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Two Reasons to Ignore Bob Dole
1. People who create art dealing with taboo subjects shouldn’t complain when society lashes back. Over the last 15 years–years filled with heaping hills of pious moralism from our political leaders and increasing cries of repression from their opponents–we’ve seen art grow more explicit in its particulars and more extreme in its themes, from the unlikely commercial success of Blue Velvet and Pulp Fiction in film to the unprecedented commercial hegemony of rock’s most artistically extreme subcultures: rap, grunge, and industrial. The political complaints are essentially reactive in nature; the urge to construct an outre or offensive work and then yell censorship when someone is offended is an adolescent one.
2. Take this oppositional construct–culture versus society–to its logical conclusion, and you see that campaigns against culture strengthen the attacked and weaken the attackers. Even those who support Dole acknowledge that such campaigns are by definition quixotic, for legal and logistical reasons. The more intellectually honest acknowledge as well that they distract from the more pressing problems of violence and degradation in society–problems that of course fester in neglect. The corresponding social decline, engendered cynicism, and societal cognitive dissonance create just that species of exasperation that fuels the most cutting and corrosive art. It’s a scenario that any true fan of rock ‘n’ roll must celebrate.
There are at least two ways to look at the conditions that led to the unappetizing sight of a couple of Chicago rockers dousing each other with urine over the past few weeks. The first is that the Chicago scene–a bursting melange of new, up-and-coming, and would-be stars–is acquiring touches of decadence. The second and more charitable is that the pressures of rock ‘n’ roll produce odd behavior. Given that the parties involved are apologizing for the incidents, it’s possible that in this case the latter is closer to the truth.
The story began two weekends ago at the Borderline bar. Late in the evening, with no provocation, Red Red Meat bassist Tim Hurley urinated on Material Issue frontman Jim Ellison. Ellison, who didn’t know Hurley, was caught off guard; before a fight broke out, Hurley’s friends hustled him out of the bar.
Ellison had his revenge at last weekend’s Red Red Meat show at Metro. The band was several songs into an early morning set when Ellison and a friend rushed the stage, throwing cupfuls of liquid at the band. Everyone in the band got hit, but Hurley and Meat frontman Tim Rutili got it worst.
The band, amused, continued to play–until their noses started twitching. The song fell apart. The crowd was silent. Finally, someone on the floor yelled, “Jim Ellison!”
Realization dawned. Rutili smelled his shirtsleeve, then looked out at the crowd. “It’s urine all right,” he said.
A still angry Ellison confronted Hurley after the show. “I told him that I might pay a similar visit every time he plays a show for the next ten or twenty years,” says Ellison. Hurley apologized.
“He also put the members of his band in a vulnerable and unfair position,” says Ellison. “I apologize to any of them who became involved in this confrontation.”
Hitsville salutes Reader editor Alison True and New Duncan Imperial Rick Mosher on baby Henry Arthur True Mosher, born Tuesday, May 30. . . . Another salute to New City’s Ben Kim, who took home a Lisagor–a local journalism citation given out by the Headline Club–for his Raw Material column. . . . Members of the Smashing Pumpkins, the Mekons, Poi Dog Pondering, Wilco, Urge Overkill, and the B-52’s partied privately at the Double Door with R.E.M. after the band’s Saturday show two weekends ago. . . . Connoisseurs of dopey old-school rock critic Dave Marsh thrill to essays like his paean to Kurt Cobain, reprinted by the Reader last month. You could snicker at his misapprehension of the situationists, giggle at his referrals to Cobain by his first name, chuckle at his inexplicable continuing hostility to harmless Culture Club. Less amusing, however, were his factual errors. First, it was writer Eric Weisbard, not Neil Strauss, who wrote the terrific New York Times story tracing the lineage of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” covered by Nirvana on its Unplugged album. And second, what was that about Pearl Jam playing an “antiabortion concert”? Dumb Dave is referring to a Voters for Choice benefit the group headlined a year ago in Pensacola, Florida, to memorialize the murder of a doctor who performed abortions there. Oops.