Tuesday, September 23nd, 2008 4:17 pm


Well folks, it's been fun. Not nearly as fun as I would've liked it to be, but still fun, nonetheless.

Yes, as cliche as it may sound, it seems the old saying is true: All good things must come to an end. So, if that's the case, why can't the same be said of bad things? Apparently it works both ways.

What the fuck is this guy talking about??

In short, I've decided to stop doing the website. Many of you who've stumbled upon this blog probably don't care, and those of you who do will probably get over it fairly quickly. ANC was a fun, interesting, year-long experiment that in a lot of ways surpassed my expectations, while simultaneously letting me down in many, many others. More of a long-winded manifesto than an online fanzine, it was originally conceived as not only a way for me to discover what type of kindred spirits might be lurking in the shadows of my own area, but also a way to promote ideas that were seemingly long-forgotten in the realm of punk rock subculture(s) in our little corner of the world, such as DIY ethics, hometown pride, brutal honesty, and networking, not to mention a lot of "this over that" mentality (such as the importance of live music over recorded music, substance over packaging, songwriting over technical skill, unity over competition, and so on).

And so forth.

"Penn-Ohio Punk Rock Zine". That was the basic idea. I live in an area (New Castle, PA) that's central to what I like to call the "Four Cornerstones" of the Penn-Ohio rustbelt: Cleveland, Erie, Pittsburgh, and Akron. Every one of these places, according to popular belief, used to be an important industrial area. Each one is a household name, and each one has a collapsed economy. The people here are mostly working class; bitter, jaded, bored, and working class. Our contributions to the world include Alan Freed and Heinz Ketchup. The Warner Brothers and Stiv Bators. Mister Yuck and fucking DEVO.

Mind-boggling, isn't it?

So why aren't we given more credit, you might ask? Well, your guess is as good as mine. I mean, we're practically punk rock incarnate. This area actually bore rock and roll as a music genre. It's the fruit of our proverbial loins. So, really, I don't consider these to be four "separate-but-equal" scenes. We're all one scene, with many smaller sub-scenes. And so spreading this epiphany to the rest of the world became, for better or worse, my quest.
I guess you could say I had a lot of time on my hands.

I've met a lot of cool people through Artless Nonculture. I've also talked to people I've admired for years. I've discovered great new bands. Maybe even gave a couple of them much needed exposure. I've been approached at other people's gigs, sometimes even by the people who were playing that night. I've even had people I thought were my enemies come up to me and shake my hand. Surprisingly, it felt good.

I've also gotten a bunch of great CDs for free. Four of these were sent to me in a package months ago, which I fully intend to review in the next couple of days. Consider it a going away present.

To the reader, at this moment I must sound like either the world's biggest ass or a really good impersonator. Honestly, I don't care either way. I need the closure.

So why am I calling it quits, at least in the meantime, if not for good?  The two biggest reasons would be time and dedication, neither of which I have at the present moment. My band, Dead City Dealers (plug) is doing a lot right now. Call me selfish, but I feel that I need to worry more about my own band, and less about other people's. There's also the issue of work. Yes, as I get older I care more and more about keeping my job, no matter how shitty it might be. I have my own apartment. I'm in a great relationship (finally, touch wood). I'm no longer bitter, jaded, and bored. Just working class.

Also I feel that I, as a singular person, can only do so much. Words of encouragement can only carry you so far. It seems I'm never really happy; either no one sends in contributions at all, causing me to moan about the lack of interest, or I get so many submissions that it's impossible to not get overwhelmed, and sit on everything until I forget all about it. Basically, I took on an entire staff's worth of responsibility all on my own. I overachieved. From the beginning, my plans were too big, and I went in over my head. So it goes.

Among the many mini-projects I wanted to start and didn't, one of them was a send-up of celebrity magazines, using people from regional punk bands as the subjects, but "exposing" things about them that were clearly fabricated (I, of course, would have gotten express permission from them first).  This would not only serve as amusement for myself, the reader, and the victim, but also generate hype about the person's band. 

Another thing I wanted to do was expand the ill-fated "Dear Smokey" column to include several other people, including my alter-ego, Dan Degenerate, myself, and possibly my girlfriend. 

Yet another endeavor would have been a MySpaceTV or YouTube profile which would have had live performances and band interview footage from gigs I play or attend.  I'm aware that things like this already exist, but barely any from punk fans, and I can't think of any, off the top of my head, that are "Ohio-vania" based, covering strictly Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Akron, and Erie bands (Why?). 

I could list about 1,568 other ideas I had for Artless Nonculture, but I'll limit it only to those few, if for no other reason than the hope that maybe someone else will use one or more of them for their own websites, zines, etc.  If nothing else, I hope that I've inspired other people to start similiar projects of their own design and vision. 

I think the main problem is that there's no money to be made from something like this, and not everyone is as big a geek/shut-in as I am/was.  Think of me as the guy in the song "Flowers on the Wall" by the Statler Brothers, made popular by the movie Pulp Fiction, by one Mr. Quentin Tarantino, one of the many inspirations for eveything I do creatively: 

Countin' flowers on the wall, that don't bother me at all / Playin' solitaire 'til dawn, with a deck of 51 / Smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo / Now don't tell me I have nothin' to do...

Of course, instead of Captain Kangaroo it's Futurama, but you get the idea.

