Iggy Week Part 2: Chairman of the Bored


Iggy Week Part 2: Chairman of the Bored

Iggy Pop has a new record out, Every Loser. If you are a member of the faith, you will find it a highly enjoyable listen and even if you’re not, it’s interesting, it’s Iggy being Iggy but his head is clear (so the lyrics are interesting) and he’s playing with great musicians behind modern and sympathetic production and this thing should be all over the radio. I listened to it on a Friday morning blasting out of the car stereo and it definitely made me feel ALERT.

The Igster talked to David Marchese for the New York Times (that should be a gift link) and it was interesting because while it was Marchese, who does a very specific thing, he was also doing it for the Times, which is like doing your thing with barbed wire, booby traps, and drones overhead. There’s a couple of places in the interview where he’s trying to draw Iggy out or at least challenge him in some minor way about some of the stuff in his past, specifically sex with under-age girls and his – dalliance – with Nazi imagery and anti-semitic tropes.

My sophomore year of college (1982-83), I hung out with a tiny group of people who, believe it or not, were a subset of the very minute number of individuals attending Fordham University who liked punk rock. There were two records in particular we liked to play to annoy normal folks, to close down a party, to get a rise out of the people who were not in this group and did not share our musical affinities, which was pretty much solidly anyone who wasn’t us so that wasn’t hard. The records in question were either Iggy’s Metallic K.O. or Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers’ DTK: Live at the Speakeasy. I didn’t own Metallic K.O. because it was expensive and the Stooges were not good that night, and I was in a serious Johnny Thunders phase (as anyone who was in that cohort can attest to) so my drug of choice was that live Heartbreakers record, which someone was always listening to at home and getting in trouble with their mom because there is literally no second of the album where Johnny isn’t being PEAK Thunders. Someone in that group forgot his mom was home and was listening to the record and when Johnny introduces “Can’t Keep My Eyes On You” as “Can’t keep my cock in you,” and then sings the whole song with that lyric.


But there are records that I legit listened to every day of my life in that time period that I one day just stopped listening to, and every once in a while something will remind me of them and I will go and pull them out and then remember why they were no longer in heavy rotation. The Marchese interview, though, reminded me of a particular part of Metallic K.O.:

“OUR NEXT SELECTION TONIGHT, FOR ALL YOU HEBREW LADIES IN THE AUDIENCE,” Mr Osterberg announces before “Rich Bitch.” Now, in the interview, Iggy is the one who brings this up, not Marchese -- Marchese alludes to it but doesn’t get specific (and does it in a footnote) until the penny drops and Iggy remembers the specifics. Now, as he comes back to it, it’s clear he’s not remembering the episode with any degree of nostalgia or fondness; however, I do very much wish he’d said something better than “I was very angry and hurt, and I had somebody in mind, and I wasn’t doing well in my career, and I thought that person was the reason I wasn’t,” because that just validates the trope, and some chucklefuck reading that is going to say, “SEE? HE’S WOKE NOW SO HE WON’T SAY THAT BUT HE THOUGHT IT BACK THEN!” I do not expect everyone who said something dumb in their youth or under the influence of many drugs to wear sackcloth and ashes or be cancelled forever. But I do wish that we would all learn that the right thing to do is just say, without equivocation, “That was wrong and dumb, I wish I hadn’t said it, I was young and stupid and said a lot of really fucking dumb things, I do not think that or believe that, and in fact, I think that line of thinking is bad and terrible and hateful, don’t do that.”

OUR NEXT TUNE, for you boring motherfuckers

Because at no point did this Jewish girl from Connecticut stop listening to Iggy Pop, and at no point did I ever feel weird for that reason at an Iggy show (plenty of other weird things going on there, don’t get me wrong). I just thought it was a dumb and stupid thing and it was the hundredth or thousandth time of me hearing the same kind of dumb and stupid thing from people who I didn’t think were borderline Nazis but who I did think were fucking idiotic, or occasionally just didn’t think. Am I making excuses because it was Iggy? I don’t think so. Did I think that Nazis were going to be a thing again 30 years later? No, I did not. But it’s not more objectionable now because of that. It’s exactly the same amount of objectionable that it was at the time that he said it.

this is worth listening to if you’ve never heard it. trust me. just don’t listen to it with your mom around

But this all pales in comparison to the fact that Marchese tries to get Iggy to confirm under-age sex in The Paper of Record, and it irks me because he’s not being straight or direct about it. But this isn’t a news article and Marchese isn’t an investigative reporter here, so what happens instead is that they dance around the subject, he lets Iggy get around it, and a bunch of old dudes get a hard on and every woman who likes rock and roll sighs a small internal sigh and goes on with her day.

There is no way a 13 year old is an adult and yes 13 year olds have agency, but they are not adults, and 20+ year old men should not be DOING THAT. It isn’t wild or free or hedonistic, it is gross and predatory and not a thing that should be happening, or should have happened. I remember being a 13 year old and I remember being a teenager and even though i was a giant chicken who didn’t care if someone called me uncool because I vacated myself from situations without any attempt at trying to look cool doing it (e.g. I RAN AWAY), it was not great and it was a lot of energy just trying to not be sexually assaulted for just existing, energy I would have liked to have used for other things. I am sure that Pamela Desbarres and the GTOs and Lori Mattix and Sable Starr would have a different perspective on this, but I still think it was not great for any of them! I would have wished they had a boring teen life of going to high school and playing intramural sports and babysitting. I don’t think the culture would have been lesser if the 13 year olds who went to Rodney’s English Disco hadn’t been able to go to Rodney’s and do drugs and be preyed upon by older men. Yes, I know times were different and there are a million things that we did in the 70s that we now do not do. This is one of them. It isn’t okay. It never should have been okay. But you and I both know that if things had not changed so that the age of consent was something that nominally gets enforced when a complaint is lodged rock musicians would still sleep with underage girls all the time. Minors cannot consent. There is a reason for that. All you have to do is remember what you were like as an underage kid.

And to be fair, I didn’t ever stop going to rock concerts because I read that someone I liked admitted having sex with underage women. I did, however, stop going to see musicians who sexually assaulted or abused women, and I think it would be great if we all adopted that as the most basic of standards, but I realize I’m asking a lot here.