Will Vice be The Harbinger of Neo-Grunge?

Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and other places that algorithmically recommend things one should be interested in, I read an article on the Vice media empire. The headline: “Can Vice Get 20-Somethings to Watch the News?” The most intriguing quote was from Vice co-founder Shane Smith on some of the inner workings of the Vice machine:

“Most of the people who work here are 14 years old. They sit two inches from each other. We only employ millionaires’ children.” And later calls Vice “a sweatshop for trustafarians.” Simultaneously a hilarious yet poignant comment on what defines much of today’s culture.

I thought not much of it, finished the article, then went into the backyard to do some seasonal gardening. Tomato plants: gone. Mealy dogwood: uprooted. Hula hoop and toy shovel: stored in the garage. Yet as I worked the article resonated with me. I thought, if engaging the youth in current events is the goal of Vice today, then back in the mag’s early years was it more to get the bored 20-somethings of the late 90s to care?

When sitting back, pondering the genesis of hipsterdom, I often trace it back to Vice, and the importance they laid on the concept of “cool.” I mean, Vice didn’t invent it, they just presented a pre-existing sub-culture in a consumable format. And yeah: back then, I understood what Vice was because I was living it. Watching one of the guys that started the mag drink his own piss on the patio at Foufounes, or letting someone smack my bare ass at a bar in exchange for more beer — these things are what young people do. In your 20’s, getting messed up and having fun is serious business. It wasn’t #YOLO it was punk rock. You don’t fuck around with that. You write about it.

But it’s not 1997. Fifteen years have passed, and my lifetime subscription to the magazine has long been revoked. After having a kid, I was admittedly nervous about having a full-colour, glossy magazine showing stylized images of syringes, used condoms and blood-soaked models lying around the house. In 2008 I posted on my blog a comparison of Vice to the Economist, calling one “stupid” and the other “smart.” At the time, I found it ironic that I held subscriptions to two diametrically opposite magazines. Soon after this post, Vice stopped coming. An independently wealthy intern must have caught it.

Little did I realize that the two magazines were converging, and now I am fascinated by the concept of non-ironic, hipster investigative reporting. And I have to commend the concept of fearless fieldwork and its promotion of xenophilia to a young population that is otherwise totally living in a self-obsessed, social-media infused bubble (see #RKOI as an extreme example).

Today’s culture is at a tipping point, much as it was back in the 90s: we’re waiting for the next Grunge to topple the current mainstream “regime.” The romanticized, nicely packaged version of reality in which we float about must be torn down, and we need to remember that our heroes, and the people and places that influence our very existence, are never perfect.

This post also appeared with a lamer title on HuffingtonPost.ca

What Will Become of the Spinning Newspaper?

One of my guiltiest pleasures is an additcion to PerezHilton.com (everyone has to get their celebrity street trash from somewhere). Anyhow, Perez has been reporting almost daily of cutbacks and layoffs in the media, most recently at newspapers like Tuscon Citizen and Minneapolis Star Tribune.

At any rate, the other day we were watching Spider-Man 2, — which, incidentally, Neptune loves, along with the Star Wars movies. She finds the Ewoks funny, which I think was the intention. — and they showed a spinning newspaper with a headline, pertinent to the storyline. I know with Spider-Man there is a particular relevance to newspapers, what with Peter Parker, the Daily Bugle and all, but it made me think: what will become of the spinning newspaper, if newspapers cease to exist? Will it be replaced with a spinning list of Google Search Results? Who knows.

This post is not anything, but a brief thought on culture, and how things are more interconnected that we sometimes think.

Our News Hits The News

Just want to send out an enormous thank you to everyone. Yes: I’m putting a general, positive vibe out there, in response to the great support from everyone out there. All of your emails and encouragement via Facebook and Myspace are motivating. Can’t wait to get back out there again. As Murray said, this past year has been hard. The band falling apart was tough, but Murray and I have been there before, in that same exact situation with End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story. And putting out that (our first) album, was the beginning of a new era for us personally and also for Canadian music.

With indie rock in a vestigial fade-out (I read even perennial UK indie rockers Kaiser Chiefs proclaiming the genre “boring”…Mr. Wilson, I wholeheartedly agree), the climate is shifting, and Missiles is definitely part of that shift. It is not indie rock, so I don’t feel so bad that Pitchfork has ignored our press releases completely. It’s a diss, but they’ve been reluctant supporters from the beginning. I’d rather be pushed to the outside: I’m used to it.

