We went on sale on Tuesday and I am sad to report that I did not spontaneously lose 20 pounds or meet a nice Russian lady or maintain an eight hour erection as some spam comments here have implied I would. I did, however, find copies of the book in several of my beloved local independent bookstores. Thank you all — you are splendid.
I wanted to continue with the “hypothetical questions people might ask me about this book” thing, partially in response to reviews and comments here and there on the internet. One thing that’s come up both positively and negatively is my decision to start the book in the 50s and 60s with the New York and San Francisco independent press and music scenes. According to various other people, I should have started the book (a) with the Dadists, (b) with the Bloomsbury group, (c) during the Jazz Age, and (d) with the creation of Cuneiform. Okay, (d) is not true, but you get my point… nobody really knows the exact date when “indie” was invented. We do know that Walt Whitman, for example, self published Leaves of Grass, and that Shakespeare’s colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell paid for the printing of quatros of his plays in a limited edition, like the greatest chapbook ever published, and that numerous garage bands in the 50s and 60s started their own labels, and that the cave paintings at Lascaux were done by hipsters who just wanted to express their frustrations about the lack of Pabst during the Upper Paleolithic. We can squabble about this, but the argument would be pointless because there is no easily locatable date and time, no one subculture, no one person who created the thing we call indie today.
The reason I locate indie’s beginnings in the 50s/60s was because that version of indie — the collaborations between artists of different genres, the emphasis on DIY I heard over and over while interviewing people, the creation of alternative newspapers, the emphasis on networking with other communities, etcetera all look the most like the indie scene of the 80s and 90s and what’s left of indie today. There are distinctive parallels in place between those decades, and if you think indie today is closer to Dadaism, or Paris in the 20s, or Omaha in 2005, you might be right too. But that’s really no reason to get nasty!
This Cuneiform tablet roughly translates to “I liked their early albums better.”
Causes Kaya Oakes Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center
Call to Action
Human Rights Campaign
Berkeley Food and Housing Project