In your haste to declare The Nation out of touch with the “avant-garde” (City Desk, 10/15), you claim that my article in the magazine about political activism in punk rock arrives years late. Your selective interpretation of the piece ignores my reporting on the following organizing efforts:
* Positive Force’s work with Emmaus Services for the Aging to build the Arthur S. Flemming Center in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood. The community center will support independent art and nurture direct service to the area’s low-income residents. Many of these residents have been negatively impacted by the welfare bill signed by President Clinton in 1996.
* Broadscale mobilization by New York-based Mumia 911, bringing together artists of many media and genres across the country on Sept. 11, 1999, to raise public awareness about the immoral and haphazard application of the death penalty.
* Punk benefit concerts staged in various cities this past summer for Voices in the Wilderness, the humanitarian renegade organization smuggling medical supplies to Iraq to help stem the ongoing death and devastation brought on by the U.S. embargo.
* The development of Nuestra Casa—a cultural and political community center—by Latino punks in Chicago. Similar in spirit to D.C.’s Flemming Center, Nuestra Casa reflects the broadening of the political vision in punk rock. Furthermore, the effort by New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to defund the Brooklyn Museum, coupled with the Republicans’ whittling away of the NEA, underscores the need for these types of community-sponsored art programs.
Contrary to your assertions, these movements are firmly rooted in the political and economic distress of the Clinton era. These are just a few examples of the many strains of political activism in today’s underground rock. The deep cynicism implied by your decision not to mention these organizing efforts in your review of my article in The Nation is troubling.