Joe McDonald: This Particular Darkness

He makes me wanna be a better game creator:

The timing of Joe McDonald’s post about music and the questions it asks could not be more perfect for me. (And of course everything is all about me – hah!) Seriously, though – right when I’m in the midst of grappling with how various types of music invoke my creative expression, along comes this:

This Particular Darkness « Buried Without Ceremony.

You might think I tend to draw from the same few wells far too often when I share cool stuff that I’ve encountered, but if it moves me or makes me think or reaches down and grabs me by the scruff of the soul, then that’s what I wanna share and it kinda makes sense that a writer capable of doing that once will probably be able to repeat the feat every so often. These days, Joe McDonald is doing just that for me. He’s a reliable feat-repeater.

Not only does his post add some flavor into my recent thought about music in Vegas After Midnight, but it goes beyond that to make me think more about my music preferences in general.

I’m going to admit something that might slightly soil my self-advertised misfit cred. When I was a tween and teen back in Michigan in the 80s, my musical tastes were dominated by pop-radio rock (Prince, Duran Duran, Hall & Oates, Journey, etc.) and certain types of “classic” rock (The Beatles, Elvis, Queen, etc).  I used to shy away from punk and hard/metal rock. Too subversive, too much the music of the kids in my school who were stoners and rebels. True, I secretly wanted to BE a rebel, but in my school all the rebels were pot-smoking pill-popping drunkards who were nowhere near as cool and compelling as Judd Nelson’s character in The Breakfast Club or Robin Johnson’s character in Times Square.

So as it turned out, my teenage rebel phase didn’t actually emerge until I was in my late 20s and I started hearing the music of the misfit teens and art-class rebels who were regulars in the theatre groups I was part of and the teen residential-treatment home I worked at. They listened to lots of grunge, punk, neo-punk, proto-emo, etc. and when I heard it it clicked with me in ways that it never did when I was younger.

So now, I tend to listen to some pretty edgy stuff, some emo, angry, hard stuff, both modern and classic. And I’m much more appreciative of the subversive elements of the stuff I used to listen to but didn’t recognize as subversive.

So, when Joe poses his thoughts on the questions asked by punk genre, and he brings up the notion of raging against machines and fighting against oppressive institutions, and placing blame… I wonder.  Because I agree with him, but I’m not particularly involved in actually fighting or raging or rebelling any more than I used to be when I used to listen to processed pop music.

So my inner-rebel has always been sort of a wannabe. And I begin to realize that what I’m doing with VAM is to try to finally openly express – or at least grapple with – all the conflicting stuff I feel about the pros and cons of “fighting the status quo”. Because really, VAM is a game about waking up and doing something proactive in terms of raging against the dying of the light. It’s about not sleeping through the chaos in order to hide from it, but actually facing it down, shouting at it, and DOING something about it. I’ve always thought of VAM as my magnum opus, my statement. And it is. But I hafta admit, I’m not altogether sure, even at my age and “maturity”, whether the statement I’m claiming to espouse is entirely sincere, or if I just WISH I felt that way.

This bears more pondering. I’ll go listen to some Pink Floyd or Smashing Pumpkins and get back to you later.

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  1. Sometimes the statement we *want* to make is as powerful, if not more, than the one we *are* making. I can dig on the wannabe rebel thing; I live it, and have done so for ages. Yes, I have had my bouts of fuckitall, where I’ve decided to live like an artist should because dammit, that’s my belief, but then eat crow and join the soulless mercantile hegemony blah blah blah. The starving artist is still starving, and art doesn’t happen on an empty stomach.

    Weirdly enough, I’m far more comfortable with my subversiveness these days. There are those that would say that me riding a bike as much as possible in lieu of the car, that writing my Slow Bike Miami blog wherein I wax poetic and inspiring about the wonders of riding a bike, that buying organic and local whenever possible, that all these things are politically subversive acts and that I’m just a hippie or some shit like that. I’m just me, doing the things I like, prompting others to do the same if it jives with them as well. And I like punk and goth and pop and electronica all just fine.

    Make your statement. All you have to worry is that it is yours.

  2. Excellent addition to the conversation, my friend. I knew there were good reasons we click so well.

  3. I think part of the point that I was exploring is that actually answering those questions isn’t the point… asking them is, and constructing the world around you to resemble a dialogue on them is.

    So, perhaps in that regard you are very much “thinking like a punk”, even if you aren’t answering those questions through action (“acting like a punk).

  4. Holy Crap! Mick! I was surfing around the web and I stumbled across your website. It is great to see that you are still doing Vegas After Midnight. It was one of my favorite RPG’s ever. I hope that you and Leah and your family are well. I miss you, and would love to get an email from you sometime.

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