Slingshots, Anyone? : Pimping the System

Like fluctuating social movements throughout history, tabling shows has its high points as well as its low points. One night, for example, I may find myself an anarcho-big-balla-shot-calla, rollin’ up to the club real smooth, surveying my whole punk domain and—like the god of Abraham resting on the Sabbath— observing it is indeed good; while the very next I am shuffling home to my flea-infested warehouse defeated and exhausted, my eyes burning from the smoke, my legs aching from the effort of pushing my book-laden Huffy all over town from punk show to crappy punk show, ready to throw in the proverbial towel, give up this fight and assimilate into a world of drinking beer, attending indie rock concerts, paying covers… Such extremes mark my existence in the Big Sleazy, I suppose. I am either drowning in despair— drowning like the fleas I pick off my sticky skin and submerge in the container of water by my bed— or I am on top of the world, nightly vanquishing my enemies and making new friends. But usually I just don’t get out that much, choosing instead to spend my nights alone in my room listening to lo-fi pop, eating junk food and lurking on the internet…

However, I managed to muster the motivation, shake off the cobwebs and collected dust and leave my hobbit hole for the White Colla Crimes show at Republic. Seriously, a Beastie Boys-esque “corporate” hip-hop troupe that raps about their office jobs? That’s got “gimmick” written all over it. What’ll the NOLA music scene come up with next, huh? An acoustic straightedge rockabilly band or something?! Uh…. Oh, wait… Well, I’d wanted to see this local act play for quite some time now, but somehow or another I missed them at every opportunity. Their CD lying around my kitchen had impressed me so much I could even excuse some of the cliché rap sexism. Because I, too, most of the time consider myself an “Unemployed G” and continue on my humble crusade of “Stickin’ It to the Man.” And the afternoon I found myself in a drug testing office when applying for a position as a substitute teacher—none other than the White Colla Crimes anthem “I Ain’t Pissin’ in that Cup” came to mind— and I don’t even do drugs!

Besides, tabling for the Iron Rail is almost akin to having a corporate job. Like my cubicle- bound counterparts, I also must sit behind my “desk” all night, piping catch phrases like a street pauper to draw in my clientele. But, you know, with “benefits” like getting into shows for free and watching bands every night, I do my duty to this struggling economy—one punk show at a time! “Working in the field,” as the corporate lingo goes…

Before I could head out to the show, however, I would need to swing by Marigny Street to pick up the distro. It was a Tuesday night, when the Iron Rail hosts their weekly free Movie Night after store hours. The scummy wastoid that I am, though, I loitered outside on the curb tapping my toe for the movie’s end so I could grab my selections and get on my way to “chillin’ in the CDB.” It dragged on forever. Finally, after an hour outside and succumbing to the fact that I would be late for the show anyway, I decided to go in and try to at least glean the gist of the movie. And the half-hour I actually watched turned out to be great! Serves me right! The movie was called Queimada starring the late Marlon Brando as a British corporate agent (i.e., economic hitman) who leads a slave rebellion on a Portugese island to secure a sugar company’s control of the territory. But his plan of overthrowing the former slave regime backfires when he must return to the island to restore order when the liberated rebels continue fighting the newly implemented British puppet government and sugar corporation whose interests it protects. The little bit I saw gave me the impression it was pretty awesome. Lesson number one: No gods, no masters. Lesson number two—don’t fuck up like I did. Go to the Tuesday Movie Nights at Iron Rail.

Once the movie ended I headed out on my pink steed to the CBD. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I could call to mind a certain incident—the only time I’d ever even been to Republic—where club personnel threw me out of the Conor Oberst show before it started for not having a ticket! But I’d bounced back: not more than twenty minutes after I’d been kicked to the curb I had my name on the guest list and was on my way back in! Take that! You may have won the battle, Republic, but you lost the war! You’ll never keep us down! Viva la raza!