I also love – and without sarcasm – that NME.com ran the story quoting this very blog. It is a bit of an obvious move on their part to link us to Morrissey, but whatever, that’s what they do, and I respect the Moz greatly so I don’t mind. In all of this, I stand by my quote: “We hope everyone would like [Missiles], journalist or not, but we understand that there are many haters out there so it’s out of our control.” Because the haters really are out there: hating with gusto! Remember in grade school when that bully would push you around, only for you to realise later that actually they had a crazy crush on you? That’s what I think is really going on there…

So thank you to everyone, lovers and haters. See you all very soon.

Nas vs. O’Reilly

Fox News has never been one for being particularly impartial or unbiased: I find it hard to watch because everything they say is so heavily spun. I’m of the mind where news should be unfiltered information, details and facts of an event. Sadly no American news is delivered without some editorial spin, which is why I try to read lots of different versions of the same story: so I can strip down the bullcrap and take away the facts I need to make my own opinion.

Recently, Nas was involved in a protest calling out Fox news and especially commentator Bill O’Reilly (Fox’s Rush Limbaugh) as racist. Then O’Reilly hit back with child-like name-calling, and saying Nas is just getting involved to boost his record sales.

The story I read was that Nas retorted with the zinger: “It’s what he’s supposed to do. He has an image to uphold. He’s a racist. Everybody has a marketing plan; his marketing plan is racism”. But apparently this is a quote from an earlier battle between the two in 2007. Still, an excellent remark. Zung.

So there you go. Nas is a smart dude, O’Reilly is a whiny dinosaur, and all media can be twisted to tell a better story.

Moving Right Along…

In a recent interview on XFM, Morrissey spoke of his new album, saying: “Journalists won’t like it but real people will” And you know I feel the same way…not about his album but about The Dears’ album. I suppose Morrissey has ample reason to have a fatalistic attitude toward the media, though I always assume that an extremely dark sense of humour is layered over everything he says in public. But what do I know? I’m just assuming.

We (The Dears) have been pretty busy planning our release, that we hope at least some journalists will like. We hope everyone would like it, journalist or not, but we understand that there are many haters out there so it’s out of our control. I guess after you’ve released over a dozen records (like Morrissey) you just give up trying to please everyone. I definitely feel a little more hardened with each release. Album number four is comparatively early on in our career, so the optimism and hope are still there. I just can’t help it.

We moved into a proper rehearsal space this week. We’d been jamming in our basement, two or three people at a time and finally when we had a rehearsal with five people it became brutally apparent that we needed a space. The wheels are in motion. We’re coming back.

Morrissey vs. NME (again)

Are you serious? This is breaking headline news: Morrissey vs. NME (again).


This is so mentally frustrating for two, brain-bursting reasons:

1) Since when has the NME been known for printing the straight up facts? They are the kings/queens of spinning stories, of misappropriating quotes, of taking things out of context and generally being sensationalist. I don’t know a single artist who comes away after reading a feature about themselves in NME without feeling misrepresented. It happened to Murray a few years back, and Win Butler explains how he also fell victim to NME’s wiles. I guess NME are trying to make the stories catching or interesting to readers but really at whose expense? It’s like the artist is expected to shut up and be grateful for the press.

2) So a deeper examination of the story leads to Morrissey expressing what is a little obvious to an outsider, which is what I like to call a “polite xenophobia” that almost every human is guilty of having felt at one moment or another. And as usual, some public figures get chastised in the media for being a real person with real honest thoughts, which can result in something like this: Morrissey to Sue NME Over Story. So the spicy quote is (apparently):

“Although I don’t have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears. So the price is enormous. If you travel to Germany, it’s still absolutely Germany. If you travel to Sweden, it still has a Swedish identity. But travel to England and you have no idea where you are”

Dear NME: Have you been to Quebec lately (Pop Montreal doesn’t count)? Have you heard about Bill 101, which since the late 70’s has sought to empower a forced French identity and culture on anyone who wants to live here? Check out the latest, hotly debated Reasonable Accommodation provision going down in Canada, too. What’s the difference between this debate and what Morrissey is suggesting? The wolrd is evolving, the global village asserting itself and homogenising. Canada’s cultural identity and patriotism is already pretty flimsy…I mean the nation is only like 300 years old. Beavers, igloos (which, incidentally, the majority of the population does NOT live in) and maple syrup are basically all we have so we should just hold on to that for as long as possible.

In any event, NME must be loving this, and so too (secretly) must Morrissey’s publicists. Any press is good press, right?