Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010

Song: This Ain’t No Picnic

with one comment

Ok… I’ll do my entry in our song contest. (Warning: personal and self-indulgent)

When I was 15 I used to hang out in this local record store called Mystic Disc. The kind that doesn’t really exist anymore thanks to our Apple overlords (Mystic Disc actually does, but I think they only sell rare vinyl to collectors now).

I would just go in and the guy at the desk, Jim, would literally tell me what to buy. It was like that scene in High Fidelity where Jack Black yells at the guy for not owning Blonde on Blonde. We’d talk about how fucking loud Mission of Burma was when they toured New London back in 1981, which Husker Du album to buy, argue about whether Sandinista! was a decent album or not. All that stuff.

Back then, of course, it could actually be hard to find albums that you wanted. I remember him telling I had to get Pink Flag by Wire, but there was no way to find it in the states. You had to order it from this special British website. And to get Entertainment by Gang of Four, I had to bid some crazy amount on Ebay. Of course, the hunt was part of what made the music special, feeling like I had been initiated into this elite crew, while everyone else out there was listening to Everclear and shit like that.

Obviously thanks to the spread of the internet and the iTunes store, both music and also information about music is much more accessible. You don’t need to know someone (even if it was just a store clerk) to get turned on to the cool music, the way you used to, you can just sign onto Pitchfork or Allmusic. Obviously this is more democratic, but it also strikes me as a bit flatter, a bit less personal.

Anyways… sorry for the self-induglence. This is all a build up to my political song choice, which is The Minutemen’s This Ain’t no Picnic. Its off Double Nickels on the Dime, their 1984 double-album classic. Everyday I used to drive to school listening to this album, and I suspect it did more to politicize me than anything I ever read.

Plus this is an awesome fucking music video.

By the way, their name, The Minutemen, does not refer to the length of their songs, as is often assumed. Rather it was their attempt to mock a fringe right-wing group of that name. D.Boon and Mike Watt’s previous band had been called “The Reactionaries.” Anyway… proving, I suppose, that the modern right-wing is unmockable, now everyone thinks of the racists from Arizona when they hear “The Minutemen.” Suffice to say, D. Boon, a man of the Left, would have been horrified (he died in a car crash). But also, probably, a bit amused.

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Written by Peter Wirzbicki

December 2, 2010 at 08:30

One Response

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  1. […] of the manifold ways politics fruitfully intersects with music, see these thoughtful posts by Luce, Wiz and, […]


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