Censorship: Introduction

Ravi Grover's column was not printed in issue #30. In my opinion, his column is diametrically opposed to the fundamental ideas of HeartattaCk. HaC has no obligation to provide him with a space to rant and rave. However, I didn't want to stifle the discussion and I also didn't want to cower in the face of opposition. So his column is here for the reading, as well as my response.

The main thing everyone needs to remember is that HeartattaCk ONLY exists because of the Do It Yourself ethic and the community support of the hardcore scene. HaC was created to offer an alternative to mainstream publications and to support independent non-mainstream underground music, culture, and ideas. I created this 'zine because I love hardcore. I created it to support hardcore and it is written and published for hardcore kids to read. At no point has it ever existed as an attempt to make hardcore more public or more mainstream. The motto after all is hardcore for the hardcore.

The HeartattaCk policies about review material and content were created to expressly EXCLUDE the mainstream and to attempt to promote the underground as an underground. Clearly this has been the guiding principle since day one. Everyone that works on HaC realizes this, and while they may very well like lots of mainstream music they understand that HaC does not exist to promote mainstream bands.

In my opinion Ravi does not understand what HeartattaCk is about. His argument attacks the basic nature of HaC. If we were to change HaC to meet his visions then it would be a complete shift in direction. This is not going to happen. HaC exists as a threat by example and not as a tool to promote mainstream economic ventures, nor does it exist as a tool to spread underground culture and ideas to the mainstream.

No one has to agree with that. But that is HeartattaCk.

There are hundreds of music magazines that exists to promote mainstream culture, just as there are hundreds of magazines that are attempting to change the world through political content (some liberal and some conservative). Ravi should clearly take his fight to them.

Or better yet, Ravi should start his own 'zine. If you don't like it then start an alternative. That after all is exactly how HeartattaCk came into existence.

Kent McClard


Censorship: Ravi Grover's Column

A while back I wrote a column talking about the annoying overuse of the word "sellout" by the hardcore scene, spoke of Rage against the Machine, along with numerous other inconsistencies. Since then I've gotten into a few debates, including one with Steve Feltner who wrote a letter printed in the last issue. We actually ended up having an interesting discussion on the whole thing. In the process I got him to agree with some of my arguments, and he ended up convincing me on some of his. It also made me think of some things I want to clarify for all the punk fundamentalists, who, like animal fat in Dick Cheney's arterial walls, are still stubbornly clinging to this one single subject of mainstream bands.

Part I: Climaxing on Major Labels
I think DIY's inception can be traced to a UK band named Crass, who were fed up with the Sex Pistols' corporate affiliation and success. They stressed forming an underground music scene free from greed and unethical practices carried about by many mainstream companies. This was all brand new in the 70's, and it spawned newly created DIY scenes in the US and eventually the world. In its original formation, the common thing to talk about was how major labels were evil and how bands who were mainstream should be treated like the scourge of society. This was also a time when values were being popularized, low prices on shows, low prices on records, with do it yourself business ethics. So here's what we've come to: there were 20+ major labels in the beginning of punk's birth. Now its 2001, and the music monopoly is controlled by five majors. From back then until now, where did the scene go so horribly wrong?

I can look at a recent issue of HaC, Maximum Rock'n'Roll, or any punk 'zine and I will bet you that at least one person in there will be writing about how bands have sold out, or how MTV is a bigger threat than global warming. Then I can look at any 'zine published 5 years ago and read the exact same thing. I can look at a 'zine printed 10 years ago, and someone will have duplicated exactly what was said 5 years before that 'zine was published. What was sung about, written, and said in the late 70's and early 80's is still being rehashed and regurgitated in the new millennium. In my opinion, one of the major problems facing punk is that it recycles itself way to much, which prevents itself from making any real progress. It would make sense to repeat something again and again if there were actual results to justify it. This is far, far from the case. Talking about how bands like Bad Religion and Rage Against the Machine have sold out has gotten extremely repetitive. In fact I don't understand why most people haven't become extremely bored with constantly reading and hearing about it. All you have to do is replace those bands' names with Green Day and Offspring from 6 or 7 years ago, and then go back a few more years and replace it with Nirvana or whoever everyone hated back then (by the way, Nirvana's mainstream success is what first got me curious about underground punk). Okay, so bands crossover and all major labels are immoral. GET OVER IT ALREADY. The majority of punks don't purchase major label music, so must you constantly say the same thing over and over again, for 20 long years? In fact, why don't you repeat it again, we're so stupid that we didn't hear you the first billion times! What really boggles me is not the anger felt by new teenagers that first enter the scene. The anti-major label idea is completely brand new to them, so that's somewhat understandable. What I don't understand is people who are in their late 20's or early 30's, who've been in the scene for more than 10 years and are still neurotically obsessed with bashing commercial music. I sometimes want to ask them what has (not) happened over the years where they have grown and experienced life more than most of us younger people, yet are still so easily aggravated over this one specific subject.

