Rants & Essays
By Joe Dolce
The other night I went to a '70s party. The invitation said
to dress disco, so I forced myself into a long-collared, tight-fitting shirt in
a terrifying shade of green made from some unnatural polyester blend.
One look in the mirror and I realized how much I hated the
'70s. Yeah, I know - there was sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll with none of the
consequences. But there was also the Doobie Brothers and blow-dried haircuts
and shag carpeting. The only time things got interesting was when punk crashed
the party and spit on the shag. Finally there was a clash of values. And the
friction felt good.
You can feel some of that same friction today, and that's
why I'm hopeful for the '90s. Call it male intuition, but I sense we're on the
verge of something new. In politics, in music, and in the environment, battle
lines are shifting, coalitions are re-forming, and a postmodern pragmatism
seems to be taking hold.
This became clear when I read Sarah Ferguson's "Weed the
World" (April '95 Details) which was reported from the Seventh Annual Cannabis
Cup, the Oscars of the marijuana-growing industry. This year's Cup was
distinguished by entrepreneurs hawking all sorts of hemp-derived products, from
clothing to cheese. What really interested me was the subtext: Certain stoners
are hoping that if they can legalize the growing of hemp - which contains
virtually no psychoactive THC yet has been prohibited in the U.S. since 1937 -
they might be able to do the same with pot. It seems that after thirty years of
smoke-ins and tie-dye rallies, it's time for another tack. As one optimistic
pot activist and budding hemp entrepreneur puts it: "Marching on the streets
doesn't work. What works is free-market capitalism." And that works for me: Two
previously unaligned parties coming together with a creative approach to an old
Sometimes, however, certain dilemmas demand an old solution.
Which is why a lot of people are looking to the past to guide them through the
years ahead. Some take up religion; others pierce their bodies and call
themselves modern primitives. It was in this spirit that we sent William Shaw
on a twenty-seven-day trek through the Utah desert (April '95 Details). His
goal was to live like a Stone Age man and fend for himself without any
amenities - no matches, no toilet paper, no contact with the modern world. With
every step, he marched backward in time, until he was able to shake off modern
civilization and get in touch with his inner animal.
Which is, of course, what Trent Reznor does every time he
hits the stage. Musically, Trent merges the nasty anger of '70s punk with the
cool mechanics of '90s synth-thrash In person, he embodies the contrasts of
today's man: He's a talented, tortured, small-town boy who writes scary songs,
preaches nihilism, but drives a Porsche and loves his dog. I'm happy to report
that as you read this, Trent is down in New Orleans shopping for a sink to
install in his new house. Trent Reznor, the devil, decorating? Now there's a
clash of values that you can feel good about.