And the Winner Is

What? No category for most supportive local-music article in a weekly newspaper?

The lights are on over at Santa's Enchanted Rip-off and the malls are decked with boughs of holly (plastic, of course). Kathy Willets has a tongue-in-cheek (her own, for a change) Christmas poster for those who cannot throw their money away fast enough already. For the second consecutive week a cold front has blown into town, dropping temperatures into a range where they are roughly equivalent to the IQ of the average David Duke supporter. For the typical South Floridian, these are all signs that the holidays are fast approaching, that it is time to start hanging the stockings by the air-conditioning ducts with care and panicking over the number of shopping days left.

But for those of us in the music business, especially those of us who have from time to time pocketed beer money for pretending to write about the music business, it is almost time for (trumpet blast) The South Florida Rock Awards, wherein a bunch of self-important writers, promoters, disc jockeys, and a host of other people trying to make a living without getting a day job, whose highest level of musical accomplishment is their after-dinner flatulence, get together and come up with a dozen or so nominations for awards in arbitrarily selected categories nobody can figure out. Last year, for example, the category of Best Country Band was included for the sole purpose of giving the Mavericks an award. Lord knows they deserved the accolades, but would it be far-fetched to assume that if the Mavs hadn't come along and been so damn good, the award for Best Country Band might have been deleted in favor of, say, a Best Use of the Guitar as a Phallic Symbol category?

Of course that whole argument violates the first rule of awards ceremonies, which is that nobody but the nominees are allowed to take the damn things seriously, and sometimes not even they do. The highlight of last year's ceremony at the Button South came when, while accepting an award, the emotionally overwhelmed members of Saigon Kick expressed their heartfelt gratitude by exposing their scrotums (scrota? scroti?) to an indifferent audience. Where is Jack Thompson when you really need him?

In addition to Saigon Kick, last year's awards included a healthy mix of avant-garde and off-the-wall bands and musicians. Unfortunately, the proceedings were still dominated by young, white, male members of one-word-name pseudometal bands with monikers such as Autodrive, Race, Accelerator, Farrcry, Whiplash, Roadkill, et cetera, whose members shoehorn their formless little butts into Spandex pants (black, of course), pile their hair up as high as it can go (assuming it hasn't been permed into position already), and meticulously screw their precious faces into the proper scowl/pout. These are the guys who didn't get Spinal Tap, for whom the pinnacle of musicianship would be a guitar solo so fast and loud that no note is distinguishable from the one that precedes or follows it. Their female counterparts are the wanna-be groupies in skirts so tight that if they did have any cellulite it would be squeezed back into their blood streams, where it would circulate until it found a quiet vacant spot to settle (midway between the ears). A day or a week or a month later no one will remember who won anything, and all that will emerge from the whole sordid affair will be a few nagging blisters in embarrassing places.

It doesn't take a genius, or even a Republican vice president, to see that the whole grandiose, self-congratulatory concept of the Rock Awards is flawed. By attempting to appease practitioners of so many diverse musical genres, the awards fail to do justice to any of them. Does any self-respecting mosher care who a middle-age critic thinks is the best guitarist or vocalist? Do thirty- or forty-something bluesmen (or blueswomen) give a flying fannoul who the Best Thrash Band was/is/should be? Of course not. It's like having an all-star ceremony that honors boxers, football players, synchronized swimmers, motocross racers, and chess masters. By failing to limit the scope of the awards, the potential impact of the event is dissipated.

That is why it is best to leave the esoteric categories to the pros here at New Times. Our daily existence revolves around contact with the seamy underbelly of the local music scene, and we are only too happy to share that wealth of privileged info with you, the great unwashed. A random sampling of some of the better categories this year would include:

Worst band to leave the punch bowl unattended around:
Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids

Best band to leave the punch bowl unattended around:
Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids

Best reason to be a musician other than sex, drugs, or money:
The food at the Cactus Cantina.

Most missed folk singer:
The inimitable Frank Black, who opens songs with lines like, "Please don't call my sister a whore...," but who has recently found it necessary to put down his guitar and engage in serious manual labor in order to help feed his family. We think it terribly irresponsible of him. Frankie, we miss ya.

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