The common argument I hear is that since major labels bands are employed by a corporation, they are part of the problem, so the scene should be attacking them. Well let's take a look at other jobs that people do working for corporations. There are numerous journalists who write for mainstream publications and report on corporate-owned stations like ABC, CNN, and MS-NBC. Millions of people worldwide have seen and read investigative news stories on the evils of the WTO, racial profiling, genetically modified food, the Firestone tire recall, etc. through the mainstream media. To stray off the subject for a second, if all of those truth seeking journalists quit their jobs and went to work for the independent press, what we'd have left is very little truth being reported. Only pro-corporate, one sided views would be pushed, and our views would be non-existent. But that's a completely different subject so I won't even get into that. Nobody is up in arms criticizing Hugh Downs, Larry King, Geraldo Rivera, and numerous other reporters when they talk about these same topics that hardcore bands sing about at shows. On the other hand, punks are always quick to jump when the words "major labels" are brought up. A few issues ago, HaC printed an ad for a rally in support of Leonard Peltier. Leonard Peltier's latest book is printed by St. Martin's Press which is nowhere near being DIY or anywhere close to being considered a small, independent book publisher. To quote Kent McClard: "The medium is the message." So please tell me then why nobody accused the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee of being insincere by printing Peltier's book through a corporate publisher? And why did a 'zine that constantly preaches DIY allow the promotion of an organization that not only worked hand-in-hand with a corporation but actually helped that same corporation promote the book for free (!) to increase its sale and profit? Any radical-minded hardcore kids upset right now? Nope. I've seen in numerous older anarcho-punk 'zines, free publicity for Mumia Abu-Jamal's Live from Death Row. Yet another book far from being DIY, this one was published by the non-independent, for-profit Addison Wesley book corporation, and even made the New York Times' best seller list at one point. Addison Wesley's name is well known for selling millions of school text books worldwide, they aren't exactly a small operation. This book was also promoted for free by Mumia's support groups. The publication was sold for around $20, and thanks to all the people who bought it, including those radical punks who preach anti-corporate values, Addison Wesley made a hefty profit in the end. To paraphrase, the corporations get a little bit richer every time someone buys Peltier's and Abu-Jamal's books. I even specifically remember Maximum Rock'n'Roll, the most narrow minded, rigid, DIY 'zine doing a review for Live from Death Row! Somebody please explain to me why the punk community takes a firm stand against promoting bands on majors, but have no problem whatsoever promoting books and authors on those same majors? Where the fuck were the DIY fanatics to call out MRR's hypocrisy and inconsistency?? Where were the anarcho-punks when HBO aired documentaries on Abu Jamal, or shows that pointed out racial disparities in the failing US Drug War? Did the DIY punks who watch cable TV get offended when documentary producers collaborated with a TV channel owned by Time Warner? Several times in the pages of HaC I've seen mention of Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States and Michael Moore's Downsize This!; here's more free advertising for books printed by Harper Collins, a book company owned by Time Warner! I have a few important questions for the so-called anti-corporate DIY community: WHY ARE YOU ZEROING ON JUST MUSICIANS? WHY DO YOU WANT TO HAVE MUSICIANS BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE AS IF THEY'RE ROLE MODELS? WHY IS IT OF ALL THE BUSINESSES THAT EXIST OUT THERE, MUSIC IS THE ONE THAT YOU SINGLE OUT TO BE REPRESENTATIVE OF ALL YOUR VALUES AND BELIEFS? WHY THE HELL DO YOU GET SO EASILY UPSET, EMOTIONAL, AND UPTIGHT OVER A FEW STUPID BANDS THAT YOU DON'T EVEN LIKE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Besides authors and journalists, there are also actors who take on causes but then work for multi-national movie corporations. There are models who are involved in anti-fur campaigns but then promote fashion made by designers like Tommy Hilfiger who make their clothes in sweatshops. There are people who do not support destroying the Earth but cut trees for a living and are employed by lumber companies, many of whom are responsible for much of the planet's destruction. For the sake of argument, I'm gonna take the hardcore approach which strictly blames mainstream bands for their employers' destruction, and hold all these other employees liable for the evils of the corporation they work for. And I'm gonna also say that corporate employees like news reporters and authors like Michael Moore don't sincerely care about the issues they report or write on, they're just doing it to further their careers and make money. In a fit of hysterical rage, I now declare all these people as non-genuine and greedy bastards. So from now on, don't attack the CEO of Nike, attack the athletes who do commercials for them. Don't attack Time Warner, criticize the writers, the bands (wait, that's already taken care of!), all the actors, directors, cartoonists, cameramen, sound engineers, (the list goes on) that have their products made by Warner. Don't be angry at clothing designers for having unethical labor practices, instead focus all your efforts on destroying the careers of super models in Paris. Instead of being aggressive towards the board members who decide fuel efficiency standards in automobiles, do an individual profile on each autoworker who is against air pollution and then expose them as hypocrites for daring to work for an anti-environmental company. Focus all your anger at that teen vegetarian who's working at Pizza Hut slicing pepperoni, why bother targeting the actual company or even the meat industry itself.

