The Fine Art of Towson-Glen Arm – part 3: Chiwen Bao

Chiwen Bao - 'The Piano' - viscosity print, 1996 (originally published by Dulaney High School in the 1996 edition of their Sequel literary magazine; courtesy of Greg Storms). Music provided the inspiration for many Towson-Glen Arm visual art pieces, but, of all the music inspired visual works to come from TGA, Bao's 'The Piano' perhaps best symbolizes the ambition of the scene's music. The magical, lava colored piano points toward the void of outer space shooting out columns of written music that resemble skyscapers. Here is music as means to build communities, art created in the name of a fateful and positive change, creativity as civilization's fulcrum, a molten eruption illuminating the deathly darkness, a radical outburst of light and life.

Chiwen Bao – ‘The Piano’ – viscosity print, 1996. (originally published by Dulaney High School in the 1996 edition of their Sequel literary magazine; courtesy of Greg Storms). Music provided the inspiration for many Towson-Glen Arm visual art pieces, but, of all the music inspired visual works to come from TGA, Bao’s ‘The Piano’ perhaps best symbolizes the ambition of the scene’s music. The magical, lava colored piano points toward the void of outer space shooting out columns of written music that resemble skyscapers. Here is music as means to build communities, art created in the name of a fateful and positive change, creativity as civilization’s fulcrum, a molten eruption illuminating the deathly darkness, a radical outburst of light and life.

“Though a close knit social circle existed to support the Towson-Glen Arm arts community, many young artists from the area were uninterested in TGA’s social milieu, while others were a part of cliques barely connected to ours. Minus any excessive personal interaction with the scene, visionaries such as singer-songwriter Megan Carberry, Andy Papastephanou (of The Cosmic People From Outer Space), poet Julia Lee, Tyler Roylance and Ian McDonald (of the band Skull & The Cross Bones), and visual artist Chiwen Bao all accomplished feats of strange beauty equal and akin to even the best work of the more visible TGA artists…”

– from the notes to Towson Glen Arm Freakouts volume 1

'In The Midst' - intaglio print, 1996 (originally published in the 1996 edition of Dulaney High School's "Sequel" literary magazine; courtesy of Greg Storms)

‘In The Midst’ – intaglio print, 1996 (originally published in the 1996 edition of Dulaney High School’s “Sequel” literary magazine; courtesy of Greg Storms)

photos of 'Intrinsic' - mixed media, 1997 (originally published in the 1997 edition of  Dulaney High School's "Sequel" literary magazine (courtesy of Greg Storms)

photos of ‘Intrinsic’ – mixed media, 1997 (originally published in the 1997 edition of
Dulaney High School’s “Sequel” literary magazine (courtesy of Greg Storms)

Here's an interesting, one-of-a-kind black & white version of Chiwen Bao's 'The Piano' taken from a mock up copy of the 1996 edition of Dulaney High School's "Sequel" literary magazine. Hand written printer's instructions appear at the upper right. (courtesy of Meekah Hopkins)

Here’s an interesting, one-of-a-kind black & white version of Chiwen Bao’s ‘The Piano’ taken from a mock up copy of the 1996 edition of Dulaney High School’s “Sequel” literary magazine. Hand written printer’s instructions appear at the upper right. (courtesy of Meekah Hopkins)

Here’s where you can find more info on the fine art of Towson-Glen Arm: https://towsonglenarmfreakouts.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/the-fine-art-of-towson-glen-arm-tricia-lane-forster-part-1/

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Political Roots of The Preschoolers and Towson-Glen Arm

a photo of a very early line up of The Preschoolers circa 1993 at their first rehearsal in Lutherville, Md. at Eddie Macintosh's mom's house:(top left to right) Diego Ramos, Eddie Macintosh, Bob Phair, Lee Versoza, Dave Willemain; (bottom left to right) Joe Mysko, Sam Frazier, (photo taken with an automatic camera by Diego Ramos)

a photo of The Preschoolers circa 1993 at their first rehearsal in Lutherville, Md. at Eddie Macintosh’s mom’s house:(top left to right) Diego Ramos, Eddie Macintosh, Bob Phair, Lee Versoza, Dave Willemain; (bottom left to right) Joe Mysko, Sam Frazier, (photo taken with an automatic camera by Diego Ramos)

The most popular group to emerge from Towson-Glen Arm was The Preschoolers, a high energy teenage ska band/performance art mutation who garnered a cult following throughout central Maryland during the early-mid 90’s. The Preschoolers stuck out like a sore thumb as an outrageous voice of the avant-garde in a suburban enclave that was, for the most part, devoid of any unique culture. This large ensemble regularly featured a line-up comprised of between 7 to 10 musicians, a few dancers, and even a hype-man, and, like that of many other TGA artists, The Preschoolers’ work was unusual for often expressing bold political sentiments.

In particular, Preschoolers’ co-founders Dave Willemain and Bob Phair made notable efforts to support social justice, efforts that were reflected in much of the innovative work made by the pair. Furthermore, by analyzing the relationship that Towson-Glen Arm collectively had with America’s contentious DelMarVa region, it’s easy to see how a strong political undercurrent became a core element of the scene’s activity.

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“…on March 1, 1780, the Pennsylvania Assembly passed a law calling for the gradual end of slavery, and the longest portion of the Mason-Dixon Line became the boundary not just between Pennsylvania and Maryland, but between freedom and slavery…

When the Civil War ended slavery was abolished but the Mason-Dixon Line was still there, separating North from South. Up and down the Line, the racial hatred that had been seeded two and one-half centuries earlier continued to be carefully watered every day. And the Line is still embedded in the national psyche as a powerful racial symbol.”

- William Ecenbarger, from ‘Walkin’ The Line’

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Map of the Underground Railroad by Wilbur H. Siebert, 'The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom', The Macmillan Company, 1898.

Map of the Underground Railroad by Wilbur H. Siebert, ‘The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom’, The Macmillan Company, 1898.

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“If you believe in fighting racism, you make a commitment for the rest of your life…There’s no getting off that train. You can’t say, ‘I’ve put five years in fighting racism and now I’m finished.’ No, you are not finished. Our job is to fight it every day, to continue to shove it down and when it rises up to shove it down even harder.”

Parren J. Mitchell
Maryland, U.S.A.’s first African-American congressman (7th district, 1970 to 1986), the first African American to graduate from the University Of Maryland School Of Law

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Every single story behind every single wild art movement seems to begin with its own dramatic ‘Big Bang’ moment …right? Actually, that point is totally debatable, especially when it comes to Towson-Glen Arm and The Preschoolers. Nonetheless, it’s telling to find that some of the scene’s earliest works came to be shortly after a unique political demonstration with origins tied tightly to the geography of central Maryland and also to an actual parent of one of The Preschoolers’ co-founders.

