Look, I’ll put it simply: Ozzie DJ Craig Schuftan’s second book “Hey! Nietzsche! Leave those kids alone!” is funny, smart, scholarly, witty and brilliant.
I fell in love with music and with poetry all over again. I craved some mash-ups that I’d never, ever see. To wit: taking the best of Keats and Billy Corgan, how about “Ode to Mellon Collie?” From Shelley and Gerard Way, “The Masque of Anarchy leads the Black Parade?”
Schuftan’s book, still for some stupid reason not available in the States, is an amazing success.
I recently talked the book up to a punk friend of mine from college, whose name, on her request, I have left out. I include it here because, frankly, I love the book too much not to.
Me: So this book I am reviewing, you would love it. When you come and visit me you should borrow it. It’s not out in the states yet so you are SOL.
ANON: Whee! Oh snap.
Mme: It’s about the roots of punk, pop, emo and goth in I SHIT YOU NOT LORD BYRON AND SHELLEY. it. is. the. greatest.
A: Byron and Shelley were the ORIGINAL GOTH KIDS.
Me: Actually Milton was but whatever. Then again maybe Milton was more of a punk.
A: Nah, Milton was a nerd. 😛
Me: using his art to be a revolutionary and whatnot.
A: Okay, maybe he was a punk.
The author’s passion for tunes, pop, emo, punk and goth is matched with his love for Romantic poetry (and this author would have a tough time pitting the two against each other in the Thunderdome, and is content to see them share the stage) and 19th century history.
Look, honestly? This book needs to be released in the States yesterday. I had a blast reading it.
The book starts out with a confession: Schuftan likes My Chemical Romance. And I have to confess, similarly, that so do I, after reading “Hey! Nietzsche!” If only because reading the book gave me a much bigger appreciation for where the band’s music is coming from, historically and artistically. It’s easy to point at Gerard Way’s Black Parade makeup and derisively laugh, “emo kid” but when Way calls emo “a pile of shit” he starts to sound a bit more like Byron when he went to go fight in Greece.
Mechanically, Schuftan illustrates his point by juxtaposition and historical inference. It’s quite brilliant, really, in the sense that when you take a good long look at Bryon’s pallor, his disinterest in people, and his massive poetic talent, he really does look like Rivers Cuomo. Similarly, when you think about Gerard Way voicing a desire to save the world with rock and roll, it sounds a lot like Milton’s Satan.
And really? If it sounds like this praise is too high, or to elevate Weezer and MCR up to the heights of a pair of the greatest poets to ever commit pen to paper, the point is lost on you, dear reader. Byron, Schuftan’s Adam from which all this pale, black-wearing music descended, was a rock star. People read his poetry and loved him Beatles-style. Calling cards arrived in buckets, and Bryon, like a rock star, took in the sex, booze and drugs en masse, with the perfect nonchalance.
The biggest success in the book is making the connections seem so obvious. Schuftan doesn’t strain to make a point once in the book’s 300 pages. The book concludes with an affirmation, and so must I. Love your Byron, listen to your Weezer, and for the love of God, read this book.