Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous
Twenty years after 'Nevermind'
"You can try, but you'll never understand this. Try and try, but you'll never understand this. You can try, but you'll never understand this. The lifestyles of the rich and infamous."
– Ice-T, 1991
Tequila Fridays, at my house, were born out of abject exhaustion, emptiness.
No hat, no suit, no briefcase, but management + desk job = a middle-age lobotomy. Zombification. Not until the night Doug Sahm died in 1999 did tequila separate from the almighty margarita for me – at the Hole in the Wall, no less – and while Lou Grant kept a bottle of bourbon in his fictional newsroom desk drawer, a shot of anything at the office seemed antithetical to that which sought antidote: work. Still a four-letter word no matter your profession.
One Friday this past August, a board member for KOOP 91.7FM emailed me about possibly guesting on-air at the community radio station to discuss the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind. "In terms of what it meant for music when it happened (here in Austin and beyond) and what the legacy is." Locally, personally, that meant a decade spent at Emo's on Red River, as well as at Liberty Lunch and the Electric Lounge – venues all now gone. It meant forgoing Nirvana in 1991 for grad school homework (see "Circle Sky," Feb. 18, 2011) and then again on New Year's Eve three years later in Oakland, Calif., with the Butthole Surfers opening because I couldn't afford a $20 ticket. Two decades of regret it meant.
Weeks later, Tequila Friday beckoned like a compost bin to a scraped avocado peel. My significant other watched helplessly as I, catatonic from w-o-r-k and layoffs and Chronicle attrition, licked my white-collar wounds behind a closed home office door. Angst consumed me, but it wasn't the cure. Nirvana and Pearl Jam both broke on through to the other side in 1991, reviewed as such by me at the time, yet rap was my revolution. John Lennon + Sex Pistols = Kurt Cobain, but Public Enemy took Muddy Waters intergalactic. When push came to shove that Friday, 1991's OG Original Gangster by Ice-T got the call, and its apocalyptic fury and humor soothed my savage unhappiness.
Twenty years later, hip-hop's mainstream and indie rock can't assuage global occupancy. Metal peels back my contemporary blues now, and finding 20 (inter)national albums to list took twice as long as twice that many local discs. You say you want a revolution? It starts at home.