David G. Willemain – father of artist David Scott Willemain – worked for the early 90’s administration of Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, a celebrated local democrat who gained fame and infamy for openly promoting radical notions regarding illicit drug policy, and the treatment of A.I.D.S. and H.I.V. Schmoke was also outspoken in confronting the financial problems that plagued the federal government funds intended to help impoverished urban America. To Mayor Schmoke, those interferences created by President George H.W. Bush’s aggressive foreign policy were especially troublesome.

In late 1991 civil rights pioneer Parren J. Mitchell (with support from Mayor Schmoke, and a coalition of community leaders and local politicians) used a series of town hall meetings in Baltimore to come up with a strategy for confronting the Bush administration’s apathetic response to the complex needs of blighted American cities like Baltimore and its neighbor D.C. The meetings resulted in a collective resolution to march on Washington, D.C. in May of 1992 to demand a decrease in U.S. military spending and an increase in federal funding for progressive social projects custom made for the nation’s most at risk neighborhoods. To publicly announce the D.C. march a smaller local march through the streets of Baltimore was held in October 1991. This consisted mostly of the same local leaders and activists who hatched the idea of the D.C. march. Eventually, The United States Conference Of Mayors and The National League Of Cities would join in to help organize Parren J. Mitchell’s effort thus giving the march a shot of prestige that had been missing as it developed in Baltimore’s low budget community centers.

Mitchell and his supporters dubbed their series of marches “Save Our Cities, Save Our Children”. David G. Willemain worked with Kurt Schmoke’s office thoughout the mayor’s tenure; as Schmoke was a close confidante to Mitchell, Willemain found himeslf on the front lines of the “Save Our Cities…” movement as it evolved. David G. Willemain’s son caught wind of the march and its purpose just at a time when he began to gain a strong interest and admiration for the early days of the Civil Rights Movement and the radical sentiments of the Black Panther Party. The goals of these movements shared a’lot of common ground with those of the “Save Our Cities” campaign, so David Scott Willemain (known to friends as ‘Dave’) decided to attend the march in order to express solidarity with those struggling against racist/classist oppression.

April ’92 saw the “Save Our Cities, Save Our Children” march suddenly and drastically take on a whole new kind of currency. On March 3rd, 1991, a 26 year old unarmed African-American man named Rodney King was nearly beaten to death by a group of white Los Angeles police officers. Naturally, this incident shocked and outraged the world, so it took a full year to gather up an impartial jury who could try the police accused of the beating. The evidence presented in the trial – including a video tape that documented nearly the entire melee – overwhelmingly implicated the officers of police brutality and assault. Despite this, on April 29th ’92 three of the accused were acquitted of all wrong doing, and the jury couldn’t come to a conclusion on an extra charge against a fourth officer involved in the beating. Once news of the acquittals spread Los Angeles exploded in a haze of violent unrest. Soon afterward, several other North American cities followed L.A.’s incendiary path.

When the “Save Our Cities, Save Our Children” march on D.C. finally got off the ground on May 16th 1992 the event went from being an obscure fringe cause upheld only by the citizens of America’s toughest ghettos to a full blown national healing festival attended by an estimated 150,000 people. The march even featured the performance of a ‘Cumabaya’ type-anthem performed and written especially for the event by protest-folk veteran Peter Yarrow. This tune was made up entirely of quotes from a televised press conference that Rodney King gave at the end of the trial, including King’s famous plea, “Can we all just get along?”

Yarrow wasn’t the only one from the Civil rights-era old guard who illuminated the march with a more diplomatic tone. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, then New York Mayor David Dinkins, NAACP head Benjamin Gellis, and many other well known and obscure figures from America’s political left came out to protest against the financial excess of the conservative federal government and to try to calm the residual fear and rage inspired by the King trial.

Not everyone featured at the demonstration was repping the staid old ways of sit-ins and sing-a-longs. The Muslim hip-hop crew Defiant Giants brandished some tough Black Nationalist rap, and Bernice Price (a teenager who struggled with homelessness in D.C.) brought the sadness and frustration of poverty to life through brutal oration. Urvashi Vaid, a gay rights advocate who was then the executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, gave what was perhaps the event’s most radical speech when she proclaimed that the injustice unleashed upon Rodney King and the ghettos was no different than that which was being felt in America’s gay communities. She pulled no punches when uttering the words, “To be lesbian or gay in America today is to live in a state of war!”

Dave Willemain invited his friends Bob Phair and Lou Thomas to join him in attending the “Save Our Cities, Save Our Children” demonstration , and this trio did indeed end up going down to D.C. where they got to soak up plenty of the march’s intense rhetoric. A few months after attending the march these three young artists would form The Nudists –  Towson-Glen Arm’s first recorded band, and Willemain and Phair would go on to form The Preschoolers at the end of 1993. Each of these kids were around 14 years old when they attended the protest, and they were driven there by Dave Willemain’s father the night before the march as he was part of its planning committee.

Bob Phair: We went to DC with Dave’s Dad , I think, where we parked at some church probably in Takoma Park or Hyattsville (Md.) From there we took a van full of marchers to downtown DC to another church where we slept on cots. It was cold in there but we were in good spirits and had been chatting up some DC school girls slumber party style. They got a kick out of us, white boys with long hair were pretty unusual to them.

Lou Thomas: …I remember we spent the night in some kind of hall or gym with the other marchers (I remember washing my armpits in a sink, partly because there was a girl I thought was cool and I was worried I smelled bad)…

…I remember talking to an African-American man, maybe in his 40s or 50s (hard to tell, I was 14), who was a long time activist, and Dave and I talked to him for a long time while marching. I think he told us stories about the civil rights movement, or at least 70s movements. I recall him being soft spoken, knowledgable, and really friendly. He made an impression on both of us, but I think particularly on Dave…

Bob Phair: …organizers spoke through bullhorns, we walked for what seemed like forever, at one point the two members of the (political rap group) Disposable Heroes of Hip Hoprisy joined in with the march… This was down by the National Mall, I think they then performed a few songs on a relatively large stage that had been set up… speeches were given and…some other performers played. We went home with bright red Save Our Cities T-shirts, I think the march had a positive impact…

…we all had pretty progressive parents so we were primed for seeing through the bullshit [that the march was confronting].

Although Dave took it farther than anyone. He borrowed Eldridge Cleaver from my mom! He also got tons of books from Che (Guevara) to Angela Davis and Marcus Garvey and I think internalized their struggles… But I think all of us realized that music is the great equalizer… the root of progress in our day and age.