If you haven't figured out my point in all this, it's a HUGE fucking waste of time to be attacking employees of a corporation. Let me give you a scenario. Say Rage picked up a 'zine and after reading it they said to themselves "You know what, these angry kids are right. We are hypocrites for being signed to Sony. Let's just break up and not put out anymore records so our multi-national employer doesn't get any more money from us." So what happens now? Considering that Sony owns movies companies, music labels, TV stations, not to mention sells electronics worldwide, I seriously doubt they are gonna collapse. Bands on majors hated by the scene probably constitute .00001% (not an exact figure, so don't quote me on that) of a corporation's overall sales so I don't understand why people feel the need to focus on merely those bands as if they solely reap all the profits and are alone responsible for the evils committed by these companies. And why waste all that time criticizing STRICTLY music? The scene has already wasted 20 years with absolutely nothing to show for it. Bands don't sit in corporate board rooms behind closed doors making decisions that could destroy the world. Drummers don't decide on CD price fixing. Song writers don't determine what wages to pay sweatshop workers. Maybe these bands are part of the problem for being employed by corporations, but in order to eliminate a problem, you don't attack the symptom, you attack the root of it!

Part II: DIY vs. Punk Rock Idealism
It's just that simple: if people want DIY to be preserved in the long run, kids need to stop complaining about slight markups on products. Hard as this may be to believe by some of the more affluent consumers of hardcore (that would be the majority) this markup can in some cases determine whether or not someone who is running things DIY will go into debt or continue doing what they love. Some believe shows should not be higher than $5 or 7"s priced more than $3. If you live in big cities like New York or Chicago, these rules make sense and can be applied easily because there is a such large scene to provide economic support. On the other hand, if you're a band traveling through low population towns with small scenes, or you have a show venue who only has 30 kids attending shows that occur twice a month, DIY ventures will definitely run into severe money problems. The common argument I hear against adding a slight markup is that it keeps punk from being "affordable" to the consumers. I'm sorry but that excuse is seriously weak. Hardcore is all about consumerism. I know first hand, because I used to do a distro. The majority of stuff that I sold was not cheap 'zines or tapes, it was T-shirts, which cost more than records, and are the most expensive items sold by labels and stores. It's always funny to see kids rocking a bandanna, spikes, a hooded band sweatshirt, high priced jeans, and name brand shoes pull a Fred Sanford inside a record store or at a show. They grasp their chest as if in need of an angioplasty, but instead of saying "Elizabeth, I'm coming home!" they cry out in terror over the 25 cent 'zine, the $3.50 record, and vomit some b.s. rhetoric on how capitalists are taking over the scene, trying to reap profits off of unsuspecting, innocent hardcore kids. The relationship in the scene reminds me of spoiled rich kids. In some suburban families, it's the mom and dad who do the work to provide for their family, while the kids act like they deserve free shit, a nice car, some nice clothes, all without actually having to contribute anything themselves to the family as a whole. It works the same way in the scene. A small group of individuals pour out their heart to do something creative, they put in the hard work, sacrifice their personal time and energy, and sometimes (actually most of the time) lose a lot of money in the process. Then along comes the well-to-do scenesters, who believe they are the center of the universe, and that everything should be handed to them on a silver platter. They want, no they demand, free 'zines, super cheap door prices, and even cheaper music. Nevermind that a bass player is out $500 from pressing their band's record or that the local independent shop is having a hard time paying its monthly rent. All they need is a helping hand, but the almighty scenester has money he wants to blow on himself, he is after all entitled to consume everything for cheap. When I was in the 11th grade attending Cracker High, my sociology teacher told our class that statistics showed that the people least likely to donate money to charity were the upper-middle and upper classes. Basically their attitude is that even though they have plenty of money to spare they believe that the world revolves around them and that they don't have to give a shit about anything except gratifying themselves. This same mindset exists in hardcore, where people with plenty of money at their disposal could easily help out a struggling DIY collective, store, label, or venue but will instead accuse those who don't kiss their ass, give out free shit, or sell them a product for an extremely cheap rate of being "sellouts." The reason many kids demand low prices is not because they believe in the DIY ethic. If this was the case they would demand that their artist charge less than $100 for the tattoos they get. They would refuse to pay hundreds of dollars in clothing to let everyone know how punk they are. Parking lots at show venues wouldn't be filled up with cars completely decked out in band stickers. There wouldn't be kids who throw money every weekend on expensive liquor and cigarettes, or a $50 backpack with embroidered triple X's. Again here is that simple, narrow minded mentality coming into play. All values are applied exclusively to music and nothing else. Just like kids will only attack corporations and their employees if it's strictly related to music, those same people believe in low prices only when it comes to punk consumerism. "Keep it affordable" is something that better off kids demand from the scene to fulfill their own desire, not those who are genuinely into preserving DIY in the long run. How many hardcore kids do you know who own just one or two records or CDs? Most have massive music collections, and anyone that tells you a $6 show or a $4 record will cause hardcore fans to start living below the poverty line is out of their fucking mind. The reason these people demand low prices is because it is the norm for many kids to think everything should be catered to them. They believe people who carry out the DIY ethic should invest hundreds or thousands of dollars of their personal money into a project and then provide for these spoiled brat type consumerists who don't bother to help anyone out but themselves. It's extremely insulting when kids try to disguise themselves as "working class" or "poor" in order to justify cheap prices. If someone is genuinely poor, they sure as hell won't be inside a record store acting like a crybaby over some stupid "high priced" music. Actual struggling people simply don't step into that store in the first place, because records, shows, and fashionable merchandise are not on the top of the list for a poor person's necessities. If it is their most important need, they need to seriously reevaluate their priorities. If someone wants to spend their money on punk rock products, go ahead, I'm not trying to dictate what people should spend their cash on. All I'm saying is, stop allowing these dumbass rich kids who hide behind "DIY ethics" to harass those who are actually doing the work to make a productive scene. As for those who believe profit should be entirely out of the picture, if you genuinely believe something is too "expensive" simply don't buy it. Then congratulate yourself for preventing a greedy bloodsucker from almost making 50 cents profit. The horror of it all. Who knows what crazy luxury items that scene leech may have bought themselves with that extra two quarters! Maybe a candy bar? A can of soda? Maybe even a stick of gum! Just thinking about it gives me nightmares...

