There has never been a better time for us to come together and think about this as artists, musicians, writers, activists, punks, organizers.
We need each other to build resistance, to amplify messages, to organize against the violent, hateful, bleak vision a Trump presidency offers us. We’ve needed it all along to fight injustice and oppression wherever we see it.
I had a mom who infused a belief in social change work and activism in me over the years. She had been involved in anti-war organizing and the Civil Rights movement, and was a public school teacher and educator professionally. There is so much she taught me just by example about fighting for what is right and sticking up for others growing up.
In high school, I began to get a global perspective by getting involved with Amnesty International and beginning to understand the breadth of human rights violations happening all around the world. Toward the end of high school, feeling overwhelmed, despondent, but also desperate for a place to try to make change, I stumbled upon a local band in my DC metro area home that went by the name Fugazi.
It is not an understatement to say this changed my life.
Fugazi was powerful for a number of reasons, as all of us who had the opportunity to see them live and hear them can attest to. But one of the core reasons they were powerful beyond belief from my vantage point was because of their relationship to the broader community. I mean this in a host of ways.
First, every single show this band played in Washington, DC was either a rally to raise political awareness or a benefit for a local organizing project or nonprofit group. They regularly performed with and championed go-go music – a potent and unstoppable genre completely indigenous to Washington, DC, similarly informed by underground networks and DIY ethics. Frontman/guitarist Ian MacKaye ran a label and put out friends’ bands, focusing strictly on DC. They also regularly had fantastic local groups open up for them.
In college, my first band, Bald Rapunzel, was lucky to be one of those groups.
But it was more than a strong movement of undeniable art centered on these four (white, straight, cisgender) men. Their local shows were produced in conjunction with an incredible grassroots activist organization called Positive Force.
I stumbled on my first Positive Force meeting while still in high school, when I wanted to do a large-scale benefit for my Amnesty chapter. The meeting was like nothing I had ever been a part of – a ragtag group of people, diverse in age, gender and race, coming together to discuss an array of resistance projects, ideas and efforts. I also was not made to feel like an interloper as a brand new person to the group and as a teenager. I was invited in, encouraged and supported.
This space was a vital training ground for activism that would inform the entire course of my life. Quite simply, they made revolution irresistible (I am borrowing that phrase from the brilliant writer and activist Toni Cade Bambara). We had book discussions, delved into theory, and grew to challenge ourselves and one another. There were people of all political stripes, from liberal Democrats to green anarchists in the group, and we talked across differences.
I had a regular weekly meeting space to engage in political education.
This is where we need to focus efforts in the era of an incoming Trump regime. We need to come together like never before, in real time and space. The Christian Right has a great advantage in the regular meeting space/community that is formed by church. The left needs something similar – and music and art can provide this. We gather for our exhibitions, punk shows, book events. We form community. We create space to talk and to connect. Now is the time to make this explicit and intentional.
One of the groups that has most inspired me in terms of their ongoing community connection, grassroots activism and political education in the past few years has been the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina. This leaderful movement was fueled in large part by the energy and passion of Dr. William Barber, a Protestant minister, NAACP national board member and political activist. Beginning in April 2013, he led regular “Moral Mondays” civil rights protests – on Mondays – in the state capital of Raleigh. He has regularly talked about the urgency of building community and coalition in order to advance social change.
Punk and independent music are similarly situated to inspire hearts and minds, to draw people in to movements for resistance. Bands can organize benefits and rallies, use their music and their microphones to speak truth to power and talk about things that matter to us.
It’s no coincidence that the Trump transition team struggled to find artists to play his inauguration. Our communities reject his rhetoric, vitriol and hate. We can be unapologetic in naming this and in trying to strategize about how best to put our bodies on the line, particularly for those most vulnerable and likely to be most harmed in the course of his presidency.
We can use the Internet to connect but we have to get out of our houses regularly and talk to one another. We need regular meetups, like Moral Mondays or Positive Force meetings, where someone can stop by for the first time, learn, plug in and become politicized. We need to take some lessons from the past – our organizing has to be empowering, collaborative, and enjoyable. This is urgent work. All of our efforts are needed.
