What the hell happened to rock ’n’ roll?

You slip the music section a hot shot of china white, and we reward you with a Payback Time T-shirt and two tickets to a Live Nation club show of your choice taking place in Vancouver within the next four weeks. Here’s this week’s winning whine.

Dear Payback Time: What the hell happened to rock ’n’ roll? At one point not all that long ago, you could count on artists doing what artists usually do: destroy themselves, whether it be through drugs, incarceration, or self-torment. Preferably all three. In the process, they’d create amazing fucking music. ’Cause we all know that nothing spells killer track like a good heroin addiction. John Lucas doing a scathing exposé of Young Galaxy bringing a child on tour was incredibly hard-hitting. But if I wanted to hear about the rigours of changing diapers, I’d read American Baby magazine’s “Best Tips Ever!” section.

> Derek

John Lucas replies: Dearest Derek—Well, you’re a regular Szilveszter Matuska, aren’t you? You remember him—the Hungarian mechanical engineer who, in the early 1930s, derailed a couple of trains just for kicks. Watching them crash made Matuska jizz in his jodhpurs (or whatever people wore back then), and at his trial he reportedly said, “I wrecked trains because I like to see people die. I like to hear them scream.”

You’re nothing like that, right? Don’t kid yourself. You’ve already admitted that you enjoy human ruin, wallowing in the trauma and death of your fellow beings for the sake of a “killer track”. It seems you’d prefer the Straight s music coverage to glamorize all the pretty fuck-ups and the fucked-up things they do. But guess what? There’s nothing sexy about experiencing despair so profound that the only way you can see to escape it is to go all Jackson Pollock on your attic walls, using your brain as the paint. There’s nothing rebellious about shooting heroin into your legs because you’ve used up all the veins in your arms, and nothing glamorous about burying your 27-year-old son or daughter.

There’s also nothing inherently “rock ’n’ roll” about being an addict. All the horse in the world couldn’t give Sid Vicious any musical talent, but I’ll admit that he left a cool-looking corpse. So that’s one point for you, I guess.

Are all the good artists dead? Of course not. But Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Layne Staley, Amy Winehouse, John Bonham, Gram Parsons, Keith Moon, Elvis Presley, Johnny Thunders, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jay Reatard are, which means you won’t be hearing any more killer tracks from any of them, ever. Enjoy the silence.

In any case, if you really want to get your jollies watching a shooting star crash and burn, rock ’n’ roll isn’t where you should be looking. Instead, keep your eye on Justin Bieber. That kid’s got real potential. It’s only a matter of time before someone finds his festering body lying facedown in a Las Vegas hotel room, with his veins full of krokodil and bath salts. His music will still suck, but hey—self-destruction!