“And I thought I wouldn’t find anything interesting at the mall today,” commented my old high school teacher, as he turned over a book in his hand. Only moments before had he unwittingly stumbled upon the ridiculous stage and my table of literature courtesy of the Iron Rail Book Collective set up nearby in the Lakeside Shopping Center. It’s always awkward explaining to people from high school what I’m “doing with my life.” Even more awkward sitting in the mall juxtaposed with a table full of radical propaganda. Well, sir…among other things, I do plenty of—well—this…
A plethora of titles espousing anti-capitalist ethics, smack dab in the middle of the Temple of Commerce—an act as blasphemous as cursing the Lord’s name during Mass. Yes, I was truly in the belly of Leviathan. Gun-toting cops hovered only feet away from those touchy “Know Your Rights” flyers, and the Macy’s clothing racks stood vulnerable, a few yards yonder of the anarchist magazine with blurbs about vandalizing said department store!
Soon enough, a minion of Hot Topic— the store sponsoring this event (local heartthrobs Further Reasoning were playing in the mall that day)— strolled over to my table, glaring. “How is this connected with the band?” she asked suspiciously. She gazed at the titles and didn’t seem too impressed. “What is this?”
”They’re books for a nonprofit.” I gave her the whole spiel, conveniently failing to mention my real, underlying purpose: preying on and attempting to radicalize her youthful customers! ”I wish someone would have told me,” she said, annoyed. “I’m supposed to know this stuff. You might be okay, but there’s a chance the manager will ask you to take it down.” Why, excuse me, missy, but I’m afraid you misunderstand. This is a sit- in—civil disobedience in defiance of your “free trade” regime and cashing in on “underground” subcultures. And we shall not be moved! For nothing you could sell us could ever quench our ungovernable desires! Obedient, goth consumers—break free! Don’t pitch your money to some corporation hoodwinking you into their slick marketing schemes! Give it to the Iron Rail instead!
As if this whole event weren’t embarrassing enough, the store went so far as to create a queue for the band to sign autographs inside the store after the “performance.” What the eff?! This infiltrating of subcultures by big corporations (cough, Scion, cough) is normally pretty disgusting, but in this instance—utterly laughable. Unfortunately, I couldn’t relish this “autograph signing” business for too long because indie-pop group The Peekers were playing at All-Ways Lounge later that night, a show which—in my scene monopoly on show tabling—I decided I must table! Gosh…it never stops. I finally understand what those mindless drones mean when they talk about being “swamped with work”…
This second show of the evening proved a lot more stimulating than Lakeside. Thanks to a write-up in ANTIGRAVITY, I’d heard about Shreveport’s own beloved songbirds known as The Peekers and couldn’t really justify missing them. See that, ye far-off editorial echelons of AG? Print’s Not Dead! A quick anecdote from this show: in between the crooning pop sets, one kid, as though taking a survey, asked me—”So, what kind of anarchist are you?” I must have given him a baffled look because he amended, “I mean, are you a left-wing anarchist or a right-wing anarchist?” Er…come again? We ended up talking through a large portion of The High Strung’s set—mostly him lecturing me on economic theory and monetary history. Economics, shmeconomics. I explained that I was the sort of anarchist against all money and all production…Wait just one sec—I gotta sell this book. That’ll be ten dollars, please. Thank you very much. Now, where was I? Oh, yes—an anarchist who doesn’t believe in placing some dollar amount on my time or labor (or anyone else’s). It’s like the riotous folk punx proclaim: if it ain’t cheap, it ain’t punk.
Which brings me to the following night: Outrage, The Effort and locals Reclaim Life at Nowe Miasto. In addition to running the Iron Rail table—which, surprisingly, some kids who ventured from the ’burbs of the Northshore seemed to find interesting—
I cooked stir-fry for the touring bands and tried to keep things copacetic with the neighbors. You know, just like that catchy Local H song from the ’90s. And led by the wise example of NOLA’s favorite punk doorman “Five Dolla” Justin, who was presently busy tuning his bass, I also collected money for the show. The grand turnout tally for this one was about seventeen, not counting the bands and their friends. I know this because I sequentially marked everyone who paid—exactly like my father Bryan Funck does for his shows. Of course, that’s not the only thing I’ve copied from my old man: as his protege, apparently I have also ripped off his witty-arrogant writing style, his “Ivy League” form of dress, and—last but certainly not least—his commitment to a clean and sober lifestyle. Like father like son…
I stressed out real hard about ending this show by ten sharp so I could make it to see Peaches at House of Blues. But thankfully, the music finished promptly at 9:30pm, and I had my complimentary ticket and place inside for Peaches a full thirty minutes before she went on. Truth is, I don’t even like Peaches all that much; I think I’m more drawn to the subversive nature of her lyrics and gender-bender “image.” Alas, because HOB are a bunch of ninny babies, I couldn’t distro this show and give her hipster fan demographic a further nudge in the direction of more radical anarcho-politics. I’d asked. Earlier that afternoon, Peaches’ tour manager, to whom I’d told moments before I was short on cash, confirmed that HOB indeed would not allow such a thing and would demand a cut of sales. More like, House of Booooes! Mr. Manager then asked for a piece of paper to write down my name for the guest list when I accidentally pulled from my pocket a large wad of bills I was delivering to the infoshop! “I thought you were short on cash…” Whoops!
