Project

December 16, 2010

Desmond Zantua
Professor Lee
Eng 379
12/13/2010

Project: Year-Round Charity/Non-Profit Punk Shows

With the final project for our Protest Literature of the Pacific class, I was finally able to jump headfirst into a cause that I have personally wanted to take up and had been thinking of doing for awhile: a re-invigoration of compassion and philanthropy for the youth and an attack on the widespread apathy that has defined the current Facebook generation. This has been something I have wanted to take a stab at for quite some time, as I’ve always felt the pangs of cognizance that goodness is active, not merely the absence of harm, yet I’ve too frequently found myself doing nothing to contribute to that change. When seeing how frequently young people on Facebook partake in pseudo-philanthropy via status updates, joining groups, or changing their profile pictures for various awareness-related causes and interests, I realize that people desire to be good or at least be seen as good-hearted. While I do, to some extent feel, this represents a sense of false philanthropy, pretentiousness, and vanity, all of the “Facebook philanthropy” is not to be taken so cynically or misanthropically. Even if these expressions are not coming from a place of bleeding heart level compassion, it does not discredit the fact that they indicate a desire to do good; a sense of awareness of inequities and hardships in life. Within those I’ve brought into question, there are undoubtedly many whom do not have the slightest inclination or interest of actually involving themselves in charity work and are content to just click “join” buttons. However, there are some who I feel do feel inclined to actual put forth an effort into charity, philanthropy, and change, yet are so disconnected from real world discourse due to the technologically-induced malaise and do not know where to start. As such, my goal overall was to try and motivate those who do have a desire to put these compassionate ideals of charity and help into actualized efforts in the real world.

As made apparent by my aforementioned scope, it was brought to my attention that, while it was well-intentioned and very ambitious, it was very broad and something that needed refinement for it to be accessibly understood as well as carried out. This was an obstacle easily overcome by making a connection to another aspect of my life which greatly troubled me: the horrible, money-first-artistry-never culture that has overrun the Long Island music scene. The Long Island music scene has become overrun by completely heartless, cheesy, bubblegum pop bands that are all about image and pandering to young audiences; making waste of a great opportunity to communicate about various issues of life that would mean so much more than songs with lyrics filled with “whoa”, “oh”, and “baby.” This all a trickle down of the most recent band to make it from Long Island: Stereo Skyline. Stereo Skyline has been signed to Sony Records since Spring 2009, and has kicked out members who were life-long friends because their label told them they didn’t fit a proper image. Beyond the questionable-at-best aesthetic and business-ethics, Stereo Skyline has most of their instruments played through backing tracks and live auto-tune/pitch-correction; they don’t even really play the songs (songs that they have little-to-no hands in the writing of). As a result of this, many Long Island kids have tried becoming the next Stereo Skyline, attempting to ride this pop sound. Bookers have also followed suit: with few venues to choose from, they’ve adopted a pay-to-play system in which bands have to come up with a certain amount of money by the day of the show to play. This system has led to many hopeful kids becoming disheartened and quitting after they had to pay out of pocket too many times, often to play shows which they only played to their friends and family. Sometimes, these shows would just be to empty floors altogether because the other upstart bands with limited fanbases dropped off the show. As a result, there has been a change going on through shows being held at halls (such as the Ethical Humanist Society in Garden City), churches, and basements of houses to stay away from that scene. Seeing this rise in resistance coming from a place of passion/disgust with malaise, I felt it right to combine this with my prior vision of motivating youth to charity.

The meeting point between these two ideas would be a booking style/system that would book non-profit shows to which all the proceeds would go to various charities; these shows would take place in basements, churches, and halls. The charity-of-focus would change by show, as to always keep people looking at the various different parts and people in life that need help. The hope with this project would be that both the various charities as well as the various bands playing would get publicity. These shows would be comprised completely of local, unsigned Long Island/Queens bands, as to not have to deal with the demands of money-guarantees for shows that touring acts and out of state bands make to cover long distance expenses of gas and food. The fact that these shows would be non-profit would force the bands to look into making them happen more frequently, which would again feed into the two-fold promotion of both charity and music.

