Rewriting History

    At the Autry Western Heritage Museum in Los Angeles there is a courtyard and on the three walls surrounding the courtyard is a mural. The mural depicts the expansion of the West from the time of cavemen crossing the Alaskan land bridge during the Ice age, continues to the Indians, to the arrival of the Conquistadors, to the mountain men, to the cowboys, prospectors, settlers, gunfighters, the trains, towns, cities and then the arrival of silent movies, Tom Mix and William S. Hart, to John Wayne and finally Clint Eastwood. What’s wrong with this picture?    Movies and movie stars really are not part of the old west except in that Hollywood is located in California, the home of the Gold Rush. Movies are a part of the continuum of the spirit of the old west. The West lives on in the books, magazine stories and covers, songs and motion pictures that idealize it. I see Rock & Roll as entering into a similar phase.
    The Rock Era is essentially over except for the screaming. The stars have been born and a great many of them have already died. There hasn’t been an influential new genre since the Nineties and now we’re seeing the rise of the “mythical” rock and roller. Spinal Tap, Dewey Cox, Gorillaz, GWAR and several other bands are to rock and roll what John Wayne and Clint Eastwood are to Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid. This new era allows an interesting opportunity; it is now possible to not only become part of Rock history but to actually become part of Rock & Roll’s past. Given enough passage of time it will become difficult to differentiate between an obscure band of the Sixties, Seventies or Eighties and the story of a new musical invention that is presented as though it were an obscure band of a past decade. Fifty years from now Spinal Tap may be considered as much a part of the Heavy Metal scene of the 20th Century as Black Sabbath or Judas Priest.
    When I was in high school I was published in underground magazines and comic books. It was the early 1970s and I considered the underground comix scene as having been a Sixties phenomenon and from San Francisco. What we were doing in L.A. in the Seventies seem to me at the time as a kind of tribute or homage to what was already a bygone era. In the mid-eighties my brother gave me a book, The Underground and New Wave Comix Buyers Guide, as a birthday present. It listed hundreds of underground comic books and cartoonists. He told me there was an index that listed all the cartoonists and suggested I see if I was listed (he already knew). I said I wouldn’t be listed, I wasn’t a real underground cartoonist, just a fan who came along later. But I was listed and with a surprising amount of entrees. After reading the introductory history of underground comics in the book I was surprised to learn that the Golden Age of underground comix was from 1967 to 1974. I am now considered a legitimate part of the history of underground comix, even part of its Golden Age. The passage of time compresses the ages and the bands of today might very well become part of a Golden Age tomorrow.

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1 comment:

  1. Rock and Roll will likely die with the Baby Boomers. As it appears now, Hip Hop will rule next.