I tried to think up a clever title for this one, and then I realized that those two words were enough. I wrote a paragraph-long introduction, then re-wrote a passage about punk ethics, staying core, and what it means to succeed without selling out, and then “select-All” “Delete“-d it.
Truth is that Ian Mackaye is a living legend. And (as you’re about to read) as much as he doesn’t understand why his existence is so significant to an entire industry and culture built on product and consumption-centric “lifestyle,” the truth is that his life and career have dramatically impacted not only my own but countless peers’, heroes’, and influences’ of mine (and probably yours).
One of my favorite Fugazi songs is “Merchandise” off of Repeater. The lyrics are poignantly relevant to our immediate surrounding culture, and serve as a reminder that in the end, there’s really more to it than the actual t-shirt or a pair of rare sneakers or what-have-you that you’ve been fiending for.
You are not what you own.
As ironic as it sounds, I thought it’d be interesting to actually put it on a t-shirt, so I sought Ian Mackaye’s blessing, although already knowing what his answer would be. He immediately responded to my inquiry, declaring that beyond music, he has never endorsed any merchandise. Which I already knew, but considering I just got an e-mail from the man himself, well that was worth it’s weight in gold.
Steven Vogel got much more than an email from Ian Mackaye recently. In fact, he had the opportunity to phone him for the better part of an hour. It’s a great read, and although I don’t necessarily agree with 100% of his opinions, I think Ian Mackaye has always offered a gentle extreme to gauge one’s values off of.