“What I do is between me and the Lord, to examine and possibly alter the state of grace in which I live, and thereby the state of grace of anybody who listens.” Townes Van Zandt
"There's hardly anything fun to do, since they made music illegal." From Joe's Garage by Frank Zappa
"Payne Name Meaning: English: From the Middle English and Old French personal name Pai(e)n Pagen (from Latin Paganus) a fairly common personal name among Normans. It derived from a word that originally meant ‘villager rustic’ later ‘heathen’ but it had doubtless lost these connotations in its use as a late medieval personal name. This name has also been established in Ireland since the 14th century." From Ancestry.com
I come from a long line of medieval rednecks. My name derives from the French word "pays," which means "country." After we invaded England and turned it into a white-trash trailer park full of mountain men, moonshiners, and mead-drinking guitar players, the Church came down on us pretty hard. The word transmutated into some kind of variation of the word "pagan," until history finally settled on the pronunciation that would relegate us to the pain and suffering we deserved as heretics from the so-called "holy mother church." "Payen" became "Payne," or even "Paine," which hurts even more than the other spellings. Hopefully, there's no "Dolores Payne" out there. I'm sure there is, and may God have mercy on her soul. "Dolores" is the Spanish word for "pain."
In 1066, when we liberated England from the English, the word "homophobic" didn't have anything to do with sexual orientation. When people called you "homophobic" back then, they were referring to homonyms. The first Paynes were widely maligned as homophobes by the reigning culture of uptight religious legalists, because they protested the use of their family name to describe a condition of suffering. Many Paynes were burned at the stake for their homophobic dissent.
As I mentioned earlier, the word "Payen" transmongrelated into the word "pagan," making us even more undesirable to the crown. At some point, apparently, people started using my family name to describe heathen nudists who lived in the trees and ate moldy bread for its psychedelic effects. The Dancing Plague of 1518 began in July of that year, when a woman began dancing feverishly in the streets of Strasbourg, France. Her name has been recorded as Lady Troffea, but most scholars believe her name was actually Dolores Payne. Whether her artistic incontinence was caused by psychedelic bread, demonic possession, or killer tunes, the epidemic of dancing lasted for two months, and somewhere between 50 and 400 people participated. It was like a medieval Burning Man, without the lasers and Techno music.
There is speculation whether or not the participants of the Dancing Plague of 1518 danced themselves to death. Some say that up to 15 people a day were killed by their own artful histrionics, but this was probably a story concocted by some guy who wanted to ban dancing as the Gateway Art it is now understood to be. In order to "make the world a better place," he decided to make up a story about how the shouts of ecstatic madness coming from the dancers was full of a toxic gas that would decimate the environment, even though the fumes people exhale are full of things that trees and other forms of plant life like to breathe. In the religiously-zealous, faith-based, un-scientific culture of the time, however, these facts didn't matter; the story about people overdosing on dancing gained traction, and the wicked, pagan art was cancelled for the greater good, along with hamburgers, hog riding, and riding in a horse-drawn wagon with less than 3 people. Horseback riding was only allowed if the rider was a priest, or a magistrate of the Holy Order of Artlessness and Centralized Societal Control. High-occupancy wagon lanes were created, widening the roads and displacing thousands of vendors who'd set up shops alongside them. Thanks to this, only the larger merchants, all of whom were subsidized by the king, were able to compete under the weight of the new royal regulations. Whether anybody died during the Dancing Plague of 1518 is unknown; what is known is that the path of human progress continued on its downward trajectory towards perpetual improvement. The agonized howls of incredulous offense that comprise the sonic landscape today are the result of centuries of mindful plotting by these diligent, heroic students of ignorance and artlessness.
Thanks to their work, most people now understand that dancing leads to other, harder arts, arts that can damage the hearts, souls, and minds of people who engage in them. All the arts are fraught with stories of people who went crazy because they were artists. Vincent Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, Oscar Wilde, Caravaggio, G.G. Allin, John Lennon, and Syd Barrett are all examples of people who deserved what they got. If they had chosen a life of virtue, of sacrifice for the greater good, of service to the priests, of total compliance and moral perfection at all times, they wouldn't be remembered as the cautionary tales about dabbling with the arts they are. Fortunately, their memory burns like a degenerate, agonized fuel for the dumpster fire of the culture we are building, like their souls.
Yours in full compliance,
Fortunately, there was pushback. One of my ancestors had a band called Nathane Payen & Ye Olde Wylde Boares that was as polarizing as its 21st-century counterpart. Nathane Payen was an ergot enthusiast, tobacconist, and abuser of mead, but he also played a mean lute, and had a band for awhile under the reign of Queen Jong-Kardashian. Under constant threat of exile or beheading for being a profligate homophobe, Payen fled to the Spanish-speaking islands of the Mediterranean, which were full of dirty Moors. While Payen was in self-imposed exile, Johann Ramoane risked his head by standing in solidarity with him, producing this promotional poster at great risk to himself and his liberal NY bandmates:
Most scholars consider this poster to be an old-school example of punk-rock solidarity that has faded from the scene, which has long-since devolved into a religious organization based on compliance and denying one's own individuality known as a "community."
In addition, a priest whose name is unknown, having been stricken from the annals of rock & roll life, had to suffer the "pain" of excommunication after claiming to have a vision in which he claims the Lord Himself spoke to nice things to him about Nathane Payen from a glowing cloud. The blasphemous pronouncement he claims to have heard infuriated the council to whom he delivered it, but he couldn't recant. He defended himself by telling the council that he'd been in the process of burning an effigy of Payen's cartoon logo and writing a hit-piece in the local punk-rock scroll about what a homophobe Payen is, when the clouds opened, and the blasphemous pronouncement was made.
The pronouncement, of course, was "Pablo Smog Lives."
A painting was made of this event, but the artist chose to remain anonymous, not wishing to risk his family's good name by having any public association with a heathen of such low estate, and with such questionable morals as Payen.
The painting infuriated the Church, which ordered it to be destroyed. No surviving originals exist, but this artist's depiction of the painting survived.
The destruction of the painting, now known as "The Blasphemous Revelation of a Dissolute Priest," drove the point home with pure blunt force: Stay Away From The Gateway Arts. Be a good moral subject, and we'll let you participate in the 23rd-Annual Compliance Games on Tweatter, our electric dungeon board. Overpaid moderators are standing by with their executioner's algorithms to make sure you stay in line. It isn't really any fun, and its utility and value are dubious at best, but for some reason, everybody is on it. You wouldn't want to find yourself alone and without a community of thought-police to share your happiness with, would you?
Of course not. Just remember, dancing leads to singing, which leads to music, which leads to heroin. Fingerpainting leads to cocaine, which leads to writing, which leads to an unrighteous fear of homonyms and a penchant for tight stockings.
And acting is just plain degenerate. If you know any actors, arrest them immediately. If that isn't practical, bind them in stocks and fetters and send them to our branch office in "Holy Woode," a new colony of well-trained moral arbiters we can all rely on.
And remember, when in doubt about the moral validity of any work of art, make sure you don't ask any questions. Never ask any questions, and impose your own understanding on it. It doesn't matter if you don't have any understanding to impose; in fact a lack of understanding is much easier to impose on a work of art than understanding. It's not as hard as it sounds. It's easy: If you don't understand it, it's evil.
Thanks for listening. Or not listening, as the case may be.