Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Posted by Anonymous |
I apologize in advance for beating y'all over the head with the Hardcore for Education organization so often in the past couple of months but I felt that it's founder, André-Tascha Lammé, would make for a good interview, so here we are. Enjoy. - Jake

What is Hardcore for Education and what is it's purpose?

I have a child in the public school system in Sacramento, California. With the current economic climate in this country (especially in California), schools are facing horrendous budget cuts. I have always been active in my community in some manner or other (usually within the political and citizen oversite realms). One of the ways I have been involved is with my son's school, Golden Empire Elementary School. Typical parent stuff such as helping with the annual pancake breakfast. The Principal of my son's school conned me into serving on the School Site Council. Under California's Education Code, each school is required to have a School Site Council and its statutory role is to set the goals and objectives of a school (especially as pertains to the meeting of the objectives set by state and federal law). As a part of this, the School Site Council manages certain budgetary items for the school it services. Over the past year, the Sacramento City Unified School District has repeatedly cut certain budget items targeted towards at-risk kids (such as funds for English Learners). Some budgetary line items received cuts in excess of 50%. After having to vote to cut some staff positions, I was constantly attempting to come up with various ways to obviate the budget cuts (e.g. I convinced some of my clients into donating monies to the school).

I credit the germination of the idea for Hardcore for Education to Dan O'Mahony (No For An Answer, 411, Carry Nation). I had built his website, SilenceLies.com, as a pro-bono gig. Feeling guilty (despite my admonitions), Dan wanted to ask Jordan Cooper at Revelation for any cool stuff that Rev had hanging around the warehouse and send to me as a form of payment. Over subsequent conversations with Dan (and Kevin Seconds and Aram Arslanian), the idea for Hardcore for Education came about: sell some t-shirts and auction off collectible items, such as vinyl, with the proceeds to go to Golden Empire Elementary School.

What kinds of items will be available for purchase at the Hardcore for Education eBay auction fundraiser scheduled in August?

Currently we have two methods we are utilizing to raise money for the school. We are selling two designs of shirts and hoodies (both created by Dan O'Mahony). On those the school makes only about $3.00 or so after paying for shipping and our t-shirt costs. The vehicle we are hoping shall generate the real funds is the auction we shall be holding on eBay (commencing on August 12). I had no problem leverage my friendships and name-dropping (Kev Seconds, Dan O'Mahony) like crazy to get folks to donate materials for the auction. Turns out that I did not really need to do that. The folks who have contributed have gladly done so - enthusiastically and generously. Revelation Records, REACT! Records and Smorgasbord Records donated various colored vinyl and test presses. Ken Salerno (noted hardcore photographer) donated some amazing framed photographs. Various bands (e.g. Mindset) have donated or are donating items and - as word has spread - we are getting unsolicted committments from others. Some folks (who shall remain namesless) have never responded to inquiries made by me and mutual associates. Those have been disappointments, but such is life.

On the HelpGoldenEmpire.com website, you mention how hearing the music of 7 Seconds and seeing them play got you hooked on hardcore. Being as how Stuck In The Past is a '90s hardcore webzine/blog, I was curious to know if you were into any '90s hardcore bands. If so, which one(s)? If not, why not?

I pretty much fell out of active participation in the hardcore scene around 1990. Part of the reason was just life, but part was that I had become disillusioned with the "I am harder than thou" thing that was growing in the scene. I pretty much hunkered down with my positive hardcore collection and stuck with it. Every once in awhile I would listen to something new (e.g. Kev Seconds recommended H2O to me), but for the most part I had come to ignore the scene. When my son and I went to see 7 Seconds play at the REACT! Records showcase earlier this year, my faith in the scene was rekindled. I am enthusiastically back in the scene again.

What do you think it is about hardcore that keeps middle aged folks like you and me interested in it?

