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Fucked Up!

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NY Times columnist Jesse Sheidlower, caused a ripple recently publishing his article, The Case for Profanity in Print ( It's a short, thoughtful opinion piece about censorship in media and the need to reform the current restrictions in reporting news.

One of our anointed saviours (or more likely, one of the researchers) of a floundering public broadcaster picked up on the story and interviewed Mr. Shedlower. The interviewer, whose most annoying trait is taking Marcus Aurelius come by Silence of the Lambs (First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek?) and diluting it to a distillate of pure triviality, uses the discussion as a forum to express his frustration at not being able to use the word “fuck” in promoting Toronto indi-punk band, Fucked Up.

The band was formed in 2001 and gained a following over the years, culminating in the Polaris Music Prize for 2009. Polaris is a Canadian award which describes itself as the best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales, or record label. Established in 2006 the award is a $20,000 cash prize which was increased to $30,000 in 2011. I don't have a problem with this band but I don't have any sympathy for any censorship or preconceived bias they have incurred because of their self-named label.

It reminds me of a joke and an apocryphal story about Princess Margaret (Queen Elizabeth's sister) meeting American writer, Norman Mailer. The jokes goes like this:

A socially awkward young man who has no luck with women asks his close friend, a notorious Lothario, how he does it. How does he get all these dates?

“I use subliminal suggestion.” replies his friend. To demonstrate, he tells his friend to observe while he approaches a young woman on the street. “Tickle your cunt with a feather,” says the wag. The offended women exclaims, “I beg your pardon!”

“Oh just commenting on the lovely day...typical country weather.” Before long the libertine rejoins his friend showing him the phone number of the lady. “You try it,” he says. 

The uncouth fellow spies a woman and boldly approaches, “Nice day eh...wanna fuck?”

Norman Mailer was among the best known American writers in the world. His first book, The Naked and the Dead, about experiences in WWII, was published in 1948 and it made him world famous. It was heralded as one of the great American novels and spent 62 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. More recently, in the Times the book was described as a hard read today, a sprawling, cumbersome saga that reads like the fusion of literary ambition and severely limited artistic experience – as indeed it was. Its anachronistic use of "fug" and "fugging" in place of the real words now seems merely quaint, and the prose alternates between pedestrian and purple – little wonder that the young Mailer likened himself to Theodore Dreiser, arguably the worst prose stylist. Throughout thebook Mailer replaced the word “fuck” with “fug.” The great ex-beatnik Yippie band, The Fugs, always wryly poking the bear of the priggish establishment, lifted their name directly from Mailer's novel. Purportedly, when Norman Mailer was presented to the unconventional Princess Margaret, she said, “oh yes, your that American who doesn't know how to spell fuck.”  

The point is sometimes we are prejudged by the persona we take on, or the people we ascribe or aspire to be like. Like a Mike Tyson face-tattoo, it might seem like a good idea at the time, a personal identifier or identity, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good thing. Everyone changes over time... after all, what is its nature, but change. However, the rate of entropy while ensured, has a different pace for all things.  

So you have to decide, am I that disappointed guy who goes through life saying “nice day, wanna fuck”or that other guy who ends up being laughed at for not being true to himself and a euphemistic bad speller.

Fucked Up are post-punk metal with ambition and a bad, frat-boy name. A self-calumny of a sobriquet meant to purposely that's Fucked Up! To me they sound like speed-metal amalgams of out-moded Metallica and Rage Against The Machine. I think I'll stick with Tom Morello. But hey, whatever floats your boat or, for that matter, tickles your country weather.


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