Come Back, Bourdain, All Is Forgiven

Sep 27th, 2007 // 11 Comments

Earlier today, Jess had a few choice words about Anthony Bourdain’s cliché-ridden Spin back page this month. But that’s nothing compared to these nearly 1,500 words of incoherent gibberish from the new biannual arts journal Paper Monument (a companion publication to the lit mag n+1) by one J.D. Daniels, who jumps right in by telling us, “Rock and roll is a music of mechanized sexuality. That’s why ninety percent of it sounds like clocks fucking.” Does it, now?

That, of course, is just the beginning. Try this bit:

One of my freshman English students, sent to find an example of debased language from the world of the lie, selected an ad for a brassiere promising Sexy fun, 24/7. This is a lot of pressure to put on your urogenital hydraulics. What, no refractory period? No menstruation? No bean soup, no coffee, no long phone calls to old friends, no train trips to the city?

It’s like a parody of bad lit-mag writing–airy, precious, overly studied, self-congratulatory. (I feel sorry for anyone learning about writing from this guy.) And that Daniels is one of those people who hates himself for loving rock (that’s the essay’s topic, it would seem) just makes him both more pompous and more cutesy. And of course, in the great tradition of people who write rock criticism making sure you know that they’re not, you know, rock critics or anything, we get this:

Reading about music is boring, and reading about extremely boring music is extremely boring. Writing about it is no thrill ride, either.

Here’s an idea, then: don’t!

Clocking Out [n+1]

  1. mackro

    He almost reads like Dieter from Sprockets.

  2. iantenna

    this is like one of those college papers that you write to test just how stupid your professor/t.a. is. except s/he is the professor, so who are you messing with? oh, wait, you’re serious?

  3. CharlesRockyPamplin

    so the Swiss invented rock and roll?

  4. enriquez the water bottle

    “Compare this to the old joke about the traveling salesman who’s allowed to sleep in the barn on the condition that he not stick his whanger in the three holes in the barn’s wall….”

    The fuck does that have to do with ANYTHING?!

  5. Cam/ron

    Bourdain’s piece wasn’t too bad – it was well-written and he made a good point that ’77 NYC punk shouldn’t be lionized, despite some of his lazy, historical assessments.

    As for Daniels’s essay, I couldn’t tell if it was a farce or a piece of, ahem, “creative nonfiction.” He contradicted himself several times (i.e. claiming that reading and writing about music is “boring,” even though he wrote passionately about Mingus). At times, he came across as bipolar and his Nietzschean coda nearly made me embarassed that I found Uncle Fred’s concepts to be interesting back in college.

    Here’s my favorite bit:

    “Fucking “classical” music? Who are you kidding, Johnny? I knew you when. High culture is not a stick to beat other people with. That’s what actual sticks are for.”

    Thanks for reminding me about sticks, my dear boy.

  6. Ned Raggett

    one of those people who hates himself for loving rock

    Now you’ve got Joan Jett stuck in my head. For that I thank you.

    As for the article itself — run-of-the-mill more than you can guess, folks. Signed, worker in academia.

  7. gofreescout

    “Clocks fucking?” Ewwwwww.

    Seriously though: I’m trying to work here. Now, my day is all but lost trying to imagine the sound of “clocks fucking.”

  8. Poubelle

    High culture is not a stick to beat other people with. That’s what actual sticks are for.
    This is what passes for academic writing? Because that’s barely average blog snark.

    I am clearly in the wrong major.

  9. Lax Danja House

    Black Flag encouraged us to Rise Above. Very well, then, we have risen. We have risen above Black Flag.

    Noel Gallagher should take notes from this guy.

  10. loudersoft

    wow. Paper Monument. now if they’d only print it on a stack of Charmin.

  11. Dickdogfood

    I think the odds are good this’ll eventually get bloated into a book published by Three Rivers Press. So I guess the guy’s awfully lucky he’s probably never read any Ed Gracyk or Simon Frith: realizing the whole conceptual framework (if you could call it that) girding his um “thoughts” on rock rhythm and sex were smoke and mirrors would just make his deadline that much harder to meet.

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