Monday, October 8, 2012

Some thoughts on sub/counter-culture and its absorption by and place within the capitalist death machine.

Hi guys! Slice Harvester here. Long time no see. I've got a lot of stuff in the works, but I'll mention that in future posts. Right now I want to talk about the capitalist vampires that are sucking our world dry!

The other day I was over at my girlfriend's house when the Verizon guy, a kind older dude, was over fixing the internet. We were making smalltalk with him, and by way of conversation, Tina asked how he thought the strike had gone. He said he was disappointed that his fellow workers hadn't held out longer, because he felt like the concessions made by Verizon were minimal and that the strike had been for nothing. We offered our condolences, but he was resigned. "We had to go on strike just to stop them from rolling back the advances the last strikers made. There's never any progress anymore, we're just fighting off this seemingly endless worsening of everything. It seems like everyone's too tired to actually fight for anything anymore. When I was young, we had so much to fight for, so much we believed in. Four years ago, there were people your age everywhere going door to door for Obama. He may not be the answer to all of our problems, but I saw that and I thought to myself, 'at least these kids are out in the street DOING SOMETHING.' This year, no one seems to care. Everyone seems willing to just take whatever is handed to them. No one is willing to fight. What do you believe in? What are you willing to fight for? "

I explained that there was plenty I was willing to fight for, but that I was maybe an odd case compared to many of my peers. Tina speculated that maybe people have been conditioned to believe that they don't have the power to initiate actual change in the world. And I didn't want to agree, but then I got an email yesterday that forced all my illusions to crash down around me like ill-stacked pizza boxes and I knew that she was right.

The email was from some weird corporate entity called Superfly Presents ("the producers of Bonnaroo"), the people who put together that failed indie-rock and food festival in Prospect Park this summer. Their "manager of content & social media" wanted my input because they are planning on making a zine! How exciting! I love it when people want to make a zine! There should always be more zines!

So, now that we're duly excited at the prospect of there being a new zine in the world (and they want my input? How flattering!) let's see what Superfly Presents have in mind for it:
Handmade. Artful. DIY. These words define the spirit that a zine can convey. While the value of a memorable concert or meal lies in a tangible experience, translating that experience into media is often difficult. Utilizing the grittier, mixed-media format of a zine, GoogaMooga will present the many crossover points shared by food and music.

The zine will define a clear GoogaMooga editorial voice - the consistent thread between festival programming and what exists beyond the physical event. Its “hip”, “edgy” and “punk rock” aesthetic will position GoogaMooga as a trusted tastemaker, building a deeper relationship with its target audience. While humor and a celebratory tone will be used throughout, the zine will also present the brand as having in-depth knowledge of its subject matter.
Oh cool!! Thanks guys! Here's the thing about zines: there are very few rules, but one of them is that they have to be made by actual humans. A brand can't make a zine! While a zine might by hip, edgy or punk rock, a zine is never "hip", "edgy" or "punk rock" ! Zines don't "present crossover points" !!  What is a crossover point anyway? This thing they are making might be a magazine, it might be a brochure or a pamphlet, but it is not a zine and by it's very nature it can't ever be a zine.

So I wrote them back an email and told them all this, reiterating that this thing they are making is not a zine throughout my epistle. And here's the thing: they are going to make this atrocity and call it a zine anyway! And then some people are going to think that this is what a zine is! And then another beautiful thing will be gone from the world. Another thing that used to be the genuine cultural output of True Weirdos and Losers will be diluted and subsumed by the free market and then sold back to us, or given away for free to us as a tool to eventually sell us other stuff. It's really gross and insidious and it makes my head and heart hurt and it makes me wanna puke up my breakfast bagel all over my own lap!

And the thing is, the creation of these fake diversions that actually just help to indoctrinate us further into the Death Machine is an integral part of maintaining the structures of power and keeping people from making anything for themselves. Why make stuff when you can just buy stuff, right? Why create change (and never dare to DEMAND change) when you can just passively absorb everything going on in the world around you?

I have to go to work, but I will flesh this out further if need be. Mostly, we're just repeating tons of stuff everyone already knows: corporations are bad and they try to trick you and don't fall for it! Make stuff for yourself because it's cooler and it feels better to do it like that! Get out of the house! Start a band! Draw a picture! Make a sandwich!

Okay, bye.


  1. Back in the dark ages (the 90's), I used to get calls from "zines" that offered to "promote" my band on CD comps. They would talk about their circulation and how it provided a lot of exposure. I would laugh in their face. Some friends of mine (yours too) put their bands on CD comps that had ties to major labels, thinking that it was this cool thing, but those bands still languish in relative obscurity today and those distributors are long gone. The people in those bands are still creating most of the best music that I have ever heard.
    This happens periodically throughout history where a goof in a suit (or more relevant to today's economy, a slick-haired, cologne drenched dude with in a distressed Blondie t-shirt) thinks that he can ride the wave of cred that is seemingly entrenched in the underground. They can. It's easy, but they don't get it and they'll continue to do it wrong. They should be invisible and irrelevant to us because they are useless. They obviously need us to figure out how to sell their own product.
    I understand the feeling of disgust and the feeling of having something dear to you misunderstood and used for nefarious purposes. I've felt this as well, but in the long run, fuck them. They don't matter. We'll all keep creating and living outside of their demographics.
    Take care,
    your pal GH on the west side of the US.

  2. I was pleasantly surprised that the label "Navel Gazing" had been tagged in various articles before. And I keep coming back for the "Akward Sincerity".

    Thought I would mention, I finally found a place here in Po-dunk, Iowa that makes NY style pizza, but the sauce sucked and it was expensive... Though, one of the nice things about being in the middle of nowhere: I'm not targeted for anyone's "Scene" unless you count all the political ads running right now.

  3. Mad Cow, yes! Aging out of target demographics is kind of nice, too.

  4. seventeen magazine once emailed me asking me to do a "how to make a zine" section in their magazine. I declined. This shit sucks but just don't let their foolishness stop yours.

  5. Yea. Better stop writing so you can go to your job so you can make money so you can pay for your Verizon guy so you can have a blog so you can complain about the downfall of zines.

    Get in or get out, man.

  6. You are obviously a jerk, but lets trade zines, okay? Send me an email with your address. sliceharvester at gmail. Ask someone at the library you're using the computer at to give you a hug or something too because you seem pretty sad.