From the Editor
by Anania, Ruud & Watson
Recent interest in the punk scene comes to a head this weekend in Austin: Ian Mackaye (of Minor Threat, Fugazi and The Evens) speaks tonight at St. Edwards; Matt Stokes films tonight’s punk concert at The Broken Neck (Inepsy, Lebenden Toten, Unit 21 and Vaska) into the early hours of tomorrow morning—footage he will use in his upcoming exhibition at Arthouse; Temporary Services presents the culmination of months of conversations with Austin punkers (such as the Big Boys and The Dicks) at Domy on Saturday night and testsite on Sunday afternoon. An obsession with punk isn’t limited to Austin either. Last year, Susan Dynner’s Punk’s Not Dead (2007) made the film festival circuit and later this month, Christie’s is holding its first ever auction of punk memorabilia. The question is: why punk now?
Perhaps punk music and the punk ethos are responses to economic crises engendered by trickledown models. Reaganism, for instance, infused the poles of wealth and poverty with a moral code, to the point where it became revolutionary to project a lack of talent or ambition or musicianship: such a projection perverted an entire moral order. Furthermore, Punk’s simultaneous crises-des-coeurs of populism and misanthropy echo the qualities of zombie movies (a film genre that also sees a spike in production during economic ruin): an unstable code of being-within and being-without. Now, in 2008, Austin’s culture is antithetical to recent mandates of the Bush administration: duty, industry, country, family – and also has a curiously sandwiched position within the rest of the state. Cities like Minneapolis, Kansas City, Olympia – and we would include Austin among this group – develop virulent punk scenes because of the friction of being embedded in an opposing ideology.
“Barack Obama is the punk rock president,” says blogger Rian Fike of the Daily Kos. Many remember punk for its in-your-face iconoclasm, but it also created loose-knit communities that encouraged creative expression not confined simply to the music. If Hillary Clinton “found her own voice” in the New Hampshire primary many moons ago, Obama’s clear and consistent (and very punk) slogans of “hope” and “change” shouted louder and clearer. If Obama had been a member of the punk community in his youth, he would have photocopied thousands of flyers a week and cooked endless vegan meals at Food Not Bombs.
The Republican Party intimately knows the threat of the “community organizer.” It is this figure that threatens the strength of ignorance and hate. If Karl Rove is the Izod-wearing fraternity king, yelling “chug it” at a victory party, Obama is the straight-edge idealist wearing his heart on his sleeve. The propaganda machine of the last eight years is dead and Obama stands quietly alone, ready to help us forge a new future of acceptance and openness. No longer posting flyers, “punk rock Obama” uses the internet as his tool. (Have you seen his Flickr page?)
Deep in the heart of Texas, our bleeding blue hearts stand in beautiful punk rock contrast to our red meat neighbors. We continue to thrash our way towards equality and peace.
Katie Anania, Claire Ruud and Kate Watson are the backbone of Fluent~Collaborative.