To gauge the interest and thoughts on such a project, I interviewed several musicians within the music scene. “I think that’s a really great idea; it builds a really symbiotic relationship in the community. Both the good bands and the good will would be brought up,” said Jonathan DiMitri of State Lines. Jay Delnevo of Ready For Nothing had actually tried putting on a charity show in his local church and was forced to drop the idea “They want to charge 70 dollars per hour… that’s without a PA… and the neighborhood isn’t big on music in the neighborhood. The church has missed three consecutive meetings with me.” Chris Sanchez of the band Heavy Lies the Crown, who’s helping put together a show in his friends basement, had said typical problems with basement shows were:
“Some difficulties are the obvious ones like finding a house, finding a house with neighbors that won’t call the cops or complain… preventing people from coming and bringing alcohol and drugs, and bringing people to start fights and such because no one wants to go to a show and have someone ruin it cause then it’s just a waste of time. so if you’re holding the show at your own house its kind of a risk of getting and in trouble and wrecking your place”

But then, when asked how, if at all, putting on such shows would change through this booking system:

“Well, usually, when you’re holding a show for your friends and just random people, parents and other figures look at it as an act of teenagers and young people getting together for something pointless cause sometimes parents don’t understand what shows mean to people.
So they think it has no point to it, but if they were to be charity based there would be a point to the parents or supervision as charity but we would just play knowing we were playing for the fact of playing, but also raising money for charity would be great. I feel like it would change it greatly, a lot of parents would allow it more, making it be a better reason for it in their eyes.”

Such largely supportive talk was echoed by many friends, both involved and outside of the music scene, and gave me the confidence to actually try and put this into effect.

The biggest obstacle I’ve faced with this project, and that I will continue to face, is the difficulty of carrying out a project like this, one that involves much communication as well as scouting potential settings which requires physical movement, while also trying to be a full-time college student. In my specific experience, I am a senior who has had to take 6 classes this semester (18 credits) and will be taking 7 classes (20 credits) next semester to ensure graduation in June. That schedule isn’t just difficult to deal with in quantity, but also inconsistent timing: I only have one class from 1:40-4:30 in the afternoon on mondays; I am in class from 10:50AM-6PM on tuesdays; an English Senior Honors Seminar class from 630-920PM on wednesday nights; class from 10:50AM-4:20PM on thursdays. Combining this with 25-35 commutes both ways (sometimes over an hour) from Long Island, I am often exhausted by the time I get home or am recovering from long days when I am home. I also am the primary caretaker (everything outside of paying his medical bills and food, as my Mom likes to point out) of my elderly dog; I have to crouch down like a catcher to pick him up and carrying him up the stairs out of our basement apartment to take him out on walks. I do this four-to-six times a day, every day due to my Mom being semi-handicapped from a broken foot from falling down those same aforementioned stairs. These responsibilities have often rendered me very stressed and tired on their own accord, leaving me little mental vacancy to do all of the footwork to make this project happen in it’s fullest immediately. Much of my free time on the weekends is not even truly “free”, as I am often driving across Nassau county, bringing my guitarist from the Summit at Queens College to one of our two practice spaces (my bassist’s house in East Meadow and Greenlite Entertainment in Farmingdale) then back. My band, on the verge of a small, local label deal, is comprised of people working and/or in school, and there are many efforts undergone to try and get us into the same room. As such, even before factoring in this project, my life already has some issues with being overstuffed to the extent that when places like Ethical Humanist Society does not respond to my e-mails about meeting up to discuss the possibility of booking, it was hard for me to get motivated to put forth a second effort or let myself get too disheartened.

