In June 1986, I published my very first music essay, "Night Rally: Youth and Fascism Today" in Vol. 37 of Maximum Rock & Roll, a seminal punk scene zine out of the SF Bay area founded by Tim Yohanan. The late editor and founder of the famed Gilman Street venue was concerned about the rising violence at the Gilman shows between encroaching neo-fascist skinheads and anti-fascist left-leaning punks aka anti-racists skins. Slamming hard, the pit was turning red with the blood of angry youth.
Scene schisms are turf wars, ideological and cultural conflicts, contested terrain, typical of oppositional youth music subcultures where politics, race, class, and tastes converge, collide and sometimes and explode. Often, these political and cultural convictions are foundational--the underpinnings of a particular scene. At the time, I was completing my Ph.D., and has been very involved in the early NYC punk scene. By the late '80' punk had morphed into an edgier, more insular hardcore music scene. Tim hoped my essay would provide a necessary historical context to the ongoing violence at shows. (The original issue is available for download at archive.org MRR-37. For a PDF of the issue please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
A generation later, in November 2022, I was invited to chair the "Anti-Fascist Cultural Warriors" panel at Hofstra University's "Anti-Fascism in the 21st Century" conference. Now an elder, I learned that two of the three young presenters, now scholars themselves were former writers or "shitworkers"--unpaid, overworked staff at MRR. It was a great gift to connect with them, but alas, here we are again, fighting the same war, on the streets, in the media, all around the world.
Today I teach two undergraduate sociology courses, "Youth, Community and Cultur" and "Protest Music in History." Students explore everything from the Psalms, to Bob Marley, Pete Seeger, Rage against the Machine and the early jazz, hippie, hip hop, punk and thrash scenes. There's a sociological theory I try to pass on when it all gets too rough, when dark history repeats itself, "SSSD"--Same Shit, Different Day.