Friday, August 26, 2016

The Death of a Smashing Pumpkins/Billy Corgan Fan 1993 - 2016

                                                                                 Billy and I in happier times

I've been a fan of Smashing Pumpkins and Billy Corgan since 1993.

No more.

Some people are excited about rumors that the original Smashing Pumpkins might get back together.

I don't care.

It's over, Billy.

There are a lot of reasons for that, but one thing sticks in my craw in particular - Billy's embrace of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

I've put up with a lot over the years - over 20 years if you're counting. I've defended Billy, his voice, his antics in concert, the band shake-ups... but I can't defend this.

I think a lot of fans were disgusted by Billy's fanboy status with certifiable kook Alex Jones, especially recently when he appeared on the show (and subsequent videos), bashing Bernie Sanders supporters, so-called social justice warriors, socialism, and sounding pretty Ayn Rand-ian in general.

Now Jones suddenly has a national platform, thanks to Hillary's mentioning him as part of Trump's alt-right connection. The Picklegate video above is all you need to watch to learn that Jones is a paranoid blowhard peddling the most foolish and illogical notions.

And Billy likes this guy? Ok, then I no longer like Billy.

Do you remember the dust-up between Billy and (fill in the blank)? In this case, with Pavement's Stephen Malkmus. Malkmus wrote a tongue-in-cheek song, Range Life, in which a clueless, over-the-hill roadie in the 1990's muses about the "new" bands touring - Smashing Pumpkins ("out on tour with The Smashing Pumpkins, nature kids but they don't have no function, I don't understand what they mean, and I could really give a fuck...") and Stone Temple Pilots ("elegant bachelors... they're foxy to me, are they foxy to you?"). (As with all great lyrics, the Stone Temple pilot lines have taken on new significance to some lately...)

This perceived slight led to a very public spat and, uh, war of words, as it were, between Malkmus and Billy. It seemed that at some point, Malkmus got sick of the "feud" and gave up. But not Billy. The thinnest of skins he has.

Supposedly Billy tried to use his influence to get Pavement kicked off a festival tour at the time, but I saw both bands perform at the first Tibet Freedom Concert in San Francisco in 1996 (also playing, concert organizers Beastie Boys, classic bluesman John Lee Hooker, Foo Fighters, and many others).

I feel a bit foolish now to admit that I basically ignored Pavement and Malkmus for many years out of loyalty to Billy in this "beef". These days, I love Malkmus and think he's one of the best and most creative guitarists around.

Over the years, many people criticized Billy for in concert rants and other boorish behavior. I overlooked all of this, like an abused spouse, always coming back for more.

Several people have written or talked about unpleasant meetings with Billy and I have to admit that the 5 or 6 times I've chatted with him, he's always been great. He is a great guitarist and Siamese Dream will always be a classic. But I even liked Adore and Machina I and II, which a lot of people thought were evidence of Billy going off the rails. I liked Zwan (featuring Paz on bass, currently with The Pixies) and have to give Billy props for touring with wonderful Tibetan singer Yungchen Lhamo.  Seeing him jam with Dave Navarro at a bookstore in Long Beach in 2009 (that's where the picture at the top was taken) was a highlight. But there's been precious little I've liked that he's done in the past dozen years or so.

And there have been plenty of public spats since then, which, let's face it, is hardly becoming a great artist.

Now that he's thrown his lot with Trump, Alex Jones, LaRouche, etc., he can't possibly expect fans like me to stay on board.

I, for one, after twenty-plus years, am jumping ship.

Goodbye, Billy.

                                              Linda Strawberry and Billy, August 29, 2009, Long Beach, CA.

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