While there is this temporary impasse (I will be taking this project up in bits over next semester and then with more vigor after graduation), I have not let my idea collect dust; I have been focusing on instances in which glimpses/portions of my goal are being achieved. In particular, I have sought information from Jake Zimmerman, partial owner/booker of Long Island-based booking company East Coast Collective ; and Michael Crawbuck, sophmore at Five Towns College, who is putting on Holiday Festival at the Peace Christian Church in Bohemia, NY; a non-profit show with all proceeds going to Angel Tree, an organization that gives Christmas gifts to children of inmates. Zimmerman, who books many shows at Ethical Humanist Society in Garden City, told me that he’s able to put on shows there for 500-600 dollars (which is unbendable, yet something that may not be a difficult hit with booking a bigger local band that would bring in a big pull for one show that could offset that cost) and that “All the time I have bands and kids asking me what the deal with the place is and what it stands for. One of the reasons I like doing shows there so much is because Ethical Humanism is a positive, accepting belief system that many people (including myself) can get behind.” This latter fact was encouraging because it expressed an interest in these shows and their settings not just being interesting and valuable in the very self-interested aspect of non-pay-to-play politics and emphasis on DIY Punk Rock ethics/artistry, but about a sense of greater human community. With regards to Crawbuck, I found myself very encouraged by a couple facts he relayed to me. Of house shows, he said: “In my experience of the house shows I’ve had at my home, everyone was completely respectful of my home, no damage was ever done, and everyone had a good time which is why I continue to do things like that”. Of communicating with the church that Holiday Festival is going on at he said: “When preaching the idea to them, I had to be completely honest about everything and told them every little detail that was put into it. After all was said and done, they were so happy to help.” Most encouraging of all was the fact that he was able to get touring signed acts, such as Good Old War (who played the humongous Bamboozle festival at the Meadowlands last May) and Koji, simply through e-mails rather than “connections”.

I hope to be able to synthesize the year-round dedication/consciousness of the Zimmerman crowds/shows with the charity-aspect that Crawbuck is putting together on his Holiday Festival. I intend on starting at the basement level, due to it being the cheapest and easiest to obtain, with hopes that building faith in this movement on a below-grassroots level will perhaps give community centers more faith in the types of crowds that are attracted to this idea. Overall, I’ve found that my interest in this makes me recall the message of Salvador Ponce Lopez of how a writer will naturally evolve into political foci over time as a result of living and observing; for me, I spent so many years trying to be deliberately apolitcal a la Jose Garcia Villa, but I just could no longer will myself to marginalizing the issues with the world as I saw it. However, I try to keep myself at an even-keel through having a sense of dark humor/horace satyrical view of life, as inspired by the views of Epeli Hau’ofa in Tale of the Tikongs. If one were to dwell so acutely on all of the wrongs in society, without any sense of humor or light-heartedness (often made impossible by said acute awareness), one only does more to enhance the problem by breeding an intense disheartenment and distaste for life as a whole; completely aborting any shot at bringing about change or help.

Bibliography

Crawbuck, Michael. E-mail Interview. 27 November 2010.

Delnevo, Jay. Personal Interview. 28 November 2010.

DiMitri, Jonathon. E-mail Interview. 4 November 2010.

Sanchez, Christopher. E-mail Interview. 6 December 2010.

Zimmerman, Jake. E-mail Interview. 6 December 2010.

If anyone would like any more information, just mention in the comments.


Landscape Romanticism

December 16, 2010

An elementary school-aged brother/sister pair building sandcastle on the shore of Jones Beach.

A group of high school-aged kids, first in the background in the first shot, now focused on, surfing.

A boat, background then focused on, with a retired married couple enjoying a mixed drink.

Back to the beach, college-aged kids playing volleyball.

Then to a happy, young married couple, smiling.

Then those same smiles, as a sun tan lotion smile on a napping fat man’s gut.

(Bananaboat Sun Tan Lotion ad)


My Goals for The End of Semester/Break

December 16, 2010

I have never been as worn out by a semester as I have by this one. And It’s not even done yet. And it’s only going to get more hectic next semester.

I have to get a 20 page ROUGH DRAFT in for my honors class due at 4:15PM on Monday for my English Honors class; the same class that has taken much sleep from this semester.

I plan on getting more work done with my vision of all charity/non-profit based DIY-Punk shows as started with my project for this class.

