Do you want to get national and international attention for your band/zine/DIY project? Want people to be able to hear your music even if they don't have access to your records, tapes or CDs? Have a message that you want to tell the world? Then put it on the internet.
I realize that sometimes in this column I come off as a cheerleader for the net. Well, in a way, I am. I see it as being a very useful resource for an individual or small group of people to publish or promote their message, to meet interesting people around the world that you wouldn't otherwise meet, and to find people with common interests.
The internet as a whole, and web publishing in particular, is the small press of the future. You can often put up a web site on the net for free, as it is included in the price of your subscription to an internet service provider. This site can contain music, graphics, video, writing, software, photos, illustrations, etc. that can be accessed by virtually anyone in the world who stumbles across it, or who you give the address to. In addition, this information can be updated daily, so it can be a constantly changing and evolving zine. Learning how to write web pages is easy, and it should only take you a day or two to learn the rudiments.
Of course the internet has its limitations as well. Near real-time communications lend themselves to misunderstandings, outright lies, and false accusations. Of course, it really isn't that much different than what happens in the letters section of any major fanzine, so it is punk as usual, I suppose. Music and video files are usually large and take forever to download from the net, so anyone accessing your songs have to have a bit of patience to hear your music. People also misrepresent themselves online, and you can get swindled. Of course, it is still punk as usual -- just flip back to the classified ads in this rag and take your chances there.
In my own case, I have utilized the net to find out about what was happening in cities I planned to visit, and maybe even hook up with some local punks to show me around town. I have also found couches to crash on, places for my band (HAGGIS) to play, and even gained some international distribution for our records by finding kids in other countries to trade with or consign to. I've also been fortunate to get HAGGIS on a couple of compilations thanks to people I have met on the net. And, of course, if it weren't for the internet, you wouldn't be reading this column, and there would be a big blank space on this page.
I also got e-mail from Peter Garmaz (email@example.com) in New Zealand in response to my request for personal stories on how the net has helped people in regards to punk. Peter told me that he has met a lot of cool people from around the world, and also has found out about a bunch of bands that otherwise he never would have heard of, since, according to him, the punk scene in NZ is so small.
I guess what I'm getting at is that the net isn't a panacea for punk rock, but it is just as useful of a tool as is an ad in a fanzine, or sending your records to radio stations, or writing to punks in other cities or countries as pen pals. It lets you network with punkers in other places, and just brings the scene that much closer together.
Okay, now onto this months web sites for you to check out. First off I wanted to mention a couple of sites dedicated to fighting racism and fascism both on and off the net. While some of these organizations seek to ban racist, fascist, or hate speech, these two seem to fight it by exposing the idiocy of it all. I don't agree with banning speech which I don't like or agree with, but I do agree with providing information to show people the stupidity behind certain ideas.
The Antifascist Web is based in the Netherlands, but they have a couple of mirror sites in the USA (a mirror site is a location that carries the same information as the originator, but is on a computer that may be closer (and thereby faster) to the person who is looking for that information). The Antifascist Web's stated goal is to help you "stay informed about the latest Antifascist actions throughout the world, read about [the] history of fascism and the Antifascist struggle. This site is an excellent primer on fascism, and a look at what has been and is being done to counter it. Check it out at http://huizen.dds.nl/~antifasc/ .
Another great site is the Anti Racist Action site put together by ARA Toronto. There are a number of links to other anti racist sites, as well as articles about racism, fascism, and anti-racist rallies. Definately worth your time to check out. It is at http://www.web.apc.org/~ara/ .
Well, the closing arguments in the suit against the Communications Decency Act happened May 10th, and apparently the presiding judges showed great sceptism about the states case for keeping the CDA in place. I should have more information on their decision by next issue, and I will keep you informed about it. In the meantime, check out The Senator Jim Exon Memorial Webpage to keep you entertained and titillated until we find out what is and isn't legal. A word of warning, don't surf this page in the presence of prudes, republicans, or the Christian right, or you might find yourself in a bit of hot water. Make sure no one is looking over your shoulder, and head to http://www.tcp.com/~prime8/Orbit/Exon/ .
For those of you who are into getting inked, burned, or pierced (and really, who isn't?) the Body Modification E-zine (http://www.io.org/~bme/) is the place to be. The BME covers everything you ever wanted to know about body modification, with information, interviews, book reviews, the history of, and pictures(!) of piercing, tattooing, scars and brands, and ritual body modification. It is a very interesting place to browse, whether you are just curious, or a hardcore practitioner.
A new electronic version of a favorite old zine has finally popped up on the web. Jersey Beat is now available online. Jim Testa has started putting up some of the writing from his zine, as well as samples of reviews, scene gossip, links, back issues, ad rates, and a chance to win a Jersey Beat t-shirt. This is a great start, and can only get better by the time you read this. You'll find the electronic JB at http://home.earthlink.net/~jimjbeat/ .
One aspect of the internet I have failed to mention is FTP, or File Transfer Protocol. FTP is basically a way to get files and software from the net, if you log into an FTP directory and know what you're looking for. In addition, most of the newest web browsers will let you visit ftp sites and download files, if you put the correct information in the URL window.
The reason I bring this up is because Burkhard Jaerisch of FLEX magazine has put together an punk discography of thousands of punk releases, and made them available online as a text file. In order to read this file, you will need the pkunzip program to un-archive it, so if you don't know how to do that, find someone who does. Once you have the file, just load it into your word processor and look up your favorite bands. The Flexbook can be found at ftp://mirrors.aol.com/pub/music/lists/flex/flexbook.zip . Just put that information in the location window of your web browser, and choose 'save' when the program asks you. Happy reading.
If you're interested in more music related links, here are a couple more for you to check out. JETT features links and info about Queer Punk music, as well as bands like Tribe 8, Bikini Kill, Third Sex, and more. Check JETT out at http://www.jett.com/jett.html , though I wish the page was a bit more extensive, and updated a bit more often.
For those of you with a slightly different taste in noise, there is the Punk-Ska-Skins Fun and Games Page located at http://www.skidmore.edu/~brunning/punk.html . You'll find a good selection of links related to ska stuff here, a few punk links, and not much else. It's good for the ska related stuff though, so take time to look at it.
Well, that's all I have time for now. Of course, I can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can check out web versions of these columns at http://www.primenet.com/~hanford/maximum.html and, of course, real letters and the like are always appreciated at PO Box 752; Boise, ID 83701. See you next month.
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