So, as I said before, I generally, at one point, had a ridiculous amount of time, and thus boredom, on my hands.  But that doesn't mean I should expect everyone else who shows interest in what I do to be the same way.

To wrap things up, I want to assure anyone who's interested that the site will remain up and running.  All content that's already been sent in will go up, and there's a few more reviews I need to write, and I'll still be on the message board frequently enough, but other than that, I think it's safe to say "the party's over", at least for now.  But who knows?  Maybe one day I'll get the urge again to badger people into joining me in my sarcastic, shit-talking ways.  And maybe if that time comes, it won't start to feel like such a chore.


Things I've learned in the past year, thanks to ANC:
1. It's really hard to rally people together for a cause.
2. Boredom really does inspire talent or, at least in my case, creativity.
3. For whatever reason, there is no surf rock scene based along the Erie coast.
4. The younger and more naive people are, the more they love Anti-Flag.
5. Ignorance is not, in fact, bliss.
6. Good all-ages shows do not exist in this area (yet).
7. Underground emo sucks just as bad as mainstream emo.
8. Punk rock is still alive and kicking, and in a major way.  Unfortunately, 90% of the people involved in the scene are in bands themselves.

There's probably more, but those are the main ones that come to mind.

Bands... Things that you should know, but probably don't:
1. It doesn't have to be at a bar to be a good show.
2. Competing with other bands for stardom will get you nowhere.
3. You don't need to work with promoters to play a lot of shows.
4. Teenagers do not deserve to see less live music than grown folk.
5. You should never have to pay to play.  It's not about the money, but don't take a loss if you can help it.
6. Going to see other bands play is an admirable thing to do.
7. The golden rule goes a long way, but justice is king.
8. Keep your expectations low, and you'll never be disappointed.
9. The recording industry is dead, so don't expect to make a load of money from CD sales.  Concentrate on playing more shows, and use your recordings as a way to draw more people to said shows.
10. Treat your friends well.  You owe them.
11. Generally speaking, "Battle of the Bands" is just another way of saying "Stupid, Competetive, and Self-indulgent Back-stab Fest".
12. If you want something done right, you have to Do It Yourself.


To everyone else... Some other fortune cookie-esque words of wisdom.  Take it or leave it:
1. Local and regional bands are just as good, if not better, than nationally or internationally known ones.
2. Go to as many shows as possible, and tell everyone you know about the really good ones.
3. Start street teams for your favorite bands, or even just discussion groups on networking sites.  Spend more time doing this for bands who don't have anything like this going for them yet.
4. You don't need to get a band's permission to make and/or ciculate flyers for them.
5. Find out who your favorite band's influences are, and listen to all of them.
6. Read about the history of your favorite types of music.  Find out where it came from.  Know your roots.
7. Never let anyone make you feel ashamed about what you are or where you came from.  This includes class, color, race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, where you live or whatever subculture(s) you identify with.  Take pride in yourself.
8. If you're able to take care of yourself, do it.  Your beliefs should never make you feel exempt from carrying your own weight.  Don't make excuses for your laziness, and don't expect anyone else to pick up the slack for you.
9. If you want anything in this world, you have to earn it.
10. Be honest, and never hurt anyone else for your own gain.


Thanks for reading.

--Sam Sinister, September 23, 2008

Click here for the Artless Nonculture Band Directory.



ARTLESS NONCULTURE is dedicated to the unification of all punk, Oi!, rockabilly/psycho, garage, surf, and ska bands (and things of that nature) from Clevo to the 'Burgh.
their fans, street teams, merch people, photographers, indie labels, graphic artists, piercers, and tattoo artists.

ARTLESS NONCULTURE WEBZINE will also help to promote:
fellow zinesters, scenesters, and promoters who aren't interested in ripping off or exploiting something the rest of us are so passionate about.

We will also give the time of day to:
Cartoonists, film makers, stand-up comedians, venues, festivals, and memorial sites to those of us who have fallen.

This is your scene. Wanna make something out of it? Stop yer bitchin'!! Put your two cents in. Hell, put five cents in. THE TIME IS NOW.

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Main Entry: art·less
Pronunciation: 'ärt-l&s
Function: adjective
1 : lacking art, knowledge, or skill : UNCULTURED
2 a : made without skill : CRUDE b : free from artificiality : NATURAL
3 : free from guile or craft : sincerely simple
synonym see NATURAL
- art·less·ly adverb
- art·less·ness noun

Main Entry: non-
Pronunciation: (')nän also "n&n or 'n&n before '-stressed syllable, "nän also "n&n before "-stressed or unstressed syllable; the variant with & is also to be understood at pronounced entries, though not shown
Function: prefix
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin non not, from Old Latin noenum, from ne- not + oinom, neuter of oinos one -- more at NO, ONE
1 : not : other than : reverse of : absence of
2 : of little or no consequence : unimportant : worthless
3 : lacking the usual especially positive characteristics of the thing specified <nonart>

Main Entry: 1cul·ture
Pronunciation: 'k&l-ch&r
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, cultivated land, cultivation, from Anglo-French, from Latin cultura, from cultus, past participle
2 : the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education
3 : expert care and training
4 a : enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training b : acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills
5 a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time <popular culture> c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization <a corporate culture focused on the bottom line> d : the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic <changing the culture of materialism will take time -- Peggy O'Mara>
6 : the act or process of cultivating living material (as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient media; also : a product of such cultivation

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