Thers and I sat down the other night to watch Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns, a pretty decent documentary about They Might Be Giants. I kept looking up to catch people I recognized ("Hey! That's Adam Schlesinger!"), but the young woman who vaguely resembled my mid 80's self was unknown to me, since I missed the fist slide identifying her. Eventually she was reidentified, though, as Sarah Vowell.
Today, Vowell's column brings together the Minutemen of American history, the Minutemen, the heavily armed nutjobs who've taken to patrolling America's foreign borders, including those in, er, Tennessee (maybe they think Kentucky is foreign? No idea), and the Boon/Watt/Hurley band The Minutemen.
"We Jam Econo," Tim Irwin's lovable documentary about the lovable 80's punk band called the Minutemen is making the rounds of film festivals and revival houses this summer. It's nice to revisit the hullabaloo of their songs. And watching the bassist, Mike Watt, driving his van around his California hometown, San Pedro, and pointing at Minutemen landmarks is like listening to a fascinating Concord park ranger lead a tour across North Bridge. "We were minute men," Watt says. That's my-NOOT men - a little homemade band, not the slick Redcoats of arena rock.
The best part of the film, and the most heartbreaking, is when Watt walks around the park where he met Boon, a childhood friend who died in a car accident in 1985. "I was quite smitten with him," Watt remembers. "He was playing army and he fell out of a tree on me."
As he stares at the very tree, it occurs to me that playing army when you're 13 is fine. Grown men playing army on the Mexican border? No, thanks.
It's so rare to get a newspaper columnist who gets what punk means. Props to Sarah, and the NYT needs to be smart enough to keep giving her a forum.