by Pat Darnell
Bryan-College Station, TX | 04.19.2010
In a conference room at St. Agatha’s is Dr. Harbor– a Presbyterian Minister–, David Crosby, and Johnny Lydon. It is the year 1995.
Dr Harbor [Presbyter Minister]: “I have known both of you all your lives; I know your parents and I have performed marriages and funerals for many of your relations.”
[Crosby and Lydon both nod in agreement to what Dr. Harbor is saying.]
Dr Harbor: “You both sang in the choirs from childhood till you left in your late teens, correct?” Both nod yes. “I baptized you, Johnny, in 1968 when you were twelve, and I baptized you David in 1953.”
“Now Johnny I have you both here because it is time you own up to the fact that your music is not as good as David’s. Therefore, I ask you to consider the long term part of your golden years as Johnny Rotten?”
Johnny: “Why is that Dr Harbor? I have a large following! [A bit shocked]”
David: “Hey, I’m a happy guy. When I get an idea I want to pursue it immediately because there is a certain surge of muse juice right at that point [laughter].”
Dr Harbor: “I want you both to know I was there at the birth of Rock ‘n Roll. I know in my heart what spawned it, and I have suffered the up and down roller coasters in my days, of pop culture and its impact on our liturgy. Yes?”
Johnny: [looks very unhappy] “You two are making me feel rotten. I have tried to end Rock ‘n Roll. It’s an old fashion format, idiots performing, and it’s a plague, it’s rotten, it’s a disease.”
Dr. Harbor: “To continue, coming from a non-musical background… I will try instead to compare to decadence:“
Satire is the last flicker of originality in a passing epoch, as it faces the on-road of staleness and boredom. Freshness has gone: bitterness remains. The prolongation of outworn forms of life means a slow decadence in which there is repetition without any fruit in the reaping of value. There may be high survival power. For decadence undisturbed by originality or by external forces is a slow process. But the values of life are slowly ebbing. There remains the show of civilization, without any of its realities. (Whitehead, Alfred N; 1955, Adventures of ideas)... “Due to numerous present-day responsibilities, even “Muse Juice” is no longer what it once was… fits very well – for instance the intent of artists, musicians and painters alike, to get off the stuff; to get clean of substance abuse. Like these lyrics --
If I could just make it [off] this time, I’d never need to read another highway sign;
Smoking [ditch] weed, drinking rocket fuel… brother tell me where you been? (0:56, Salvation, Pribek)
And David’s lyrics of one of his first songs:
When I finally get myself together
I’m going to get down in that sunny southern weather
And I find a place inside to laugh
Separate the wheat from the chaff
I feel like I owe it to someone (D Crosby, Almost cut my hair)
“I ask you two my esteemed students… lyricists, com-mentors, tort-mentors and emailers, is this our way of being part of “those who deplore decadence because we are nostalgic for a golden age of social unity, while those who praise decadence elevate the self-aware, seemingly self-determined individual, answerable only to himself/herself?”
“If so, then this is where you, Johnny Rotten, come in… between the advance and decline of art is The Dialectic of Decadence... (Donald Kuspit, 1993 and 2000, the Dialectic of decadence)
By the mid-sixties [a] minimalist faith created a distinct crisis in painting. Painting had corroborated the flat reality that it secretly always had been. With Stella’s flat black paintings, Ryman’s flat white paintings, and Marden’s flat gray paintings, [Rothko's hazes of non-colors,] young artists, at least the ones that acknowledged this history were literally up against the wall, with no place to go.
“That is why I ‘Dr Harbor in 1995’ ask you Johnny Rotten to donate your liver to David Crosby.”
“Just in case we need a backup liver, we need yours, Johnny.”
"Can't things just turn out like I planned," sighed Dr Harbor ...
If Dr Harbor is the authority that both musicians most trust then State-of-art for arguments’ sake crashes into state-of-the-art of scientific achievement for liver transplants. If Dr Harbor had these two as students and knows their entire history, he has a moral judgment ahead of the possibility that Lydon’s liver will be compatible with Crosby’s metabolism or not.
When is the best time to let Lydon know his liver is on call? What value is the comparisons made in the uncomfortable meeting; and will the objections stymie science lag and extinction periods?