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I made it all the way through Korn's Issues just once, and even then, I was out of the room for most of it; turns out that's the best way to listen to Korn, from such a distance that you can't actually hear it. A few weeks later, I tried again at my younger brother's request -- he wanted my copy, but I insisted I needed it for work, such as it is (my brother is a captain in the Marine Corps and scoffs, quite rightly, at the notion of writing about records as "a job"). "But you'll never listen to it, bee-yitch," he insisted, as he shaved down his head (something he does five times a day) and gnawed on a week-old steak bone. "Give it here, you stupid whore," he growled, more adamant than usual. I told him no, so he gave me a proper beat-down and went out and bought his own copy -- though I did give him my copy of Rage Against the Machine's The Battle of Los Angeles, my entire Limp Bizkit collection, and several amateur porn tapes I had made, McGyver-style, using hand puppets, a modified electric toothbrush, and some Burt Bacharach CDs.
Why I kept the Korn I have no idea, since I have much trouble wading through the cesspool, even with my thigh-highs on. An old editor of mine -- an elderly woman who smoked Newports through a hole in her throat and thought Mel Torme was the son of the devil -- always insisted that the job of the rock critic was to get into the mind of the rock fan, to find out why an audience liked a certain kind of music. In theory, that is an excellent idea: What are rock critics if not excellent sociologists in dirty freebie T-shirts scamming lunches off underpaid label publicists who insist Chris Cornell is the grunge Jesus Christ? It should be our job to explain the desires and deconstruct the fetishes of the audience, to get inside the mind of the rock fan -- no matter how smelly and dank that mind may be (I have visited several that resemble Carlsbad Caverns after a series of small cave-ins). Know your enemy, indeed. Even if you're related to him.
But I once asked a Limp Bizkit fan why he liked that band, and his answer was an unintelligible series of random grunts and clicks; he also explained it was music topless-bar entertainers like to "shake their tits to," which made pretty good sense -- hey, me likey too! Same goes for Korn, the act that spawned Limp Bizkit and the Deftones and Robbie Van Winkle Mach III and all manner of "Adidas rock" bands whose idea of melody is an open-tuned guitar and a loose-stringed bass slapped like a bitch who insists on getting a day job. There was that one Jonathan Davis lookalike at CD World who insisted Korn spoke to the disenfranchised children of the world whose parents make them actually do chores for an allowance. (Shit sucks, dude.) But most Kornholes -- and that is their nickname, right? -- like the band just cuz it's so bad-ass. Check out the discussion forum at www.korn.com: Turns out ours is a world divided into two camps, those who love Korn ("Korn kicks ass," of course) and those who prefer Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys (otherwise known as "faggots" and "pussies" and, inexplicably, "sluts with hips," as per the postings -- and my all-time favorite put-down, "oxygenthief"). Lotsa mentions of the songs about how the world can just suck my/your/Jonathan's fucking dick too. The words "Hitler youth rally" keep popping to mind, though it could be my Heb paranoia acting up again. Dude, I could be wrong. Maybe I just need to turn my baseball cap the other way.