Tag Archives: degenerate art

Doors and Corridors

I’m scared of doors and corridors.  It’s like Monsters Inc – there’s always something beyond the door. Nevermind that what lies lurking in the unknown is, generally, going to be pretty incredible. Nevermind that it might hunt me down and change my life, cradling me with an aching chorus and a whisper of soft, scented chord progressions. It’s the very fact that there is always going to be something there.

It’s fine when you start opening doors; when your record collection sits nicely on a shelf and not sprawled across two cities; when you know Star Wars, but not ‘the Card‘; when the term degenerate art only conjures images of childish graffiti in playgrounds – of course you’re going to want to open those doors; you’re going to want to smash them apart with your fists, bursting through like gremlins hungry for an angry fix. You want to see what’s on the other side. You want to know why those names like Lou, Joni and Billie roll so lusciously off the lips of your new idols. You want to begin that journey, eager and panting like Sal Paradise in New York, hanging out for adventure and the promise of the open cultural road. But then you become junkie-like in the hunt, hurtling through and devouring each new find, leap-frogging from artist to lyric to cinema to literature; each a reference and a nod to the next; each a promise of gratification. Lapping at the leftovers,  like Zammo faced with an exploded bag of gak, before you know it it’s too late. Too many doors opened, leading to too many corridors with further doors, leading back and through this wicked mosaic of art and life. Before long, you’ve bought three copies of Blue Train, not realising you already owned the first two. But worse: you know you already have Transformer on 180gm vinyl and CD but you still look at it adoringly on the shelf in Fopp, sitting lonely amongst the Razorlight surplus – cut-price but still smug as fuck – and you actually think it would be a good idea to buy it again. And you have a list as long as the On the Road scroll of all your must do’s, must see’s, must gigs, must reads. And then your head explodes, and you sit watching the X Factor,  like John Doe in Se7en, wanting to taste the life of a simple man. Wishing for that simple shelf of greatest hits.

Cover of the exhibition program: Degenerate Art exhibition, 1937

Cover of the exhibition program: Degenerate Art exhibition, 1937

Sometimes I’ve been so scared of doors that if I’ve been out on a Saturday night I’ll ensure I never arrive home between 1am and 3am – because  that’s when MTV2 showed 120 minutes. 120 minutes of eclectic new music and past classics – a hunter’s dream. Drunk on liqueur and excitement I knew I’d be cursed not to remember these amazing new names in the morning – names like Evil Nine, Bumblebeez, Futureshock,  Buck 65, the Teenagers – so I’d grab the nearest writing utensil and scrawl these future obsessions anywhere I could. I’d awake in the morning to a copy of the Saturday Guardian covered in scribbles of band names, some so illegible I’d sit there thinking ‘could that have been the one to change my life??’ In the end it became easier to avoid 120 minutes altogether. But I’d more than often relapse.

I still fear doors and corridors. Sometimes I think I haven’t any head space to let any more in – I know for certain I’m running out of money. But every day I still open a new door, walk down a new corridor and enter into a whole new world. It still scares me, but it’s what I do.

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