The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

19 January 2003

Rock down to Eclectic Avenue

Peter Schickele opens his weekly radio show with a quote from Duke Ellington: "If it sounds good, it is good." And Schickele's selections are nothing if not eclectic; over the years he's played everything from the Allman Brothers to Jan Dismas Zelenka. But Schickele's a white guy, and a Midwestern white guy at that, and according to our self-appointed Ministers of Cultural Diversity, he must therefore be counted among the oppressors. No claim is made that this is why funding for Schickele Mix seems to have evaporated, but sometimes I wonder.

Meanwhile, David "Clubbeaux" Sims has had it up to here with this sort of thing:

[T]hese multicultural asswipes thought they were doing themselves a favor by forcing black, Hispanic, Caribbean, Indian, Native American and whatever the hell cultures down the throat of the 87% of Americans who are of British ancestry, what they really did was reduce America to a series of ghettoes. White Americans have proven, over time, to be the most fair-minded, open-minded, culturally sensitive people on the face of the earth in world history, but never has any identifiable cultural demographic been more vilified for being culturally insensitive. Nobody ever — ever — criticizes blacks for not listening to bluegrass, but whites are routinely criticized for not listening to the rap stool pounding out at offensive volume from the car next to you at the stoplight, where your three-year old has to listen to "F-word my ho" this and "F-word" that. That's the end result of "multiculturalism," being forced to endure absolute garbage just because a non-WASP is perpetrating it.

I'd quibble with that 87-percent figure, and I'm not quite sure what he means by a "rap stool", unless he's referring to a product of defecation — which he very well could be, given some of the, um, crap on the radio these days — but definitely he's on to something. I have, or can get, access to an almost infinite variety of music, and my tastes do range fairly widely, but given my nonstatus as Person of No Recognizable (or Exploitable) Color, it is presumed that if I scorn some particular marketing category, it must be because of some toxic animus towards those individuals who produce it. (Translation: "You don't like hip-hop? So how long have you been taking marching orders from Trent Lott?")

This, of course, is horse puckey. Rap, like any other cultural endeavor, is subject to Sturgeon's Law. And when it was literally fresh, it was new and startling and entertaining. Then someone got the idea that it should be promoted, not as a genre, but as an Authentic Folk Voice, bluegrass with sidewalks and manhole covers, and distaste for it could be explained only by the most vicious racism. It's been going downhill ever since. I'm not suggesting that we pluck kids from the inner city and give them a daily dose of Debussy or anything, but letting them grow up with the descendants of Bad, Bad Leroy Brown as role models isn't doing them one damn bit of good, either.

Posted at 1:07 PM to Tongue and Groove

Interesting point, one that I didn't wish come cloaked with a hint of bigotry. If I don't own "The Chronic" (which I did at one time, but in an effort to Clean Up The CD Collection for my 12 year old, I sold) then I am somehow not sensitive. But, no one ever accuses an innercity resident of not being sensitive b/c he or she doesn't own "Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 1"

Posted by: Chris at 3:06 PM on 20 January 2003

There is perhaps some irony in the fact that most infusions of black culture into the so-called mainstream have been a positive boon, and all it takes is a look at the 1955 Billboard pop charts to see what I mean. Or consider this: the mid-Sixties British Invasion, by and large, was propelled by English acts who had learned to play Chuck Berry, the original brown-eyed handsome man himself.

I knew (this would be, oh, late 80s or so) a young black woman who was devoted to Elton John and Billy Joel and the like, and she seemed almost apologetic about it, as though if someone found out she'd be hauled into Culture Court. How common this phenomenon might be, I have no idea.

Posted by: CGHill at 3:42 PM on 20 January 2003