Friday, August 2, 2013

Life Against Dementia: Essays, Reviews, Interviews 1975-2011 by Joe Carducci

(Redoubt) It’s an intimidating prospect to review this collection of Carducci’s writing, because it’s almost impossible to put the thought, focus, and passion into it that the record label running/filmmaking/pop music theory writing veteran puts into every essay he undertakes. Though some of the more interesting pieces here go back to the seventies, the bulk of this is culled from his recently deceased blog The New Vulgate, and like that blog this collection comes to vibrant life when Carducci’s fave subjects pop up, particularly the life, career and art of his friend David Lightbourne, and rhis deconstruction of the way American Cinema depicts manly men, espcially in Westerns. Of course, for many readers fave moments involve the author recalling his days (or drawing upon that which he observed) at SST records as a behind the scenes architect of American underground music. His championing of St. Vitus may be my favorite piece from New Vulgate and this book (I also loved his Chicago sports coverage, which he wisely keeps to a minimum here). Where the book differs from the Website is in the politics. A fearless rabblerouser, Carducci never hesitated to explore political ideas that often clashed with the expected lefty values of the punk rock fans that followed him. Despite essays on world politics (including an anti-Bill Clinton period piece with a pinch too much Hillary hatin’), without the curated links and comments that complimented the original writing on the site Carducci has less opportunity to ruffle feathers, but that doesn’t stop him from trying his hardest. While the author’s two previously published classic books the contemplate and chronicle music culture are focused, important works that everyone should read, even if they disagree with almost everything in them, Life Against Dementia may be the best argument for Carducci as a powerful voice in American writing..