Crate in hand, I promptly bypassed Republic’s doorman and made my way into the dimly lit room. Good thing. I didn’t want any altercation resulting in my having to let him know I was “packin’.” But I would if need be—whatever it takes… This “free show” business just keeps getting easier and easier, though. ANTIGRAVITY readers, I present to you a proposal: dare me to sneak into something. You name it, I’ll barge it— or at least try to. Who knows? Maybe “Slingshots, anyone?” can take on a different form; perhaps, if the dares present themselves, this column will morph into an ongoing chronicle of gatecrashing reports! I’m just putting it out there. Challenge me, readers— if you dare…

I ended up catching most of White Colla’s set, and that shit was off the chiz-ain! A crew of MCs in business attire rocked the mic, backed by a full electric band and a brass section consisting of ladies from The Local Skank! Given the setting of the show, with the big stage and “professional” PAs, I got way more into it than I expected to. Easily one of the best New Orleans shows I’ve been to in the last month or two (topped only recently by the Minneapolis three-piece Best Friends Forever’s show at the Circle Bar).

After the WCC set, well-dressed, beer-drinking Republic-ans rushed my table, offering me money and non-vegan birthday cake—the latter of which I politely declined. And by “politely declined,” I mean I gave a savage cry of “Vegan power!” and— summoning my dormant Cypress Hall disciplinary art—spin-kicked them all in the face! HA HA HA! But people interested in books for a change? I made sure to take advantage before the “novelty” had a chance to wear off. My initial thought: I should have brought more books. I sold three in under ten minutes. This was in sizable departure from last week’s Screaming Females show at The Big Top, where in three hours’ time I sold precisely nothing. Whatever. That band alone made the trip out worth it. Just imagine if the Yeah Yeah Yeahs actually wrote good songs, but with a bit more of a “garage” sound—and shredded! I decided I’d “support the scene” by leaving the table to watch them up front; after all, no one cared about the distro enough to steal from it anyway. Perhaps it’s a matter of “preaching to the converted,” but it seems like the only ones who pick up stuff at the all-ages DIY shows are my immediate friends who take pity on me and venture a “sympathy buy.” Thanks, guys. You’re a true friend, Tate. You too, Justin.

But now as the non-radicalized masses of the Republic descended upon me like a swarm of impressionable locusts, I realized I’d forgotten to bring flyers to distribute for the space. So much for promotion…Ah, forget it. Anyway, that’s what I have you all for! Ever heard of the term “viral advertising?” (See how many times you can count the phrase “Iron Rail” throughout…) One lone man, however, stood by, completely absorbed in what I was doing and asked a hundred questions. “Where is this place? What else do you use the space for? Are you socialists?” What are you— a cop?!

After giving this man the rundown on the shop, I looked over to where the birthday celebration was taking place, and—seated in a big plush chair like the young King Joash on his throne—sat the thirteen-year-old birthday boy! I bet they never carded him either! That’s right, my youthful friend. We’re in this together. Stay forever below the radar and above the “law!” I had to hand it to the kid: showered in treats, birthday wishes, even girls—gosh, I should have had my birthday party at Republic! Why do you think I bother tabling these shows, anyway? To promote radical ideas? Nope. Advertise for a community space? Try again! It’s the ladies. I do it all for the ladies…I mean, c’mon: a table full of heady, socio-political literature— can you say “chick magnet?”

Ah, well, another triumphant night. One where as I’m packing up I think to myself, “You know, I could very well do this every night.” Wait— scratch that. I already do! Once the show finished, I thanked the bartender for generously providing me with a table and peaced on out. Surely there were other ravishing parties this night highly demanding my guest appearance, but sometimes you just gotta play it cool and not show up. And after all, I needed to get to bed for a somewhat reasonable hour to garner my energy for the following night, when I would doubtlessly resume my marathon as the one-man Iron Rail Street Team— straight into an early retirement and its accompanying severance packages!