I have just read this article that was posted online from Vice Magazine (click on the link above to read the article).Forgetting for a minute that the car in the picture has a British License plate, it is safe to assume that the writer of said offensive article is definitely full of shit.
I remember when Vice got started around 1994 and at the time I was living in the city where this happened . It was printed on newsprint and it was a stupid, hollow rag devoid of any meaningful content. If Vice had any lasting social relevance it can probably be the fact that they were one of the first to ridicule everybody and glorify all things ironic. Things were no longer cool on their own merit, but according to the Vice credo they had to be ironic to have any meaning, thus taking their self-righteous mocking of anything that did not conform to their standards to a new level. So it was cool to wear a trucker hat, just as long as it was worn at a jaunty angle and you had never even been inside a big rig. Or you could wear ugly clothing in an ironic fashion just to mock the decade that preceded the current one, and so it went. Does this sound familiar to you? It should because that, to me , defines the very epitome of Hipster culture and all the douchebag-ness associated with it. You read it right, boys and girls; Vice magazine was the catalyst for Hipster culture which continues to plague us to this day.
As the years went by, Vice went on to become an international arbiter of vapid opinions for a hollow culture. I haven't "read" it in a while, because the last time I checked two things happened; first I didn't who they were targeting. Was it hipsters, whiners, moronic ravers, what? Secondly I dearly wanted to punch everyone who was pictured right in the face. So Vice armed with the notion that they possess cultural truths that are above everyone else's, have smugly decided to take on Rockabilly. I'm not sure why the author decided to pick on Rockabilly culture in the first place, there are many subcultures out there that warrant ridicule, specifically hipsters and their filthy, inbred brethren; the Hippies. While I am not disputing the writing ability of the author who is obviously a professional writer, I take issue with the content. The irony inside the irony of using the word poseur in the first paragraph with French spelling and pronunciation seems lost on the author. The pretentious rambling has an underlying tone of a sociology paper for university. It uses a lot of academic words and phrases, and the fact that the author knows fuck all about Rockabilly and the people who love it soon emerges. It becomes readily apparent that she hasn't actually seen any shows and that her biased opinion about Viva Las Vegas was formed by looking at the website. She hasn't actually attended. I've never been hit the head with a hammer, but I think I know what it would feel like, but to write about music you've never heard, on the other hand, is absurd. Her conclusion is that Social Distortion is the epitome of Rockabilly. Nothing personal to Mike Ness and the boys, but that hipster chick needs sum edumacation.
I won't go into a full rebuttal as it would be pointless and a waste of time. Rockabilly fans know who they are and, like myself, would rather spend a lifetime being misunderstood than spend decades explaining themselves. I do, however, find it presumptuous on her part to question the motives, or even the loyalty, of Rockabilly aficionados.
Who, with any certainty, is to say who and who is not a poser. Most Rockabillies that I have ever met were true believers. That is what is so alluring about Viva Las Vegas. 6000 like-minded people converge at The Orleans Hotel to hear great bands that they would never get to see otherwise. The tacit camaraderie is enjoyable, knowing full well that we are all drawn together by a mutual interest. Like dogs who meet on the street and happily wag their tails, we immediately know that we are with kindred spirits and making it quite effortless to strike up conversations with total strangers. I don't recall hearing about any Hipster conventions. Rockabilly fans will travel thousands of miles in old cars lacking catalytic converters, breathe exhaust fumes coming in from various holes and eat lots shitty road food just to get to Viva Las Vegas. Hipsters just don't have the cohones. It takes all their energy just to trundle their crappy fixed-gear bikes to some pretentious art installation in a poorly lit basement somewhere.
As for her conclusion that you have to be dirty to be a true rebel, well I can only surmise that she has been hanging around with to many hippies. If Punks want to be dirty, so be it, if that's their thing. As a somewhat, ahem "older" Rockabilly, in my personal experience, I have to ask what is wrong with a little vanity. There is nothing sadder ( and more frightening) than an old guy who just let's himself go. A nice high and tight haircut will take ten years off you right there. I like fussin' with my hair and getting all greasy. I , and all my greasy buddies around the world, take no small amount of flak because of it. One thing is for certain though; chicks dig it ! From a male point of view, there are few things more satisfying than having a good shave and slapping on some Mennen Skin Bracer. The alcohol burn if you happened to have cut yourself can be exhilarating.
Another good way of preserving your youth is to stay passionate about music. It doesn't really matter what music ( well if your passionate about Nickleback you probably did too many bad drugs in the 80's) as long as you dig some kind of music. More points if you happen to play an instrument or are in a band.
It's not that we think our "scene" is better than other " scenes", we don't actually give it any thought. ( although we do like saying the word rockabilly a lot) . I never thought of myself as being part of any scene. It's just the music and style that I happen to like. We all naturally gravitated to it, drawn by some damned fine music. We are all also drawn to it for the timeless styles that the fifties had to offer such as the clothing and the cars. Has anyone seen a movie from the 70's recently?Yikes! There is a style that did not age well, with those jumbo tie knots, truly bad haircuts and big square clunky cars. Just as Hipsters will look at pictures of themselves in twenty years and ask themselves what they were thinking, fads are just that , fads, and they do not age well. Timeless style remains an anachronism; it will be aesthetically pleasing in any time period. This what probably drew us to the music in the first place; it was the first rock n' roll. The sheer newness of it all, the raw energy, the certain naivete and the experimentation is what made it what it was, and that has stood the test of time. As famous rock critic, Lester Bangs, once stated, " Rockabilly was the only true Rock n' Roll, because it never went anywhere".
That about sums it up. I didn't want go into an overly long analysis on the subject, I just felt that I had to clarify a few points. Sadly, I don't think Vice will ever read this. On the other hand, I may be hearing from their lawyers soon. It doesn't matter either way, I couldn't let this slide without at least commenting on it.
All those hipsters, douchebags, art-snobs and culture whores at Vice will continue tormenting themselves trying to locate new trends, find new ways to ridicule other scenes. and find even stupider clothing. I suspect that the Heavy Metal scene will be their next target, cuz those dudes are over the top in their sub-cultural immersion. Greasers and Greaserettes around the world will not care , we will all be too busy enjoying our lifestyles, listening to music that has the power to stir our souls, and getting a deep satisfaction from the fact that we have haircuts that are way cooler than any Vice magazine's employees will ever be.
So rant on Vice magazine, rant on. As a 19 th century playwright ( I forgot which) once wrote to a critic. " Sir, I am presently in the smallest room of the house. I have your review before me. It will soon be behind me."