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May 15, 2005

Cruncy Cons and Punk Rock

I was happy to learn that Rod Dreher's book on crunchy conservatism is pretty well finished. Though my current living situation, to say nothing of my bourgeouis, Vanity Fair-inspired proclivities, prevents me from being a full-fledged cruncy con, I share many sympathies with the movement. My refrigerator full of organic milk and Bolthouse Farms juice can back that up. But I did give my Birkenstocks to my little brother.

One area of crunchy conservatism that finds some common ground with the Left is the matter of land use and urban development. We're concerned that our towns and cities will become one big strip mall. I spent yesterday cruising around my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, and I know of what I speak. Economic growth is a necessary thing, but heavens to Betsy - are we going to perish without that extra Blockbuster and Hallmark mini-mall? I doubt it very much. Here's hoping Dreher's book can kickstart a sensible conversation on the topic.

On a similar note, I've always found the urban-centered liberalism of the Washington, D.C. punk scene to be interesting. It's far less belligerent than what one hears from Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky, though both of those men would find a home in the Beltway. Fugazi is a band that always stood for left-wing causes, but in a rational, debatable manner that this right-winger could always appreciate. I'm pretty bummed that the band is effectively no more, but thank goodness for the Evens. The Evens are Ian Mackaye of the legendary Fugazi, Embrace and Minor Threat and Amy Farina of the Warmers. (Anyone know if she's related to Geoff Farina of Karate?) The sound of their debut self-titled album is Fugazi-lite, quiet and minimalistic, with a greater emphasis on jazzy instrumentation and quirky harmonies. There's nothing that a Fugazi fan like myself can't enjoy, while at the same time, there's a sense of growth in Mackaye's work, both lyrically and musically.

The lyrics, as one would expect, are often politicaly in nature, but there's never a feeling of unresolved cynicisms. Ian Mackaye doesn't snarl; he asks questions. And I'm pretty sure he's willing to talk about an answer. Thank goodness for bands like the Evens, who consistently push the envelope of what rock music can be, and what it can ask and what it can dare to conclude. I hope the Evens are planning to tour, though I won't be surprised if they don't. Fugazi toured less and less as the years wore on, and I am thankful for having seen them late in their career, still full of passion and energy.

Posted by Matt at May 15, 2005 04:13 PM

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You are aware that in addition to sandals Birkenstock makes some rather attractive shoes? Shoes entirely suitable for a corporate environment.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at May 15, 2005 07:47 PM

I don't want to start a debate on this subject, Stephen, but generally, at least in conservative circles, the wearing of Birkenstock's is considered a political declaration, no matter what they look like. Sort of like saying "Michael Moore is my hero", except smarter. For my own part, I cannot forsee a day on which I will ever put on a pair.

Posted by: Mark Sides at May 15, 2005 10:45 PM

In solidarity with Dreher's work, I fully endorse organic food, Birkenstocks, anti-circus protests and NPR.

Posted by: Matt at May 16, 2005 10:16 AM

Oh dear Lord, Matt, Birkenstocks? For shame.

Posted by: Mark Sides at May 16, 2005 11:04 AM

I don't own any Birks any longer, preferring Clarks and Rainbow Sandals. On girls, however, I still endorse the leather sandals.

Posted by: Matt at May 16, 2005 11:13 AM