"I dunno, kinda like emo-ish hardcore."
OK, for serious. That was an excerpt from an actual conversation between two kids behind me at Publix. Now, this is only my second column, but I'm going to declare that after today, the word emo will never be mentioned in Earache again. It is a scourge upon this city. Anyone who speaketh the name of emo will forthwith be exiled from the kingdom, banished to an island off the coast of Norway, and forced to watch dolphins fornicate in a most impure way. The same goes for me if I ever bandy about the accursed term, although the punishment will be more severe and involve eating messy burritos with Charles Nelson Reilly for eternity.
And for this celebratory and cathartic column, I will ritually burn a copy of Spin senior contributor Andy Greenwald's recent book, Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo. The volume daftly chronicles the genesis of the word emo from the D.C. hardcore scene of the '80s, tapping Rites of Spring as the original "emocore" band before giving a good-natured reach-around to those sappy lads in Promise Ring, Jawbreaker, the Get Up Kids, Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, and Braid. As an obvious expert on emo and all its intricacies, Greenwald threads his prose with Lifetime-commercial lines like, "After years of raging sameness, hardcore desperately needed a brain; after years of studied, ironic detachment, indie desperately needed a heart. What they found was each other. And what it got called was emo." Then there's this gem: "With the door closed, you turn on the stereo. Someone is singing about problems just like yours... echoing them, making them real. You're safe in your room. You're alone. But you can check your buddy list and know you are anything but alone."
But Greenwald could easily have retitled this book Chris Carrabba, Will You Please Sit on My Face? as the bulk of it centers on the year he spent on the road with South Florida's own perpetually broken-hearted $inger/$ongwriter. Throughout the writer's travels with the "28-year-old punk lifer/special ed teacher," you can practically see the red cartoon hearts floating out of Greenwald's eyes, his tongue falling out of his head. "He performs and records as Dashboard Confessional, a self-lacerating public diary project that's required summer reading for every disaffected teenager in the country," Greenwald gushes. The amorous scribe also talks at length with Carrabba's cultish, glassy-eyed cadre of fans in person and online about why they love Dashboard so much. One journal entry from a Dashboard site reads: "I'm falling in love... with life. Now I want more summer... more soccer fields, and Dashboard songs, and video games, and making out, long drives and brown eyes... We're like one big Dashboard Confessional song."
And Carrabba is their leader? How did a whole generation of teenagers latch on to this pipsqueak as its personal savior? Now just eat those special chocolate chip cookies and we'll all go up Heaven's chimney together! I wonder if Greenwald and Carrabba have a suicide pact in which they carve tiny hearts into their chests with razors, hold hands, and get all hopped up on nerve gas.
To the gallows, emo!
Remember 1991? No, not flannel shirts and House Party. Remember Rock the Vote? Yeah, those were the days, and people were actually excited about what was going on in politics. The PSAs showed Madonna wrapped in an American flag and Chris Cornell trudging through a Seattle junkyard being all pissed off. Yeah! Fuck that shitheel president! I admit that, as a teenager, I was sold on the idea that I could do something to change my future, something to subvert the dominant system and stick it to "The Man."
Now we have Shitheel No. 2 in office, and after what happened four years ago in Florida, it pains me like hot forks in the eyes to hear men and women my age say, "As long as it's not Bush, I don't care who wins" right before, "It doesn't matter what I do. My vote doesn't count." It's even more disturbing to see the glazed looks on young people's faces when asked which candidates they like. Our country is being run by a semiliterate buffoon, and we're all too busy worrying whether Janet's freakish titty disaster should be investigated.
That's why groups like Rock the Vote are trying to get young voters to put down the Bagel Bites and lure us out of our caves. The Broward chapter is currently No. 33 on the meet-up list and is scheduled to gather on the first Tuesday of every month. Earache has been invited to join the members (all seven of them -- so far) at Try My Thai in Hollywood for a roundtable discussion. Here's hoping I don't end up sitting alone crying in my shrimp curry. Visit www.rockthevote.com.