So politics has been on my mind a lot lately, and I’ve resisted out-and-out posting anything here, trying to stay fairly sane about the election. but I figured I’d put up a quick bit of history for anyone who actually reads this. My memory of a lot of this is a bit fuzzy, so nobody kill me if I get some details wrong.
I don’t really talk about it much, but back in high school, around sophomore year, I got pretty heavily involved with a youth activism zine named Brat. Brat was a surprisingly well-put-together organization, and we had a startlingly wide publication range (people in Canada were reading us). If you google my name, you’ll even find an article I wrote on behalf of Brat for LEO (the Louisville Eccentric Observer, or the equivalent of the LA Weekly). I did layout for them, helped get ads, wrote an article or two, even went to a few protests.
By far the most important thing Brat ever did was spearhead the establishment of a youth center in Louisville’s most artsy commercial neighborhood (the Kentucky equivalent of Melrose). The youth center was dubbed the Bardstown Road Youth Community Center, or the BRYCC House. This was important because Louisville, especially then, is insultingly dismissive of its youth. Kids had few places to hang out besides Pandemonium, an arcade/live music venue that was fairly short-lived. The only other youth center on Bardstown Road was run by a religious group, and handed out flyers that equated Islam with devil worship, and abortion with sin. It was also about as big as a closet.
The actual birth of the BRYCC House was quite difficult. With the help of alderman Bill Allison (the only politician I have ever liked — and I liked him enough to actually do re-election phone calls for his campaign), we were able to get money to start the project, but everything after that got complicated. For one thing, half the places we wanted to settle were fairly hostile to our presence. With more than one lease, we found ourself embroiled in bidding wars with neighborhood businesses who didn’t want us there.
Finally, we settled in an old theatre that had a huge stage, and started outfitting it for live music shows, radio broadcasts, and all manner of activities. We were pretty successful, and started pulling in some fairly big local acts. A lot of people started hanging out. However, the neighbors hated us, and repeatedly called the police repeatedly. Bullshit lawsuits, mounting neighborhood hostility, and rising bills (I recall the lease being switched around a bit) finally shut down the BRYCC House.
That broke my heart.
It happened while I was at college, so I only learned about it second-hand, but it was still like a knife in the gut. What I took from the whole experience, and what I’ve felt ever since, is that no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much success you have initially, nothing will ever change. That this world is fucked no matter what you do. That the older generations, in their dogma-soaked emotional shortsightedness, would hold onto control of things until the fucking day they died, and do their damndest to hold on even after that.
Then, tonight, I found that the BRYCC House came back.
…and you know, maybe things aren’t so fucked after all.