Preschoolers’ co-founder Bob Phair at the Save Our Cities Save Our Children march, May 16th 1992 (the text at the bottom of this video clip reads “05-18-92″ – this was probably the date that CSPAN2 aired or edited the 4 hours of footage which made up its coverage of the march)

a button commemorating the Save Our Cities Save Our Children march

a button commemorating the Save Our Cities Save Our Children march

A throng of Save Our Cities marchers as they converged on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  (you can view 4 hours of march footage here: http://www.c-span.org/video/?26089-1/save-cities-save-children)

A throng of Save Our Cities marchers as they converged on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
(you can view 4 hours of march footage here: http://www.c-span.org/video/?26089-1/save-cities-save-children)

Progressive parents and righteous libraries weren’t dominant in every corner of the nascent TGA scene. In Towson-Glen Arm artist Violet LeVoit’s words, north Baltimore County in the early 90’s often seemed like “…a hermetic bubble for middle-class white people to live in without the ‘distraction’ of their own privilege…”. While the parents of some TGA artists did see the County as merely a pleasant backdrop for their domestic commitments, their kids often viewed greater Baltimore as a place littered with reminders of slavery, intolerance, and classism. Inevitably, these teens began making creative efforts to subvert the area’s darkest political elements. While the anti-racist/anti-right aims of the Save Our Cities march were influential, many in the TGA crew developed a radical consciousness completely on their own terms.

(left to right) Tricia Lane-Forster and Lisa Starace performing live with Spastic Cracker in Lutherville-Timonium, Md. at Matt Bray's basement; June 1994; photo by Lee Versoza

(left to right) Tricia Lane-Forster and Lisa Starace performing in Lutherville-Timonium, Md. with Spastic Cracker at Matt Bray’s basement; June 1994; photo by Lee Versoza

Matt Bray, TGA show promoter/activist/musician:

I lived in Lutherville-Timonium — it was a very white, middle class suburb. It seemed wealthy to me when my family first moved there from New York in 1983, but as I grew up and saw other parts of Baltimore County, I realized there were much much wealthier parts around me. From my parents’ bedroom I could see a large old plantation house, and tucked in the woods on the same property there was an actual cabin-like home that had been occupied by slaves. I remember thinking this was very scary but also super interesting. Once when I was about 12 I trespassed onto the property and met a man who lived in that house who said that the house had belonged to his ancestors that had been slaves on that plantation…I felt that I was touching history very closely, and I was haunted by the thoughts of slavery right in the land where I was living – interested and haunted. I always felt that given the history, the resistance (in Baltimore County) would be great and the fact that the opposite was true was always puzzling to me. When I lived in Germany, most regular people were extremely anti-Nazi, anti-racist — not just the leftists and punks. That made sense to me, and I never understood how the white kids who could trace their ancestry to slave owners were not deeply involved in anti-racism…

…Dulaney*(High School)…was full of right wing Catholics and other anti-choice Christians — it was the hot button issue of the time…I clearly remember there were very few actively pro-choice students…

At Dulaney, it was pretty clear that most people were at best Democrats, but mostly right wing and Republican. I don’t think I ever thought it was just the jock gestapo – they were simply the police force of the racist society…when the Iraq war started and there were probably less than 10 kids in the whole school that wore black armbands [in protest of the war] one of them was (I think) the president of the senior class and one of the only black girls in the school… She was totally ostracized based on her brave act, and the rest of us wearing the armbands stopped wearing them the first day. I was threatened with expulsion and suspension the first day of the bombing because I refused to stand for the Pledge!

Tricia Lane-Forster, visual artist/writer/member of the early TGA band Spastic Cracker:

I was very aware of social injustice, inequity of race, class, and the disabled. I remember being concerned about these issues at a very young age and very aware in middle school. How was a white suburban middle class girl aware of these issues? I’m not sure. Maybe because I was born without my left arm and was aware of anyone who was different and aware when things weren’t fair or right? My parents took me to the city and to other cities too and I saw the homeless, the poor, and often wanted to interact with them and help them from a young age.

My teachers, though, and the projects they gave me throughout school raised awareness too. I was reading short stories by Alice Walker in 10th grade and reporting on them. I had projects related to slavery several times during high school. I was reading about the holocaust, the Nazi doctors, and other travesties in history in 12th grade. I remember being thankful that I didn’t live in certain places or times throughout history because if I had I would have been killed or experimented on because of my arm. I also remember being thankful that I would have opportunities regardless of my limb difference. I knew that activists and political leaders and others had fought for these rights.

Lisa Starace, writer/member of the early TGA bands Spastic Cracker, The Unheard Ones, and Within:

I feel like there has always been this uneasy relationship between black Baltimore and white artists/musicians/punks…whatever you want to call them… it was totally common for places like The Loft**… to exist in these areas that were often invisible to most white Baltimoreans…I didn’t totally think about race then as much as I do now, but even if I didn’t critically think about what was happening, you couldn’t help but feel the divide deeply. And there was something so rebellious about crossing into this other world…crossing that line…perhaps a figurative Mason Dixon…

…the underpinnings of racial tension were part of why I always felt a love/hate relationship with Baltimore/Maryland. There’s so much to love, but I always found it hard to reconcile those things with the whole underlying world of injustice, poverty, and racism…

Cory Davolos in 1995; photo by Steph R.

Cory Davolos in 1995; photo by Steph R.

Cory Davolos, member of the early TGA bands Spactic Cracker, Retarded Dogs, The 6 O’Clock Alarm, Lard Star, etc.:

…the idea of growing up (in Maryland) and being unaware of its troubled past and divisions seems impossible to me. I always had an interest in history and very much remember my parents telling me stories about the racial disturbances in the sixties, MLK etc. The most disturbing of these were always the stories retold about their youths growing up in segregated Delaware if you can believe it! I’m always going back to this, my parents and their generation remember and were raised in a time that was nearly yesterday when Apartheid was ordered by the peoples governments! One generation away from us, it’s that close. It still blows my mind. My family were 20th century immigrants to America, racism is there, it always has been. It seems to be embedded with many newly established Americans, this jockeying for space, for power, a piece of the American dream that was guaranteed to them needs to be continually fought for, against fellow Americans. While we may not lose a war to some foreign nation, African Americans moving into a certain school district/rap music/hip hop culture posed a real threat to paranoid white suburbanites watching every penny and cultural edifice they were entitled to supposedly being eaten away by outsiders. Remember folks calling the Light Rail*** the ‘Soul Train’??

Attending public school I think really was the catalyst. Cockeysville Middle was a buck wild cauldron man. My first introduction to racial bullying, violence, pre-imposed class differences, sexual bravado. Those years are really some of the first times you become aware of the larger outside world around you, being more attuned to the cultural brew…

…Northern Baltimore County LAX culture: I played lacrosse all the way into sophmore year [of high school]…at the time Lacrosse was the upper class/private school white boy sport. Still is I’m sure. When I decided to attend Dulaney [a public high school], the guys on my Junior A team took to calling it ‘Dirtlaney’, because you know the kids (from) Dulaney were of a lower class and therefore ‘Dirtballs’ and ‘Grits’. There were no black kids on my lacrosse team either.

