“There’s no budget, but there could be scope for bigger things…” has long been drip-feeding into my Gmail account as some half-arsed incentive to do anything. Fortunately, I have a day job and any written work on the side is little more than hobbyist nonsense — I think I crave corporate relationships to fill a gap somewhere in my psyche with written word promiscuity. I care about getting the job done yet I have little to no interest in being a writer and I have even less inclination to enter the world of journalism. Journalism used to have a function — not to enlighten, expose injustice or change the world, but to get free CDs and records. Then everyone stopped caring about vinyl and you could download the content of a CD. With that, any journalistic impulses in me eroded and I swiftly sold my soul. I was a crap music journalist too — I used the word “sonics” too much and would bestow full marks so liberally that it made ‘The Source’ at its absolute 5-Mics-for-Lil’ Kim nadir read like Tom Paulin in full misery mode. I have no plans to return to that realm and I’m unsure as to whether music journalism has benefited from being ridded of freeloaders like me or simply been populated by dickriders who don’t want to lose their press trip privileges or be spotted by label PRs during their regular trawls of Google Blogearch and Twitter. I try to keep out of it.
Yet I still feel a certain kinship with the ripped-off writers of this world. Everybody gets shafted at corporate and indie level when they’re trying to get a name for themselves, but words don’t seem to be valued as much as images (and I have the greatest respect for photography — especially when everybody thinks they can do it and can’t) or even styling — which in the hands of Petri or Foxton is an art, but in the hands of many is just editing an existing edit and assembling them in an unexceptional manner. Nobody gives you a bunch of those word fridge magnets and says, “Assemble me some paragraphs!” Maybe it’s because copy-paste culture means nobody needs to edit the crap copy a PR company blasts out there. I’ve long found that there’s scope for bigger things, but it’s important to stick up for yourself by reminding those who’ve conveniently forgotten that their job is — like mine and many out there who take things far too seriously — utterly irrelevant beyond a square mile or so and a handful of outlying towns and villages where people might pick up a style magazine, imagining some magical realm and visit London to get ripped off too. It’s all bullshit.
I write for fun and when I see somebody exploiting that, it leaches the joy from banging out freeform paragraphs laden with run-on sentences. I hate the culture of aggregation too — mostly third-hand smoke and mechanically reconstituted information under the guise of content creation. If you can’t write, create, photograph, design, edit, raise funds or inspire, why are you getting involved in a creative industry? I respect the crew culture of strength in numbers, but why advertise for blog contributions? Build it and they’ll come, unless you’re just another clone of an existing site operating to get a free t-shirt from a rookie PR. I feel bad declining blog contributions elsewhere, but one joy of digital democracy is that I can up something wildly self-indulgent, unedited, unstructured and unproofed up here right now without a deadline, an editor or any external force hampering it. Why do I need to write for you?
Some would argue that democracy is what’s wrong with the internet, but it isn’t — where once, fanzines required workplace misuse, spent printer cartridges and photocopy costs, the internet lets that spirit roam free. It’s not as tangible, but it there has to be some compromise. I’m extremely happy that my friends at Hypebeast (some have assumed I’m anti Hypebeast, but that’s a fallacy — I’m still losing sleep over the Yeezy 2 drop) occasionally syndicate copy from here onto their vastly more successful site. If you have a blog….sorry, “online magazine” why can’t you dip into design, create your own shots and do all your own writing? Why do you need to start recruiting from day one? Did you learn nothing from Boo.com? If you’re into something enough, you can broadcast it and from there, the world is yours. Don’t let the leeches steal your shine. The internet is full of po-faced conversations with anybody who’ll constitute “content” and short video documentaries about pretty much anyone. It’s just one big crowd smelling their own farts and claiming they’re iconic. The time is right to just do your own thing. If you’re going to work for free, just do it for yourself.
Just to contradict my pro-digital ramblings above I’m a little more drawn back to writing for print at the moment, just because it’s the only way I can convince my mum that I have a job and because just as your moment of glory goes live online, too often, it’s swiftly washed away by wave after wave of the same old information. Click throughs are far uglier than physical pages too. One key element is seeing the snub of no Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook shares. With a piece in print, ignorance is bliss, but online, elements of your failure to engage an audience are there for all to see.
Where did that rant come from? I needed to write something for this blog, my inbox just pissed me off with budget-free promises of a media takeover and the teasers for this documentary – ‘Salad Days: the Washington D.C. Punk Revolution’, reminded me that once upon a time, “There’s no budget but…” used to be an asset and a harbinger of impending creativity. Between this and the ‘Bad Brains: A Band in D.C.’ (with an appearance from the late Adam Yauch) film that recently got a poster, indicating that screenings beyond SXSW are imminent. It’s all about D.I.Y — forget the begging letters.
For my fellow John Carpenter fans, AintItCoolTV just upped this video of the ‘They Live’ panel from Texas Frightmare with Roddy Piper, Keith David (in skintight neon mode) and Meg Foster. Plenty of trivia in just over 15 minutes.