David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Do It Yourself, Education

Do It Yourself

• Many bands, including punk bands, are Do It Yourself. In her book Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot GRRRL Revolution, Sara Marcus explains, “DIY was a philosophy and a way of life, a touchstone that set its industrious adherents apart from the legions of Americans who passed their lives — as the punks saw it — trudging from TV set to first-run multiplex, from chain record store to commercial radio dial, treating art and culture as commodities to be consumed instead of vital forces to be struggled with and shaped, experimented with and created, breathed and lived.” An example of a Do-It-Yourself band was Bratmobile. Quite simply, Allison Wolfe, Molly Neuman, and Erin Smith met and started making music. Previously, Erin was interesting in being only a fan: “I had to be the best fan possible; it never occurred to me to be anything else.” But the three met and very quickly wrote a song together. Sara Marcus writes, “The thrill! It could happen! It didn’t even have to be hard! The universe was full of songs, just waiting for you to get some friends together and write them. And then you weren’t just a fan anymore; you were a member of the fellowship of people who made things.” Very quickly, they decided to play their song (“Stab”) in public at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey, where they had gone to see some bands, including Nation of Ulysses. The other bands were very supportive of Bratmobile. Erin remembers, “They were just like, ‘Of course you’re going to play our guitars.’” Bratmobile played their song, but in the middle of performing it they realized that they had forgotten to write an ending for it. Of course, the ending on stage resembled a crash landing, but no matter. Even if some of the non-creating members of the audience were wondering what Bratmobile was doing on stage, Bratmobile heard plenty of cheers from the people who were creators. Bratmobile practiced three more times, and they wrote five more songs, and then they recorded the songs. In DIY, things can happen fast.

 Education

• Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was known for his ignorance in general and his ignorance of the arts in particular — a fact that underground humorists used in jokes such as this: When he died, he went to the gates of Heaven, but St. Peter asked him for proof of identity. When Brezhnev asked how he could prove who he was, St. Peter gave a few examples: “If Pablo Picasso came, he could paint a picture. If Arthur Rubinstein came, he could play the piano. If Maria Callas came, she could sing.” Puzzled, Brezhnev asked, “Who are Picasso, Rubinstein, and Callas?” St. Peter laughed, then said, “Now I am sure who you are — you have got to be Brezhnev.

• What counts as a good education varies from culture to culture. The white American settlers once took some youths of the Six Nations and gave them an education, then returned them to the Native Americans. However, the Native Americans were dissatisfied because the youths knew nothing about hunting and trapping, or about making war. Therefore, the Native Americans approached the white settlers to say that if the whites should give them some youths to be educated, they would make sure the youths learned the important things in life.

• Zusia and Elimelekh were brothers and Hasidic masters. After they had become famous, they traveled to a certain town, where a rich man offered them lodging at his mansion. Zusia said to the rich man, “Previously, whenever we traveled to this town, we stayed with a poor farmer who offered us hospitality when you did not. Why do you now offer us hospitality? Is it because of our horses and carriages? Then invite our horses to stay at your mansion — we shall stay with the poor farmer.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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