one last question to complete my report, sir. Was the camel male or female?”
“Ah, that I know for sure he was a male.”
“How can you be so certain of his sex when you don’t remember anything else about your camel” asks the policeman.
“Well,” says Marvin, “everyone knows he’s a male. Every day I’d ride the camel to work through the streets of Tel Aviv and people would stop and say to each other… ‘Look at the schmuck on that camel!’ “
Posted in Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, corporations, Drones, FBI, life, Military Drones, NSA, police, Police Drones, private contractors, Private Drones, privatization of war, punk rock, security privatization, U2, US military, Yiddish | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 22, 2007
Punk Planet has printed its last issue. #80. A sad day, indeed.
As a writer for PP‘s chief rival, Maximum Rocknroll, I always sneered that PP was “punk lite.” Tim Yohannan’s assertion that MRR was the bible of punk rock, and his heavy-handed attempts at defining what was and wasn’t punk, in part motivated Dan Sinker to start PP, and later for Jeff Bale to start Hit List. To Sinker’s everlasting credit, PP was never merely a reaction to MRR. It had its own style, focus, and audience, not to mention its own understanding of what punk was all about.
PP‘s demise comes on the heels of Clamor publishing its last issue. It’s never good news when a small independent magazine goes under. Punk Planet will be missed.
Posted in Clamor, Dan Sinker, Hit List, Jeff Bale, life, Maximum Rocknroll, MRR, punk, Punk Planet, punk rock, Tim Yohannan | 1 Comment »