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January 16, 2009

Words & Guitar—1/16/09

Last year, Ian MacKaye killed rock ’n’ roll.

Ironically, the lethal blow came in the form of a birth. On May 24, Ian and Amy Farina brought into their family one Carmine Francis Farina MacKaye, a baby who, given his legendary punk parentage, will likely grow up to be enough of a badass to support the moniker.

Let’s be clear here. A large part of me wants to offer the new parents a hearty mazel tov, propose a toast, and then stammer awkwardly at having proposed a toast to the founder of straight edge.

But another part of me wonders where the old Ian went.

The Ian who, at 19 years old, bellowed the words “I don’t fuck/ At least I can fucking think” so unapologetically on one track that he felt compelled to declare himself “not asexual” when the fanzines came knocking.

The Ian who, with the urgency of a soothsayer and a fury rivaling the entire anti-Yoko movement, belted “Was she really worth it?/ She cost you your life/ You’ll never leave her side/ She’s gonna be your wife” on Minor Threat’s first song.

That’s the Ian who’s buying Huggies and formula now?

I dig tiny humans as much as the next girl, but the conclusion here is unshakeable: If this isn’t just another incident of animatronic baby fraud—if Ian MacKaye has truly reproduced—then last year, rock ’n’ roll really must have gasped its last.

It’s also possible that rock died some other day in 2008. Let’s have a look at the calendar.

January 3 — Colgate airs its first commercial for Teen Spirit® Stick Gel and Invisible Dry deodorants with Nirvana’s first hit playing in the background.

January 22 — Guitar Hero sales hit the $1 billion mark.

March 14 — On his Livejournal, Don McLean reveals that “American Pie” is about a pipe dream in which he breaks a car radio and opens a pastry shop. After the post, Rolling Stone reports that McLean has done both.

April 8 — Courtney Love is arraigned for the murder of Biggie Smalls. Bail is set at $14. Love remains in prison to date.

Also on April 8, Sean “Puff Daddy” “Puffy” “P. Diddy” “Diddy” Combs is arraigned for the murder of Kurt Cobain and acquitted after months of legal strife. By court order, however, he is now known simply as Sean Combs.

June 24 — Milo Aukerman undergoes laser eye surgery. He tosses his trademark glasses into a donation bin on his way out the door. Three months later, Ethiopian tapioca farmer Bekele Ayalew sees 20/20. His friends think he looks smarter and occasionally catch themselves wanting to stuff him in a locker.

July 3 — To the assembled press in Conference Room B at Valparaiso Public Library, Man or Astro-man? reveal their true identities as Princesses Cinderella, Snow White, and Jasmine from Walt Disney’s Orlando, FL theme park.

August 18 — After a wakeup bout of laryngitis, Michael Gerald enters a Sinatra phase. He announces plans to spend the rest of his career opening for Celine Dion in Vegas.

September 30 — In a misguided attempt to garner the youth vote, Ron Paul gives a kazoo performance of “Heartbreak Hotel” on The Tony Danza Show. Reception is mixed.

October 1 — Pink Floyd fans get word of a reunion tour and throng to Wembley Arena for the opening date. As the lights dim, the applause dies when the crowd catches the first strains of the chorus: “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down….”

December 2 — In an interview with Barbara Walters, George W. Bush says he has reconsidered his 2001 classification of Eminem as “the biggest threat to American youth since polio.” In his revised rankings, the President places Mr. Mathers at a threat level somewhere between chicken pox and monkey bars.

All right, you got me. Only the Guitar Hero story is true.

But even though Michael Gerald has no known intention of working with Celine Dion, it is a little disappointing to hear him talk about his fulfilling career as a tax lawyer. Milo still wears the specs, but he’s long since gone from writing 18-second songs called “I Like Food” to making the genetic engineering of better corn his life’s work.

Whatever Behind the Music would have you believe, it doesn’t take sell-outs and plane crashes to knock the wind out of rock ’n’ roll. All it takes is the news that our heroes have gotten married, found real jobs, sprouted gray hairs—that they’ve grown up.

But there’s always hope that something worthwhile might rise from the ashes. Case in point: If Carmine MacKaye got anything from dad besides his wacky hairline, we’re guaranteed at least one rock rebirth to look forward to.