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The High Expectations Award for Lee Ranaldo’s Of Fucking Course We’re Not Going to Talk About Gun Laws Today

By Christopher Alexander | 14 December 2012

Like most people in my age demographic, I was excited when it was announced that Lee Ranaldo, second guitarist of Sonic Youth, was releasing a solo album of proper songs. Ranaldo typically gets one shot per two sides of vinyl, and they’re all reliably great: “Mote,” “Eric’s Trip,” the eternally underrated “Skip Tracer.” This was, of course, almost a full year before the events of December 14th, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, where at this writing twenty children have been shot to death by a legally available assault rifle and now I feel like crawling into my bed and never emerging, wondering if I will ever look forward to anything again without feeling horrible guilt about being alive, or not spending every waking moment shouting at the top of my lungs to get these god damned things off the market.

Between the Tides and the Times is largely acoustic, which is a far cry from the racket that Ranaldo made with Sonic Youth along with fellow guitarist Thurston Moore. Of course, if you think their guitars were discordant and shrill, you should hear what passes for an informed and reasonable debate about the United States’ Second Amendment. We have literally been told today is not the day or the time to “politicize” this tragedy—as if to suggest that my anger that, you know, POLICY keeps leading to these inexplicably awful events means that somehow I’ve delegitimized twenty-nine funerals that probably wouldn’t have happened if someone hadn’t had easy access to a MOTHERFUCKING .223 CALIBER RIFLE. That my anger is not as real a response to grief as thoughts and prayers. Bodybags in a fucking elementary school, and the obscenity here is I’m not minding my manners. Unfuckingbelievable. What did you pry from those kids’ cold, dead hands that’s worth keeping your phallus symbols in yours?

Sadly, it’s really not such a hot album. Or even a pleasant one, and since apparently we only live in a world with wall-to-wall pleasantries, an uncomfortable conversation about what the fuck we’re keeping this second amendment around for—since it can’t possibly be to protect citizens from the tyranny of Government because ARE YOU DELUSIONAL? I’M SORRY CAN YOU ALSO BUY TANKS AND DRONE PLANES AT GUN SHOWS NOW?—has somehow, in my young lifetime, became totally out of bounds. But no one’s feelings were hurt, or their guns threatened. Because if Aurora was acceptable, if Virginia Tech was acceptable, if Oak Creek was acceptable, if Tuscon was acceptable, if Old Bridge was acceptable, what’s unacceptable about all of this? Somehow steely leadership and resolve is to…not say anything?

I was surprised by how sedate this album is, which reminds me of something else. Here the NRA dildos may have a point, because the shooter was a madman, maniac, lunatic…in other words, mentally ill. So maybe we can start there? Why don’t we talk about the options that are available for genuinely mentally ill people, who tend to be financially impoverished and thus uninsured and thus discouraged from seeking help in a country where profits matter before patients? What’s that? Those same fucks who wouldn’t dream of asking the NRA to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk are the same ones who also invented Obama Death Camps and Post Office Medicine and made the Affordable Care Act out to be Kristallnacht because it forced HMOs to, like, COVER people? To recap: least restrictive gun laws and worst health care in the first world: no problem. Yelling on Facebook: problem. Fuck you. Pray for me.

I have faith in Ranaldo’s talent as an artist, however, and I’m sure he’ll get back in the groove after this admittedly disappointing move. As for the United States? Shit, I don’t know. What the fuck are we doing? It’s easy to yell, and it really hurts to do so at people you know to be good, decent, and helpful (I would almost certainly be dead if this one conservative friend of mine had not called me every day in 2001 to ensure that I had made it to class, or work, or wasn’t moping around, or was answering my phone, or wasn’t turning down perfectly good offers of lunch or coffee. I just had to hide his Facebook feed from my wall). You want to keep the good mojo going, too. But at the expense of twenty dead children? I don’t know man. I’ve been listening to Pet Sounds for two hours straight.

I love you. But we can’t do this anymore.