…In my senior year, I had a good friend gay bashed by jocks…of everything that happened at Dulaney this was a defining moment… Year by year I was convinced that there were major problems with not only myself but with our society in general. High school was bullshit, I had to get out from under the magnifying glass of pre-adulthood, I withdrew into music and art and started to daydream…about speaking out, freaking straight people out, dressing weird, making our own secret noise…leaving ‘em all behind. This new thing…a dedication to radical awareness and mega fun…wouldn’t be something they could touch or corrupt…This was Towson-Glen Arm.

TO BE CONTINUED

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* Dulaney High School in Timonium, Md.; many Towson-Glen Arm artists attended this school.
** The Loft was an 80’s/90’s Baltimore. Md. music venue that primarily catered to punk and hardcore bands, but also hosted many Towson-Glen Arm concerts. It was located in an abandoned building situated near a predominantly black neighborhood in the city’s impoverished west side.
*** The Light Rail is a public transportation train line that runs north/south through Baltimore city. It also runs through many of the suburban neighborhoods that were hotbeds of TGA action during the 90’s.
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Bibliography

The introductory quote from Congressman Parren J. Mitchell was made circa 1989 and appeared in an obituary for him published in the May 30th 2007 edition of the Los Angeles Times

BOOKS:

Ecenbarger, William. Walkin The Line. New York: M. Evans and Company, 2007. First printing.

PERIODICALS:

LoLordo, Ann, “Save Our Cities: ‘Ordinary people’ plan extraordinary steps”. The Baltimore Sun [Baltimore, Md.]. 10/5/1991.

Anonymous. “Saving the cities”. The Baltimore Sun [Baltimore, Md.]. 10/8/1991.

Mitchell, Parren J., and Corr, Katherine. “We march against a policy of abandonment and neglect”. The Baltimore Sun [Baltimore, Md.]. 10/11/1991

“Save Our Cities march on Saturday” letter to editor of The Baltimore Sun newspaper [Baltimore, Md.]. May 13th, 1992. Levin, Jack L.; Baltimore, Md.

Weisensee, Nicole. “Mayors Demand $$ To Save Ailing Cities Rendell Wants Urban Aid To Match Soviet Aid”. The Philadelphia Daily News [Philadelphia, Pa.]. May 16th, 1992.

Carlson, Tucker. “At Home With Big Government”. City Journal [New York, NY]. Summer 1993.

INTERNET RESOURCES:

Free Republic.com forum on activism. http://www.freerepublic.com/focust /news/2180225/replies?c=23. Free Republic.com. 2/6/2006.

The Wikipedia Foundation. “List of protest marches on Washington, D.C.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_protest_marches_on_Washington,_
D.C.#1950.E2.80.931999. December 18th, 2014.

The Wikipedia Foundation. “Kurt Schmoke”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Schmoke. 11/23/2014.

Rubin, Paula N., and McCampbell, Susan W. “NEEDLE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS: IS BALTIMORE A BUST?” http://www.cipp.org/pdf/BALT_BUST.PDF. The Center For Innovative Public Policies Inc.; Tamarac, Fla. April 2001.

The Wikipedia Foundation. “Rodney King”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_King. December 14th, 2014.

Asian/Pacific American Archives Survey. “The Rocky Chin Papers”. http://dev-dl-pa.home.nyu.edu/tamimentapa. New York University. 12/13/2011.

Sauro, Briar (with revisions by Leslie Reyman). “Women’s Action Coalition Records 1989-2003″. http://www.nypl.org/sites/default/files/archivalcollections/pdf/wac_0.pdf. The New York Public Library Humanities and Social Sciences Library Manuscripts and Archives Division. October 1997 (revisions: October 2008).

VIDEO:

Gary, Garney and C-Span. (5/18/1992) “Save Our Cities Save Our Children march”. [http://www.c-span.org/video/?26089-1/save-cities-save-children]

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Towson-Glen Arm Graphic Design – part 1

A flyer by Lou Thomas advertising a September 1995 show that featured his band Rive Gauche. The other bands who played this gig weren't Towson-Glen Arm groups. Note the holy seal of the Universal Life Church in the upper right corner. Thomas was an actual ordained reverend and member of this non-denominational mail order "faith" which was supported by many TGA kids as a means of expressing opposition to conventional organized religion (i.e., among the church's many untraditional policies, it clearly encourages atheists to join up; for more on  the ULC check this website: www.themonastery.org/aboutUs).

A flyer by Lou Thomas advertising a September 1995 show that featured his band Rive Gauche. The other bands who played this gig weren’t Towson-Glen Arm groups. Note the holy seal of the Universal Life Church in the upper right corner. Thomas was an actual ordained reverend and member of this non-denominational mail order “faith” which was supported by many TGA kids as a means of expressing opposition to conventional organized religion (i.e., among the church’s many untraditional policies, it clearly encourages atheists to join up; for more on the ULC check this website: http://www.themonastery.org/aboutUs)[courtesy of Lou Thomas].

Graphic design represents a big chunk of Towson-Glen Arm’s most well known output. In the 90’s the TGA design style was featured prominently in hundreds of photocopied paper flyers made to promote live performance events, though it also made its mark on zines, political pamphlets, and various oddball print ephemera. Towson-Glen Arm flyers could be found posted up throughout the Baltimore area in record stores, book stores, coffee shops, college campus bulletin boards, down on the legendary merch table in Matt Bray’s basement*, wheat pasted onto telephone poles and other utilitarian structures, or even posted (without permission) on the grounds of the public high schools Dulaney and Towson (the two schools that most of the teenaged TGA artists attended).

Towson-Glen Arm artists would often give out flyers by hand at their own shows or other all ages concerts in the area. The front steps of the Towson Commons shopping center (a loitering hotspot for young troublemakers from all over suburban Baltimore) also was a place where one could find TGA kids handing out print material. Unfortunately, as most Towson-Glen Arm shows were drug/alcohol free** events, the hedonistic “mall punk” kids who hung out at the Commons would frequently end up throwing the show flyers into the trash or they’d just refuse to take them.