I used to respect counterculture in that I thought it was effectively rebelling against what was wrong. I now think the word counterculture should be replaced with the word "counter-productive" because it's exactly that. I agree with some of the ideals in hardcore but I think its potential is stifled due to immaturity and unrealistic ideology. I think people who are hardline about the whole major label and low price issue are blinded by dogma, much like those who participate in fundamentalist religion. Followers of fundamentalist religion spend too much time viewing themselves as being better than everyone else, after all, to them the entire world is corrupt. They are "enlightened" and anyone who disagrees with their viewpoints is an idiot. Instead of working to eliminate concrete problems that exist, they instead waste their time constantly talking about what they dislike in people who aren't similar to them, pointing out problems we already know exist, never actually seeking long term solutions, while accomplishing very little (if anything) in the process. They're stuck in the Middle Ages, completely against the concept of moving forward. I see this same dogma and attitude in hardcore. It tells kids to hate everything that isn't like their precious scene, and tells them to ignore the real issues that people should be concentrating on. Instead of seeking progress, punk fundamentalists urge everyone else to continue on with the 20+ year sermon on evil mainstream bands, avoiding what's actually important and changeable, and preferring to focus on the trivial and the unchangeable. People who write and play songs talking shit about commercial music are praised and worshipped for simply doing just that: talking a bunch of shit. People who try to actually accomplish something are ridiculed or accused of being greedy. Can you imagine being like these religious hardcore fundamentalists, going though your entire life being an anti-social misanthropic snob, with your nose turned up at everyone who is unlike you, despising everything mainstream, filled with hatred for everything that doesn't mimic punk (practically the whole world!)? Can you imagine living your life viewing everything that you believe in as God's gift to humanity, while constantly criticizing people who might not have a full understanding of your opinions? Can you imagine yourself at age 35 still throwing temper tantrums over the fact that yet another underground band has a video on MTV? That's wasting life if you ask me, not to mention fucked up and pathetic.

The way I see it, there are 3 types of people in this world when it comes to dealing with problems that affect all of us. There are the traditionalists who are rigid in their thinking and want to continue to handle everything the way it has always been dealt with. There are the progressives who acknowledge that maybe some of the older ways of looking things just don't work anymore and that we need to evolve and at least try something different from what the traditionalists want. And then there are the people who don't really care either way and simply take whichever side (progressive or traditionalist) happens to be stronger. Right now in the scene, it's the traditionalists who have the stranglehold. This is partly due to the fact that some of it is now controlled by older people from the 80's scene who are exercising their influence. It may have been a good solution in Crass' day to rail against the Sex Pistols and The Clash for being on mainstream labels. But this isn't fucking 1979 anymore!! By now people should have realized that simply talking about corporate music negatively has not in anyway prevented bands from crossing over, eliminated greed, or caused companies to lose money. At this point in time, common sense would tell people to step back and either seek a different solution to this problem or redirect their attention to some other issues more worthwhile. Unfortunately, the traditionalists prefer everyone to lack common sense.

If the scene wants to continue running this anti-major label issue into the ground, first it should ask itself these questions: Has constant repetition of this subject made major labels weaken? Has DIY hardcore strengthened? If the answer was yes to the first two questions then why are there now only 5 major labels and a long list of failed DIY operations all over the globe? How many teenagers do you see at punk shows? Now how many of those kids do you think will still be there when they graduate from college? How many people do you know in their early 30's who are still into punk? Why is there such a big difference in numbers between these age groups?

