Surprisingly Intelligent Piece In The NY Times On Plastic People Of The Universe

One doesn’t generally rely on the New York Times for a correct take on the historical importance of an obscure rock band, but Tulip Frenzy could not find a single fault to cite in this morning’s quite quite excellent piece on Plastic People of the Universe.

Okay, so maybe Dan Bilefsky doesn’t truly convey what a lugubrious time can be had listening to the arty, theatrical dirges the Plastic People actually played. (This was a band that sounds better on paper than they actually did over stereo speakers, not that we don’t normally like bands that admired the Velvet Underground and Captain Beefheart.) But he does get their genuinely revolutionary impact: in the aftermath of the Prague Spring, after the Soviet tanks rolled, the embers of Czech dissidence were in no small part kept warm by the skronk of a single rock band.

The Berlin Wall fell twenty years ago last week, and I am all for the credit being shared magnanimously among many.  Reagan, Gorby, Pope JP II, that East German apparatchik putz who screwed up at the news conference and announced the free movements of the (newly free) East German people, Peter Robinson who authored the “tear down this wall” line for his boss in the Oval Office, the reporter who asked that East German spokesidiot the right question at the right news conference: let them all get their due.

But let’s hoist a glass to a rock band that clanged and banged  for freedom, and kicked loose at least one brick from the Wall.

Let’s also toast Dan Bilefsky, the Times’ Man In Istanbul.  And while we’re on this theme, allow us to say: Come home, Dan.  Liberate us from the writing of Jon Pareles!  May freedom ring in Times Square!  May the reign of Jon Pareles as the Times’ chief rock critic be more short-lived than communism was in Central Europe!

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