Friday, March 25, 2011

The Minutemen

I have never defined myself as a punk, as in punk rocker. In fact when punk ("that howling brat left on the doorstep") first appeared, I took great pleasure in ridiculing it and insulating myself with Charlie Parker, Eric Dolphy, and others.

But I had this girlfriend who, shall we say, straightened me out. Gave me to understand that the generalized disgust and contempt for the world, expressed in a lot of punk, dovetailed with my own sometimes snarling worldview.

"After all," she said, "this is the stuff of our generation."

And so I opened up my ears and my mind.

One of the bands I got into for a time was the Minutemen. I wasn't a huge fan, never saw them perform, none of that. But there were a smattering of songs I liked a lot.

But the years went by, as they do, and I forgot about most of this. Still listened, still kept my ears open. My generation began to get flabby, and sag; to get gray; and in some horrifying instances grow truly conservative.

A couple of years ago I joined Netflix. Netflix has this sometimes annoying feature where they recommend movies to you: If you liked this, then you might like this. Of course they just want you to keep renting stuff.

One day, a recommendation for a documentary called We Jam Econo showed up on my Netflix account. Full title: We Jam Econo, The Story of the Minutemen. "I remember those guys!" I thought, with a gentle wave of nostalgia.

By then I had pieced together the fact that a Minutemen song called "Corona" was used in a movie called Jackass. I don't know anything about Jackass, but I don't think Netflix will ever recommend it to me. Not my cup of tea. My kid likes it though. He's fifteen.

Anyway I rented We Jam Econo. The fact is that I hadn't thought of, or heard about, the Minutemen in many years, and knew almost nothing about them. But I watched the film with great interest.

Partway through the viewing, I noticed that many of the references to D. Boon, the Minutemen's guitar player (the heavy guy in the above video), were in the past tense. And sure enough, the film concludes with D. Boon's death – in an automobile accident in 1985.

By the time I heard about it more than twenty years had passed. I still felt awful, though – one of those pieces of bad news that lingers for days. D. Boon and Minutemen bass player Mike Watt were best friends from the time they were about twelve. The whole death sequence is really heartbreaking.

Watt is still around. He's on Facebook, has a web page, and performs sometimes with Iggy Pop, among others.

No comments:

Post a Comment