I am also now the mother of a toddler, and I deeply believe that we have to strategize about ways to engage parents in these fights. That includes in punk/arts communities. Can meetups or events offer childcare? Can we think about different roles someone might be able to play in a direct action if they can’t risk arrest because they are the sole guardian of a kid? We need to be creative. We all have parts to play, and we can support each other with a range of tactics.
I feel grateful that in its nearly nine years, my band Trophy Wife (a partnership with my best friend Diane) has been a ongoing dialogue and offered me space for political education. There is so much I need to study, explore and learn in order to be the strongest proponent for social justice I can be. We need to encourage this in each other and try to build all of our capacity.
None of us is perfect – we have a lot of learning to do, especially from one another.
Now is not a time to be shy. Our shows, bands, DJ nights, venues and group houses are powerful. We wouldn’t be targeted by hateful alt-right trolls on 4chan and Reddit if they weren’t.
We can, in fact, make punk a threat again.
Let’s dedicate ourselves to being about more than the loudest, most brutal band or the next big thing on Pitchfork. Let’s ignite a movement that is centered on ending oppression, fighting back, and changing the increasingly terrifying world we see in front of us.
Let’s dissent – through joyous, communal song.
Dick Rubin is a visiting professor at MINKA University. His mother describes him as a “nice boy but a little unhinged.” Typos, punctuation errors and other mistakes are intentional. He crafted this essay (lack of punctuation and all) for our DISSENT issue.
it all started a few months ago. one night, up late reading fake news articles, i came across a story about billionaire entrepreneur, elon musk.
it turns out elon believes we live in a computer simulation. in fact, he’s got a team of physicists working round the clock to figure out how to escape our false reality. at some point, though, this knowledge fell into the wrong hands. and well, that’s how we got our tweeter in chief.
in 2015, somewhere deep in the basement of trump tower, the donald had a religious experience. in a vision, the machine gods imparted to him the very rules of the game we all play. at last, he understood. in this simulation, you can say or do ANYTHING you want…and the bots will love you for it. the more outrageous, the better.
if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. if you were an artificial intelligence from the 23rd century, wouldn’t you want entertainment? ancient rome had its gladiators, green bay has its packers. the future silicon overlords have us, the american people.
it’s been fun. but this is a game we won’t be playing anymore, thank you very much.
on january 20, 2017, the MINKA community opted out.
gathered together for our Deviant Diskotek party, we drank from a vat of specially prepared Kool-Aid. in that moment, we left our earthly bodies behind and transcended to the next dimension.
now, as we gaze down at earth from our new perch, we can’t help but laugh at the futility of our previous lives. running around a digital playground, desperate to protect our fragile sense of self, we were the authors of our own suffering. what kind of existence is that?
if you’re “alive” and reading this, i guess ritualized group suicide wasn’t for you. honestly, if you want to remain part of a lower-dimensional plan, that’s your business. but heed these words, my friend.
the world you know isn’t real. hell, maybe your friends aren’t real. maybe even your beloved pet pomeranian is just a compilation of 0’s and 1’s.
at first, it may be uncomfortable to face this truth. soon you’ll find it liberating.
i lived my last months on earth in a state of bliss. i pushed the boundaries of pure hedonism. i had sex with strangers at all hours of day and night. i stole from the rich and gave to myself. eventually, i saw myself for what i am – a god.
the master of my own destiny.
isn’t that what we all yearn for? to act as we please without the fear of what others might think? should we not seek to embody that most american of values: freedom?
in the end, don’t we all want to be DONALD TRUMP?
some guy named clausewitz once said that “politics is war by other means.” so here’s my advice: go scorched earth, baby.
i’m talking sherman marching on atlanta. tom brady shredding the cleveland browns.
embrace the spirit of nihilism. forget the rules of capitalization. forget any rules at all.
while you’re at it, go write some dope lyrics, paint a masterpiece, sell somebody a lemon on a used car lot, serve up a dank cup of coffee, make something that is weird, create something that is uniquely you, or go sit in front of the TV for the next 40 years. FUCK IT! and fuck what your friends think because our next commander-in-chief doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks.
the machine gods are listening. what do you have to say? or are you too afraid to say it?
in the words of NINA SIMONE:
i wish i knew how
it would feel to be free
i wish I could break
all the chains holding me
i wish I could say
all the things that I should say
say ’em loud, say ’em clear
for the whole round world to hear
Remove your shoes / laptop in a tray/ Trade a little freedom for a little safety.
