A Positive Rage (Steven Wells: 1960-2009)June 25, 2009 at 9:06 pm | Posted in Music, Art, Etcetera | 6 Comments
In his writing persona, Steven Wells was many things: scenester, poet, self-important prick, cynic, idealist, embittered old Trot, the best music scribe of his time and the last punk alive. He’d write about the things he loved (multiculturalism, heavy metal, high fructose pop, socialism) in the same style and with the same searing intensity as those things he hated (fascists, Belle & Sebastian, trendies, Travis), and when he was at his best, there was no one who could write such a riot of words.
Not that you should mistake him as just an obnoxious agitator. As the internet proved long ago, anyone can create their own blog, come home drunk and dribble an artless stream of expletives into cyberspace (indeed, some write the country’s biggest blogs). No, Swells’ rage was directed, focused, positive.
In a crowded & often confounding cultural landscape, Wells objected to the country’s dwindling music press being saturated by the safe-sounding snooze-music of middle class sophists who took themselves and their student union ennui way too seriously. He hadn’t the time for equivocation, ambivalence or nuance; he wanted belief, sweat, and arm-flailing abandon. For him, ‘nice’ was an adjective of despair; ‘riot’ was a state of ecstasy.
In search of these elusive qualities, he’d slaughter his own magazine’s sacred cows, hammer some hot new artist & hype the kinds of bands that nobody but him believed were deserving of rapturous write-ups. He could be gloriously right, he could be hideously wrong, but he was always deliciously entertaining. He just gave a fuck.
All of which is probably the kind of gushing professional eulogy that the man himself would’ve hated; dismissed as pompous, middle-class, say-nothing simpering. So rather than work myself into even more of a lather, I’ll end this with the last recorded words from the man himself, and his final dispatch for the Philadelphia Weekly:
And of course all this bollocks is written by an idiot who has polished his image as an existentialist, atheist hard-man and anti-mope, forever sneering at the tribes who wallow in self-pity — the gothers, the emo kids, the Smiths fans — the whole 900-block-wide marching band composed entirely of the white male urban middle classes who are convinced that (as the most affluent and pampered human beings who have ever walked the planet) theirs is a story worth hearing. Blissfully unaware that they are but a few generations away from regular visits to the doctor who would wind parasitic worms from their beer bloated assholes using sticks. (Check out the AMA logos, those smiling beasts are not snakes.)
You could blame this fallacy on poor education, cultural deterioration, or simple moral decline.
Me? I blame it on sunshine. I blame it on the moonlight. I blame it on the boogie.