by Brian Costello
Under the 90/94 overpass on Fullerton Avenue in Chicago (ask Larry Local for directions), salt from the winter highways seeped through the cracks in the cement, hooked up with moisture from the melted snow, and stained a sidewall, forming what appears to be—to many—the likeness of the Virgin Mary. Hundreds of Polish and Mexican immigrants come to this place, and they’ve made it a shrine of sorts. A pilgrimage even. They leave flowers and candles and pictures and pray to this Virgin Mary likeness under the Fullerton overpass. This happened shortly after the Pope died.
Why the Fullerton overpass? That’s hardly a sanctified place, no matter how you look at it. Can you believe these idiots? Look at it! Look at those blobs of colors! You mean to tell me that is the Virgin Mary? Where’s she gonna appear next? Will somebody see her in the ranch dressing bowl in a Wisconsin Dells Ponderosa Steakhouse salad bar? Or maybe she’ll appear in some random conglomeration of colors in the next Piranhas LP? That oil smudge in your driveway…the shaving scum in your sink…the Cheeto stains on your fingers…
And you laugh at these dipshits. You laugh, and you’re all like, “Fuckin…somebody should just like vandalize that shit and destroy it. I mean—it’s a fuckin’ overpass!”
Sure enough, 2 weeks ago, somebody snuck into the taped off Virgin Mary shrine and scrawled BIG LIE with black shoe polish on the Virgin Mary/road salt formations on the north sidewall of the Fullerton Avenue overpass.
Haw haw haw, you say! Good! Got what they deserved! Stupid devout Catholics! Believing in things! Whatta buncha FINKS, right?
Perception’s a funny thing. Paradigms are fun, especially when you try and see it how somebody else sees it. When you don’t try and see it how somebody else sees it, you’re liable (in my case) to make bad errors in judgment. In the case of certain indie record stores, when your paradigms are faulty, you’re liable to look like censors.
Maybe you’d stand under that overpass and see a blob looking more like Jay Reatard than anything approximating the Virgin Mary. And yet, people just like us, people who work and play and struggle and worry and try and sometimes screw up, see that blob and they believe—they absolutely must believe because it’s what they need to get through their days—it’s an appearance of the Mother of God—and no persuasion will convince them otherwise because they feel their faith as something tangible and beneficial to their lives. Still others see this road salt manifestation and just drive down the road, unconvinced, but hey, whatever. Still, others laugh and mock these peasants for clinging to such outmoded belief systems with such anachronisms as the papacy, and of course, there’s all those molester priest jokes…and they see the big picture rather than the small picture and only see their own version of I’m Right and think—Hey, let’s destroy this thing so these religious idiots will leave this filthy, piss-smeling underpass alone. Of course, because people like these are cowards, they do it anonymously, because, why bother just trying to talk to people you disagree with and try and understand why they need to believe what they believe. Who needs empathy, especially in this horrid decade, when blanket assumptions will do just fine, thanks.
I guess I’m breaking out the ol’ ill-advised “think piece” here because I’m amazed anybody could look at an issue of Horizontal Action and not simply take it for what it is—an entertaining rocknroll/sex (a redundant phrase if there ever was one… “rocknroll/sex”) mag. But that’s what’s happening.
Reckless Records in Chicago recently pulled Horizontal Action off the shelves after kneejerk self-described “feminist” employees (NOTE: THIS WASN’T PAYING CUSTOMERS OR ANGRY PARENTS MAKING THESE COMPLAINTS) found it “offensive.” [For more on this, please read this article about it from “Time Out Chicago” magazine , and for good gutyuks, read this myspace blog from the alleged “mastermind” behind this move: ] Apparently, after eight years of selling it, they discovered there’s sex in it. Porn! Jizz! Titties! Oh my!
And, of course, Horizontal Action, like rocknroll, like stupid me and this stupid column and the stupid drunken idiocy I’ve been puking in recent rants on the www, is meant to be taken very seriously. Agree, or face expulsion from the Secret Club. Yeah. Sex=Sexism. Yeah. Rocknroll should be intellectualized, every chance you (and Greil Marcus) get. Yeah. That scenester column I wrote in the last TB column was all about YOU, and YOU, and YOU, and even YOU (and nevermind that it wasn’t). Yeah. Four years of trying to be a friend and seeing bands I love and trying to be a nice guy and a fan of music should be negated over one irresponsible and inaccurate (and disowned) shitfaced internet action because your petty high school drama trumps everything. Yeah.
Horizontal Action, and not Reckless Records, is why you’re here in Chicago for the Blackout—seeing great bands and drinking beers with old and new friends. Do what you want, but censorship is censorship no matter what side of the political fence you spew your spoo, so why give your $$$ to people fucking over your friends, the very reason you’re here at the Blackout in the first place, especially when there are plenty of other independent record stores in Chicago just as good, if not better. Again, ask Larry Local for directions.
Like you (I hope)—I’m trying to have fun, make annoyingly great music, and be a good person. Sometimes, like you, I screw that up. I’m sorry ‘bout that, and I’m sorry if you see me in a negative light because of it.
I’m also sorry if you’ve misinterpreted what I’ve written to be somehow about you, unless it was actually about you, you, but the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor that it wasn’t (even if, in hindsight, it should have been), and if you have such a large ego, you think this stuff is all about you, well, in the immortal words of Governor Stark from “All the King’s Men,” tough tiddy.
If you’d prefer wasting your time and energy hating me, well…alrighty then. The loudest and most melodramatic of you haters leave me totally indifferent, and that’s much much worse than hate.
As for the rest of you, thank you for everything. Let’s have some fun at the Blackout, enjoy these great bands, and forget about all the stupid crap.
Contact: the bcshowwithbc-at-hotmail.com
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