The TGA movement thrust the art of graphic design into a nebulous realm where leftist fervor, wild absurdity, and primal/d.i.y. production culminated in brash displays of ragged grace. Presented here is the first part of a new blog series featuring some top examples of Towson-Glen Arm’s visual splendor.

the logo from the Daily Schoolbus zine; designed by Spence Holman; October 1994 (courtesy of Spence Holman)

the logo from the Daily Schoolbus zine; designed by Spence Holman; October 1994 (courtesy of Spence Holman)

a set list created by multi-media artist Jeff Duncan for his band The Idiots; early 1995 (courtesy of Lou Thomas)

a set list created by multi-media artist Jeff Duncan for his band The Idiots; early 1995 (courtesy of Lou Thomas)

 a flyer probably designed by Jeff Duncan and his Behind Closed Doors band mates (Aaron Friedman and Guy Blakeslee); this was made to promote a TGA concert at the Baltimore city venue The Loft  (pardon the condition of this flyer; it was actually ripped off of telephone pole back in the mid 90's.) [courtesy of Shawn Phase]

a flyer designed by Jeff Duncan and his Behind Closed Doors band mates (Aaron Friedman and Guy Blakeslee); this was made to promote a TGA concert at the Baltimore city venue The Loft (pardon the condition of this flyer; it was actually ripped off of telephone pole back in the mid 90’s.) [courtesy of Shawn Phase]

design/lettering: Lou Thomas; 1997 (courtesy of Lou Thomas)

design/lettering: Lou Thomas; 1997 (courtesy of Lou Thomas)

(* the full story behind the premiere TGA venue Matt Bray’s basement can be found in the notes to the Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts 2 compilation, some of which are reprinted here: https://towsonglenarmfreakouts.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/matt-bray-and-the-early-days-of-towson-glen-arm/)
(** While Towson-Glen Arm didn’t completely indentify with the drug free straight edge philosophy, some in the north County underground identified the excessive drug use associated with Gen X/grunge rock/’slackers’ as “counter revolutionary” therefore at odds with the TGA movement’s political beliefs.)

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Alive And Well And Tattered

Damn…looks like I skipped out on blogging last month.

Well, I wasn’t tryin to, I swear, but let’s just say things got interesting in the non-blogisphere, so I had to put in some extra time in the outside world, that strange nonsensical place where you won’t find teenagers from the 90’s sitting around feverishly worshipping at an altar of obscure music and radical leftist politics…uh, yeah anyway…

Since I’m still recovering from the overload of interesting things that happened last month, I don’t really have a ‘traditional’ Towson-Glen Arm post ready just yet, so…

This morning, in a groggy/just woke up/zombie-esque haze, I unknowingly put on a pair of pants that I really thought I hated. The reason I hated these pants is cuz a few months ago, while wearing these pants, I fell down really hard in NYC’s Chelsea section shortly after getting off of a bus. I brutally skinned my knee, I even still have scars from the injury. The pants bear the marks of discoloration and still have a tiny rip in them where my knee got ground extra hard into the pavement.

I’ve been avoiding wearing these pants for months just cuz the site of that damage reminds me of how dumb and careless I felt after falling, not to mention how painful the injury was.

It wasn’t until I walked a few blocks from my apartment this morning that I realized I was wearing these most hated pants. The funny thing is, despite the negative association, these pants were actually really comfortable. They felt like any other pants I have. Right now, as I write this hours later, I’m still wearing them even and they still feel very comfy.

What this all means and what this could possibly have to do with an obscure art movement from the 90’s is beyond me, but I really felt compelled to share this with everyone out there…maybe this is just a weird metaphor for the creative work I’m usually covering here. It’s like this: if something is damaged, if something reminds you of a less than perfect time, even if something seems like trash, before you throw it away forever maybe just give it a second chance cuz you might find something of value in it that you’d taken for granted before, whether it’s a tattered pair pants or a warbly old cassette tape of crazy teens bangin on pots and pans all day.

A flyer for a 1994 Towson-Glen Arm show that occurred in the affluent Baltimore City neighborhood of Lake Evesham at The Church Of The Holy Redeemer. If you really dig this kinda crazy art and attitude, stay tuned - before the end of this year there will a post up featuring for the first part of an ongoing blog series all about the rise and fall Towson-Glen Arm's biggest band: avant-garde ska provocateurs The Preschoolers! (flyer art/design: unknown)

A flyer for a 1994 Towson-Glen Arm show that occurred in the affluent Baltimore City neighborhood of Lake Evesham at The Church Of The Holy Redeemer (flyer art/design: unknown)

 

 

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Within

(All material here is quoted from the liner notes of Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts 2. These were written by Mike Apichella, aka your humble blogger)

Within's biggest moment was an opening slot at a suburban Annapolis show with two of their biggest influences: Unwound and Universal Order Of Armageddon in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs (flyer design by Colin Seven; courtesy of Lisa Starace)

Within’s biggest moment was an opening slot at a suburban Annapolis, Md. show with two of their biggest influences: Unwound and Universal Order Of Armageddon (flyer design by Colin Seven; courtesy of Lisa Starace)

The experimental garage band Within was my most ambitious attempt to transform art into political action. I was 17 years old when I began working on Within’s material using borrowed guitars and amps off and on from 1991 to mid ’92 while killing time during breaks at the band practices of the various Matt Bray/Violet LeVoit-led groups that I played in (more details on those bands can be found in the TGAF blog posts on Violet LeVoit and Matt Bray, and also in the notes to The Retarded Dogs track on the first Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts collection).

That all changed in late 1992 when I got a part-time job working as a telephone surveyor at the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens Funeral Home & Cemetery. $110 earned at this unbelievably boring job got me a tiny Grand Prix brand guitar which I purchased from Schubert Music in Reisterstown, Md., a store that primarily sold school band equipment and uniforms, as well as a hodge-podge of new budget priced music gear. Soon after that, I bought the piece of equipment that would go on to define Within’s sound: a Boss Hyper Fuzz pedal. A somewhat fried, vintage Juggs practice amp (borrowed from Violet LeVoit) would be the next contraption added to my sonic cache. With all of this tweaked gear in tow, I began to constantly write songs for Within, which remained a nameless project until late 1993.

Within live at the Powhattan Fire Hall near Annapolis, Md. circa spring 1995; l-r, Tim Kabara (in a rare turn on the drums) and Mike Apichella  (photo by Tricia Lane or John Corcoran; courtesy of Tim Kabara)

Within live at the Powhattan Fire Hall near Annapolis, Md. circa spring 1995; l-r, Tim Kabara (in a rare turn on the drums) and Mike Apichella (photo by Tricia Lane or John Corcoran; courtesy of Tim Kabara)

It actually took me more than a year to find other musicians to join Within. My intense perfectionism, a sincere desire only to play with untrained musicians, and my invented musical approach all made rounding out the band’s membership quite difficult….

The first void to be filled in this band was that of the drummer. Claire Mysko and I had been friends since around the spring of ’93 after we met through mutual (political) activist friends…. I told Claire that my ideal drum sound would consist of ultra primal beats played on a kit with only a snare drum, a floor tom, and a crash cymbal. Mysko had no issue with this set-up, and actually seemed even more excited to give it a go once she knew about the stripped down specs. With a successful try out rehearsal in summer ’93, Claire then officially joined Within.

