Saturday, October 07, 2006

“O to break loose. All life's grandeur
is something with a girl in summer ...”
Robert Lowell, “Waking Early Sunday Morning


Pere Ubu’s work is generally divided up into three distinct period (Early years (pre-punk-post-punk)/ Fontana years (POP)/ post Fontana years) but really everything from The Tenement Year on seems to have been covering the same ground, distilling the same set of lyrical concerns, as has Thomas’ side-project with The Two Pale Boys. The latest “ Why I Hate Women” continues this series of takes on Mythic America, specifically the America of the Fifties and the quintessential figure of the haunted, driven man drunk on the enormity of the American Sublime, (the “ crazy green of a mid-summer nowhere”), knuckles white on the steering wheel, the constellations wheeling above him as he heads for the promise of the low, distant lights, deeply foolish, grimly hanging onto the belief that there really is something out there, somewhere out there that will restore him to himself, somewhere life is really lived. In the pre “in-here” America of the new Industries of self-improvement, pop-psychology, self-help and Prozac, it’s the place itself that must be sought out, a concrete, really-existing ideal-community that incarnates American Values and in which all the white-picket principles of good-neighbourly-ness and a shared vision of life can be enacted, where the cruelly irreconcilable split at the heart of the American Dream that one can be both ruthlessly self-seeking and also community-minded, is sutured closed. Thomas is always the idealist, the Utopian clown, who cannot reconcile himself to the futility of his search, to the endless American night which can never be plumbed, ( “In my head, morning never comes”) and is always in transit, always eager for the promise of the road, the always unfulfilled, displaced promise of the next town, with nothing but the ghosts of a former, disavowed life, swirling up at him through the headlights and the eerie drift and crackle of the radio to soundtrack the misgivings at the heart of his hopes, and the hope at the heart of his misgivings, a speck in the vast night of an America desolated by the weight of its own impossible promise.

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