Apologies for the radio silence of late, I’ve been in court. Not banged to rights but summoned to civic duty in the epic surroundings of Britain’s most famous court. It was a thoroughly draining yet incredible experience. Naturally the irony of getting a case steeped in grimey east London subculture was not lost on me. This much I now acutely know: crack fuck up lives. Heroin can cripple the very strongest men.
Bigup Chan for publicly elaborating on the unique predicaments of garage journalism. Speaking personally, one of the things that first appealed to me about writing for magazines about garage when I started in 2000 was the direct contact with the artists. The lack of bullshit PRs, fake sincerity and insipid marketing campaigns was a breath of fresh air. I felt, and still feel, you can actually make a difference, even if it does feel like you’re pissing into the wind most of the time.
Of course this freedom has downsides. Garage people simply don’t accept the liberal middle class ideology that criticism is healthy. It’s never healthy to them, it’s a direct and personal insult. And as you had to phone them to beg a dub (infinitely preferable to being choked by valueless promos), they unsurprisingly have your number - and aren’t afraid to use it.
Put simply if you think you write about garage haven’t had your first threat yet, you’ve not written about garage. It goes with the (rough and exciting) territory and I suspect no amount of liberal bleating to road mans about freedom of speech is going to stop it. I’ve come to accept it. OK make that suffer it. You just have to be careful who you cuss.
Keeping your head down is helpful. “If you don’t have anything positive to say don’t say it at all,” might be criticised as a weak ideological argument but it’s often an argument made by journalists living in cosy gated communities where the worst they have to risk is being removed from a mailing list.