Part III: Moving on with your life
It's time to stop drilling the two decade old major label topic and start paying attention to seeking solutions and fixing legitimate problems. If punk is supposed to be genuinely anti-corporate then it needs refocus its efforts on one or more of 3 things: 1. working to strengthen the underground, which is riddled with financial difficulty and a high failure rate among DIY; 2. Actually attacking the CEO's or the corporations themselves; 3. Actually spreading ideas outside of the scene so that more and more people in the mainstream take on the anti-corporate mentality and/or the DIY ethic, which in turn would weaken corporate power. The reason animal rights groups were successful in getting Gillette to stop testing on animals was because people wrote in letters and pressured the CEO of the company, not because PETA investigated which Gillette employees were against animal testing and then printing up 'zines that questioned their sincerity. The reason many American college campuses are not purchasing clothing made in sweatshops is because students go straight to those in positions of power, they don't waste their time on unchangeable nonsense like how MTV is trendy. Nike stocks have gone down in value because their labor practices have been exposed to the public, not because Michael Jordan was painted as Satan for doing commercials for them. Nobody is dropping a lawsuit against Chumbawamba because the company they work for has unethical practices! Personally I don't think musicians, athletes, or celebrities in general should be treated as idols or held up as role models, that's why I don't spend my waking hours paying attention to what they choose to do or feel the need to hold them accountable for society's problems like the scene does. Spending all your time attacking mainstream bands will not in anyway lessen corporate profits or convince these bands to come back to the underground. All the scene can really do is forget about them (yes, you read correctly, I said forget about them) and direct its attention to more important things.

I would like to see kids who become over-emotional about Green Day being on television instead get riled up over the fact that DIY spaces are constantly shutting down all the time, that indie labels constantly go into debt, that a widely read 'zine like Profane Existence can fold, and that there is an overall high failure rate for all things DIY; please stop whining about MTV, worry instead about financial instability in the scene. It would also be nice to see the people who hyperventilate over shows more than $5 and non-existent "high prices" on music as the biggest threat facing their life savings instead work to spread their ideals to society-at-large and not the already converted scenesters. There are so many people who speak of "unity" and wear anti-swastika pins, but then are complete snobs to mainstream people while participating in an all homogenous, mostly white scene. Read both HaC's Women's issues and the Race and Punk issue, and then ask yourself how people can wear shirts reading "Compassion towards all living things" but then partake in a music subculture so self-absorbed, with a shared type of thinking and make up of a yuppie Country Club or the Republican party. Hardcore, Country Clubs, and the Republican Party have all built themselves up by thriving off of isolation, exclusion, and elitism. The only difference is that in punk, people have deliberately decided for themselves to believe in these fucked up values. Country Clubs are made up of people who refuse to share their space with those that don't have the same prosperity they do, and are only accessible by the worthy few. Punk works the same way, made up of people who refuse to share their ideas, music, and beliefs with those who are clueless about its existence or choose to not base their entire identity on hardcore; in the same manner it's extremely close minded when it comes to accepting outsiders and non-conformists. It would be more productive to have those people who spend all their time making up lame rules for what makes someone "punk" instead try destroying the close minded, snob mentality that prevents hardcore from improving itself. I'd like to see kids who wear cliché Equality patches actually convincing elitists to step outside of their segregated Country Club scene for once and interact with the real world. The segregation goes even further within the scene where there are cliques split up based on dress code and what brand of punk they listen to: oi, emo, crust punk, pop punk, grindcore, emocore, metalcore, skacore, dumbasscore. To some of the more narrow minded members of society, including some jocks, you're all a bunch of fags regardless of which form of punk you happen to like, so why do you feel the need to differentiate yourselves based just on personal taste? Not to mention it's just music. Don't treat it like a religion with 80 different denominations. Believe it or not, just because someone doesn't listen to the same genre of music that you do doesn't mean that that person is incapable of sharing your beliefs.

Pretend that I'm on my hands and knees. I beg you to please stop having spasms over something you can't change, and instead redirect your energy, anger, passion, and creativity on something more concrete. Build up something that will actually have an impact on making DIY successful. Stop living under the punk rock, step back, and take a good look at the bigger picture. Ultimately, hardcore traditionalists can have it their way and let punk stand still for another 20+ years by continuing its infatuation with commercial music. Or it can actually do something worthwhile, get real, and move forward. I hope that this will encourage discussion.

The darker the meat, the sweeter the treat:

Ravi Grover/The South Asian Fidel Castro/PO Box 802103/Chicago, IL 60680-2103; sanyasi@juno.com

-Speaking at a press conference before fighting Lewis Lennox, Mike Tyson said the following: "...I'm Sonny Liston, I'm Jack Dempsey, there's no one like me, I'm from their cloth, there's no one that can match me. My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable and I'm just ferocious... I want to eat his children!" I'm indivisible.

