‘Rock ‘n roll is dead!’ ‘Yellow Vests are dead!’ – uncool Western reporting
I’m not a huge Pink Floyd fan, but everyone else in the West apparently is – the album The Dark Side of the Moon spent 33 years (1,716 weeks) on the top-sellers charts.
A lot of their early stuff is just noise, but they have enough of a blues foundation to get both really heavy and pretty funky often enough for such a fundamentally depressing band: half their musical output is actually about ex-leader Syd Barrett, who took so much acid he went insane. His flatmates repeatedly dosed his daily coffee with acid without warning him, proving that hippies can be even worse than the CIA. Barrett is the obvious inspiration for the album and movie The Wall, which primarily illustrates Barrett’s horrible existence of hopping from one negative acid-flashback to the next for his entire life. Ever-political Pink Floyd surprisingly turned Barrett’s character into a fascist leader (the character in The Wall was never a rock star, we finally discover at the end), rather kicking poor Barrett when he was already down in a never-ending bad trip.
Conversely, I am huge fan of the Yellow vests, but it seems that very few Western reporters are.
I was watching the excellent concert movie Pink Floyd: Live in Pompeii recently – free, and in director’s cut format, thanks to Russia here. Really a lost treasure: progressive Pink Floyd, playing among the ruined psychedelic/pantheistic murals of Pompeii, interspersed with the usual Floydian universe-wide sense of space, history and humanity. It’s one of the great cinematic achievements of rock ’n roll.
Floyd guitarist David Gilmour was recently in the news, providing us with the latest example of the Quantitative Easing-created asset bubble in luxury goods: $21 million for his guitar collection and $4 million for one guitar – both broke the all-time records. Give Gilmour credit: it went to charity, which is very in keeping with Floyd’s genuine political consciousness.
Bassist Roger Waters is beloved for being seemingly the greatest Palestinian supporter in not just rock ‘n roll but in all of Western music. His political hipness is unparalleled – after all, he hates teachers, bogus authority, questioning why he has to eat his meat before he eats his pudding, etc.
That’s why it’s little wonder he said something in the movie which resonates beautifully in 2019:
“People are saying constantly saying, ‘Rock’s dying.’ Every 6 months somebody says it – with enormous conviction! It’s not going to happen.”
We can easily rephrase Waters when describing Western Mainstream Media coverage of the repression of France’s Yellow Vest movement:
“People are saying constantly saying, ‘
Rock’s dying. The Yellow Vests are dying.’ Every 6 months Every day somebody says it – with enormous conviction! It’s not going to happen.”
From the very beginning Western Mainstream Media news reporters have said with enormous conviction that the Yellow Vests are a dying movement – it’s not going to happen.
I’ve had to cover them from beginning, so I can absolutely testify that this premature postmortem was the case. Just for fun I English Googled “Yellow Vests dwindling numbers”, and I’m still waiting for the final count to be added up; I French Googled “gilets jaunes à bout de souffle (out of breath, as that’s the preferred cliché in French)” and they have apparently been panting since early December.
It’s incredible how incredibly uncool Western reporters are – they want to kill something good, which is democratically supported by the majority, but for who knows what reasons?
Their square minds cannot bend around the Yellow Vests love for both country, kin and fellow Yellow Vest braves; they cannot hang with the feeling, and thus they already know that there ain’t no room for them in the Yellow Vest part of town; they have no cosmic notions – even though the cosmos is an absolutely real and tangible thing which scientists are learning more about every day – beyond daily economic tallies.
The coverage of the Yellow Vests has been absolutely, incredibly and shamelessly dominated by a tactic reserved for covering quarterly economic growth: are total numbers up or down? And because there are thousands of Yellow Vest political prisoners which have resulted from nearly eight months of guaranteed police brutality – which is the most sustained, most brutal and most hypocritical police violence in the world’s 21st century history – their turnout numbers have indeed decreased.
On Act 32, when we officially crossed into 7 months – only 1,000 people were in Paris and 40,000 nationwide. This is not nothing – this is being comfortably numb after all the media, police and judicial onslaughts. Forty thousand nationwide on a regular basis is – in the French context, which is a context that contains a lot of regular demonstrations – by far the most vibrant political movement in the country and in recent history.
Like the annoying reporter/director in Live in Pompeii asking if rock is dead, the Yellow Vests are not dead despite all the false claims and begging that we believe that it is. The Yellow Vests are new, groundbreaking and unstoppable, just as rock ‘n roll was.
I visited Iran to enjoy the end of Ramadan: there was a rock and roll band playing in public at a food festival downtown Tehran the night before the Eid morning celebrations. I didn’t hear any Floyd from them, but they did do a lot of rather aimless, endless noodling – must have been Grateful Dead fans.
The Western Mainstream Media can’t imagine that Iran, too, has gone electric, and they also can’t imagine that Yellow Vests are still going strong despite all the repression; they can’t imagine that rock isn’t dead in 2019, just like it wasn’t in 1972 when Live in Pompeii was made.
Back on the night before Eid: the solo, traditionally-dressed, bearded Sufi singer/daftdrummer rocked a song hard for 10+ minutes straight… even though I’m sure that 1,200 years ago unhip court-reporters said with great conviction, “The ghazals are dead!”. It was amusing to see him on his smartphone and drinking bottled water while taking a break between songs – technology changes, but the song remains the same.
In 1974 The New York Times, declared Live at Pompeii to be dead on arrival: “Since its principals possess neither interesting personalities nor captivating philosophies, it is fortunate that the bulk of the film is given over to their music. It is unfortunate that their music, which ranges from traditional rock to sci-fi, fails the test one of the group sets for it—moving the listener—despite the array of electronic equipment marshaled in its behalf.’Pink Floyd’ may be for Pink Floyd fans. It may be for rock fans. But it’s not for movie fans.”
Hilariously bad journalism in every declaration, despite the critic’s great conviction.
They wrote that in 1974 – it’s amazing how they were way, way behind the trends: it’s not like rock and roll was a new thing back then, yet that listener wasn’t “moved”; that was written 6 months after The Dark Side of the Moon was released, which would go on to be bought by everyone, and their kids, too – it is estimated that 1 in 4 British households owns a copy of the album, and 1 in 14 people in the USA. Similarly, 50% of France still supports or sympathies with the Yellow Vests, according to the last poll on the subject (from nearly 3 months ago, amazingly.)
Such “top” reporters and critics also feel that individual Yellow Vests do not have “interesting personalities nor captivating philosophies”… mainly because Mainstream Media reporters are totally uncool, cynical snobs who have no idea what the hell they are talking about most of the time.
The reality about reporting on the Yellow Vests is that they only get Mainstream Media attention when they use civil disobedience and violence, but that’s an important subject for another article.
A final snippet of movie dialogue which shows just how deep Floyd’s leftism is – Waters didn’t become so pro-Palestinian by mere chance:
“There’s a danger that we could all be slaves to our equipment, and in the past we have been. But what we’re trying to do is sort it all out. So that we’re out. But I agree that it worries me sometimes – that we have this much equipment. And you can hide behind it.”
Yellow Vests definitely aren’t hiding behind anything – that’s pretty rock ’n roll. Why don’t Western journalists think that’s cool?
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