I am taking part in a reading group with students from the Honors class as to keep my mind fresh over the break. This is partially due to the fact I want to be ahead of the curve when the semester starts. This is also to prepare myself for the need for deliberate literary participation outside of school due to my graduation in the spring.

I also have to get a job; I am likely taking an overnight FedEx job, loading and unloading trucks from 3:30AM-8AM Mon-Fri. This will bring in over $200 dollars but will change my sleep schedule greatly. Also, in the Spring semester, this will lead to 18 hour days of going to work, and then going to school after walking my dog, and staying there until 9PM.

On top of all this, I will be attempting to push my band as we aim to get as many shows on Long Island, NYC, and the Northeast region over the semester, all in hopes of building enough connections for an East Coast tour over the summer.

Well, I guess this is growing up.


Experimental Geography Blog

December 15, 2010

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B-tAXmqC0lJsOTdjYTZiMzItNGU0MC00MjkxLWJhYzYtY2IxYTQ3NjQ2YTIy&hl=en&authkey=CJbS3uwK


Tattoo Tribe

November 9, 2010

The Tattoo Tribe is all the rage these days. Quickly skimming through any alternative magazines, you will see their platinum army taking over many of the advertisements and article space. They unveil themselves in very different sub-clans, some of which warring with each other, despite their linked heritage. Some of them are adorned in all black clothes and fixed grimaces; others are uniformed in various vibrant pastel V-neck t-shirts atop waif-thin bodies, topped with plastic, fixed smiles; others were a sea of beards, flannel and plaid patterns, and mild smiles and/or generally non-descript emotions/expressions.

Despite these difference, there is a link between all of them; that is, obviously, the various ink-markings they have on their bodies (most typically/visually noticeable on the arms). All of them speak from their tribal doctrine of “doing what they love to do” and “not caring what anyone says about their work.” They also always claim that their newest creations are their “best” and “mature” from prior exploits. Some of the Tattoo Tribe are genuinely unaware of the network in which they are a part of; often times these tribesman create the greatest work of the entire tribe. Most however are aware, even if they do not interact directly, as they all are aware of the hierarchy of their existence and their constant subservience to the Chart-Man and the Money-Suit.


