Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pancakes = damnation

Honey for the Bears’ new 50-song album, aptly titled 50 Songs by Honey for the Bears, was recorded in one weekend last November. It is “gloriously out of tune, horribly recorded, incredibly embarrassing,” they say. But in its blunt diary-of-a-madnerd format, with skronky little song-items like “Have You Heard About the My Bloody Valentine Reunion?” and “Golden Shower of Opportunity” — average track length: 1 minute 5 seconds — it’s also an inspired feat of lo-fi pop savantism akin to 1989’s Jad Fair and Daniel Johnston.* Not quite in Jad and Daniel’s league, however, because both Jesse and Dave, the two members of Honey for the Bears (apparently named after a Television Personalities song), are entirely sane.

But the Bears boys do offer an unusual theological insight in the song “Pancakes,” essentially accusing God of rigging the sin game against man. The eating of pancakes, and by extension the enjoyment of all earthly pleasure, is equated with defiance of God’s will and the breaking of the Covenant. The pancake is the forbidden fruit of our consumerist society, the Bisquick box our tree of knowledge, representing all of man’s enlightened achievements: agriculture, science, commerce, civilization, yummy treats. The temptation to taste the fruit and enrich our lives cannot be resisted. And as “Pancakes” makes clear, it should not, though we will inevitably pay the price of damnation for this trespass. Mankind is born to rebel, born to eat pancakes, and born to burn.

Anyone who has spent more than 30 minutes with Dave Ramm — to say nothing of going on a pancake-paved four-day road trip with him — knows how essential flapjacks are to his diet. So why is it a sin to satisfy this God-given desire? Why shouldn’t man take nourishment however he pleases? It’s a similar argument to the one Lucifer makes in Paradise Lost: God created his ambitious son and then damned him for his ambition. It took Milton 10 books to get that point across, but Ramm accomplishes the same in a pithy 29 words:

Pancakes for breakfast — fuck you, Dad
Pancakes for lunch — fuck you, Mom
Pancakes for dinner — fuck you, God

Pancakes, pancakes, pancakes
We’re going to hell
Flapjack city
Oh yeah.
Listen to the song here.

* Reissued and (lamely) retitled It’s Spooky in 2001. Watch a video of Daniel Johnston performing “Don’t Play Cards With Satan” from that reissue.

1 comment:

rudylandsam said...

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