Tag Archives: diy art

Fugazi

You'd think that a kid who grew up and went to high school in Arlington, VA in the '80s would have been into Fugazi, a "visceral, passionate, politically astute post-punk band that spurned music industry conventions, capping ticket prices at around $5 and insisting on playing for all-ages crowds." In my case I was too into the pop-music scene of the time – Prince's Purple Rain was pretty exotic as far as I was concerned – to really get into the independent/punk scene in the DC metro area, but as the years have passed my tastes have become more eclectic and reading this piece about Fugazi and it's "pay what you want" archive of live show recordings has given the opportunity to jam to Fugazi as I prepare a report to the board of directors at the day job. These folks might see the most radical spreadsheet they've seen in ages. From the article:

I'm drinking green tea with Ian MacKaye in the modest Arlington, Virginia, house where it all began—where Dischord, MacKaye's legendary do-it-yourself record label, took root more than 30 years ago. Back then, MacKaye was a pissed-off teenager whose straight-edge punk band, the Teen Idles, operated amid the musical wasteland of the nation's capital, a city too obsessed with dark money and happy hour to care about DIY ethics and $5 punk shows. But MacKaye cared, and he still does, even if Dischord's flagship acts have long since disbanded. This "is exactly how we started," he tells me. "For the first few years it was just all of us out of this house. We wanted to make records. Literally, make records. We would fold and cut and glue all the sleeves because that's what we needed to do to get it done."

By the mid-1980s, most of the early Dischord bands were kaput and the label was struggling financially, but it roared back in the late-'80s as MacKaye's new band, Fugazi, exploded onto the scene.

MacKaye, of course, isn't one to worry about what other people think of his label. He just wants to keep putting out mindful music that jibes with one of his personal philosophies, namely "caring…but not giving a fu**." 

Last year, hewing to its role as a documentarian, Dischord began releasing its extensive archive of live Fugazi shows in a pay-what-you-want format. MacKaye wanted to get the material out there, but without compromising the value of the art by giving it away: "There's a very good chance we'll never break even on it, but I don't care. It seemed crazy to have boxes and boxes of recordings that no one would ever hear," MacKaye says.

That line, "caring…but not giving a fu**," might just become one of my core operating principles.

Unleashing the World’s Creative Types

I have no idea what the future holds, but I have an inkling that technology is going to unleash the creative types.  I know, I know the changes being wrought upon the publishing industry are well documented, but sometimes it's hard to grasp what's going on until you see small examples of those changes.  For instance, yesterday at lunch my Mom handed me a "proof" of a book she's been editing and was written by a fascinating man from the Blacksburg, VA area.  The proof was as professional-looking a book as you're going to find and a publisher wasn't involved; it's being self published via Amazon.  (FYI,when it's ready for sale you'll find it here).

But the sea-change that's occurring in the world of the arts really hit home with me when I saw this short done by an amateur Russian filmmaker that's described thusly by Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing:

A Russian amateur filmmaker called Alexander Semenov produced this 2.5 minute bootleg Transformers short with a couple of sub-$1,000 cameras, two hours' of footage and a month in the editing suite. It is insanelybadass: a perfect vision of an alternate universe where shirtless Russian thugs go bot-to-bot on dusty distant roads; more fun that the big-budget Hollywood equivalent.

Transformers from repey815 on Vimeo.

I'm really very excited to see where this explosion in artistic availability will take us.