Wednesday, December 01, 2010

what is the what

zeitgeist: the spirit of the time; general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period of time

i remember a band called zeitgeist that was fairly popular in austin while i lived there. i didn't dig them, necessarily. i was way more in like with their name. and as is often the case with college bands on a college campus in a college town, that name seemed to be everywhere. somebody was always putting up some poster for some gig they were doing, someplace. or it was an old poster somebody refused to take down, or forgot about, because they thought it looked so cool. like that old poster, they somehow became a part of the everyday inner workings of whatever was happening in the fabric of our collective liberal arts existence. when they eventually changed their name to the reivers, everyone and everything seemed to flow right along with that. and that was that.

i remember sitting in some coffee shop on the drag (probably captain quackenbush's, now that i think about it) and asking some friend of mine (probably a texas-german who spoke german -- more common than you will ever know), what does zeitgeist mean? their expansive yet succinct explanation (college! coffee shops! intellectual discussions! fun!) and the way that germans can say everything with so few words illuminated so much about german culture that i still find interesting.

so when i say that word, i think of that band, the one everyone seemed to like except me. and that sends me careening back to my college years in austin and all the other bands that were the soundtrack to my world. i liked oboyo but i loved reverend horton heat -- and i still do. i saw him at hole in the wall, once. they had ten cent beer happy hour and a bunch of tex-mexicans dragged me in there. i didn't drink at all, i was just there to buy up as much beer as i could for my dollar so everyone else could drink with abandon. oh -- and play pool. bull and i played a lot. i actually got good at it, from hanging out in that bar. oh, yeah -- i liked agony column. i distinctly remember going to the french house to hear them and having way too much fun all night long. i didn't drink beer -- still don't -- but there was an impressive 25 kegs at that punk rock soiree and your $5 at the door meant that you could drink as much as you could hold -- and believe me, they did.

and of course, there was the butthole surfers. i still love them. a lot.

this is the part where i tell you that rock and roll is supposed to be dangerous, that it's supposed to scare you, freak you out, and that fear is a part of the fun of it all. i challenge you to think of the last time you saw any rock and roll that put the fear of God in you, or that even made you raise your eyebrow just so. were you even moved? probably not.

for the record: i've never seen any rock and roll in new york city that was even remotely dangerous. i've heard tell they had quite a bit of it in the 70s but that's another conversation.

the first time i saw the butthole surfers, i was at the ritz on 6th street. at one point, they were playing onstage and this hanna-barbera cartoon of augie doggie and doggie daddy was showing over them (literally) and superimposed over that there was this black and white documentary type film showing this guy getting castrated. tata the shit woman was throwing her filthy, half-naked body around with a fury. it looked like some invisible monster had her by any available limb that it could grab and was flinging her all over the place. somewhere in there, the lead singer gibby haynes -- who looks like he just committed a murder -- pulls out a double barrel shotgun and fires over the packed crowd. everyone was mesmerized.

maybe what i was identifying with was the wierd element they wallowed in, not necessarily the dangerous vibe.

*sigh* how green was my valley...

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