- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Music as criticism
"Joey Ramone died Sunday. He was 49 years old.
"In the mid-1970s, Joey Ramone, whose real name was Jeffrey Hyman, had a disgusting mess of a head of hair and wore colored sunglasses. And he didnt sing so much as bleat.
"He was a rock star.
"If you were a rock-loving youth in Americas dreadful Sun Belt in the mid-1970s, the Ramones gave you your first taste of what a sensation was. They didnt know how to play their instruments! Were they rock, really? They were dumb! They were Nazis!
"They were an affront to everything our heroes Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Bruce Springsteen stood for.
"The bands first record, 'Ramones, was a puzzle: Churning, uninterrupted guitar playing. A bass player who did nothing but hit the root note. And a singer with an impossible deadpan drawl of a voice who sang about death and drugs with virtually no nuance and could get excited only when the prospect of sniffing glue was mentioned.
"It took a while, but over time it became apparent that 'Ramones was a well-disguised piece of rock criticism. Rock songs, the band argued, forcefully, dont need to be much longer than 1:48. The Beatles and the Beach Boys and Chuck Berry, the band lectured, were great artists, but so were the Bay City Rollers.
"Three chords, Johnny Ramone, the groups guitarist, posited, were perhaps one too many."
Bill Wyman, writing on "Joey Ramone, R.I.P. " Monday in Salon at www.salon.com


Marxist method

"Within the neo-Marxist or revisionist camp it was Antonio Gramsci, the founder and principal ideologue of the Italian Communist party, who stressed the importance of the intellectual as the major contributor to the formation of a new conscience among the populace that would undermine Christian culture and eventually lead to the Communist state. The objective was to replace Christian culture by a new Marxist culture.
"The elites of the past who controlled government and business must be overthrown as an abusive and dominant class. To accomplish this, the masses must be manipulated through education and other cultural means, so that they voluntarily give up their traditional values. In this way, the revisionists tried to accomplish through cultural means what Lenin had atttempted by cruder means. Thus, seeing clearly the important relevance of culture and the propagation of ideas for the success of communism, Gramsci made cultural penetration, particularly through the education of the masses, the key to power.
"Gramsci insists that the first and almost exclusive role of the Marxist intellectual lies in education. This involves dismantling or destroying the values of the past by slowly infiltrating the 'old institutions and changing the mentality of the masses."
Alberto M. Piedra, writing on "Weapons of the Right and Left, " in the April issue of Touchstone


Barbras party

"Barbra Streisand, a lounge singer, has issued a memo to all Democratic members of Congress, urging them not to buckle under the iron heel of Bush-Cheney despotism. As a compendium of current leftist cliches, this little missive could hardly be improved on. George W. Bush? He 'stole the presidency by disenfranchising thousands of blacks, elderly Jews and other minorities. The Republican Congress? It is 'passing laws that benefit corporations and the privileged few at the expense of the working men and women of this country. The Supreme Court? It seeks 'to overturn everything we struggled for over the last 30 years. The nicest touch, asserting the authority of the celebrity-activist complex over the Democratic Party while at the same time illustrating the warm, personal nature of that authority, was the valediction: just 'Barbra, with no surname."
B from "The Week," in the April 30 issue of National Review


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