– Angelspit, “Thanks for Your Cooperation”
In an alternate reality, Bernie Sanders won the 2016 presidential race. And if we’re going with an alternate reality scenario, we might as well dream big. So let’s also give ol’ Bernie a talking golden unicorn sidekick named “Living Wage”and have Assemblage 23 play the Inaugural Ball. In this world, Prince, David Bowie and Florence Henderson (TV’s Mrs. Brady) are all still alive and doing just fine.
Ted Nugent is settling into his favorite buffalo hide chair to type out a piece on his made-from-baby seal computer keyboard about how to fight back against the coming changes to our government. And that’s OK. Or, at least, it would be OK if Ted Nugent – even alternate reality Ted Nugent -weren’t such an asshole.
For many of us, it seems like we’ve been waking up every day since the morning of November 9th in a nightmarish dystopian alternate reality, one in which the new president/reality show producer is an ego-maniacal bigot with misogynistic tendencies and ties to White Supremacist groups.
It’s a world in which former Texas governor Rick Perry, the man who forgot the name of the Department of Energy during the Republican presidential debates, has been tapped to run that very same agency. A world where Cindy Brady is apparently a raging homophobe (et tu, Cindy?).
The irony being that, for years, the Other Side has been living in a strange alternate reality wherein the president of the United States was a secret foreign-born Muslim who was planning to outlaw Christmas, confiscate all guns and force dissenters into FEMA camps while Hilary Clinton conducted Satanic rituals beneath pizza parlors.
Now, keep in mind that Alex Jones, the man who helped peddle many of these nutjob conspiracy theories, now has the ear of the most powerful man in the world. No wonder Uncle Henry believes that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the presidential election and that thousands of Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks by dancing upon New Jersey rooftops?
Alternate reality Ted Nugent would probably tell his readership that the most logical response to a massive political shift would be to arm themselves and to wave their guns around whenever and wherever possible. But that’s not our way, and it sure as lack-of-shooting wasn’t the way of Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Gandhi or Bobby Brady (so I assume, as Bobby was always the yin to Cindy Brady’s yang).
Our way is to organize.
After all, our organizational skills ended Jim Crow laws, brought about same-sex marriage and have kept Creed off the radio for over a decade so far.
And we need to get organized NOW.
We need to do this for the sake of the most vulnerable among us. I’m a straight white man with a college education (or “An Elite Libtard,” a term I now wear as a fuckin’ Badge of Honor. Shit, Luther! I’m having Elite Libtard business cards made) and I’m worried.
I can’t even begin to fathom the apprehension my Muslim, LGBT, and immigrant friends, neighbors and family members must be feeling right now.
They’ve got the guns but we’ve got the numbers/ Gonna win / yeah we’re takin’ over
– The Doors, “No One Here Gets Out Alive”
Do you know two or three people who are as concerned as you are? Good. You now have a starting point. The next step is to organize your friends into either an email or Facebook group. Hell, there may already be an existing one that you could all join.
Yes, it’s a small start, but remember that it only took ONE person to turn to another and say, “Damn, we really need to get Creed and Cindy Fuckin’ Brady off the radio.”
Once you have your group together (you’ll want to grab the name “The Sane Bradys” early because once word gets out about Cindy, EVERYBODY is going to want to call their group that), you’ll want to set a weekly goal. I suggest something along the lines of “Call your senator and/or congressperson and ask that they do X”.
No, don’t call them and ask them to do Xtasy. The “X” is just an Elite Libtard way of saying “fill in the blank.”
By the way, when you call your representative, try to leave a succinct message like, “Please vote against the confirmation of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Thank you.”
DO NOT leave a message along the lines of “Rex Tillerson is an evil tool of the Fascist Corporate Establishment and must be STOPPED before he breeds an army of Exxon-approved Lizard People.”