Project Update

November 9, 2010

Desmond Zantua
ENG 379
Professor Lee
Project Update

Initially, my project for this class was one as ambitious as it was broad: to find a way to motivate much of the American Youth (high school through college students, in particular) to become more active within communities and for disadvantaged/underprivileged/downfallen. The basis for this project was that I found that I, like many others in the Facebook generation, spend so much time doing nothing but literally sit around and electronically meander on social networking sites and message boards, when there is so much more that can be done out in the real world to help remedy issues and conflicts people go through. Basically, the aim is to tackle apathy, although that is a thoroughly problematic approach, as how do you motivate the unmotivated? Furthermore, it is a very broad topic that needs to be much more precise in it’s focus area if there is to be hope in any actualization.
Some of the alterations that have been undertaken is identifying the platform through which this will be attempted: concerts. I had an idea for incorporating music in somehow, as I have a firm footing in the local music scene on Long Island, as a singer of a band (Bellwether). I have made many connections in terms of bookers and people interested in booking. There is a recurring attitude of establishing a more community-based focus to the music community, as a resistance to the very selfish, superficial culture that has been developed from pay-to-play shows which serve to just put money in bookers’ pockets. As a result, shows have cropped up in church halls and similar community buildings like the Ethical Humanist Society in Garden City. While I’ve identified with these resistance views, I’ve felt that there should be more consideration of what community means; the issues of community existing in greater means than simply where can shows of a more “punk” feel to it go on.
I’ve started on ways to try and merge my goal of finding a way to galvanize American youth toward charity along with the already budding desire for a notion of artistic community within the local music scene. Firstly, I’ve begun talking to Mark Masterson, a business-savvy 11th grader who has started his own internet radio station for the Long Island Music scene (LIMS Radio), has a lawyer authenticating his starting of his own record label, and is working to book shows in basements, churches, and community halls. I spoke to him about merging my goals of increased charity/community awareness with his desire for putting on shows in non-bar/venue settings, as there would be a greater opportunity for purely charity shows since there wouldn’t be cost to putting on the show. He was interested but felt as though there should be a direct depositing of funds from shows given to foundations rather than there be one charity started up in the name of this charitable pursuit. Also, he felt that there should be research put into what charity programs do the most transparent good for their causes (the specific causes that have been mentioned have been work for the homeless, children’s hospitals, autism, and veterans).
Goals moving forward:
1. Contact bands within the community that could be interested in assisting the construction of these 100% charity-based shows
2. Find out about possible basements, churches, and community halls in which shows could be put on for free. Contacting the administrators of said places would be vital to ensuring a 100% charity set-up, facilitated by little-to-no charge for renting the space. This perhaps could be achieved through cross-promotion (ie: promoting the various community-oriented activities that the Ethical Humanist Society puts on)
3. Organize a system in which one large show with several popular local bands and perhaps regional touring acts play, as a huge charity push, and then in the months between these mega-shows, several basement satelite shows, still 100% charity, and working to further promote local music. In doing these shows it would put an increased pressure on bands to put on more shows, which would gain more exposure about the project as well as the bands; a symbiotic relationship.
4. At the very, very, very least, I would like to put on one huge charity show based on Autistic/Special Needs children. My mom works at an all special education school and it is really depressing some of the cards her students are dealt. Also, a friend of mine worked at Camp Anchor, a camp on Long Island for autistic/mentally challenged campers; that friend died in a car accident over the summer on the way to camp and I have felt a burning desire to help the cause ever since. The general notion of quality-of-life/quality-of-consciousness inequity doled out at birth is something that I cannot rest my head about and something I would like to always like to try and remedy.


Changeling

October 28, 2010

It seems that a boyhood fantasy has come true.
I have a superhuman power: shape-shifting.

However it is not what I hoped it would be.
And it is not one that I’m in control or awareness of.

I deduce that it is being expressed
When I see others expressions.

I realize it when I get “randomly” searched at security, while wearing button-ups and khakis
While my friend in a Sick Of It All t-shirt and punk band patch-adorned jacket goes unstopped.

I realize it when I am called “exotic”, as if I am a new species discovered in the rainforest of Long Island.


Bronze Treatment

October 19, 2010

My skin
I am often unaware of it.
I am made aware
When called “exotic”, as if I were a new species found in the Amazon.
I am made aware
When I get “randomly searched” at Conan O’Brien’s Stand Up Tour
Despite wearing a button-up and khaki’s
While my white friend is undisturbed
In his Sick Of It All t-shirt and black cap with Punk band patches
I am unaware of it
When hanging out with my predominantly white friends.
I am paranoid about it
When I think I look weird
When approaching white girls.

They say that race is an anthropologically-created construct. With regards to myself, it is something compartmentalized, in varying degrees, that I do not know the basis of.

Half-Filipino. Half-Irish.
Mixed background.
Mixed signals.
All uncertain.


Resistance Literature

October 8, 2010

Resistance Literature is the use of any literary form to counter-attack the physical, mental, social, and political encroachment and abuse enacted upon a country by colonizers/imperialist forces. Resistance literature I feel is one of the most potent, important, powerful uses of the written of the word, as it is such a loaded entity, for both those it is being used by and those it is being directed at. For the colonized, I feel as though it gives them a return of pride and dignity lost in their culture being cast aside and their agency being curtailed by being governed/owned by an outside territory. In using resistance writing, I feel they express an inalienable right of expression and commentary that are as easily accessed and created as they are thought and felt. On this level, I feel it proves the importance that writing holds to humanity, as it shows poesis to be an inherent skill part of humanity, one intrinsically powerful. And on the opposite side of that point of focus, for the colonial/imperial entity that holds political hegemony over the native people, it proves how empty their alleged dominion is; that their notions of superiority which often serve as justification for their power are completely misguided and exist for the sake of self-aggrandization. While the colonial force may still, despite this blow to their mentality, express a confidence or indifference to these expressions of resistance and dissent due simply to the power/increased quality of life held, it leads to an unavoidable realization that  the grandiosity and honor they believe they are bringing to their nation will not be uniform, and more likely will be further scrutinized for future generations of criticisms and analysis.