Claire Mysko as she appeared in her 1993 Towson High School yearbook picture (courtesy of William Jones/Towson High School)

Claire Mysko as she appeared in her 1993 Towson High School yearbook picture (courtesy of William Jones/Towson High School)

For the vocalist’s role, my friend Tricia Lane recommended that I tap her Spastic Cracker bandmate Lisa Starace. Lisa had done some ear-shredding back up vocals on one of SC’s harder songs. After Tricia played me a tape of that impressive performance, I asked Lisa to do a try out rehearsal in August of ’93…. so after we successfully ran through a few of my songs I convinced Lisa to join the group…. as she already had a leadership role in Spastic Cracker, she decided to join my group just for the change of pace provided by the work of a side musician. Nonetheless, Starace alone would go on to write most of Within’s blaring vocal parts.

Like many other TGA kids, Claire Mysko was an accomplished student. This led her to skip over a grade to become an 11th grader at the young age of 16. Not only that, but in her junior high school year she was incredibly busy and stressed out preparing to skip her senior year in order to make an early admission to college at The Eugene Lang New School For Social Research in NYC. The New School gave her an offer of substantial scholarship money as a result of her superlative SAT scores and her participation in several of the prestigious writing workshops that catered to the mid-Atlantic’s gifted teen scribes. With all of this frenzied academia, initially, getting Claire on a regular Within practice schedule was a bit daunting…

Claire Mysko (2nd on the far right front row, to the left of The Nudists' Alicia Rabins) posing with the staff of the seminal 1994 edition of Towson High's Colophon literary magazine. Other TGA artists appear here also: top right - writer Tyler Roylance and writer Ian McDonald both of Skull & The Cross Bones, and Spence Holman of The Nudists; far right in the 2nd row in the fourth, third, and second spots from l-r: Steph R. of The Preschoolers, writer Beach Carey, Liz Bishop of Loch Ness and Susan Murphy's Law (courtesy of William Jones/Towson High)

Claire Mysko (2nd on the far right front row, to the left of The Nudists’ Alicia Rabins) posing with the staff of the seminal 1994 edition of Towson High’s Colophon literary magazine. Other TGA artists appear here also: top right writer Tyler Roylance and writer Ian McDonald both of Skull & The Cross Bones, and Spence Holman of The Nudists; far right in the 2nd row in the fourth, third, and second spots from l-r: Steph R. of The Preschoolers, writer Beach Carey, Liz Bishop of Loch Ness and Susan Murphy’s Law (courtesy of William Jones/Towson High)

(Claire) managed to make just enough stray practices throughout early fall ’93 to prepare us for our first show – an October 29th Food Not Bombs* benefit gig put on at my mom’s house which also featured my performance art/joke band Young Death and a headlining set from Pittsburgh, Pa. crust legends Aus Rotten.

A flyer for the first Within show; Towson-Glen Arm band Young Death also made their debut at this gig. (flyer art/design: unknown; courtesy of Lisa Starace)

A flyer for the first Within show; Towson-Glen Arm band Young Death also made their debut at this gig. (flyer art/design: unknown; courtesy of Lisa Starace)

Around December ’93, the three of us began rehearsing about once a week at my mom’s house in Glen Arm, Md. and occasionally at Claire’s parents’ house in Lutherville. Like Lisa, Claire also turned out to be exactly the kind of musician that I needed for Within – a drummer who didn’t give a crap about solos or playing fast thrash beats or weird time signatures; she was just a hyped-up kid who loved pounding the hell outta the drums…. By the end of any given Within practice or show, Claire would always emerge from this zoned out haze drenched in sweat and flushed beet red as if she’d just completed the most grueling triathlon imaginable.

Claire Mysko -  looking typically flushed - performing live at a Within basement show in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs; Cesar's House, April 30th 1994. (photo by Melissa Fatto)

Claire Mysko – looking typically flushed – performing live at a Within basement show in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs; Cesar’s House April 30th 1994. (photo by Melissa Fatto)

The odd parameters I set for Within were created to highlight my extreme political leftism, something which, for the most part, was shared by my bandmates. Playing my own style of music was not merely done to “show off” how original I could be, nor was it a pure reaction against other kinds of music. Instead, by using invented music theory, I felt that Within’s work served to demonstrate an ideology which could be constructively applied to more than just artwork. The invented concepts of Within were things that I had hoped would inspire oppressed/disenfranchised people to refuse any kind of constraint imposed upon them by evil authoritarian forces. An invented chord, an alternate tuning, a thick layer of distortion coating a melody – these were all examples of how the utility of music composition itself could be radically manipulated in many unusual ways while still providing a strong backbone for something more individualistic, therefore far outside of what most musical “authorities” thought of as melodic structure, technique, or dynamics. To me, the fact that I could create songs without either destroying or strictly adhering to the tenets of conventional music *proved* that a better way of life was inevitable for those who really wanted to create a grass roots political system outside of the corrupt bureaucracy run by the world’s exploitive “super powers”.

…Imbuing Within… with a political consciousness, however, was not the only action used to spotlight the progressive nature of our work. Attracting even more attention to that element was the way in which Within worked in aesthetic realms beyond music through our conscious effort to put on visually spectacular live concerts… These elements were further complimented by the use of instruments that were compact in both size and number, a choice which led the audience’s attention to focus upon on the fact that we were sweaty flesh-and-blood people first and musical conduits second. In no uncertain terms, Lisa Starace has expressed that this was the most unique, powerful element of Within:

“People responded to our performances viscerally…we were so brutally raw emotionally, physically, and sonically, so demanding of ourselves and of them, our audiences couldn’t just sit and watch/listen. We dragged them into the moment and made them experience the whole thing with us. So people loved it or hated it…they either embraced the rawness and honesty or they were afraid of it…. I was always proud that we were never easy and never just ok to anybody…”

Lisa Starace roarin' the roof off at a Within show; Cesar's House - Annapolis, Md. suburbs; April 30th 1994 (photo by Melissa Fatto)

Lisa Starace roaring the roof off at a Within show; Cesar’s House – Annapolis, Md. suburbs; April 30th 1994 (photo by Melissa Fatto)

If reference points must be named, some of Within’s main influences as a group included the chaotic leftist hardcore of Born Against, Man Is The Bastard, Huggy Bear, and Universal Order of Armageddon (UOA). My personal influences, however, were a little more “across the board” than that of my bandmates, particularly when it came to my songwriting choices; these were often informed by the noisey garage punk of bands like The Gories, The Cramps, The Swamp Rats, and The One Way Streets (aka my all time favorite punk band). Though Within’s music theory ideas were mine and mine alone, these were certainly a by-product of my love for Sun Ra, Beck, Ornette Coleman, Stereolab, and other artists who refused to jump on any bandwagons or stoop to the bottom-feeder level of reactionary pop music. Phil Ochs, Woody Guthrie, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan gave me a’lot of my lyrical ideas and reinforced my belief that music could be fluidly combined with political sentiment….