-If people did realize that wasting time talking about mainstream bands doesn't really accomplish anything, there might be some problems. After all, some people have very little talent and are only capable of writing a million songs on the exact same subject or putting out 'zine after 'zine that point out the obvious, ie. what Blink 182 is up to these days on MTV. It doesn't exactly take much brain power to scapegoat commercial bands for all the world's problems. The reality check might cause some sort of small punk recession; what will there be left to do for those people who've built their entire careers on simply bashing major label acts? Oh no.

-HaC has done numerous theme issues, and I think they should do a Class and Punk issue. I haven't really seen anyone address the fact that so many middle and upper class kids masquerade as "low income" while they are spending so much money amassing their personal music collection and band wardrobe. I'm not trying to criticize people who want to spend all their money on that stuff, that's their choice. I'm just saying nobody should pretend to be something they're not. I think the class relationship is really similar to how white kids think they can identify with melanin-enhanced people because of being hassled a few times by cops for their appearance. For instance I heard a Caucasian once say "I understand what it's like when minorities get harassed, one time I got followed around in a store cos I had a lip ring on." Nevermind that ethnic features aren't removable, while punk rock appearance is VOLUNTARY and jewelry can be taken out. Likewise, you have kids from well-to-do backgrounds who move into run down, urban neighborhoods and are shopping at thrift stores. All of the sudden they think they're "poor" or "working class." I remember having a discussion with a Korean friend of mine and we were trading stories of numerous middle class hardcore kids we knew who got full paid scholarships to expensive universities and then threw it all away before the 1st year was even over to live out some sort of "rebellious" punk rock fantasy lifestyle. We agreed that no minority or actual poor white person who was struggling or living in poverty would blow off an opportunity like that. Just because one VOLUNTARILY chooses to live in squats, dumpster dive for used clothes, not bathe for months, live in lower class neighborhoods, or turn down opportunities disenfranchised people would kill for, doesn't automatically make one able to identify with being poor. It just makes em a really big dumbass. It's like my friend said while walking through Little 5 Points in Atlanta, "something is up when a guy with 10 facial peircings asks for change." Please find me someone from the slums who's saying "Right now I'm broke but I think I'm gonna go to this club tonight and argue with the door person so that I can get in for free." Fuck you if you romanticize being lower class. Ask the people in the slums if they glamorize their living conditions.

-I'm working on a 'zine/website that will detail the benefits of vegetarianism/veganism, and also offer perspectives from different religions and global cultures, list name brands of veg. food companies, explain its impact on the world and its environment, etc. Don't worry, there's no preaching to the converted here. I want other people to be able to use this so they can expose non-veg's to the whole subject. Hopefully by the time you're reading this I'll have bought at least one internet domain name to put everything on. The plan is to also print up several thousand copies, half size newsprint, and give this away at bookstores, houses of worship, grocers, and schools. What I need is recipes!! Since I first talked about the idea a year ago, a whopping 12 people have submitted recipes. What's up with that?? Please, please send me recipes, I've set a deadline for August 1, 2001. Anyone who can help out and take fliers promoting the 'zine to pass out or post, write me and I'll gladly send you some. Ok what are you waiting for, send me some freaking recipes!

-One final note for the anti-major label music fanatics, then no more of my lovely sarcasm. I read HaC on the train ride home from school and here's a brief list of some of the more serious topics I saw in the last issue: education, rape, violence against women, racism and activism, and labor unions. Of course some more light hearted columns inhabited the 'zine's pages, along with lewd writings by the female Ol' Dirty Bastard, Jen Hate (thanks for sharing all those details, buddy!). But how then is a 'zine gonna incorporate stuff like: "Rage Against The Machine isn't a sincere band." After readers are bombarded with such grim content, how the hell can anyone get so worked up and take the whole mainstream band/music issue so intensely in comparison to numerous other problems that are being discussed? The traditionalists need to stop patting themselves on the back for being so melodramatic about a few hated bands and the commercial music industry; as if they are accomplishing some great big huge feat by talking a bunch of shit! People who are trying to build up DIY or confronting actual problems should be the ones who get our respect, not some whiners who simply repeat what's already been said. Traditionalists are the biggest threat facing DIY because they are actually helping to strengthen corporate power. Instead of spreading their ideas to the mainstream to increase DIY's influence, they would rather those ideas stay isolated within a small music scene, preach to the converted, and waste time complaining about things we already know! You can quote me on that.



Censorship: Kent McClard's Response

Ravi's column is extremely frustrating for me. It is filled with inconsistencies, completely circular arguments that can easily be used to defeat his own pet causes, "witty" insults, but above all I simply do not agree with his mission. I have tried to construct my response in the same order that he wrote his column.

But before I begin I need to mention two very important points.

1) I came up with the name Rage Against The Machine. It was a phrase that I wrote for a column in No Answers #9 where I was challenging hardcore to be a force against corporate capitalism. I was calling on a war on the "industry" of music, and I was calling on all those involved in hardcore to take control of their lives and strive for independence from the machine that is our society. Zach really liked the phrase, and he wanted to use it as the title of the Inside Out LP. I said he could of course. However, the Inside Out LP never came out, and Zach instead decided to use the phrase as the name of his new band.

