(Gnome gnote: Due to Labor Day, a ridiculous holiday in a country where laborers are about as valued as fashion advice from a computer programmer, this column was saddled with an early deadline. The Gnome regrets that his sure-to-be thrilling adventures at Bumbershoot will thus become subject to the philosophical quandary that's long plagued music journalists: If a performance occurs and I don't write about it, did it really happen? Hmmm.)
Grunge. We, the enlightened people of Seattle, never bought into the whole media circus behind Nirvana, flannel, and Sub-Pop-as-brand-name (well, some of you did, and you know who you are!). But we did all play along nicely for the filming of Hype!, which should have been the final word on the subject. Everybody should now feel free to play their guitars with distortion, to grunt and to growl, and wear their hair as scraggly as they wish, without fear of the "G" word resurfacing. Alas, It. Just. Won't. Die. The Gnome is making a commitment, however, to stomping out signs of this horrible word in popular culture.
As if it's not disturbing enough that there's a NEW Austin Lounge Lizards record, the folk geezers kick off the disc with a melody that rips off "Come As You Are" and carries the title "Grunge Song." The lyrics roast rock bands that go for the loud/quiet aesthetic. Very funny. Ahem.
Another reference comes in the form of Butch Vig's new pseudonym, Grunge is Dead. Yes, the Madison, Wisconsin-based engineer who's worked on countless albums that Entertainment Weekly has referred to as "grunge" has collaborated on a song called "How Bout Some Hardcore" with the rap group M.O.P., employing his slick new tag (remember that this is the man behind Garbage). It's on the new Loud Rocks compilation, a blatant effort to cash in on the rock-rap craze by pairing rockers with rappers. Yuck! Additionally, Vig's registered the domain name grungeisdead.com, though has yet to unveil his evil plans for it.
Sleuthing, the Gnome sought to find who owns the also-undeveloped grunge.com domain name and traced it to Charles Anderson, a.k.a. Chank Diesel, of Minneapolis. You may remember Chank as the founder and art director for the music mag Cake, which had its heyday in the mid-'90s. Chank's gone on to make a business of selling his famed fonts (at www.chank.com), but he also purchased potential domains in '95, including grunge.com. Why, the Gnome asks him, why? "It's for sale," he says on the phone. Chank adds that he's had the magical name appraised and found that it's probably worth about $40,000. But his attempts to dump it on Seattle haven't been fruitful. "It seems like people who were involved with the scene don't like that word," he says. You betcha!*
You can reach the Metro Gnome at firstname.lastname@example.org