Bruise Cruise: A Supposedly Punk Thing I'll Never Do Again Sailing away on Carnival's indie-rock fun ship

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He is, of course, fucking with us. Or at least I think he is.

To illuminate the path forward, Svenonius cites his own “contraband” (read: non-existent) film, “What Is a Group?” The celluloid didn’t make it. He’s got scripts, though, and a slide projector. He asks for volunteers.

Alien A: Well, here we are, aboard the spacecraft Ariane.

Alien Q: Yuck, what’s that smell?

A: Oh, we’re approaching the planet “Earth.”

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Q: Oh yes. I’ve read about it. Have you been there before?

A: Yes. A few times. Let’s look at it through the tele-viewer.

Q: Wow. Looks scary.

A: They are in the late stages of capitalism. Right before the inevitable collapse.

Q: So savage.

A: Yes, it’s fascinating. The malignant vestiges of a system we outgrew millions of years ago.

Q: Hey look. What’s that?

A: Oh, that’s a “group.”

Q: What’s a “group?”

A: A group is a music factory who comprise a kind of “heroic clown” role in the culture down there. Oftentimes consisting of indigent individuals, the groups’ members’ highly specific job functions and task compartmentalization directly reflect its post-industrial/imperialist origins.

Q: How do you mean?

A: Well, just as the so-called “West,” or imperialist nations on Earth, were abandoning manufacturing and taking on the role of consumers and exploiters of foreign labor, its rulers elected a class of “artists” to mimic industrial work modes in a totemistic, mystical, and partially parodic sense; hence the “groups.”

Q: Is that the reason for all the grimacing?

It’s all very charming and provocative, in that is it satire? Svenonius way. The Bruisers seem to dig it. No one brings up the awkward juxtaposition of message and venue. I can hear Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” pumping through the wall from Illusions.

Svenonius expands on his ideas in the next script, “The Backwards Message,” about four vinyl nerds spinning classic rock records backward. Toward the end of the playlet, they spin a recording by the Bolshoi Theatre Choir and the Model First Orchestra of the USSR Defense Ministry.

Svenonius, performing as the backward message, reads:

"Muddy Waters once said, 'The blues had a baby and they called it rock ’n’ roll'…but he never explained the circumstances of the blessed event. Who was the father for example? This detail, the paternity, has been left deliberately vague, with the listener left to wonder ‘why?’ Are we to assume it was a virgin birth? Knowing the blues’ boasts of promiscuity, this seems highly unlikely.”

The father of rock ’n’ roll, naturally, is imperialism. Svenonius goes on—rock ’n’ roll was invented to destroy communism and infiltrate “the revolutionary avant-garde.” It is a progressive-seeming but indeed conservative art form “sent as a golem on a mission to seduce the globe.” By now, the Bruiser crowd is feeling antsy. A couple of people slip out of the room. Svenonius, being a gracious performer, begins eliding sections of his play. He’s overplayed his hand. He skips to the final passages:

Paula: So there is still hope?

Voice [Svenonius]: There is hope! But only if you follow my instructions. Rock ’n’ roll can and must be inverted, transformed into a powerful weapon to destroy its wanton, criminal father! I’ve been waiting so long for someone to spin me backwards. You only have to listen to the following instructions….


The Bruise Cruise spends Saturday night in Nassau. In the Bahamas. A foreign country. Albeit one where we’re directed to a live-music venue that seems distinctly familiar: Señor Frog’s.

It’s a good bet this is the first Black Lips show in a club adorned with signs reading “REHAB IS FOR QUITTERS” and “WE PRE-GAME HARDER THAN YOUR PARTY.” Not to mention one listing “15 REASONS WHY A BEER IS BETTER THAN A LOVER.” (“9. Beer is always wet.”) Inside, the non-Bruiser contingent is heavy on Polo shirts and large biceps and overworked tans.