In my opinion he subverted the meaning. I do not believe that you can rage against the machine if you embrace being part of the machine. I believe that Zach has honest intentions, and I do believe he is trying to change the world for the better. But he chose to do it in a way that I am not interested in traveling. He took this phrase that was intended as a call for independence, DIY, self-control, and an attack on major labels and multi-national corporations and outside forces trying to profit from our scene and lives, and he instead turned it into a profitable name that would help multi-national corporations to make more profits and in the end he subverted its meaning. So when I see "Rage Against The Machine" on the cover of some corporate magazine I feel betrayed. He took my words but not my meaning.

Therefore, I am probably more sensitive to Rage Against The Machine's existence in the corporate realm than most. To me they represent the theft of my culture and my ideology for the profit and gain of corporate America. How can I not feel like they sold me out?

2) While Ravi and I might share many views on the state of politics both globally and locally, ultimately we have extremely different ideologies concerning hardcore. He wants to use hardcore to spread messages to the mainstream, and I want to remain underground. I do not believe that hardcore can change the world, and quite frankly I am not interested in using it to recruit new folks for leftist causes. I view hardcore as a retreat; something best left outside of the mainstream's understanding. And I know for a fact that lots of people in hardcore have their own problems. I prefer to use hardcore to change our lives. So it isn't about preaching to the converted, but rather about trying to make a scene that is controlled by us, about us, and for us.

My life's work has been to promote a scene that remains independent of mainstream culture and control. I say, hardcore for the hardcore. With Ebullition I want to put out hardcore records for hardcore kids to enjoy. I do NOT want to market our releases to the mainstream. I say small is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with deciding to stay underground. The same can be said of HeartattaCk. This 'zine is made by hardcore kids for other hardcore kids. It isn't about trying to educate the mainstream nor is it about trying to change popular opinions, but rather it is a place for hardcore kids to talk about the things that are important in our lives. At its very best it is a place for hardcore kids to learn and grow with other hardcore kids. In a very small way this does change the world because it changes us. Having control of our own lives is a very necessary step in changing the world in a positive way.

I have no problem with anyone trying to change the world via mainstream culture and formats, and I have no problem with people digging Rage Against The Machine, but I do think that hardcore should be left for the hardcore. You don't need hardcore to change the world. If you want to work on changing the world then go right ahead, but please leave our scene to us.

Ravi clearly does not really care about hardcore being for the hardcore. He instead criticizes this idea, and argues that it should be expanded to include the world. He wants punks to stop criticizing bands that have sacrificed self-control and independence for mainstream acceptance, and to instead embrace them as revolutionary forces. But to do so destroys the entire point of hardcore in the first place.

So with that said, let me begin on Ravi's column.

In Part I Ravi says that attacking major labels is old news. It hasn't worked so why keep flogging a dead horse, blah, blah, blah. Actually, what Crass (and many other bands and people) set in motion has made a huge difference. The fact that there are literally thousands of underground bands, 'zines, and an entire network of independent venues, distros, and labels shows just how amazingly successful the whole process has been. Ravi also states that the number of major labels has shrunk from 20+ to 5 and that this proves that punk has failed. How exactly does this prove that punk failed? If anything it just illustrates the problems with multi-national corporations. If we don't create alternatives then the entire world will be reduced to a few multi-national corporations. The fact that the number of major labels has shrunk merely means that we need to constantly be on guard.

Oh, and by the way, are you really saying that if punk rock hasn't managed to destroy major labels in twenty years then we should just give up? Is twenty years your official time limit? So should we stop fighting against racism? Sexism? War? Police brutality? I mean clearly punk rock has failed to destroy those injustices. Okay, everyone, Ravi says it is time to give up now.

Finally, Ravi finishes Part I by arguing that the people that work for corporations are not responsible for what those corporations do. I almost had a heart attack when I read this. Ravi could have been part of the legal defense for Nazi war criminals. This is exactly what corporations want us to believe. This defense is why corporations exist. The entire idea that the corporation is to blame and not the people that make the corporation is a loop hole used to protect those making the decisions from both legal and moral responsibility. That is part of the whole fucking problem. The idea that a corporation can dump toxic waste into a lake or make defective and dangerous products and then every single person that works for the corporation can blame the corporation and take no personal blame is part of what is fucking up the planet. Corporations are the sum of their parts. If you work for a fucked up company then yes you do have responsibility. If you help build bombs, or help to market clothes made in sweatshops, or work for a company that pollutes the ocean then yes you are to blame. Obviously those at the top of the corporate economic ladder carry the vast majority of the blame, but everyone that participates does indeed share some level of responsibility.

Ravi, are you sure you don't work for Exxon? Or maybe Union Carbide or Philip Morris?

