Bad (Huey Lewis and the) News

Pablo Tanguay
March 26, 2014
Comments 1

The end of the 1980s seems like an incongruous time to have been dropping so much acid, even in San Francisco, even in the Haight, even for the crooner of an otherwise talented and earnest little combo that would go on, after firing said crooner for excessive drunkenness and drug taking and breaking all the equipment by falling down on it all the time, to become one of the seminal grrrl bands of the 1990s. In the summer of 1988, Reagan was finishing up Morning in America and the country, excepting its cokeheads and crackfiends, was Just Saying No and even the Haight had sold out to a crass commercialism, its used record stores and thrift shops and art movie houses replaced by The Gaps and Wallgreenses and whatever the late-80s equivalents of those shitty tweengirl stores like Forever 21 were called. The Panthers were dead or in prison. The hippies had burnt or sold out. The punks had become skinheads then outright Nazis. In the city of Janis Joplin, of Sly Stone and Jello Biafra, the rave of the late 80s was Huey. Fucking. Lewis.

I’m not in favor of the period-after-each-word phenomenon. I mean, I get that it’s an effective rhetorical device to slow down the action so that WE ALL NOTICE THAT THE ACTION HAS SLOWED. WAY. THE. FUCK. DOWN. Still, the device is cloying. Maybe not cloying exactly, but it produces the same reaction in me as a cloying thing would, by which I probably just mean that the device, as a literary mechanism, tries too hard. But here, we’re dealing, for reals, with Huey. Fucking. Lewis. The only thing worse that could have happened to my city would have been, say, oh, I don’t know, waking up one morning at dawn on Ocean Beach, shivering, bottle empty, sand all up the asscrack, to witness, as if from some giant totalitarian war painting or epic Hollywood flick or, indeed, mirage induced by acid, the slow-motion lockstep march ashore through thinning fog of endless row upon column upon flank of narcissists in skinny jeans and soft cotton hoodies, all sporting smartphones, tablets, Google glasses and paleo diet manifestos, loads of cash swirling high up into the salty mist, blown from their asses.

No, the late 80s weren’t that. That would come. This, though, this was the very next worst thing. Psychologically, a city that not only countenances but raises up as a favorite son Huey Lewis is a city afraid, afraid, paradoxically, of both itself and anything other than itself. Spiritually, such a city is either without a soul entirely or else its soul is ravaged, desperate, willing to suffer any indignity. And because up until recently (see above) San Francisco has never been without a soul, its impossible to conclude anything other than my city, in the late 1980s, had lost its mind. Good lover that I am, I lost my mind with it. 

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