Thursday, February 17, 2005

I´ve been reading Lester Bangs Part 1 (revised and expanded)

Why is the coffee so bad in America? See, tea--I understand. Out shitty Lipton tea, made out of tree bark, or reconstituted death, is nowhere near the standards of our colonial masters, the British. The British have been thru more than we have in the past 300 years, sure we had The Battle of Fort Worth, Gettysburg--but the British--forget it. They lost an empire, went thru the trenches of WWI and the strafings of WWII--yet somehow thru it all (even after losing INDIA) they seem to be able to make a stiff brew. (And then there´s the question of beer...) But tea, still, is a part of the English identity. "Tea" is not merely a drink, it´s a(n) (integral) (force) of British Life. We may not the control the world anymore, YANK, but we can still make a decent cuppa. What do you have to show for your exploits?
Well, to hell with them, we had something called THE BOSTON TEA PARTY. I don´t know the specifics, but I know it was almost a punk rock act to say fuck you to the British for their taxes, their colonial rule, and mostly their TEA. Now, I understand we´ve long since reconciled our differences. But shitty tea is an American legacy. Personally, it is a legacy that I don´t quite agree with because I love a strong cup of tea. Just look at my teeth--they are embossed with a sepia patina and grouted with a tea-brown forever-stain. I would rather be a tea drinker than have a girlfriend. But don´t get me wrong I respect our heritage. I am disappointed almost to the point of shame when I´m in an American household and I´m offered anything but shittaste Lipton, treetasting Celestial Seasonings, or pretentious airtasting Tazo. STASH makes a passable Earl Grey--the bergamont is a tad fruity but is potent--so potent in fact that its potency covers the lack of a SOLID TEA FLAVOR. I mean, even the TEA SNOBS don´t get it right in this country. That´s hilarious and that fact alone is enough alone to fall in love with the US. Some tea snob is effusing about his or her latest loose leaf this or that with some however-many-dollar brewing contraption he or she got conned into buying all the while some construction worker in industrial Birmingham is sipping on something about a hundred times more flavorful: Leafy, pungent; something that stains your teeth, your tongue, your esophagus.

(This is where I go into all the metaphors you can get from the idea of The Boston Tea Party.)

But coffee is another thing. Go to any diner in the US and what you´ll most likely find is some bitter-tasting water. We can put cream and sugar in it and then there´s your coffee. And Starbucks made it worse. STARBUCKS BURNS THEIR BEANS. BURNS EM. (I´m having apostrophe issues with this spanish keyboard.) It´s percolated charcoal. Open up your Brita filter and pour in some cream and sugar and you got yourself a tall drip. (By the way, I think Starbucks and Kinkos should partner and retrofit existing Kinkos and change the name to Starbinkos--there´s another million idea for you. Though they might start mixing the copy and coffee filters and you´d get Colombia Carbon Decaf and Sumatra Xerox.) (And, incidentally, I´ve cut open a Brita filter and there´s no charcoal in it. There are these tiny beads of what I assume is some sort of plastic. There was no evidence of any chemical filth sopped out of three months of use, though the tiny beads were grayishly mottled. Though this was a year ago, I don´t exactly remember. It was a mess, I know that. The beads were wet and seemed to want to stick to everything and get everywhere. The experience was marginally interesting--ultimately kind of disappointing. I guess I didn´t expect it to be so clean insisde--what exactly does a Brita filter do_ I recall on the the Brita filter box it talking about some sort of process involved with ions. ANd plus it seemed to be FRENCH--and who would know, besides the Germans and the Japanese, better than the French about PURITY. I lost some faith in the process at the time, I recall. Though I had less faith in the pipes of the ailing house I was renting a basement out of at the time. Classic Wizard of Oz disillusionment scenario.)

So I guess Starbuck is the Yuppie ticket out of coffee-hell. Like all the Yuppie tickets, it´s a scam, a fraud and virtually a national tragedy. I don´t know how many times I´ve seen Richard Hell on TV delivering his gloating screed about the hippies. That the hippies were wrong. That the 70´s proved that the whole hippy movement was a sham. He says this with glee, proto-punk that he is. And where is RIchard Hellman when he delivers this post mortum sermon on the mount? I don´t know. It looks like he´s at a seaside mansion. He is backgrounded by some idyllic seascape, as if on another plane of existance. It´s teatime on his Astral Plane, and he´s got a Bombay Sapphire martini offscreen. What the Hell is this guy? He didn´t make any money off of Blank Generation. I haven´t seen a Volkswagon commercial with it yet. Did some body, the Yuppie board of control perhaps, give Richard hell a ___ check for being an asshole about the hippy movement? What´s Richard Hell´s real name, Richard Rockefellar? Richard Shriver? I don´t think that the Hippies en masse got us where we are. I know know what it was. I don´t think we should be sentimental about the hippies ever--those were different times. It was segment of time where a large portion of the population had a little bit of a more open mind than they did before--until it got swallowed up in the tide. (I don´t know what tide. The Cosmos. Chaos theory. Game theory. Capitalism--choose your pick.) BUT it was cultural ice-breaking that was absolutely essential. And self-smug punks like Richard Hell CAN EAT IT. The punk ´movement´ (the original, organic movement before 1977) was a necessary reaction to the tendency to want to turn everything into a system. Every aspect of hippie culture was probably assimilated in the mainstream and commodified, and the free trash aesthetic of Punk has never REALLY been co-opted. Just as Pat Boone never really was Little Richard. (Green Day vs. Sex Pistols.) But FREE SPIRIT Mick Jagger is ossified and corporatized.

But the reality of co-option of Hippie Culture does not negate its intrinsic worth. (Ironic reference of some sad Icon of Hippiedom.) But seriously, Starbucks may prove Richard Hell Right, and that really grinds my crankshaft. And I go to Starbucks! Hell, how can you not? When I´m on the road I look out for two signs: A Wendy´s and a Starbucks. (That was GENIUS of them to get on the roadway signs on the interstate!) And I´m usually happier when I see a Starbucks. I say to myself: All right! I´m FINALLY in civilization here. I imagine a Black Flag reunion tour and Rollins and crew rolling past the Starbucks. Rollins saying to himself, ´Damn that Starbucks, I want some coffee, MAN, I want some mean fuckin´coffee and I just can´t take anymore Truck Driver bean-water. I need something that will rage in my throat and punt my abdomen and kick up my heartrate to rollin´ ragin´speed! NEXT time we pass one--I don´t care what these motherfuckers say--I´m gonna stop the VAN, I´m gonna say, I need some fuckin´coffee--I see it in my mind. They can´t say shit. I´ve been straight edge forever and these faggots don´t drink beer anymore or pop pills besides paxil. Then just like their fuckin´ce-LES-tial SEA-son-INGS. FUCK THAT SHIT! I WANT SOME COFFEE!´
And then...miraculously, on the horizon, upon the green, glinting Food and Attractions sign:
Oh FUCK YEAH! he thinks. ´Hey guys! I´m stopping for some coffee.´
Greg Ginn and the guys look up from their tour snooze and SUV glossy mags.
´HEY, a STARBINKOS!´
´We can make some more fucking´flyers and SST catalogs too!´
´Man, that´s so HANDY!´
Rollins grins and thinks, ´And I can get some real fuckin´coffee!´

1 comment:

erroneous said...

now THAT's angry & sloppy.

but what about hunter thompson?