If you weren’t or aren’t a hardcore kid, this post isn’t going to make sense. Fair warning. There’s some good stuff up on the FDL flagship I can recommend. This is also pretty funny.

I think I mentioned earlier that I’m reading Brian Peterson’s oral history of 90s hardcore, Burning Fight. Back in October 2006 I saw American Hardcore and wrote something about how despite its brilliance and wonderment someone really needed to pick the story up at the end and explain what happened to hardcore in the 1990s. Brian answers the call. If this was you, do yourself a favor. I’ll probably write more when I’m done with the book, but for now, a dead-in-my-tracks moment.

So I had a friend named Greg Bennick — two hardcore kids who communicate more than twice in a substantive way are, definitionally, friends — who sang for Trial. Absolute guileless individual. Committed, passionate, shirt-off-his-back. Wish I still knew how to get in touch with him.

Anyhow, he’s quoted in the book at one point talking about a New York Times piece about straightedge that I haven’t read. Here goes:

For the most part, the scene wasn’t violent everywhere. An exception in the nineties was the scene in Salt Lake City: there, we saw an intersection of animal rights, gang violence, and straight edge. That is a difficult combination to navigate for anyone, and the result in Salt Lake was that violence was a huge part of what they experienced in their scene. The press picked up on the term straight edge, and due to the perceived association of violence with hardcore, they assumed that anyone who identified with that term was a violent, gang related, animal rights terrorist. The New York Times ran a story on the violent world of “straight edge” and it infuriated me. I remember calling the Times, and finally getting through to the correspondent who wrote the story. I talked to her for 30 minutes and re-educated her about what she’d written about so “expertly.” She admitted that her knowledge had been limited and that her job was to write what she could, based on what she knew at the time. I made sure to let her know that stories like hers, while they might sell papers, ultimately did more harm than good for the people involved in the music scene.

I don’t pretend to have known Greg well, but I can picture every minute of that conversation: Greg patiently waiting to have his call placed; his respectful but exasperated airing of grievances about the story; his attempt to give the reporter the benefit of every doubt; and above all, his earnest presumption that the reporter was even minutely interested in doing good for the people involved in the music scene. I also like the idea that the Times ran a piece about problems with the straightedge scene in Salt Lake City to sell newspapers. Greg, I love you, but I promise you that reporter was just trying as hard as she could to place a piece in the paper, and if anyone at the Times cared, they cared just-enough and not an iota more.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman