Monday, August 07, 2006

NYTimes does Lollapalooza

Originally uploaded by six times mighty.

The nation's newpaper of record continues its flirtation with cool today: a feature on last weekend's Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago. The headline read: A Restless Spirit, but Hold the Rage.

The idea was that Lollapalooza has lost its edge, as compared with the festivals of the same name in the early nineties. True cool, at least as author Jon Pareles seems to feel, consists of seething rage. Not so: cool is too shifty an attitude to be thus typecast.

Cool is about rebellion, but not necessarily about revolution or smashing the system. Cool is much more deeply committed to the performance of individual cool. Cool wants to project mastery over the environment, and rage sometimes helps and sometimes doesn't.

In fact, cool's political impotence is related to its individualism. Activists drop the cause like a hot potato whenever the cause requires action beyond the self. I can be challenged on that thought, but the NY Times seems to view cool through the lens of the revolts of the sixties.

Why should it be baffling if a cross-section of the youth culture can groove to sweetness, as opposed to on-stage guitar smashing? Country fans do it all the time, and should the NYT care to look, contemporary country has arguably more creative juice than hip hop. Instead, author Jon Pareles makes a snide comment that

Social theorists might suggest that five years into the war on terror the relationship of youth culture to authority has changed. Or perhaps most of the good cheap shots were taken a decade ago.

These unnamed social theorists (what is a "social theorist"? A co-worker with strong opinions?)are confusing youth culture with rebellion. What we had in Chicago over the weekend was a party, pure and simple.

It doesn't have to be cool, or rebellious, to be good.


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