That’s not helping. Although it probably wouldn’t be the craziest call your representative gets that week, especially if your representative lives in Ted Nugent’s voting district.
What? You don’t know the name of your senators or your congressperson? That’s nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you go online and fill in that gap in your knowledge. And it can actually be kind of fun if your representative has a silly name. My congressperson’s name – I shit you not – is Bobby Brady.
Did you also know that your representatives have local offices (which I assume where all designed by famous architect Mike Brady) and that you and your friends can turn up there and ask for a meeting with your representative (Be polite! Don’t rant about Exxon-approved Lizard People).
That’s because you are your representative’s boss. And people tend to get shit done a lot more quickly whenever the boss will be coming around.
OK, people. We’ve got Social Security and Medicare to save and the registration of Muslims to prevent. Let’s get to work. In the words of Ted Nugent, “If you don’t crush evil, then evil will get you.”
The people have the power/ The power to dream / To rule / To wrestle the world from fools/ It’s decreed the people rule
– Patti Smith, “The People Have The Power”
To see MINKA is to experience art. Pretty surreal art.
They are about so much more than just their good-time, funky sounds. You will dance at one of their performances, for sure.
But you may also have your life altered by what you see, hear and experience.
The band headlines The Foundry on Saturday in an event that will feature burlesque dancers, sideshow performers and visual artists, as well as performances by three other bands – The Mysteries, Attic tapes and Leisure Muffin.
Top images by Charles Wrzesniewski. Lack of proper grammar in the Q&A by Dick Rubin.
At your birthday show in February, you jumped out of a cake naked and then launched into your performance. Very ballsy! How was that experience?
it was deeply moving, George. i felt honored to perform such an important public service.
believe it or not, 78% of Americans suffer from recurring nightmares about being naked.
tell me if this sounds familiar:
you’re giving a powerpoint presentation. then suddenly, your clothes evaporate, and you’re bare-assed in front of the whole conference.
and then…you’re ashamed. but why?
the human body is a beautiful thing. maybe the most beautiful thing there is.
my body deserves to be celebrated, not hidden in the shadows.
was i nervous to show the world my assets? sure.
but i knew this was something bigger than just me. i knew it was my task to inspire a generation.
Any ramifications from that performance? It seems like certain body parts were kind of swinging all over the place. Any bruises or anything?
well, everyone now knows the truth – i’m a grower, not a show-er. and ever since the grand reveal, my pornographic career has hit a brick wall.
on the plus side, the incident has helped MINKA steer the conversation away from our music and towards my genitals.
Don’t mean to harp on the naked stuff but how will you top that at your show at The Foundry?
it’s not a show. it’s The MINKA Carnival.
it’s where your dreams come true.
For people who are not familiar with MINKA, how would you describe the music and the band’s performances?
let’s just say the band is about fun.
we have fun. and you’ll have fun.
FUN! FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN
FN FUN FUN FUN FUNF UFN FUDNSF USDF USDBF SDIFUSND FSIDUF oei5u30!@#495u df
“this interview is taking a while,” he whispers under his breath.
Dick checks his watch.
“you see, these days, my mind wanders more than it used to.”
ever so slowly, he approaches the mirror. the face looking back at him appears strange and distorted.
the doctors exchange concerned glances…it seems Dick is finally losing his grip on reality.
suddenly, he launches his body at the window, screaming.
“get me out! i don’t belong in here. MINKA IS REAL…they need me!”
a passing attendant mutters to herself. “ugh, can someone please shut him up already? always talking about that damn band.”
her friend laughs to herself. “Bertha, look at him! he really believes it.”
“i’ll tell ya. if i had a nickel for every time one of these guys thought they were Dick Rubin….well, i’d have a lot of nickels.”
“of all fucking bands…how do they pick that one?”
“i think it’s probably the whole naked thing. and the orgies.”
as they stare at patient #453, they both start cackling in unison.
“as if anybody would want to have an orgy with that…thing!!”
the earth begins to shake.
“the fuck was that!?”
blinding beams of purple light shine through the windows. a spaceship uncloaks in the hospital’s courtyard.
