The Culture Crush
Society Is Everybody's Business
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The Weekly

THE WEEKLY

NEVER MIND THE MAINSTREAM

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The word community has been turned into a dreadfully empty buzzword by Silicon Valley engineers and its abuse and overuse has depleted its meaning.  What once described the awesome power of bringing people together, now has been repurposed. Not coincidentally, it feels like all of the words once used to describe the most meaningful and profound human connections have now been digitally flattened. 

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To us, real life community and belonging is essential to society in the real world, and it's important to think deeply about how this flattening has affected all aspects of modern life, as main streets and town squares have given way to megastores and desolate landscapes. But culture always seems to have a way of breaking through….

Before video killed the radio star and way before streaming and online shopping, record stores served as a dreamy escape for the suffering youth of blasé American Suburban life. On any given Saturday afternoon, you could very easily find yourself getting lost in the LPs, posters, skate mags and merch bins of your local record store for hours on end. 

It was both ritualistic and liberating. In his piece, Punk Rock in Pence Country, Mike Templeton speaks of this, saying, “every small town had a little shop that sold records and skateboards. There was always that one place, way before the advent of the internet, where kids could find tiny pieces of pop culture in order to form their own sense of cool.” Read it here.

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All that talk of punk rock and the importance of record store culture had us digging into our archives where we found this common thread. In this interview with Nigel House, one of the owners of Rough Trade Records, we talk about the importance of having a place to go. A physical space, where you can meet people and share ideas. In reference to the record store, he said, “We are trying to make it into a cultural hub with books, magazines, authors doing live readings…it’s the whole thing. It is not just about music, music is just one part of the cultural landscape.” Throughout the years, record stores have been able to preserve this landscape. Of course, not all have managed to survive the streaming apocalypse, but the ones that have still provide a sanctuary. To many, the retail aspect of record stores comes second to the importance of community. Read it here

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Record stores, and other community oriented environments, are important staples of our society. As Nigel said, they’re cultural hubs. Now, more than ever, we need these physical spaces to keep real life real and avoid remaining comfortably numb.  

Also, a new addition to the newsletter, is something we are calling “deep cuts,” artifacts that we stumble upon during our prospecting. The needles in the cultural haystack. We are always uncovering hidden gems and want to share our personal favorites with our online community. We hope you enjoy these little pieces of the puzzle! 

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Mike Templeton’s essay on punk music in the ’80’s spurred a discussion in our cross-generational studio about the incredible original MTV. The Millennials and the Gen-Xer’s have been in a heated debate about what defined its OG culture, with TRL representing its past to some, which led us to a discussion about 120 Minutes. For two decades, MTV’s 120 Minutes unmasked the world of alternative music to America every Sunday at midnight. The show played bands that would never even be featured on MTV normally and probably not even the radio. Bands like They Might Be Giants, Dinosaur Jr., Rage Against The Machine, Hüsker Dü, The Offspring, The Original Sins, and Bad Religion. They brought artists like Galaxie 500 into the homes of middle Americans everywhere. Though the show has ended, it does live on as an Instagram and there are some old archives of the playlists here.

debra scherer