One last thought on Part I. Ravi makes a side note about HaC and MRR not being consistent when we have reviewed books put out by large corporations. Well, you got me there. But guess what, we don't have to be consistent. We don't have to be perfect. If "perfect" means good, and "less than perfect" means bad then everyone will be bad. We do indeed occasionally review books that are released by corporations because we have decided that sometimes we can bend our own rules if it means bringing some content to the hardcore community. These are our 'zines, and we can do what we want. And just because we aren't perfect doesn't invalidate our beliefs. You simply can't operate on the idea that less than perfect means total failure and thus pointless. If you use that criteria then nothing can ever be done or said. I guarantee that you are less than perfect and that you don't throw your hands up and say, "I'm not perfect, I give up."

Now, on to Part II. I won't say much about your argument that people should stop complaining when shows and records are expensive. I will simply ask again if you work for a major corporation? I smell an agent provocateur! In my opinion there are two extremely important points that you seem to neglect to deal with here (both of which I know you are aware of because I brought them up with you before).

First, one way to keep corporate interest in hardcore to a minimum is to make sure that there isn't much to be gained by co-opting the scene. If hardcore kids were willing to pay big bucks to enjoy music then corporate interest in this music would escalate. The quickest way to lost control over our scene is to show that it is profitable for big business to get involved.

Second, the more things cost the less variety of things people will purchase. As someone that runs a mail order and distro I can tell you that most stores and kids are indeed on a fixed income. If a kid has $20 bucks to spend on records then s/he is going to spend the $20. If 7"s cost $3 each then they buy six or seven different 7"s, but if they cost $5 each then they buy four 7"s. Ultimately this means that as prices go up then access goes down. There is a point when prices will get so high that kids will only buy the records from the bands that they already know, and the newer or lesser known bands will get no attention. This is very basic economics. Generally businesses look at sales versus prices on a curve. The highest point of the curve is the most profitable. At this point prices are as high as they can be without losing customers. If they raise the prices too high then they lose too many customers, so they set their prices at the point just before they start to get diminishing returns. The DIY idea is very different. In this instance the idea is to get the maximum number of "customers" without taking a loss. If your goal is to make money then Ravi's ideas are pretty good, but if your goal is to promote a scene where the maximum number of bands and 'zines can exist then Ravi's ideas are pretty bad.

At the end of Part II Ravi offers the wonderful advice that punk should stop attacking what can't be changed and only attack what can be changed. Well that pretty much means that punk is over. I mean really can punk realistically expect to change anything in the world? Enough said.

On to Part III. In this part Ravi spells it out in very simple terms. Hardcore should be about spreading our ideas to the mainstream. Therefore Chumbawamba and Rage Against The Machine are good and all the rest of us are just pathetic losers that ought to get on the corporate band wagon. Twenty-five years of punk has been for naught. We failed. Time to get hip to Ravi and subvert the mainstream from the inside out. In this part Ravi pretty much insults anyone and everyone involved in hardcore. He even compares hardcore to the Republican Party. I simply don't have anything to say about this section. I'll just roll my eyes and wonder why in the fuck Ravi wastes his time writing for some worthless underground magazine. I mean really, don't you have anything better to do? If we are so fucking pathetic then why are you still here?

And then at the very end Ravi says that "traditionalists," which I clearly am in his mind, are actually "helping to strengthen corporate power" by not "spreading their ideas to the mainstream" in order to "increase DIY's influence." At this point I have to wonder if Ravi actually thinks that Rage Against The Machine are helping to spread the message of DIY. Hell, he might even argue that they are DIY.

Finally, we come to my closing remarks. I simply want to point out one last thing. HeartattaCk has never spent much space attacking major label bands. Certainly there will be a smart ass crack here or there, but the vast majority of our energy is utilized to support the underground. The issue would almost completely be ignored if not for the ravings of those that want to defend corporate rock. Ravi is a perfect example. He spends word after word after word complaining that major label bands are getting a bad wrap from the underground. Why? Is he concerned that bands like Rage Against The Machine can't survive on MTV alone? Is he worried that they don't get enough press? Does HeartattaCk have a larger press run then Spin and Rolling Stone?

Ravi, please, just take a few breaths. You have to remember to breathe, man. Rage Against The Machine, Chumbawamba, MTV, and Time-Warner are going to be okay with or without our support. In case no one told you they are way, way, way bigger than all of us combined. We're just the little people. No one "important" gives a rat's ass what we think. So please stop trying to use the pages of HeartattaCk to sing the praises of corporate rock.

If you would just quit whining for a change we could get on with supporting underground hardcore as we have since day one. Hardcore for the hardcore. You can quote me on that.

- Kent McClard


Censorship: Discussion Group

Late last year I started a discussion group under the heading of Ebullition with Yahoo! Groups. I never really used it for anything, and it has been extremely dormant (totally dead really). This topic seems like a good way to get it going. So I posted an introduction to the discussion group, an introduction to this topic, Ravi's Column, as well as my own response. I encourage everyone to post there as they feel fit.