This week's Guest: George Alley
My guest this week is George Alley, a musician and choreographer who paid his does on the mean streets of suburban Cleveland, where he was the secretary for a local street gang. The son of a Detroit blues singer and a demolition derby driver, George often felt anger at the world and at people who tormented him. That anger, it turned out, would be a crucial element that shaped his creative work today.
This week's Recommendation: The Doom Generation
Big thanks to George for joining me. And check out his latest single, "Just Leave me Dreaming." I'll have an excerpt of that at the end of the episode.
Let's talk about the 90s, since it did come up quite a bit this week. Particularly that uniquely 90s feeling of nihilism and ennui that nothing matters, everything's ironic, and there's life is lonely, boring, and dumb.
That's the thesis of my recommendation this week, which I'm recommending with a caveat. Greg Araki's film The Doom Generation came out in 1995 and is you might call "peak 90s." It's the story of three disaffected youths sneering their way through a grotesquely violent America guided only by their hunger, their libido, and brief cameos from folks like Parker Posey and Margaret Cho.
It's not heavy on story, and even lighter on any sort of resolution. So you could read a lot into this story depending on what sort of personal baggage you bring. To me, it's a film about early-90s queer HIV anxiety -- there's a line early on about AIDS, and throughout the film the characters are surrounded by images of death as well as a fascination and wariness about the consequences of their own sexual urges.
Your milage with the film may vary of course, up to and including the choice not to watch. It is an aggressive bummer, and though you'll likely walk away with lots to think about you'll also probably have plenty of dark rain clouds over your head. But if you've got the stomach for some deep dark 90s nihilism, The Doom Generation is a rewarding watch -- and not just because of the sexy flashes of male skin and the perfect portrait of men's gazes lingering on each other's bodies.
The film is a perfect capsule of a period of aimlessness, disillusionment, despair, and fear ... and at this point I'm not sure if I'm referring to the 90s or just being a teenager.