“is that…? no, it can’t be.”
“DEARLY BELOVED,” a baritone voice intones over loudspeakers.
“is it him?” Bertha wonders aloud.
“I’M HERE FOR DICK.”
the entire cell block erupts in cheers. Bertha and Delores look at each other, then back to patient #453.
“huh. guess he wasn’t lying after all,” Bertha mumbles, unimpressed.
“pssh. kids these days…”
TO BE CONTINUED>>>>>>
Have you ever considered running for elected office? Do you think performing naked would hinder or help further your political aspirations?
George, have you ever considered jumping naked out of a cake?
And now the lightning round! Give two or three word responses to the following prompts:
some french guy. does it really matter?
Best of Philly, 2012
my own personal Jesus
Last question: If the world were flat like Kyrie Irving (and other people) suggest, what would happen when you hit the end of the world? What would you see and what would you do?
let’s have a beer summit: you, me, and kyrie.
we’ll get to the bottom of this.
Text and images by Rick Kauffman.
The return of Thursday to Philadelphia last week came far too long for a band that lives so close – just a hop over the bridge and a jaunt up the New Jersey Turnpike.
Last week, the band Thursday settled into the new digs at the Fillmore Philly and the post-hardcore pioneers returned to form in a teenage nostalgia-inducing, career-spanning set.
Geoff Rickly, Tom Keeley, Tim Payne, Tucker Rule, Steve Pedulla and Andrew Everding hadn’t played together in Philadelphia since December 30, 2011.
Then and on this night, they started with “For the Workforce, Drowning.” Both times, they served as a painfully accurate symbol of the times.
Flanking the Thursday logo, a dive-bombing dove, read the words “Refugees Welcome Here” and “Protect Immigrant Communities.”
Rickly said pundits suggested their voicing of political statements would cause them to lose fans.
“Have they never read our fucking lyrics?” he said rhetorically.
References to wars overseas and cultural appropriate were the first words he sang:
“We have burned their villages and all the people in them died. We adopt their customs and everything they say we steal … We erased all their images and danced, and replaced them with borders and flags.”
Thursday’s jettison to the mainstream came during the years when emo was the trending popular music. Alternative Press did a cover story in the early 2002s on the mainstream explosion of screamo, naming Thursday one of the early pioneers of the genre. Screamo had already existed in one form via mid-to-late 90s underground punk and hardcore music but had now burst from basement and into headlining tours.
It was 2003’s War All the Time that sought to define the post-9/11 world with a call to resist your boss, your job, your government and the hypocrisy of it all. It’s an earnest tribute to life, love and loss. Fitting that Rickly took the sole spotlight for a soulful performance of the piano ballad “This Song Brought To You By A Falling Bomb” in which he hit a note so beautifully that the audience whooped and cheered.
They saved that album’s title track for the first of two encores.
A touching and revealing moment came from Rickly during one break. Touring for at least 20 years since the band’s introduction in 1997, not to mention stints with United Nations and No Devotion during Thursday’s hiatus, Rickly said this is the first tour he’s ever attempted completely sober.
“It’s so fucking hard,”Rickly said, garnering a massive ovation.
Additionally, he let slip a remark that those in attendance should enjoy themselves because it “may be the last time” Thursday plays in Philadelphia.
But for 20 years, through wars and political turmoil, with calls for attention to social issues and marginalized people, it’s appropriate they chose a time to return when their music has never been more relevant.
While Grandchildren continues to make amazing music and tour fairly steadily, the band reminds us of a different time – before Obama, before Philly was the gleaming destination it is today.
The band was making experimental, danceable music nearly a decade ago, leading a wave of really fun acts, fostering talent and inspiring fans at their gallery/studio/performance space, Danger Danger.
Grandchildren has been around for nearly 10 years now. How has the band evolved?
I think we’ve all embraced that the entire ethos of the band is continual evolution. We’ve existed in every iteration from solo to 6-piece ensemble and I think our three records chart that journey from lo-fi electronic, to epic orchestrations, to a more pop driven simplicity.
