Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Magnet School of Rock

An eminently punchable face if ever there was...

Once again, the Baltimore City Paper just cranked out their annual Big Music Issue. How things change: my last article for them (one of the Big Music Issue '05 cover stories) examined why a city with such a perennially fecund underground escaped any larger notice for so long; now, not only does Charm City sport one of the highest municipal musical profiles in America, but there's an even a eulogy for the passing of the DC scene, that former Spindletop of East Coast cred.

Were the wit a bit dryer in Baltimore, I could already see the column space dedicated to dissecting the two cities' Revenge of the Nerds-type role-reversal: the brooding high-school chick-magnet, all James Dean cool, (Washington, DC) is showing wrinkles and has coagulated into a curmudgeon, while his nerdy, hyperactive younger brother (Baltimore) has matured into a cultural Galapagos, and now everyone wants to hear his weirdo ramblings.

Instead, we're treated to the same smug, Love-Me-But-Leave-Me-Alone solipsism displayed by every two-(million)-bit whore hounded by the paparazzi. Now that the underdog's been pronounced prime pedigree, the City Paper staff have grown more & more accustomed to spitting invective at "woefully misinformed out-of-state writer[s] extolling our city as the promised land of American pop music" (as though this is somehow objectionable), going so far as to call them "carpetbagging Baltimore boosters."

When I mentioned this to one of my Atlanta-bred cousins, he damn near spit out his beer. "They call them carpetbaggers?! Do they know what that means?"

It's a frightfully loaded term that harbours no small amount of hate, though I'm willing to guess the young (maybe?) writers who toss it around so casually haven't a broad enough awareness of the word's history, and are just flexing their thesaurus. But if they're fully aware of the word's weight? That lands them in the tar pits of hypocrisy mighty quickly: how embarrassing it must be that about 8 out of every 10 bands under the Baltimore brand aren't native Baltimoreans. Ponytail, The Death Set, Ecstatic Sunshine, and the don of ADHD, Dan Deacon, are all out-of-towners.

Shameful, Baltimore. Shameful. Let a bunch of SUNY Purchase art students do all the work, BELIEVing more in the city's vitality than the city itself, and jaded homeboys take the credit. Pathetic.

Oh, wait! Sorry: Beach House! Yeah, totally the keystone of the scene. (Nods off)

So then where are all the real Baltimore bands at? Brooklyn.

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