It’s a topic of contention to some, but I hold that our fairly new ability to consume media in such a gluttonous way (i.e., Netflix, HULU, HBO Go, Spotify) is advantageous for a range of lifestyles. Whether overworked or unemployed, for anyone seeking to be entertained, the immediacy of access we enjoy in 2015 is one of the benefits of being a current-era-human.
Lately, I’ve been using this 21st century advantage to get caught up on the HBO mini-series Foo Fighters: Sonice Highway. To those unfamiliar, Sonic Highways follows multi-platinum rock band Foo Fighters as they traverse the U.S. in an effort to record an album that draws inspiration from each place they visit. Throughout the band’s travels, Foo founder Dave Grohl conducts interviews with influential artists from each city and asks some of them to contribute to the recordings underway. Though I don’t particularly care for the Foo’s music, I like the show. A lot of that has to do with Dave Grohl being a genuinely all-right-all-right-all-right kinda guy, but as a music fan, I’ve been drawn in by the personal narratives of the veterans of each city’s unique music scenes and the mind-numbing epistemological circuitry they weave.
On a personal level, Episode 2: Washington, D.C. perfectly illustrates the complexity — and importance – of attempting to draw thorough and direct lines of influence: Dave Grohl (whose current band was formed when I was 8) was the drummer for one of the most influential bands of my lifetime (and whose last album was released when I was 7) interviews some of his biggest hometown-influences, including the members of Rastafarian-hardcore band Bad Brains (formed 8 years before I was born) and Ian MacKaye, hardcore/straight edge founder of bands Minor Threat (disbanded 4 years before I was born) and Fugazi (formed when I was 2). Nearly four decades ago, these bands took a relatively blank canvas — the D.C. punk scene — and with a DIY ethos and fervent work ethic, created an unstoppable wave, the reverberations of which I, and those who love punk, are still influenced by today.
There’s a lot of talk these days about the current status of Jacksonville and the city’s potential. I’m certainly guilty of such talk (last week I alluded to it when I wrote that “Trends in urban renewal have illuminated Downtown Jacksonville, and surrounding neighborhoods, as a sort of blank canvas, ripe for creative restoration”). I’m not the only one talking this way. I’ve heard from restaurant owners, One Spark creators, entrepreneurs, and City Council veterans, and they all are ready to proclaim from the proverbial mountaintops that Jacksonville is ready. While I believe the city has her best days ahead, I also think it’s important that we recognize those who’ve laid the groundwork for such restoration to take hold.
This issue — Folio Weekly’s 28th anniversary issue — provides a great opportunity for reflection and learning. Progress always carries with it a hint of sadness, and many of the cultural institutions we’ve loved over the years didn’t weather the storms of changing trends, plummeting economic circumstances, or the mass exodus of artists once beloved. Because we should know that long before there was a Burro Bar, there was The Milk Bar, we asked some of our writers (and readers) to reflect on the Northeast Florida institutions that influenced them. And to toot our own horn (it’s our birthday, dammit) we asked former staff writer Tricia Booker to reflect on the early days of <>, and how the magazine came to find its voice in a city “tormented by racial divides, failing public schools, and growth strategies designed to rid the region of trees.” And, as sign posts for your journey down “memory lame,” we’ve sprinkled in some fun lists and graphics that are bound to kick your nostalgia into high gear.
In the genuinely weird city of Portland, Oregon, a sticker that read “Keep Portland Weird” was popular for a time. Here in Northeast Florida, a sticker that reads “Make Jax Weird” is being plastered on cars and shop windows with increasing frequency. Like many, I also believe weird to be closely synonymous with “cool” or “interesting” and, on a general level, I think Northeast Florida would benefit from embracing more weirdness. However, while reaching for our goal of “Making Jax Weird,” we would all benefit from looking to those who’ve been weird all along. Because what’s weirder than being weird in a place devoid of weirdness?