Back at Nowe Miasto, as I presided over my tabling kingdom, my friend Hilary—former captain of the now-sunk Good Ship Crackerjack and current house-show sorceress of Witch Cunt—had given me a splendid idea, one that would nag at me all night. She told me jokingly, “Oh, you’ll probably end up backstage, sipping Shirley Temples with Peaches or something.” Mmmm…Well, that sounds like a dare if you ask me!
After Peaches schooled the crowd in her “teaches” through a thirty-minute set and four successive encores, the crowd began to dissipate back into the French Quarter to revel the rest of their Saturday night away. Lingering about, I noticed several individuals coming and going as they pleased through the door on stage left, by the bar. What gives them the right?! Well, it didn’t really seem like the security dude cared all that much. I went for it. “Hey, hey— you got a pass?” he asked as I pushed open the door. Rule one: Act like you belong. Rule No.2: Name drop. “I need to talk to Chris,” I said leaning toward the door as though in a hurry. “Chris— the Peaches tour manager,” I finished importantly. He thought for a second. “Okay.” Ha ha ha ha ha! As if! And yet here I was—backstage! A narrow corridor stretched before me, cluttered by a clothing rack filled with Peaches’ outfits (one a pink cape with “XXX” across the back; who knew this diva was straightedge?!). I acted natural, nodding to the hairdresser on my way to the boisterous Green Room. The blonde bombshell guitarist sat on a leopard print couch, and “Chris” stood toward the front of the room. Not wanting to be rude, I called from outside to make my presence known and thank the sympathetic tour manager for his favor. I was one step away from “partying with the band,” but rather than inviting me to hang out, he seemed eager to be rid of me! Well, I’m offended! In response to my sheer lack of respect for borders and rock-star hierarchy, in fact, the guy seemed even a little scared—nodding and vigorously pointing me down the hallway I’d just walked. Yesss—cower before me, for I am a gatecrasher! Think you’re safe on your tour bus or in your precious green room? Think again! Up the punx!
But the next night at Thou’s show at Saturn Bar—my third night in a row of tabling, might I add—I again had my chance. Because who should come through the door but 9th Ward’s own Quintron accompanied by Peaches and her nomadic road tribe! Good thing I didn’t steal her straightedge cape and wear it to the show like I’d planned! Running into her with it might have been awkward! The contrast between the HOB Peaches—in her elaborate costumes, the provocative rock-star persona—and the Peaches twenty-four hours later, just hanging out in a dank bar watching a metal band was a bit startling. Punk rock—the Great Equalizer. She even came up to our table to inquire about a CD from the opening!
Peaches and entourage, however, decided to draw the line on “supporting the scene” at local doom act Thou, before whose set they took their leave. As a matter of fact, it’s rumored that upon a request to sign an autograph, Peaches told Thou guitarist Matthew Thudium—a self-proclaimed, avid Peaches fan—to “lick her cha-cha” before making her high profile exit! Now, if she didn’t wanna stay to watch Thou, I can’t really blame her; their sound is mediocre at best and Black Sabbath penis-envy at worst. Besides, with all those heavy royalties trickling down from Southern Lord and corporate sponsors at Scion, those Thou characters are really beginning to fall off. Guess house shows and Earth First! benefits just aren’t where the money’s at, huh, guys? What’s next—autograph signings at the mall?! Green rooms and riders at “bigger” clubs?! Still and all, though: to stoop to obscenity and embarrass a sensitive young man—why, that’s just vulgar!
Well, there you have it, folks. In one short weekend my adventures took me from the pesky suburbs of Metairie all the way to the dregs of the Marigny; from the Middle City scum colonies to the pregnable corporate fortresses of Decatur Street; and finally, into the deepest pits of the 9th Ward to St. Claude’s favorite mead hall and metal haven. The conclusion: Five shows, three days, and one table to rule them all!