I Wanna Be Literated #173

I Wanna Be Literated #173

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011
by Lizzy Goodman

I got my start in music in High School in the late 90s. It was a time when we were exposed to western music for the first time in the little Caribbean island I was growing up (no, unfortunately not Jamaica). The interest has stuck ever since and I actually remember the era of music that Goodman covers in her book Meet Me in the Bathroom. What her book helped put into perspective really is what the context was for the “music” revolution that was happening at that time.

Now I should go on record and say that in my eyes (or ears), as a punk, music wasn’t in need of any sort of “reinvention” in the oughts (2000-2010). There were plenty of albums that came out during that time that were interesting and fresh. But apparently, mainstream music was a completely different matter. I know most of the bands Goodman covers, but was unaware of the movement they were representing.

Meet Me in the Bathroom’s main band focus is the Strokes and how they were really responsible for making a new music and party scene that was NYC based, but ended up going global. What’s interesting in this book is how scenes were being formed all over NYC at this time independently from each other, from James Murphy in Brooklyn, to Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, to Interpol. The impetus? Boredom. Boredom and cheap rent. These were bored young people who wanted a new scene and made it happen themselves. As they grew they mixed and created the entire NYC music scene of the time.

This is also a pretty daunting book which interviews such a wide range of individual, promoters, label owners and employees, managers, club owners, journalists, comedians, bands and more bands, that it’s hard to keep everyone straight. Goodman really tries to cast a wide net to really get a good idea of the events of the time and the effort is admirable but a little overdone. Also, as she switches from scene to scene, some are obviously going to be a little more interesting than others. Like, I know Goodman feels like she needs to talk about Interpol a lot, but Interpol are boring. Towards the end Meet Me in the Bathroom starts to overstay its welcome when it covers the second generation of bands that were inspired by the parents, and Goodman promptly wraps it all up before too much damage is done.

Meet Me in the Bathroom is a remarkable book, very thorough and informative, and is of the same caliber as Please Kill Me. It’s the bible for what it’s covering and any music fan needs to read this. There will always be gaps and missed opportunities when one documents a scene over such a wide time frame, but I’d like to see anyone even try to do a better job than Goodman.

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