Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What I'm reading, and laughing at

Why am I torturing myself by re-reading Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead"? Is it related to all the Guns 'n' Roses I've been listening to?

(Photo below is really related to "Atlas Shrugged" but it's funny, no? According to Wikipedia, these are Tea Party people at a rally. As an aside, I think my punk band's name will be "Howard Roak Pooped.")

Other than once seeing Axl Rose doing an interview while holding either a copy of "The Fountainhead" or "Atlas Shrugged," I have no idea if the dude in the bandanna subscribes to the insanity that is Objectivsm, Ayn Rand's peculiar and often repellent philosophy. NEITHER DO I. I just like reading the books, and chuckling at the tortured descriptions and tart sentences and the way she manipulates the reader. It doesn't matter if she makes me laugh; were she actually still alive, I suspect Ayn would hate me, and probably lobby for my death. For all that, I go back and read her books every five or six years or so. Why? That's what I'm trying to figure out, silly.

(OK, I'm having a mind melting experience right now. I just did a Google search for "Axl Rose Ayn Rand" and I found this website devoted to the band Rush. On there is a link to something I once wrote [in 2006] about the ridiculousness of Rush lyrics and how funny it is that me and Neil Peart have an affection for Ms. Rand. How's that for freaky? And there's a link! You can't read my original blathering because it's from my old Livejournal days but scroll down. I'm on there.)

When I was a little kid and starting to listen to pop music beyond "Disco Duck" and my Jim and Tammy Faye records, my mom used to warn me almost stridently about the things I chose to listen to. For instance, I wasn't allowed to listen to Led Zeppelin for many years because she thought that "Stairway to Heaven" was devil music.

Robert, Jimmy, John Paul and John were into a lot of stuff, and I know there was definitely something going on with the black magic or whatever, but I'm pretty sure if there's a devil those guys weren't communicating with him, or if they were, so what? What's it got to do with me? I mean, I could be wrong, but I really doubt, if there's such a thing, that Satan or whoever (whomever?) is hanging around little girls' bedrooms waiting for them to listen to "Stairway to Heaven." For awhile there, mom thought that anything I heard that was non-God-like would infect my brain and then I would've ended up like those kids who killed themselves after Ozzy supposedly told them to. Or that I would've started wearing a lot of black eyeliner or something.

(Sometimes Patrick and I lie in bed and try to remember all the backward messages we can think of. "Get the gun" is my favorite. To read some old Straight Dope message board stuff on this, go here. It's actually fun reading.)

I had a friend in middle school who adored Ozzy Osborne, and her room was plastered by big-ass posters of him, and I liked this girl a lot but it took me doing some serious critical thinking to figure out that she wasn't a Devil Worshipper. When I caught her listening to Prince once I was shocked and confused that the same person could like those two seemingly diametrically opposed styles of music. My brain was opened that day, I'm telling you!

When I was a little kid who couldn't sleep, I'd lay on the floor in the hallway and watch through the floor heater while my mom watched those Christian talk shows with Paul and Jan Crouch, where they'd have guests on who testified about battling demons (real demons, not, say, alcoholism or other addictions) and they'd play records backwards and tell scary stories. I kind of believed it, too, but then one day I was watching and Jan's hair was a crazy shade of purple and Paul's suit was so blindingly white and clown-like that I realized that whatever they were selling (and they were definitely selling something, because they had that 800 number all nice and prominent on the screen) was fictional and ridiculous and, to misquote Pippin from The Lord of the Rings (another thing my mom was wary of), "not for me."

Eventually I made up my own mind about music and Zeppelin (my favorite band for many years) and found my way into books that would've shocked my mom (but probably not Paul and Jan, or Jim and Tammy Faye, those old phonies), and so every once in awhile, for no good reason, I find myself picking up my copy of "The Fountainhead" or "Atlas Shrugged," which I've had since 1988 and still has penciled notes in the margins, which I've begun to erase, because God forbid anybody should read that crap.

So hold on, everybody, I think I hear "Appetite for Destruction" calling me.


  1. will Howard Roark Pooped have room for a flute player? punk flute sounds like a long overdue idea.

    kudos to you... i barely choked down the first readings of atlas and the fountainhead [f-head, as i prefer to call it]. no intention of re-reading. you have, however, inspired me to re-read some Tolkien with Zeppelin playing in the background.

  2. Are you kidding? Punk piccolo is what I have in mind!

    I should've picked up LOTR; it's just about time for a re-read of that too!