The crown of Baby New Year's head has only just parted the lips and here we all are, cheering and whistling like a bunch of freshmen at a titty bar. But before we get it on, it's time for another attitude adjustment.
There's little I can add to our paper's coverage of the city's massive venues initiative. I bring it up, however, because of the twister of talk it's kicked up about the cultural future of Orlando. It's always a discussion worth having and I'd be the first one standing on my desk clapping were it not for the fact that this conversation's been dominated by gentrification-minded stiffs.
Maybe their intentions are well meaning, but screw them. It's not that they're entirely wrong. It's that they aren't really endowed to determine what Orlando needs to be a culturally rich city. It doesn't matter what titles they tack on their business cards, they're just rubes in suits. Despite the gallons of ink I spill every week, they seem to be almost completely unaware that the saplings of bona fide culture and even big-city progressiveness have been diligently cultivated by enlightened scene makers for years now. If they had a clue, they'd realize that throwing some nourishment and sunshine this way is a lot cheaper and more honest than a bank-busting, individuality-killing common denominator like the venues trifecta. That's what's called a real local investment.
I'm not saying that these mega-venues won't attract some good events. I'm saying that a music scene's true worth isn't measured by the big shows. It's not the Coldplay concert. It's Monotonix bashing away on top of the bar at the Social. It's Sunburned Hand of the Man unleashing fury in a pitch-dark Bush auditorium at Rollins College. You think arenas made scenes like Austin or Portland?
It's really no mystery why the establishment continues to be ignorant about these haps. They're all in bed while the real business is goin' down. These are the kind of people whose idea of a significant downtown development is a fucking movie theater! And these are the ones driving the carriage when it comes to making Orlando cool? Time to take back those reins. You may not have their official influence but you have the influence of support. While they try to determine our cultural future by attending focus groups, you should be doing it by attending shows. Make it your top new year's resolution.
Though the official dialogue doesn't reflect much awareness of them, there are lots of people out there doing good things like I-4 Fest, Florida Quarterly Noise Report and Super Happy Fun Time to name just a few. This city's creative class is definitely there and it's very capable. It's already happening with or without you. Thing is, if it's without you too long, it'll no longer happen. Geddit?
Look, I don't have to do this. I'm not bound to this beat like a desperate prospector trying to eke out a living from a trickle. If this scene wasn't enough to hold my interest, I simply wouldn't do it. Believe that.
However, there's enough going on to have me clocking in around 300 concerts a year. And that number's only limited by the fact that I have to sleep once in a while.
But to all of you who toil for our music scene, I know your efforts are too often unsung, though hopefully not in this space. You know who you are and so do I. You bust ass to make this place cooler and I salute you for it. As long as you keep makin' it happen, I'm your cornerman.
The musicians I don't dig? Even you earn my appreciation for being out there doing something. I may not be hip to what you do but that's just a matter of taste. That you do something at all still matters. It takes balls, and for that I high-five you. (Still, you should seriously consider improving your record collection.)
Are we back on the same page now? Good. So, as soon as the sun sets today, get out and make it happen, Orlando.
The economy blows and that means free shit is in. Well, Bar-BQ-Bar hears ya and that's why it's now hosting free shows every Tuesday. Interested in playing for booze? The bar is accepting submissions through its MySpace firstname.lastname@example.org