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]