{Tue, 13 February, 2007}   Subverting the Other Driver’s Vertebrae & Trying to Get Away with It

Hometown “heroes”… Milwaukee, the Great Place on a Great Lake — note: not the transliteration of the Algonquin — that I call home, where I was birthed at Columbia Hospital, attended school to twelfth grade, & make my way, since graduating college & returning from Romania, possesses a paucity of newspapers. There is one daily — The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (I delivered its first issue, & the last of the Journal) — & there is the long-time weekly (Shepherd Express nee Crazy Shepherd), the former a decent read, light on the int’l news, but not bird toilet, & the latter a contemptible if it were worth contemplating squeeqee. Rest assured, it is not worth any thought, & can be summed in one phrase: “What da fock?” (Chief sentiment of life-time drunk & probably veteran’s disability/S.S.I. recipient Art Kumbalek, the backpage writer for S.E.)

In the last trio of years, though, three or four papers have emerged, at the very least to carry the torch that the Shepherd has burnt down over thirty years, but at least one with pretensions of intellect. We have The Press, which probably is defunct; MKE, an odds-&-sods off-shoot of the daily Journal-Sentinel for the twenty-five-to-thirty-five demographic (heavy on restaurant reviews, interviews with boutique owners, & show previews); & Vital Source, a vanity project of the unmarried-but-cohabiting owners of the arthouse & independent coffeehouse Bremen Cafe.

 & V.S. is the one with which this post is concerned.

 The publication of record features the musings of Matt Wild — in fact, this is principally why I read Vital Source, because I go twenty-five or so days between seeing it (V.S. publishes mensually) & forget his provenance — who is a member of Milwaukee “garage-rock provacateurs” Holy Mary Motor Club. (This fact is not really important, but it is: half the reason I read the “Subversions”, as the column is headed, is that I always confuse M.W.’s band for Ifihadahifi, which the anarcho-leftists in Milwaukee’s proto-proletarian demopublic would have us believe to be the biggest & greatest rock n’ roll band from Wisconsin. This I find funny, since rock-stars do not typically reside in Green Bay. Likewise, I find “Subversions” unintentionally funny, because it takes me almost as long as it does to read it to realize that IIHAHF is not involved in the column’s creation.) As it is, Wild’s scrawl is usually good for a titter or three, what with most columns devolving into a recounting of an “ironic” trip to a strip-club (often, Heartbreaker’s, which is just up the street from my parents’s place; ‘Stallis exdysiasts, represent!) where the muy sensitivo post-willenial rocker-man disdains, ogles the naughty bits of the dancers while his girlfriend-of-the-moment sips her vodka tonic astride him.

But, that was the “Subversions”, c. ’05-’06. A new year, the second half of the aughts, the first decade of the Second Willenium, has broken.

What meant “subvert”, this month?

Going home (prolly to cajole his parents into giving him Jan/Feb rent money); getting trashed; causing several thousand dollars damage to another girlfriend’s car; in process of preceding, wrecking the car of a female teenage resident of his hometown (whom, in less auspicious circumstances, Mr Wild would be quick to try the patent-pending line “you’re with me, leather”); lie to the responding officer about his identity; attempt to steal girlfriend’s car from impound; break up with girl.

(Such a catch he must be. If I were a woman, I’d want to be blown away by his rock squats. Hell, if I were a male scenester, I’d genuflect before this legend in his own time.)

Seriously, though, I cannot fathom what would compel the editorial of Vital Source to publish this frankly glowing account of unbelievably rude behavior without a disclaimer. This material, while (potentially) entertaining, if longer form & of longer duration, is an affront to the espoused “goals” of the Elite Riverwest Corps that gobbles up Vital Source like its vicodin. Where is the respect for one’s fellow man? Where is the self-awareness?

I don’t see it.

Normally, of course, I would let this slide. I’ve made my share of mistakes. I asked, at eighteen, a freshman in college, if two seemingly mutually flirtatious girls ever “dyke it out”. I drove home from a wedding reception, at nineteen, after one-&-an-half White Russians, with more likely than not a marginal (but above “not a drop”) alcohol content. I impugned the anti-racist credentials of Stacey Koon in front of the daughter of one of Koon’s precinct mates. I looked at “adult material” on a computing station at an internet cafe.

I am not, in a word, inerrant.

That said, in the years since — & all those events occurred in the period ’99-’03 — I have strenuously tried to not fall into the same nasty actions in personal & interpersonal relationships. Now, too, I’m twenty-six, & while I still might wear my Metallica “Metal up yr ass” shirt two too many days consecutive without re-washing it, I find myself to be coming to terms with maturity.

Matt Wild — who, it turned out, as I got to the end of the February column, is thirty; I would have had him for twenty-two or -three, an out-state transplant to Milwaukee who had pulled a semester or three at UWM or MIAD, only to drop-out to focus on his band’s rock n’ roll revival — has not. He’s still lying to cops, in situations where clearly he shouldn’t be — his automotive collision was not a first-amendment event — trying to pull a fast one on the lame-os in comparison to whom he, Matt Wild, is so much smarter & exponentially cooler.

(Fortunately, for him, he won’t end up called on this, either, since the responding officer — remember, the event occurred in his hometown — went to high-school with M.W.’s kid brother. So, having to buck up will be kicked down the road that much further into the future.)

All that said, I cannot wait to see next month’s subversion version, since it’s always nice to know what my hometown’s taste-makers actually value, as opposed to what they advertise. & better than that I am the precise opposite of what the Brady Street Division has in its armoury. (I advertise — wait, no, Disco Stu doesn’t advertise — what they are, but I am what they advertise. Still, that is misleading, but at least it kills fewer brain-cells, all-around.)


Jon Anne says:

Nice post. Quick note: my partner and I are friends and business partners only. But your mistake is common. Why would two opposite-gender people go into business if they weren’t sleeping together? That’s just crazy!

Matt, though, is as troubled as you theorize. And despite his flair for wordsmithing, were it not for the pure entertainment value of his foibles I would not publish him at all. Many people, like you, are drawn to SubVersions like a car crash – it’s not a good thing to see, but you can’t quite look away.

Oh, you’re so bad, Jon Anne. You’re… superbad.

However little you might think of my penis mightier — right now, my freshman roommate’s ears are burning, at the mention of that Darryl Hammond as Sean Connery line — & especially in comparison to Monsieur Wild, your sarcasm is appreciated. It further shines a light on the cross-purposes of Riverwestian/Bayviewian/Cudahyan discourse. For whatever reason, the same action, perpetrated by a favoured son of the hipster intelligentia, rather than by a lout like me, is viewed as darkly comic, for sure, & maybe even catharsis.

Why is that? Why?

How will I ever be cool, in your (collective) eyes?

… Anyway, sorry on the foul-up in describing the partnership between publisher & editor. I was misinformed. I was not, then, making a statement on the viability of opposite sex business relationships being directly proportional to the frequency with which they engage in coitus. See, unlike your kind, I am not a judgmental bastard that always looks for the worst in his enemies. (That said, I usually find it, all the same. Then again, my enemies frequest the Uptowner & Cactus Club, so it’s quite axiomatic.)

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