DIY: Let’s Talk About My Thesis!

DIY: Let’s Talk About My Thesis!


Ian Mackaye, frontman of hardcore punk band Minor Threat, in the Crowd @Edward Colver 1982

A couple years back, I wanted to write a screenplay about a 60s pop band. During the recording of their fourth record (supposed to be their biggest—think Smile), the producer steals all the tapes and disappears. Well, I’m still working on it, but that project become less urgent, and I felt the need to write about the Seattle music scene. My good friend Dave called me out and said, “You can’t write about that era without knowing about this one.” He started sending me music from Black Flag, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys etc. He said, “This is the s*** that gave birth to what we love now, what we grew up with.” And after one listen to Damaged. I knew I had to write about Hardcore Punk in the 80s.

If someone asks what my book is about (someone will always ask…), I say something like, “DIY is a book of poems/miscellany about Hardcore Punk in Seattle, Washington in the early 1980s (The Reagan Era).”

Seattle was not a happening scene like LA, Boston, NYC, and DC. So, I had to invent a scene. I had to invent a local band. I had to invent kids, invent moments. I had to steal/appropriate rumors and stories and myths from other scenes, and transplant them into my 1980s, Seattle. This is still historical in many ways. I’ve just changed some of the instances. Now events happen in Seattle rather than LA or somewhere else.

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I’m interested in making a myth, or a series of myths. I want people to read this and believe this is historical. I’ve redesigned some of the space. I put kids in there. I needed a space for politics and issues of the 1980s: Reagan, Homophobia, AIDS, Violence, Hate Crimes, and other things I’ve read about, other things I’ve experienced.

But these poems aren’t suffocating in the 80s. They are in constant conversation with the now. When this project ramped up, I noticed similarities to the Occupy movement, to the Bush regime, and even to the state of our country—jobs, polarization, etc. The kids in this book are starving for something that breaks from the monotony of their lives. They converge at the Madison (the central location in the book, which is based on The Old Paradox Theater. See image below), and from there, we see the city of Seattle, the world of hardcore punk, Reagan, politics, and hate, and new ideas.

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A hard thing to capture is what it’s like being in “The Pit.” The book calls it “The Churn.”

A hard thing to capture is what it’s like hearing a band for the first time and having it change your life.

A hard thing to capture is what it’s like to be young and angry without sounding redundant.

A hard thing to capture is commentary without preaching.

I’m getting there.