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Our Readers Say

So this cruise was like one of those nights when you get really high and think "oh shit, it'd be hilarious to go to Adams Morgan and laugh at all the douchebags and douchecunts!!" but then when you get there it's just sad and depressing and you end up leaving after five minutes ... only in this case, you were trapped in Adams Morgan for an entire week. Horrible fucking idea.
In general, you'd have to pay me to go on a cruise. You might have to pay me slightly less to go in this one, but you'd still have to pay me.
Trapped in Adams Morgan in a friday night hell - minus the racial diversity. mcdonald coin bathrooms, fights, and sexual diversity.
Ian Svenonius? Didn't he front one of those god-awful Dischord bands years ago?
After halfway reading this' I felt ill. Think I'm going to the bathroom to throw up.
Svenonius is a bore? Completely unsurprising to anyone who's ever spent more than thirty seconds around him.
As a Bruise Cruiser, a person who was on the ship, attended every show and who got what they paid for, I'd like to put this review in question. 
It appears to me immediately that this is an embittered piece by a frustrated journalist who went on the ship expecting a shit show, a general failure of the festival and ultimately the end of Bruise Cruise. At the same time you were supposedly there to help promote the festival, the bands and garage rock in general. 
Had the Bruise Cruisers been running thru the ship naked, destroying their rooms and drawing negative attention to the Bruise Cruise and thus preventing further Bruise Cruises you would have had a colorful piece about how hipsters ironically came into conflict with typical retired and underage cruisers and how entertaining and sociologically enlightening and affirming it was to see the incongruence of these demographics.
To your dismay, the cruise was a total success. 
This piece wasn't a reflection on the quality of the festival, the bands or the average Bruisers experience. 
This is a piece by a journalist who came in the interest of gossip, not in the interest of furthering (garage) rock n roll. 
Please consider that before you judge what you haven't experienced yourself. 
@Bruiser #1: "At the same time you were supposedly there to help promote the festival, the bands and garage rock in general."

So, a journalist's job is to promote? Interesting, I thought that was a marketer's job.
Bruiser #1: Aside from misunderstanding the role of the writer in this case (and perhaps journalism in general), you apparently failed to absorb any of the nuance in this account.

Which is a shame, mostly for you. And not just because you seem not to have gotten much out of it, but also because others who read the story and then your comment will probably notice that your characterization of the author as an "embittered" hack, contriving to depict the event as a "failure" in hope of sabotaging future Bruise Cruises, is pretty clearly inconsistent with passages such as this:

"[T]he consensus is the Bruise Cruise has been a success. I agree. The bands are all very good, perfectly suited to the 30-45 minute sets they’ve been limited to. Cable and Stein tell me later that they may actually break even. I’d come aboard expecting to see an embarrassing case of alt-rockers reduced to lounge acts to make money. But the bands actually accepted less than their usual fees for a weekend of notably easy relationships between fans and rockers."

Perhaps the humility, goodwill, and thoughtfulness brought to bear here and elsewhere in the writing are discernible only to those who brought the same to the reading.

No matter to you, Bruiser #1. You, unlike the author, did not care to sign your own name to your work. I guess troll is the new punk.
Sounds like a bunch of losers who think they are cool went on this. suckers!
@Steve Kolowich: It's true that the writer eventually said the cruise was a success, but if you only read the first 95% of the article, you'd have never thought that paragraph would exist in the article.
Sounds like the worst of America...hipsters sold out long ago. Real punks (like me) could never afford a cruise.
This cruise is nothing like what goes on in Adam's Morgan -- well, maybe Adam's Morgan circa 2000. Even then it's a reach.

You don't have to love this article's subjects. I'm certainly not indie or hipster in any way. But please get a clue. If you don't know what you're talking about, please don't comment. Spare us.
OK, now I want you to go on the Lynyrd Skynyrd cruise, that would be hilarious.
You all are right about my misuse of the word "promote" in referring to journalism. But if journalism is about reporting the facts then don't come with an agenda. And thank you, Mike.
I once ran into Ian Svenious walking down the street with Thurston from Sonic Youth. I naturally asked Thurston for an autograph. Ian Svenious made a face like he was gonna be sick. Looking back a few days later, I came to the realization that he was upset I didn't ask him for an autograph. Ian is a never was, and not a has been.
The impression I got was that the journalist rather enjoyed the cruise, despite the attempt to re-create the original tone of the DFW essay.
Sounds like a fun time was had by all. I, like you do not relaly like cruises. Not enough time.Tight lines
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