Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Love HATE Relationship

The local library is a treasure trove of graphic novels and comic book collections, saving me countless dollars in purchases I would otherwise make at Atomic Books. The other day I picked up Fantagraphic Books' Buddy Does Seattle, a collection of "Buddy Bradley" stories from Peter Bagge's Hate comics #1-15 (circa 1990-1994) and it took me back to my Hipster Phase (now in remission) back in the 90s.

Those were the halcyon days of Atomic Books and my old TV show, Atomic TV, of Generation X and of the hipster's obsessive-compulsive collecting of zines, lounge music from Esquivel and Martiny Denny and Jackie Gleason, of kitschy Betty Page Retro Burlesque Pin-Up Sleaze, garage schlock from Norton Records, and cult movies from vendors like Mike Vraney of Something Weird Video. And HATE was the chronicler (along with Daniel Clowes' Eightball) of slacker-hipster culture - and, being set in Seattle, a harbinger for the coming post-grunge wi-fi coffeehouse aesthetic (with the lethargy and sarcasm of the slackers replaced by the caffeinated irony and retro-vision of today's post-Moderns).

Like R. Crumb in San Francisco in the 60s, Peter Bagge was part of a burgeoning "countercultural scene," but also one of its harshest critics. Crumb's disdain for 60s rock music and hippies is well-documented, and Bagge similarly loathed Seattle's grunge music culture, seeing grunge musicians as nothing more than dumb scenesters out to get laid and get high and slackers as nothing more than hippies with bad tattoos and ski hats in place of beads and Pachouli. (Of course, they both enjoyed one aspect of their respective scenes - rampant sexual permissiveness!). Both Crumb and Bagge were musical snobs, Crumb loving 20s and 30s jazz, blues and jug bands, Bagge more a classic pop/rock purist suspicious of flavor-of-the-month musical trends. In one telling story, Bagge's alter ego, the titular Buddy Bradley, is so infatuated by a girl with a bargain bin Badfinger record under her arm that he cheats on his girlfriend to be with her. His infatuation was fleeting; the girl really wasn't a Badfinger fan, but rather turned out to be a devotee of his roomate Stinky's horrible post-post-post Iggy and the Stooges band, Leonard and the Love Gods. In another story, Buddy spies Alice Cooper's Killer album at a thrift store but puts it back because he's afraid the girl he's with will think he's a metal head. His is an Old School pop love that dare not speak its name. Not in Seattle, at least!

Rereading these Hate stories made me think back to the pointlessness of all that collecting of ephemeral pop culture (zines, comics, records and movies) that I am now trying to unload for more lasting bricks-and-mortars things like food, clothing and shelter.

But as a record of its time, a time I was (sometimes embarrassingly) part of, Pete Bagge's Hate is an invaluable fly-on-the-wall historical document. Or, as the Seattle Weekly once wrote, "20 years from now, when people wonder what it was like to be young in 1990s Seattle, the only record we’ll have is Peter Bagge's Hate."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been cleaning house, and the Acme Noveltys and McSweeney's are going, but the Hates and Eightballs stay.

This all brings to mind my favorite Onion article:


"Family Unsure What To Do With Dead Hipster's Possessions"

3:09 AM  
Blogger Benn said...

"The local library is a treasure trove of graphic novels and comic book collections, saving me countless dollars in purchases I would otherwise make at Atomic Books."

Speaking for Atomic Books, I'd like to say, "Gee thanks local libraries!"

Now I know why those were the halcyon days of Atomic Books:
Back then, people bought books, not only supporting bookstores, but the artists who made the books.


I teach this book in a cultural studies class at Towson. Oddly, students seem to think it's "pornographic."

It was also a Mobtown Reading Club Selection this year.

Sadly, Bagge now seems to do a lot of his work for libertarian magazines these days.

9:44 AM  

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