Anthony Bourdain Burns Through Every Cliche About Punk Known To Man

Sep 27th, 2007 // 6 Comments

In a stunning feat of black hole-level journalistic compression, author and chef Anthony Bourdain has squeezed every piece of recieved wisdom about punk and the crappy, crappy late 1970s into 1,200 words for Spin. Giving the finger to us Gen X nostalgiamongers, Bourdain hates on the presupposed empty decadence of disco, disses the excesses of prog rock and the limpness of hippies and soft-rockers, maligns the British turning punk into fashion, semi-nostalgically recounts New York’s diseased social collapse of the time (though he does conclude by claiming that it was a pretty awful time to be semi-alive as a junkie), and other stuff we’ve certainly never heard before, even in a “personal reminiscence” on the period.

This was the year that Saturday Night Fever — a decent film about a hopeless, pig-ignorant loser who fills his empty nights by dancing (badly) at a local disco — was criminally misread by millions of people who made its well-portrayed but pathetic protagonist into a hero. Every douche bag in America who could buy a white suit or some heavily adulterated cocaine was suddenly empowered to show you his back fat and chest hair. It was the triumph of the Ron Jeremys. They were everywhere. This was theirtime. This was the year Studio 54 opened, the first time in history when you might find yourself in the same club as your parents, doing the same drug. People would soon be dancing, with a straight face, to the theme music from S.W.A.T. and Star Wars. Unlike in the ’60s, being young or different was considered less desirable than being in the same room as Liza Minnelli. It was the end of a long, dark period when it seemed that we’d all be doomed forever to hear nothing but bloated stadium acts–turgid Rick Wakeman “operas” or the Allman Brothers Band’s “One Way Out”–or the terrifying easy-listening sounds of Loggins & Messina, hippies noodling away on pedal steel guitars and mandolins.

Things do pick up in the paragraph where he discusses his unique experiences as a budding chef caging tickets from starving bands for free meals. And it’s at least well-written griping.

It’s espeically a bummer as I’m a huge fan, but then I guess there’s a reason he’s a food writer and not a music critic. Actually wait, this probably means he should totally be a music critic. And I’ll still be watching the No Reservations Christmas special with stars in my eyes.

Eat To The Beat [Spin]

  1. Ned Raggett

    I get this vision of what R. Meltzer would be like as a chef.

  2. loudersoft

    i’m glad i’m not the only one who caught that piece. i thought more than anything else, it took time to shed a different light on an era that is constantly romanticized with no reference to the incredible pain and strife that created it.

    i’m a bigger fan of bourdain’s now than i already was.

  3. Reidicus

    10 pm, Monday nights. Appointment viewing for me (because I’m too cheap to buy a TiVo.)

  4. nulldevice

    If you’ve read “The Nasty Bits”, it quickly becomes apparent that Bourdain is quickly turning into one of those peculiar kinds of nostaliga junkies that only New York can create. You know, the kind that start with the old-fogey opener of “the kids today don’t get it” but end up reminiscing about punk music and how easy it was to score heroin in Times Square. And no matter how often he seems to recant this stance, he keeps coming back to it.

    He’s a good food writer, although a little testosterone-soaked (do I really need to be bullied and insulted when reading a friggin *cookbook?*) but he tends to lose the plot a bit when he deviates into social commentary.

    His TV show is awesome, though.

  5. Mike Barthel

    I mean, it’s not like he was slagging off Loose Joints or something.

  6. FluxEqualsRad

    I flipped through the issue, and have only read this column so far. Frankly I don’t get Jess’s objection to the piece. A little cliched in parts, but also a good debunking of the “1977″ myth.

    I think a post on the issue would be better tackling the following question:
    Why is Rolling Stone lame for mythologizing the summer of love, but it is ok to mythologize 1977 30 years on? I remember the 20th anniversary of ’67 and all the “20 years ago crap” and thought it was dumb boomer nostalgia at the time. 30 years of punk? Lamest anniversary ever.
    To guote another person who spends too much time in nostalgia “We glorify the past when the future dries up.”

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