Sunday, November 09, 2008

Facebookedness First Finale (part III): The 80s Punk Rock Made Me Do It

The day after Rosh Hashanah I went to hear Jello Biafra and V. Vale speak at the all-ages, Berkeley, mainly punk venue called 924 Gilman.

(When I was growing up in the eighties, Jello Biafra -- lead singer of one of the most important U.S. Punk Bands the Dead Kennedys -- was the biggest thing…at least amongst the “punks” in my progressive high school.

I never got to see him or hear him in-person, though. None of us did back in Baltimore.

The Dead Kennedys did not come to my town, so getting to hear him finally and see him twenty years later as an adult now living in the Bay Area meant a lot to me.)

924 Gilman was so intimate. The evening made me want to find old friends with whom I had lost touch. And the New Year made be circumspect.

Like a lot of forty or almost-forty somethings, I sent pictures or “mobile blogged” what I had from my cell phone. I wrote in my blog:

“This evening was some real lo-fi, D.I.Y. …that reminds me of the youthful energy that's got me to where I'm at on this planet…”

The next thing I did was I sent a link to the post on my blog about hearing Jello Biafra and V. Vale speak at 924 Gilman to a “friend” -- “J.S.” -- on Facebook, with the following note:

“I cannot even tell you how much this evening of seeing Jello Biafra was the realization of a life's dream, cultivated in [your] home(s) in Baltimore.....and it was all that and more. the joint was so much like Jules'...and THE was all just a coupla kids?! c.1985 was like a time capsule…”

J.S. is one of my oldest friends, in tenure; but we have not been in direct contact for over twenty years. We went to High School together in Baltimore with a pretty tight group of friends.

A long exchange ensued. We reveled in each other’s successes, shared memories and it helped to ameliorate unresolved issues, mainly of lack of communication.

Oh, and this went on for days! One “friend” wrote another,

“I doubt anyone would refute that you were at the center of much of what was going on those days. I think that was when your life as a Maven started to take off.”

More confessions unfolded. Then J.S. found old flyers, scanned them, posted them to flickr then shared on Facebook.

I proclaimed, “o.k. I just have to say that I am awash with emotion over all of this. I am learning. You are all my heroes. I am only sorry there's something about the internet that says -- read ‘ironic.’ Right now I am being quite serious. I am way too glad this thread got started, good friends, it's meant a lot to me. there's much love for you here.”

And later I added, “...that's how this all got started!...I mean, my question to Jello Biafra (and V. Vale) was, ‘o.k., since you started the DIY phenomenon and on-the-ground community sh*t...’ do you feel about the internet where now every kidz got the power to publish from Poughkeepsie to Peoria?...and what about the new viral media, Obama's use of it and all that... Jello's quote was ‘don't hate the media: BE the media.’ i hadn't thought about it all like that until then....and, until now.”

At that point, one of my “friends” created a Facebook group called “Eutaw Street Clubhouse (Baltimore 1984-86),” and we all joined. The group’s numbers went to fifty-five in a couple of days almost doubled to ninety-five. Now it is at well past one hundred "kidz." So at the end of all this we organized, created and made a space for others.

While I do not pretend to fully understand all that’s at play here and this may seem like a minor event there are major implications. And while there’s certainly something about Facebook and all those tools that appeal to a kind of addictive behavior, I am confident that I am a better person after this recent exchange. Along with resolution, there was product.

And I have to say I was inspired both by finally getting to meet Jello Biafra and V. Vale and the encouragement of the Jewish New Year. Now I am healed.


James G. Leventhal said...

thru facebook I got "friended" by a David Mathison after this got posted and his google alert went off. David wrote,

"Yeah I got a Google alert set for "Be The Media." Your tweet and blog came up, thought we should connect. I quote Jello in my book,, of course ;-)"

he's self publishing. ch-ch-ch-check it out:

Stephanie said...

OMG, truly inspiring and SO SIMILAR to what happened with me - except without any Jello. ;o)

I love reading your blog James. I am SOOOO totally and completely thankful for our newfound friendship! WOOT! Something to say THANK YOU for on THANKSGIVING.