An original 45 rpm 7" by  ultra-aggro/noise laden 60's punks The Swamp Rats, one of Within's main influences

An original 45 rpm 7″ by ultra-aggro/noise laden 60’s punks The Swamp Rats, one of Within’s main influences

As Within’s avalanche of noisy art rock plowed through central Maryland throughout the early/mid 90’s, many of our most defining moments were those shared by the group’s original line-up: our hyperactive live shows, our 7″ e.p. (released on Matt Bray’s short lived Sunshine label/distro and produced by scene veteran Christian Sturgis), and high profile gigs supporting Unwound and UOA at a suburban Annapolis house show and Half Man in NYC at ABC-NO-RIO. Still, to me, Within’s most important recorded work was made in late 1994/early ’95 towards the end of our existence during the group’s brief period as a duo featuring only Lisa Starace and I, and, also, when Lisa’s Towson State University classmate Tim Kabara became a Within member. At around this time we arranged to have my friend Eli Jones come in to produce what would end up being Within’s last and only four track sessions (most of Within’s earlier material was recorded/produced by me on a boom box).

Jones was already a big Within fan before I asked him to produce some music for us, plus, thanks to his seminal work with Lesbian Chicken Maggot Blasters and Glorious Fourlane, he’d developed a special knack for getting the most out of any recording driven by effects processing and unconventional melody, so he was very enthusiastic about the work we offered him. My favorite of Eli Jones’ Within productions is the medley ‘Golden/Your Wound’….

Hear ‘Golden/Your Wound’ by Within here: http://nunsliketofence.bandcamp.com/track/within-golden-your-wound

Within live in 1995 at Powhattan Fire Hall in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs; l-r, Lisa Starace and Tim Kabara (photo by Tricia Lane or John Corcoran; courtesy of Tim Kabara)

Within live in 1995 at Powhattan Fire Hall in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs; l-r, Lisa Starace and Tim Kabara (photo by Tricia Lane or John Corcoran; courtesy of Tim Kabara)

…the first chunk of the track… is highlighted by an aggressive performance from Tim Kabara whose bestial vocal attack interprets critical lyrics that I wrote about a problem which often impeded the success of the political activism in Baltimore city that me and my north County friends occasionally took part in. In the mid 90’s, the city’s leftists were plagued by a ‘law and order’ attitude that was supposed to make protests and such more efficient, but really this only stifled creative thinking and diplomacy in order to support a form of weaponized elitism designed to eliminate the participation of those who didn’t follow the “rules”. These “rules” governed how often activists were to demonstrate, what they were to do when those demonstrations commenced, and even the acknowledgement of political correctness as a crucial part of activism.

This all seemed totally fascist to me. It just seemed like the most overzealous activists were setting an unobtainable ‘gold’ (or ‘Golden’) standard so they could have a sense of power and accomplishment at the expense of everyone else’s dignity. (i.e. “You should just totally quit fighting against oppression because you’ll never be as politically correct or aware as those who follow the rules”). The snobby ‘law & order’ attitude made activism in Baltimore ineffectual and boring, so, consequently, around late 1995/early ’96, I chose to cut any close ties that I had to most leftist organizations in that area.

….the ‘Your Wound’ section…deals with a subject frequently found not only in Within’s lyrics, but also in those of all my other early bands. This was my belief that a complete return to a rural/agrarian way of life and an intense focus on natural beauty could save the world from environmental disaster. I also surmised that the competitiveness which often characterizes inner city life contributed to the conflicts of Baltimore’s activist culture; this latter assertion is why I felt that ‘Your Wound’ was a perfect companion for ‘Golden’….

Looking back now, the entire concept behind ‘Your Wound’ is completely impractical. I no longer maintain the belief that all cities must be sacrificed in the name of Arcadia. None of life’s problems (urban or otherwise) can be solved with such a simple/’cut & dry’ solution….

Regardless of all that, it was great to have Within as a therapeutic outlet for the aggression provoked by my once distorted view of political turmoil. The group also taught me some important lessons about how to helm an anomalous creative project in a democratic way, something which was a fringe benefit of the kinship that Lisa, Claire, and all the other former Within members shared with me. I wouldn’t have been able to pull off something this weird and complex without their creativity, patience, and dedication. Really, what set Within apart from many other noisy young 90’s bands was a ridiculous sense of idealism, something that, for better or worse, was destined to be smashed to bits by the unforgiving rigors of the “real world”. Bearing that in mind, the fact that Within’s work remains interesting or entertaining in any way seems almost miraculous.

Within live in 1995 at Powahattan Fire Hall in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs; l-r, Tim Kabara, Lisa Starace, Mike Apichella (photo by Tricia Lane or John Corcoran; courtesy of Tim Kabara)

Within live in 1995 at Powahattan Fire Hall in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs; l-r, Tim Kabara, Lisa Starace, Mike Apichella (photo by Tricia Lane or John Corcoran; courtesy of Tim Kabara)

(*for more info on Food Not Bombs go to
http://foodnotbombs.net/story.html)

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Tim Kabara’s early documentation of Towson-Glen Arm

writer Tim Kabara's 1994 Towson State University i.d. card (courtesy of Tim Kabara)

writer Tim Kabara’s 1994 Towson State University i.d. card (courtesy of Tim Kabara)

Picking up from where I left off on the last post, recently I made a big geographical jump that’s plopped me down me in the New York City area mostly in one piece. It’s been a heck of a ride so far; I’ve stumbled over everything from my own shoelaces to my own identity and an infinite number of other things. Regardless, as much as I am grateful to have spent my younger years in Maryland, it is truly gratifying to know that I’m able to make a home in one of the craziest places in the world.

Despite all the positive energy of greater metropolitan New York, my process of getting fully settled in the place is still on going. This means that the lengthy Preschoolers chronology mentioned in the previous entry also remains as a work in progress. It should be finished around Christmas or maybe little earlier.

In the meantime, over the next few months expect some quick but essential posts about a few of the more forgotten corners of this blog’s already obscure subject…

In the 90’s extensive press coverage for Towson-Glen Arm was extremely rare. While TGA bands like Spastic Cracker, The Preschoolers, and Within all received capsule record reviews in the major indie press and some local zine/school yearbook attention, the alt rock era only ever witnessed the publication of one comprehensive article about the north County underground’s unusual approach. This piece was written by Tim Kabara and it centered around a Towson-Glen Arm concert held on September 26th 1997 at the now defunct Baltimore city all ages venue The Small Intestine. This show featured the pre-Oxes group International Sounscape Internationale, and two TGA bands: The Boom Boom Cats, and The Superstation – a grungy indie pop group lead by the bizarre singer/songwriter Josh Marchant . This band also featured Mike Apichella (aka yours truly) on drums, the lead guitarist-producer-composer Eli Jones, and bassist/composer Chris James. Kabara’s article focused heavily on The Superstation as the concert in question featured one of that group’s last performances. The article originally ran in a fall 1997 issue of Towson State University’s student newspaper The Towerlight.

