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THE NOISE: Notes from a Rock 'n' Roll Era by Robert Duncan

THE NOISE: Notes from a Rock 'n' Roll Era


Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1984
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin

A confused, pretentious essay on post-Sixties US society, arguing that the spirit of the Sixties didn't really die--despite the ""real taste for the shit"" of ""certain despairing post-Woodstock Nationals."" Duncan, a former editor of Creem, sees rock 'n' roll as the most important force of the Sixties, generating an ""acid world"" that he still holds dear. (""When I say acid, I mean a whole new way of looking askance at the world; I mean a psychological strategy that can deal with the psychotomimesis of postwar America. . . ."") He then looks at a few cultural items from the 1970s--which either do or don't show the positive effects of 1960s rock. Heavy-metal music--with an interminable interview with a singer from the first punk-rock band--reflects post-Woodstock disillusionment, ""an aesthetic, no less, of death."" Glitter rock--Alice Cooper, ""the hetero rocker in homo drag""--embodies the ""decadent world of post-Woodstock sexuality""; and, though Duncan seems vaguely pro-androgyny, he's turned off by the corporate world's manipulation of that trend--represented by the Gillette Company's Max portable hair dryer for men. Next, most dubiously, there's The Mary Tyler Moore Show--which ""shared certain values of sincerity and authenticity with the rock 'n' roll culture."" (Interviews with two MTM writers, presumably meant to support this premise, do just the opposite.) And the final, increasingly incoherent chapters turn to politics (Elizabeth Holtzman, Nixon), theology, and the Sex Pistols--belaboring the hopeless rottenness of post-Sixties America, yet winding up on an uplifting-sermonette note: ""Hate, and be sinful and human. Most of all, hate so that you can love. Ah, those noble savage eyes, I think sometimes, I'm so proud of my generation. . . ."" Despite a few glimmers of insight behind the posturing: sophomoric blather--often reading like a cruel parody (""Feminism is a facet--albeit pretty fucking fundamental--of humanism"") of counterculture-journalism in its death throes.