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care bears in the dive bar

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(Another in a short series of hyperventilating, hypocritical posts, wearing my worst bits right there on the sleeve, about a serious subject: the decline and fall of the american cultural sphere. I visited the bookstore today, and almost passed out from the preciousness of the novels on offer…. Of this sort of post on my part, one might justly refer to Eliot’s description of Othello’s final speech:

What Othello seems to me to be doing in this speech is cheering himself up. He is endeavouring to escape reality, he has ceased to think about Desdemona, and is thinking about himself…Othello succeeds in turning himself into a pathetic figure, by adopting an aesthetic rather than a moral attitude, dramatising himself against his environment…

Ouch. Got me pegged:)

I miss NYC on an hourly basis. I’m sure there are times that I’m really missing my kidless life in NYC, and that many of the more attractive elements of the city and my life there would prove to be more frustrating than anything else now that I wouldn’t be, you know, doing the 4 AM plastered F-Train thing now and again. I can’t see any good films here; I wouldn’t, if I were still there, be seeing any good films, eating much good food. You know the deal.

But there are also times that I miss NYC even given the fact that I’m now a parent, even because I’m a parent. Miss, for instance, Cobble Hill Park, where my little one spent what outside time she spent during her first two months of life. (She was born just a block or two away…)

And the promenade. The Central Park Zoo, the carousel there, etc… Oh, and I’ll even cop to a healthy strain of snotty snobbery about the folks with kids that live on my street, their lack of acculturation, the fact that most of them grew up here and have never left and go to something called “the lake” during the summer rather than say, Shanghai or Buenos Aires, where I would go were she a bit older.

But then, every once in a while, I get an anti-nostalgic swift kick in the ass from something that I read.

Welcome to the age of the rocker mom. Kids who might otherwise have their parents ferry them to the soccer field are now being enthusiastically chaperoned to dive bars. Rock, once the realm of outcasts and dangerously attractive miscreants, is practically a curriculum choice. In Park Slope, after-school classes are offered at private and public schools, and Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls (an offshoot of Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Oregon) is in its second year. On the syllabus are the classics: Ramones and Clash and Pixies songs that youngish parents revere, and that their offspring have been hearing since birth.

Rather than being cause for rebellion, grown-ups are rock mentors. Several, in the great tradition of Jack Black, have even become coaches, teaching teens and tweens the rudiments of rocking that normally take several alienated years to fumble through. Nowadays, punk isn’t just sanctioned by parents and school teachers; it’s good, clean fun.

The Care Bears—singer-guitarist Sophie Kasakove, 11, bassist-singer Lucio Westmoreland, 11, and drummer-singer Isadora “Izzy” Schappell-Spillman, 10, all classmates at Park Slope’s Berkeley Carroll School—couldn’t be better poster children for this burgeoning movement if they’d been carefully pre-auditioned for a reality show. They wear standard rocker gear—jeans, Converse All-Stars, Black Sabbath T-shirts—but they’re also polite overachieving kids, cramming in band practice between art class, homework, and Hebrew school.

Oh good Christ.

And look. I’ve been around the block a few times. I know that this article is just a hyperbolic distillation of a certain tiny subset of NYC – actually, very specifically, Brooklyn parents. I know that this sort of thing is written to provoke exactly the sort of reaction that I’m having right here for you to read.

But still. There is a heady dose of that sort of crap to be had back in the City. And I further know for a fact that my dad spent a good part of his life silently hating me for the “opportunities” I had – the fact that I, for instance, had my education paid for and didn’t have to “earn” it via a football scholarship like him. I lacked, and likely still lack, authenticity in his eyes. He is probably right – but, hey, that’s the dialectic. He’s not read his Thomas Mann and never will.

Flashforward to me. This probably belongs on Kotsko’s tuesday hate thing, but I hold a not so secret antipathy for those who have intellectual, culturally sophisticated parents – Young American Authors whose fathers are Old American Authors. Young colleagues who’s parents are featured in the Norton Anthology of Theory (once lived a couple doors down from one of those….) That sort of thing is so deeply woven into me – this really visceral dislike for those were reading the Brontes at 12, who grew up in either Cambridge, and who call mom for advice (and contacts) when it’s time to write a book proposal.

I am, you see, authentic, or is it organic, as far as this goes, or so I tell myself. Obviously, its all a projective show, I know. But, god, can you imagine? The Care Bears, the writhing on the floor irony of their group’s name dribbled from dad’s coffee cup, lapped up less than furtively by the daughter. She’ll end up an investment banker, you know. Or, well, more likely the way things work, prominently featured on iTunes.

The band then turns to Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” sung by Lucio. His dad—Rip Westmoreland, son of William C., the late Vietnam-era general—is a vintage-guitar collector, so Lucio’s playing a Fender Precision bass approximately three-fourths his height and four times his age. His voice, currently in the midst of dropping, cracks a little on the knotty lyrics and melody, but that’s not what halts the song.


“[Care Bears’] taste in music is sooo much better than when I was their age,” says [Lucian] Buscemi, son of actor Steve. “We haven’t really helped out with the way they play, but I guess we’ll help them become more known by recording them.”

No, I know. They’re baiting me with this crap. Written just for me, and the rest of us who walk around feeling like “the rest of us.” Steve Buscemi’s kid records William Westmoreland’s grandson. Perhaps all four could come together to produce a hybrid of Ghost World and Apocalypse Now, in which a moody strange guy with a hesitant taste for younger women holes up with his record collection just on the wrong side of the Cambodian border. Soundtrack by the kids.

Written by adswithoutproducts

August 26, 2006 at 12:10 am

Posted in america, meta

2 Responses

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  1. lucio is my cousin and I have had the pleasure of hearing him play and he is really talented.. He gets it from his father who is a guitar playing fool.. But dont diss my him or my grandfather general westmoreland he was a great guy and just recently passed away last year.. Next time pick on someone your own size..


    September 11, 2006 at 7:35 pm

  2. I think you’ve mistaken this site for the Scions of the Military-Industrial Complex Mutual Affirmation Web Community.

    But I wasn’t really talking about your cousin. I’m sure he is quite talented. I’m not sure that that ultimately matters, connected as he is. I was talking about parenting in Brooklyn, where I lived until a year ago. And, further, I was talking about the selection criteria in play today for admission into the ranks of the culturally significant. Gamed up, ever more so, is the cultural sphere.


    September 11, 2006 at 11:10 pm

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