The musician/author/journalist/documentarian/1999 Towson State graduate Tim Kabara would become a staple of the Baltimore underground in the aughts and he continues to be an important part of that city’s ever growing creative milieu. During the 90’s Kabara was a great supporter of Towson-Glen Arm, as well as many other underground art movements up and down the U.S. east coast and beyond.

Kabara also played a major role in the birth of a strange local art scene in the rough working class town of Dundalk, Md. where he spent much of his teen years. Many odd bands and recording projects that combined the efforts of young TGA artists and Dundalk freaks emerged directly as a result of Kabara’s patronage of and collaborations with north County artists, things which occurred primarily once he graduated high school and began attending Towson State. A deeper inspection of Kabara’s early creative efforts will grace this blog soon, but for now we’re going to focus on the distinction he’s earned as one of the very few 90’s journalists to crystalize the Towson-Glen Arm wildness in essay form.

Below are scans of an earlier essay about The Superstation done by Tim as an assignment for a college English class. This was completed about a year before the 1997 concert which eventually became the focal point of Kabara’s Towerlight article*. In this earlier rough essay, poetic descriptions of The Superstation’s artistic versatility served to present the band and “the Towson scene” as a Merry Prankster-esque raspberry blowing mightily into the cold facade of the mid-90’s’ alt-rock homogeny. After each scan, the always compelling Tim Kabara has contributed some contemporary impressions of his younger self’s artistic intent…

...PAGE ONE I like the opening! You are struggling with how to explain the “Towson scene” of the 1990s. Yes, something was changing at the time this was written. People were growing up and older, bands were coming and going… this is cyclical. It is hard to see that when it is happening for the first time, but you are getting it. Are you sure the Towson scene music is “punk rock”? Would your audience understand what you mean? I would consider revising this in the next draft. How are you speaking with such authority about “taking yourself seriously”? You immediately contradict yourself by talking about “serious” bands being a part of the scene.

…PAGE ONE
I like the opening! You are struggling with how to explain the “Towson scene” of the 1990s. Yes, something was changing at the time this was written. People were growing up and older, bands were coming and going… this is cyclical. It is hard to see that when it is happening for the first time, but you are getting it.

Are you sure the Towson scene music is “punk rock”? Would your audience understand what you mean? I would consider revising this in the next draft.
How are you speaking with such authority about “taking yourself seriously”? You immediately contradict yourself by talking about “serious” bands being a part of the scene.

PAGE TWO I dig on your description of the set! I was there, and totally don’t remember those details.

PAGE TWO
I dig on your description of the set! I was there, and totally don’t remember those details.

PAGE THREE I like how you see this sort of messy “multi-musicality” thing and describe it as a strength. Maybe that is a “punk rock” aspect of this Towson scene? The rule bending and breaking? The general “YOLO” vibe? Just a thought… Um… hey. I have to level with you. You were doing such a good job of being objective and even-handed and nice and then… you launch into this “snowball’s chance in hell” invective? Why? Like Edgar Allan Poe did when he was working as a literary critic, you are spending too much time on a “hatchet job” on these local groups and the Baltimore scene at that time. Why not stay positive? Don’t hate, appreciate! Oh well… I’m going to chalk this up to youthful inexperience and advise you cut this stuff out in the next draft.


PAGE THREE
I like how you see this sort of messy “multi-musicality” thing and describe it as a strength. Maybe that is a “punk rock” aspect of this Towson scene? The rule bending and breaking? The general “YOLO” vibe? Just a thought…
Um… hey. I have to level with you. You were doing such a good job of being objective and even-handed and nice and then… you launch into this “snowball’s chance in hell” invective? Why? Like Edgar Allan Poe did when he was working as a literary critic, you are spending too much time on a “hatchet job” on these local groups and the Baltimore scene at that time. Why not stay positive? Don’t hate, appreciate! Oh well… I’m going to chalk this up to youthful inexperience and advise you cut this stuff out in the next draft.

PAGE FOUR Still, your youthful strum and drang does nail something about the spirit of the scene at that time. Saying The Superstation will “shove wacky fun up your ass” is a bit over the top, but the point is made. Okay. Now this last part is baffling/ bizarre. Why would you weirdly attack The Great Unraveling, your friend’s band, in this last part? You totally like that band! Your band toured with them! They played a show in your mom’s basement! I am seriously confused. Tim Kabara from the 1990's, I think maybe you are trying to attack bands that are imitating an existing sound/style? Some advice… those kids who are really into Unwound and all that great music, people like Chris Coady and Guy Blakeslee and Walker Teret, are going to grow up and make some seriously awesome music and make great art. Put the literary “knife” down. I assure you, we are all in this together.  Trust me. I am from the future. I know. Regards, Tim Kabara from the 2010s

PAGE FOUR
Still, your youthful strum and drang does nail something about the spirit of the scene at that time. Saying The Superstation will “shove wacky fun up your ass” is a bit over the top, but the point is made.
Okay. Now this last part is baffling/ bizarre. Why would you weirdly attack The Great Unraveling, your friend’s band, in this last part? You totally like that band! Your band toured with them! They played a show in your mom’s basement! I am seriously confused.

Tim Kabara from the 1990’s, I think maybe you are trying to attack bands that are imitating an existing sound/style? Some advice… those kids who are really into Unwound and all that great music, people like Chris Coady and Guy Blakeslee and Walker Teret, are going to grow up and make some seriously awesome music and make great art. Put the literary “knife” down. I assure you, we are all in this together. Trust me. I am from the future. I know.
Regards,
Tim Kabara from the 2010s

[*a scan of that appears here also. If anyone can give full bibliographic info on this autumn '97 article, please get in touch asap]

[*a scan of that appears here also. If anyone can give full bibliographic info on this autumn ’97 article, please get in touch asap]

(A million thanks go out to Tim Kabara for his help with this post, and the thorough archival/fact checking assistance which he’s given to the TGAF project as a whole. You can catch up with Tim Kabara via any major social networking platform, his work as a presenter on Baltimore, Md.’s WYPR 88.1fm, and as a record reviewer for the now defunct – but well archived – Beabots website)

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Big Changes/Big Plans

A short update here: For awhile now I’ve been working on a lengthy serialized piece all about Towson-Glen Arm’s most popular band: avant-ska masters The Preschoolers. It was originally supposed to be completed next month, but I’ve recently had some huge changes go down in my personal life, the biggest being my permanent relocation to the New York City area, so, while getting used to a new awesome routine, I may need to take some time away from TGAF.

For now, I’m thinking things will be back up to this blog’s normal speed of one post a month by this summer.

Til then, have a great spring,

Mike Apichella

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