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1997 again: Spending an evening with White Light, White Heat, White Trash

So, the other day Gatermann and I were headed out for pizza–if you’re ever in St. Louis and in the mood for pizza, Fortel’s is your place–and he had the local alternateen station on the radio (105.7), and to my shock and amazement, they quit playing Bush and Linkin Park and Bush and Korn and Bush long enough to play an old Social Distortion song.
And I must interrupt myself again. If you’re ever in St. Louis and you’re into modern and/or eclectic music and need a decent radio station to listen to, start with 89.1 and 93.3.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. 105.7 was playing Social D. I’d forgotten about Social Distortion so long ago that I struggled to remember the name of the band. “The lead singer’s name is Mike Ness,” I said. And halfway through the song I remembered Social D. “Real punk,” I said.

“Now what’s wrong with Green Day?” Gatermann asked me. I’ll have to point out that his tone was joking, otherwise I’ll end up with four tires with no air in them. So let me make one thing loud and clear: GATERMANN DOES NOT LIKE GREEN DAY, FOR THE RECORD!

Well, what’s wrong with Green Day is that punk was supposed to be three chords and an attitude. Green Day’s got the three-chords bit down, but the attitude… Billy what’s-his-name just sings about being slackers. Mike Ness is always worked up about something.

So tonight I threw in White Light White Heat White Trash and gave it a listen, all the way through, for the first time in a long time. I know I’ve ripped a choice few tracks, like “I Was Wrong” and “Down Here With the Rest of Us” into MP3 form and listened to them a lot, but I don’t think I’ve sat down with the album since college. Suddenly it was like it was the summer of 1997 again and everything was OK. And the songs I didn’t like then, I liked just fine now. I’ve lived enough to understand them now. Critics didn’t like the album all that much. Maybe if they bottomed out a few times and had God pick them back up again, maybe, just maybe, they’d like it better.

Fortunately for me, bottom isn’t nearly as deep for me as it was for Ness.

And then I got curious and did a web search. I wanted some insight into Mike Ness’ lyrics. How autobiographical were they? Were they just words to him, or did he live them? And I found a quote. Something he said to the Los Angeles Times, apparently. It’s one for the quote wall.

“It used to be, ‘Live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse.’ Now I want to live to be 100. I don’t want to leave my kids without a dad.”

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3 thoughts on “1997 again: Spending an evening with White Light, White Heat, White Trash”

  1. “Real Punk”?? “punk was supposed to be three chords and an attitude.” Whoa. Watch it there. Pretty soon you’ll be telling us what Rock ‘n Roll is. In my opinion, generalisation is something you want to keep away from.

    Not all punks were worked up about something. Yes, many were, but the majority of punks that I have known were extremely confused and they definitely didn’t find their place in the world, making them look like slackers to the rest of society.

    I can understand the dislike for Green Day since they are so “mainstream” today but give them some slack. They have never insisted on being “punks” themselves and if you check a bit further you will find that at least two of the three in the band (if I remember correctly) have families and stay away from drugs, etc. They even use earplugs during concerts (Gosh, how un-punk). I can vouch for that since I have seen them live.

    I am not trying to defend Green Day. I am disagreeing with your very tight definiton of punk though. The term “punk” is as unclear a term as “rock” is in my opinion.

    I also want to say that I wonder sometimes if you and I didn’t grow up with the same record collection?? I love your music posts. They always hit home.

    /Dave T.

  2. Request to distribute your software as part of the Windows Toolbox

    (sorry to post such a long speel, but you don’t divulge your email address and do say to post in the comments field instead)

    We have compiled a collection of useful software for Windows called the Windows Toolbox. Its purpose is to provide a complete collection of consistantly high quality, integrated and useful applications in one place, aswell as our own utilities and technical tutorials. This compilation has existed and evolved in virtual form on the web for the past three and a half years (it was at but has just moved to Now we would like to distribute it on CD, not for financial profit, and require your permission to include your software

    We’d like to include batch files taken from ‘Optimizing Windows for Games, Graphics and Multimedia’ (page 91, 92) for defragmenting the Windows 9x registry but don’t know if there is any licencing restrictions on using them – do you have copyright on such things? and if so would you allow us to distribute them?

    We have lists on the web of the software contained in the Windows Toolbox, differentiated by that which is currently unambiguously legally re-distributable:
    and that which is not or is unsure:

    So as to provide further description for you, this is the standard project description for the Windows Toolbox:
    “The ‘Windows Toolbox’ is a compilation of fundamental software and information for Windows (95,98,Me,NT4,2K,XP):
    a comprehensive tool set to enable you to work with the diverse and popular media of a modern personal computer system; patch holes in such systems to enhance stability and security; & diagnose software & hardware environments so as to help in their repair. using as few resources as possible

    The tools, organised by subject area, include software & documentation; chosen both for their superior functionality & by a moral bias toward the fairer means of production, distribution & use, namely Free Software, Open Source, Freeware, Shareware, etcetera. For example, in a food context this might roughly translate to one or more of the following: locally produced, seasonal, organic, free from animal cruelty and fairly traded, by people working co-operatively

    This compilation is constantly and consistently updated; future editions will provide upgraded and newly discovered software applications and documentation and new or improved technical writings. there are details of how you can obtain these yourself via the Internet. you can also contribute your own tools and information. get in touch: inkwire-at-thegoldenear-dot-org”

    The Windows Toolbox not only comprises software applications but scripts we have written for automating the configuration of Windows and applications, and documents we have written on installing, configuring and using the various applications, all tried and tested in the field by us

    This collection has a growing respect on the web; currently it already provides a gateway to trusted, tested, worthwhile software; it is similar but more comprehensive than distributions from TheOpenCD ( and Kansas City Linux User Group (

    We want to get the software and documentation distributed as widely as possible. We intend to apply for grants to get copies pressed up that can be given away at places where people train to use computers at drop-in centres and colleges; at gatherings where the people attending are likely to be computer users; bundled with magazines and newspapers; etcetera, etcetera

    When permission or clarification has been received from some of the authors of software in the non re-distributable list that we can legally re-distribute their software then we’ll make a test release and then a final release. As we hopefully receive further permissions to re-distribute software we’ll add those as we make ongoing revisions to the content when software applciations are updated

    We intend to distribute in a number of ways in differing situations: completely freely; for the cost of the media; for the cost of the media plus a donation. The cost of the media will be for the CD(s), case, ink, paper, postage, etcetera. Donation would be non-compulsary and any amount would be the recipient’s choice; the donation would be toward the time spent making this compilation. We will in no way be seeking to use this as a profit making venture – we survive already by doing computer support for non-profit organisations and are politically against making more money than we need to live humbly on and recognise that the majority of the work is yours in writing the software and we wouldn’t want to divert money away from yourselves – but we believe it fair to ask for donational payment toward the cost of keeping this extensive project alive. We intend to apply for grants to pay for pressing up thousands of discs and for publicity but we are in no way guaranteed to receive funds this way

    If you choose not to grant us permission to distribute your software then it would be appreciated if you could provide the reason for this so that we know the potential changes we could make in our means of distribution that would allow us to distribute your software

    Hopefully you like what we’re upto and will be able to give us your permission.
    We hope to hear from you soon


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