Monday, December 5, 2016

Love to Oakland

Heartbreaking, this news out of Oakland.  I think anybody who has ever stepped outside of their computer and into the world of underground music knows that most venues you're playing at, whether they be house & warehouse parties or dive bars, are often playing with limited resources.  Often the only money the artists involved make, if anything, is enough to get them through to the next night.  To say that they're death traps or a "tinderbox" is often part of the charm of these spaces, an act of a creative confrontation of resources, rather than criminal negligence.  It's too early and in poor taste to speculate on culpability, but it's perhaps not a stretch to say we can do better by our artists and music enthusiasts.

The communities that gather around these venues are incredibly tight-knit, especially in something like experimental dance music, a venue where LGBTQ, PoC, the overeducated but still impoverished creative class, the working poor, and others can unite to lift each other up in a world that constantly tears them down.  It's devastating to see any space like this, one which is barely allowed to exist let alone thrive within the austere limitations of late capitalism, fall victim to the preexisting ravages that threatened and continued to threaten it (as news organizations continue to denigrate the owners, participants, and music community at large as we speak).

Music performance and dance spaces have traditionally been safe spaces, escape valves that peer a glimpse of what a brighter future or an alternate present might look like.  With the recent attacks on the Bataclan and Pulse, the purposeful vulnerability of these spaces (as place where we are allowed be vulnerable and not guarded/skeptical) are now being exploited on a somewhat routine basis; the loud noises, low lighting, large crowds, limited exits, underpaid or underpresent security/staff, fire code violations, and frequently intoxicated patrons make disaster a pretty easy proposition- so much so that it's incredible terrible things don't happen more frequently.  Don't expect that to lighten as the culture clash rises, as artists make natural enemies to the forces of fear and hatred.

It's a testament to our support for one another that our creative spaces continue to be seen every year as havens rather than just another place to be exploited or attacked.  But as we head into a changing world, we should make sure we're continuing to think about changes that may need to make to ensure each other's safety and well-being, as well feelings of inclusion (only recently have we even begun to think about how unwelcome women often feel at punk shows, for example).  As a forward-thinking community, we can't rely on the traditions of the way that things have always been done.  We need to demand more, of both ourselves and our culture, and admit to ourselves that we do is important enough to warrant saving.  Maybe that's the best way to find meaning is something like this.






"I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our more stupid melancholy propensities, for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, to loathe one’s very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?"

- Johnny Ignaz, aka Nackt, scheduled to perform at the Ghost Ship. Still missing and feared gone, from his description of this gorgeous recent song





Cherushii, aka Chelsea Faith Dolan, also scheduled to perform that night with a beautiful lush track released on 100% silk.  Still among the missing.






RIP Travis Hough of Ghost of Lightning






RIP Cash Askew of Them Are Us Too



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