I think that ebb and flow, expanding and contracting, is integral to the creative process of finding your voice.
But really, I think the biggest part of our evolution stems from our shared experiences over the past decade and beyond. Some of our friendships go back as far as high school, and after weathering the joys and chaos of years of touring across the country we’re like family. We actually met our newest member, Shari, while on tour in North Carolina over six years ago and she’s been part of our family ever since. She’s brought a whole new energy to the band that has in many ways inspired the new record. The new songs are built around our vocal harmonies and we’ve let go of a lot of the effects and electronics that I think I often used as a bit of a crutch.
We’re all about embracing the emotional core of the songs and editing out the extraneous parts. I think sometimes it takes a decade to learn exactly how “less is more.”
After touring for so long, I’ve recognized how it’s all about transmitting energy and connecting with your audience, so this new music focuses on that connectivity above all. I think we enjoy playing live more then ever before.
Do you think things are different for musicians in Philly than they were in 2008?
Yes. 2008 is actually when we moved from the Danger Danger house to the gallery space that we’re in now. At the time there was a lack of small and mid-level sized venues and I think our space filled the void and became a real hub for Philly music and culture.
It took on a life of it’s own and was really organic. We’d have round robin shows featuring 20 bands that ranged from the likes of newbie Dan Deacon to the legendary Marshall Allen playing in our basement, living room, bedrooms and attic.
It was a brief but really special few years and we were lucky enough to emerge from it as a band that had been exposed to and inspired by so many different artists, some of whom have made it big and others who no longer exist, but were legendary in their own right. It was like a laboratory that pumped out so many incredible creations, and I really feel like you can hear some of those sounds ripple through popular music today, whether we know it or not.
That kind of thing has a shelf life though and can’t last forever.
Today there are so many great small and mid-sized venues for emerging bands to play and I think the city as a whole is a real cultural gem. More than ever, it’s an eclectic and supportive music community with a good rep, but not so much hype that it gets overrun and ruined.
What’s happening at Danger Danger these days?
Lots of amazing and mysterious things that I can’t reveal quite yet.
For years, we’ve been scheming a way to bring back the space as a cultural hub, but for a new era given the changes happening in Philly. The void these days really seems to be a lack of creative space for rehearsal, recording, networking and workshopping – especially in West Philly, where your only option tends to be practicing in living rooms or basements that were designed to flood.
We’ve been rehearsing and recording our albums here for years and we recognize the potential this space has to offer the local music community. So, though nothing is official yet, the wheels are turning and expect to hear from us in the next year or so.
What can you tell us about the upcoming new album?
Its definitely a departure, but one we’re very excited about. I spent a year writing only with guitar, piano and voice. I found limiting myself forced me to dig deeper into the lyrics and structure of the songs, like spending more time on the foundation of a building before adding to many details.
After playing a number of solo shows as Grandchild, I brought the songs to the band to develop them for our recent tour and recording sessions.
Playing songs live before finalizing recordings is something I’ve found over the years to be really helpful. You get a better sense of what connects or doesn’t connect with an audience or even with yourself, and you spend less time in your head overthinking. Your own music always sounds different in a room full of people. This process has allowed us to capture more of our live energy on the new record. The vocal harmonies are at the core of this new sound. Our new single and music video “Phantom Pains” is a good glimpse into the new direction.
Your latest batch of band T-shirts are amazing. What inspired the artwork?
It’s actually an old design from one of our first US tours with Man Man.
It was created by our amazing friend Dani Oulman, who we met in Minneapolis. They were inspired by a common sentiment that we were great “make-out music,” so we ran with that idea.
We sold out of them half way through the tour, so we thought we’d bring them back to see if they still hold up, and apparently they do. We have a few left to sale at our Boot & Saddle show this Friday!
Text, images and video by David Lisowski.
Caleb Shomo, singer of the rock band Beartooth, is no stranger to large stages.
Having signed to Rise Records at the age of 15 as a member of the band Attack Attack!, Shomo has experienced the gamut of music industry success at just 24 years old. Adding another notch on their belt, Beartooth is currently on tour with Bring Me The Horizon and Underoath as part of The American Nightmare Tour.