Monday, October 1, 2007

this one is all over the place

1-I made someone tell me who died in Harry Potter even though I have not read any of the books or watched any of the films and have no intention of doing so. It made no sense to me obviously, as I have no idea who any of the characters are and it ended up just annoying me; why did I care about such a piece of meaningless (to me) information? I think the curse of the age is too much mindless information and ephemera. I am sure many irritating liberal columnists have said this before, but seriously when more people care about who dies in Harry Potter than the death count in Iraq it would seem to indicate a certain moral collapse… End times fer sure!

2-I have been reading two books by Mike Davis that kind of tie in with this um, apocalyptic vision, one is called Planet of Slums, and is about the new supercities built on sewage and out of the discards of capitalism that are emerging as people in the so-called third world move to large industrial cities from rural areas but find they do not have the means or power to fit in with the way those cities work. The other one is a collection of essays edited by him called Evil Paradise: Dreamworlds of NeoLiberalism. The “evil paradises” are free market utopias built on the unspoken reality of slave labor and robber baron slash-and-burn capitalism. These places are created by the super rich in places like Dubai and Orange County, gated communities and private cities, which are kind of like the flip side of the super city coin. The inhabitants of supercities are living in the economic and literal trash created by those living in ‘dreamland,’ where you can only even walk the streets if you are economically viable (ie oil rich/media rich etc.)
In Davis’ hellish vision of Dubai the divide between the Haves and the Have-Not’s seems almost medieval in its brutality and immorality. Huge cartoonish buildings and man-made mega islands built with oil money and the aforementioned slave labor shield the ultra rich from the indignities of having to pay taxes or in some cases serve time in the countries from which they came. Rebecca Shoenkopf’s Orange County is a little less feudal, and makes for a much lighter read though she still, albeit mockingly, covers the disparities between the inland barrios of Santa Ana and the coastal gated communities of Laguna Canyon. The Gated McMansion-residing ladies buy their over-saturated offspring Mercedes convertibles to stave off their baby-bird-like insatiable hunger and empty rage; It reads like an even more soulless Less Than Zero. There are other chapters about faux California-style gated communities in Hong Kong and Cairo and even in Iran’s desert, so perhaps that will be America’s legacy rather than Bush’s promised democracy in the Middle East. I am envisioning the free market as a stream of vomit; constant and unless you have a boat you are stuck swimming in the slop. I can’t explain it really.

3-Summer in San Francisco never quite feels like how I imagine summer to be. The culmination of summers past and the mythologies of the idea of summer as being all freedom and adventure all the time leave grown up summers with a lot to live up to. After school, unless you are a trust fund type that doesn’t have to work (or maybe a crusty?) summer is only really distinguished from the rest of the year by the weather. Well maybe I am being a little harsh. I live in California which only has two seasons really, and SF pretty much doesn’t have summer at all, until fall, depending on the day. Thusly I have decided that summer is just an idea and that I have to make freedom and adventure all the time happen myself. A couple of days ago Jess and Holly and I drove to Stinson beach and watched tourists gamboling in the water oblivious to the sign asserting that there had been great white shark attacks there in less than six feet of water… The perfect way to end yr California vacation! On the way home we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge listening to Rock Bottom and the Spies’ Rich Girl and The Dils’ Sound of the Rain, total mix tape magic, and we got to avoid the zillion dollar bridge toll because there were three of us. It felt totally triumphant somehow and I made a remark along the lines of ‘the punks win for once!’ which triggered a discussion about how neither Jess nor Holly consider themselves to be punk anymore. I actually did not participate in this discussion because I am and will always be a punk.
BUT it also made me think about a conversation I had with Sharon Cheslow about why she plays noise, at a very summery east bay BBQ. She talked about being an older woman in underground music and the dilemmas and conflicts of art and a wider audience and basement shows and art gallery shows and so on and so forth… and the whole DUDE THING; contre le sexisme! It made me wish I had a tape player because I totally have wanted to interview Sharon for this zine for the longest time, about DC punk histories yes but also about growing old and staying true, staying independent and committed to the underground. You know there is a Chalk Circle myspace now? She made it and it enabled her to get back in touch with two of the other members; pretty fucking cool!! Chalk Circle was one of the few harDCore bands with ladies in, although really I guess they are more arty lady punk than harDCore, like say um, the Teen Idles? I am sure Sharon does not consider herself punk anymore, though she still plays her art damage destruction in basements with punk bands and I totally think she’s a punk. Punk is like summer in San Francisco. It’s a possibility, and an idea, an ideology maybe, or just a moment of mix tape transcendence.
Punk is a youth subculture for sure, I know this, but I for one would not consider myself a punk still if I considered punk as only being represented by kids at Gilman or the mall punk’s Blanks 77 backpatches and sugary Mohawk hairstyles. I think that’s one of the problems I have with the hero worship of Japanese bands by kids here; if those bands existed here they would be corny Mohawk studded jacket style rockstars. Underground punk is and will always be DIY and independent culture, the idea that the bands are essentially the same as the audience. Not fifty dollar shows. It’s so weird to me that they are so obsessed with Discharge aesthetically, but not by the values or politics JUST THE MUSIC SOUND AND CLOTHING! How is that punk? Probably a million skinny jeans clad dudes are rolling their eyes in disgust at this paragraph. I know I am definitely NOT an expert on Japanese punk culture, please write me and correct me on my cultural ignorance, don’t be mean though!
4-I went to see Sonic Youth do Daydream Nation. It was like watching a play/being in church; the audience were so reverent and the Sonic Youth were so mock solemn. Kim looked so rad dancing in a mod striped dress against a tie die light show, go Berkeley community theatre! It was kind of dreamy but also kind of wrong! I hate the indie rock crowd, so depressing and easily sated. I like that era of Sonic Youth; scary death valley Manson girls/ Pettibon doom doom dooom time! Bad Moon Rising! A comment on the end of the summer of love… I wanted to see the Melvins perform Lysol tonight SO BADLY! It's weird how the 90s are being reconstructed right now in mainstream ‘indie’ culture; Dinosaur jr, Slint, Melvins, Sonic Youth, though guess it's more late 80s early 90s. The Pitchfork crowd need their reconstructed war re-enactments! I wonder if it's like the baby boomer freak out in the 80s when every movie had baby boomered music; think about it, The Big Chill, The Outsiders, Stand By Me; REVIVALISTS!! That is happening now but with bands performing entire LPs, it's like a play because if you saw the Melvins in 89 or whatever they wouldn't 'do' the whole of Gluey Porch Treatments, or Slint wouldn't 'do' the whole of Spiderland. They would just play a show; it's total theatre constructionisms. Speaking of which Mike Mckee is writing a book about 90s DIY hardcore (91-94) I am sure he is looking for contributions and if you have any check out his myspace, his name on there is 90’s DIY.
5-I was a teenage straight edge warrior! I’m not anymore! But I still hate it that hanging out in bars is most people’s idea of entertainment. BOOOORING.
6-I have mostly been listening to Leonard Cohen because of seeing McCabe and Mrs Miller for the first time, I guess that’s not very punk. I think about punk a lot and am sorry if I talk about the same thing every month!
7-That’s about it! A bunch of random stuff not very coherently discussed!

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