Monday, April 27, 2009

For the past several years I have been engaged with what would like to refer to itself as "the counterculture," loosely stated, a variety of people involved with "the arts" on a DIY basis. This group defines itself at least partly in its opposition to certain mainstream ideas, and places a great deal of its self-worth in its support of others in their community.

A large part of this group sort of prides itself on having "no rules," but the other has some certain guiding principles. I am interested in coming up with a list of said principles, specifically because I don't think there's really any kind of self-governance enforcing such codes, and a lot of people are shittier than they probably should be. (These rules can be picked and chosen from, and certainly a number of them are designed to implicate myself.)

So, okay, rules:

-Produce work, of some sort. Especially if you are going to offer criticism.
(Alternately, some would offer "don't criticize at all," but fuck those people. Their work, by and large, is awful, and so they have fear.)
-Don't produce bad work out of some misplaced desire for wealth (I would add "or the acceptance of your peers")
-No more coming to shows claiming to have no money with alcohol clearly in your possession as evidence of what you spent the last bit of your money on, with the implication being "I am going to trash your house, and you should feel grateful that I am here at all, as an audience member."
-No charging people admission cost when they have no money.
-Don't secretly have a trust fund.
-While attending shows, try to pay attention to work being presented, rather than attend to socialize. Except for art openings, because that's what that is for.
-No conspicuous consumption.
-Try to have as little a sense of entitlement as possible, besides what's outline in the Crass song "Do They Owe Us A Living," which I know from the Soft Pink Truth cover.
-Don't eat fast food, processed food. Try to avoid certain additives to the best of your ability.
-Don't shop at chain stores; steal from them if need be.
-Don't steal from your friends.
-Walk, ride a bike, or take public transit rather than use a car whenever possible. In event of tours, vegetable oil is the preferred fuel.
-Grow your own vegetables.
-Don't eat meat.
-Don't smoke: it encourages tobacco companies. (I don't think anyone treats this as a rule, the coolness of smoking really wins out for most people.)
-Don't do hard drugs: All cocaine has been brought into the U.S. by way of deeply-fucked channels.
-Don't frown upon those that do drugs.-Don't be racist, sexist, or homophobic. Others would say, maybe just implicitly, "or be religious" but I think that's fucked up.
-Here I would say "vote," others would say "don't vote."
-Be politically active in some way above and beyond voting.
-Try not to spend a ton of time on the internet, especially w/r/t social networking sites.
-And while I wish "don't have a cell phone" was a rule, I know it isn't, anymore.
-I also wish "when choosing culture to consume, prefer things you expect to be good over kitschy crap" was a rule but it really isn't.
-"Don't watch TV" is the rule instead, which I consider generally unfair and simplistic.
-"Don't download music illegally" is a not a rule at all, but hey, why not consider it?

Anybody else with rules to add, please use the comments thread. I'm probably taking a lot of things for granted.

I'm not even interested in subculture, really, so much as I am in general self-governance and trying not to be an awful person. (I personally eat meat, and processed food, and like those things. I am working on trying to compost and grow my own vegetables, though, and it was nighttime gardening, combined with a conversation about people not paying for shows but showing up at beer, that brought this post on.)
Until next time, be a hippie, and also a punk.


Devon said...

Hey this is Devon from Oly. I like these rules for the most part. I think "Don't secretly have a trust fund" is great because if you got hella bank roll, and you exist in culture that does not, don't hide it; use it for the greater good. "Man that guy Mark is awesome. He totally supports an all ages venue with his dad's oil money."
Second, I think avoiding advertising is a good rule of thumb for TV viewing. Watching too many DVDs or internet streams isn't great, but 20 minutes of commercials per hour of TV is just brain rot.
Third, instead of "don't consume crap culture" I'd say "Have broad taste." It's awesome to like Kurosawa and John Cage, but when you're a dick about it and promote your taste as being higher on the Qualitative totem pole, thats shitty. Accessibility is important and its much better to throw on songs people know and love at your dance party, than force "high" culture upon them by playing an obscure Ornette Coleman record. If you want to be an elitist, go join a country club and buy a pair of opera glasses.

PS my blog is if you're interested.

Anonymous said...

what are you growing in your garden, brian? this is interesting to me! amber and i are working on one too.

Erin Tustin said...

the phirst rule of fight club is there is not fight club

Erin Tustin said...

uh anyway, good list... the problem with "movements" these days is they are mostly superficial, and about achieving a look instead of actually doing anything. its cool as long as you look like you might be doing something though. really you are probably just going home to eat cheetos and watch wifeswap.

I am starting a garden this summer too. and am actually possibly being given an opportunity to start a "u-pick blueberries" venture on my bf's parents' orchard. which is pretty nice. now i just need a goat.

I think eating meat is ok, just don't eat too much of it and don't be afraid to kill it yourself, with respect to its source.

Alex said...

5. 5 dollar. 5 DOLLAR FOOTLONGS.

one of the rules should be that you have to break at least one of the rules, except for this rule about breaking a rule. because then people would just break that one by not breaking any of the other rules.

brian, epic long e-mail coming your way in the next few days, be ready.

Anonymous said...

this is stupid.

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