I feel as though there is no uniform way to go about resistance writing, just as there is no uniform way to “best” resist; life is not static and as such it would be misguided to think there is one best way to always convey resistance writing. Any combination of essays, allegories, poems, prose, abrasive, metaphorical, novels, plays, etc. all have validity in voicing the thoughts and feelings of a marginalized/oppressed society.

With regards to both the various forms of style, manifestation, and politics of resistance literature, I recall a collection of connected short stories by Junot Diaz called Drown, about being Hispanic in America. The book started with an epigraph from Cuban poet Gustavo Perez Firmat which stated that the fact he was writing in English falsifies his message, the direct quote is failing me at the moment. While I agree to some extent that a message loses its cultural individuality in expressing it through the lingua franca for much of the world, I feel in doing so they gain a greater chance for their message to be understood on a larger scale, and consequently open up an opportunity for larger support.

While it is an altogether different form of resistance that exists outside of the whole colonial sphere, I feel Henry David Thoreau’s Walden offers alot of insight into the human condition that kind of brings about an understanding of intrinsic human qualities and characteristics of the intellect, spirit, and psyche that kind of undo this notion of Western/Imperial superiority of high society/technology/culture is very superficial. In Thoreau’s musings on living outside of societal influence, I feel he showed how tranquil and simple life is when de-constructing existence outside of power relations and struggles.


Topic Proposal

September 30, 2010

For my community project, I wanted to do a comprehensive, two-fold project involving both breaking local youth (high school and college students in particular) out of the malaise and callousness that I feel is the result of being boxed in by technology and social networking (alot of irony there), and the consequential galvanizing of those youths to focus their abundance of free time to various charities and community projects, in particular the secular ones pursued by non-denominational groups such as Ethical Humanist Society, as to not have any division based upon religious restrictions.

I feel as though we live in a time of constant outrage, where everyone is absolutely livid and polarized about every single topic, be it politics, entertainment, or sports. This has become apparent because it is the majority of what people post on their facebook pages. It has come to me recently, with much horror, how much idle time we have, and how it is wasted away on computers, smartphones, social networking, and videogames.  All of those things are great sources of personal entertainment and represent great advances in technology, yet they are over-used to point of it being unclear whether it is out of habituation rather than preference that we use them so often (I know because I involuntarily and without reason will be up facebook out of nowhere).

Also, to me there is this prevailing thought, not just among youth but among many people that to be a good person and do good is to simply not do bad; to simply not kill , or steal, or rape. Yet, I don’t feel like that is enough, and I feel there is a need for more activity, less posturing, more presence of good-will. I know this because for too long I’ve been sick of both the apathetic, nihilistic-types, as well as the people who think they are doing a service to the world by merely joining facebook groups and thinking they are contributing to the spread of “peace” by smoking lots of pot and never saying anything potentially offensive to anyone. Yet, still I haven’t done as much charity/community work as I have the ability to; spent too many hours watching time fly by when I could’ve helped more people.

There are lots of community services, ranging from equal employment to help for the homeless, offered by Ethical Humanist Societies, that emphasize charity/community work that make the current life we live in as comfortable and equal a place for all, regardless of religious beliefs. Beyond that, there is plenty of volunteer work to be done at Children’s Hospitals and Veteran’s Hospitals (I’ve done some work in the latter). Also, in the city, there are programs dedicated to helping the homeless in long-term ways that improve their quality of life rather than simply giving them enough money to get drunk through another day.

I am aware that this is fairly open-ended, but I am more than happy to meet all the various heads of various groups and programs to learn more about their offers and to publicize their causes to the youth and hopefully find something more useful and meaningful to do with our time than to talk about the Jersey Shore.


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