I think the answer to that question really depends upon the individual. For me (whether it is listening to old or new stuff), it is the positive values of the scene and the ideals I am attempting to instill in my son. When folks who do not listen to the music hear it playing in my office, I invariably get the "that music sounds so angry". I look at it as more confrontational (in a good way) than angry. During Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign, I saw a few shirts that said "Just Say Fuck No". In all my efforts (political, community, work, etcetera), I have always believed in giving 150% and pushing HARD for beneficial results when I felt such was warranted. The music (and the energy in the scene) has definitely been a boost of energy for me in my own endeavors and being a dad, I love showing Julian that it is actually cooler to proclaim forcefully when things are fucked up, rather than fall into the same "all about me" mentality that he sees on TV or at school. Living in the city, he sees some pretty fucked up stuff (e.g. a neighbor whose family is falling into the morass of drugs and the resultant negative impact upon the kids).

Are you considering anything long term with regard to Hardcore for Education? If so, would you care to discuss?

For the time being, I am focusing on my son's school. I was hoping to raise approximately $10,000 for Golden Empire through the auction (that is about the amount the school needs to fully fund tutoring for at-risk kids). Although our donors have been extremely generous, there is only so much money that is available from fans collecting records and memorabilia. I have reached out to "bigger" bands and labels through various means (including third parties making introductions), but have not gotten anywhere. I find it somewhat humorous - in a sad sort of way - that folks who do not have a whole lot of money (comparatively) are the ones that are coming through for us, while those with greater resources are silent. With that (slightly negative attitude) stated, I have discussed with several folks the possibility of doing some benefit shows. I am still considering this idea and may pursue this in the fall. I would really love it if other folks would pick up on this concept for their own communities. People do not realize how cash strapped their neighborhood schools are. Schools are handed these regulatory, statutory and judicial requirements and mandates, but have to fight the school district administration for the funding necessary to meet these requirements. What gets lost as a result? Any type of enrichment: music, art, supplemental learning, field trips. Tutoring and other programs for at-risk kids frequently get short-changed as well.

There have been quite a few hardcore benefit shows in the past several years, some of which have included reunions of classic '80s and '90s hardcore bands. If you were to organize a Hardcore for Education benefit show, what band(s) would you most like to have play it and why?

Different bands for different reasons. 7 Seconds, as they are dear friends (and Steve and Troy know what it is like to raise kids and the issues surrounding the public education system). Definitely some of the late 80s/early 90s youth crew-ish bands (I have a bias for much of the east coast bands as I used to live in Connecticut) such as YOT, Judge, Bold, GB, Up Front, Token Entry, et. al. Would definitely love to have a couple of Ernie Perada's other ventures (Black Train Jack and Grey Area). My son's favorite is H2O. Julian's first hardcore show was seeing H2O and the Cro-Mags. He *still* talks about how he got to meet Toby and his son Maximus, and he visits Toby's site OneLifeOneChance.com at least three or four times a week. As I never got to see them when they were in existence, I would love to have Champion (currently vying with NOT SORRY for supremacy as the household's favorite). At the same time, I would want to maximize the level of benefit for the school (and meld in my personal musical tastes) and get bands like Social Distortion and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Fuck... I would take Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty (although I am not necessarily a fan of their music) if the result would be to improve the educational opportunities of at-risk kids.

You are a web designer by day and have designed, among others, Dan O'Mahony's political arts and opinion website Silence Lies. How exactly did you land that gig?

Tis actually a pretty funny story. We met via an online discussion on Kevin Seconds' Facebook page. Kev had posted something lambasting the SCOTUS' decision regarding federal campaign finance (you know, the one that had President Obama complaining about the Supreme Court decision in his State of the Union Address and Justice Alito's mouthed "not true" creating such a fuss). Dan and I and various others were going back on forth on the restriction of funding campaigns. Although we were on opposite sides of the issue, we hit it off as we could both respect each other's arguments. He mentioned that he was starting SilenceLies.com and being an old fan of his (and liking his thinking - even if I did not agree with all his premises), I offered to step up and build/host the website for him (as the fellow who was going to build the site was pretty busy at the time). He saw the other work I had done, liked it and said sure.

In addition to designing the Silence Lies website, you are also it's resident (and self-described) "bleeding heart libertarian" columnist. How would you describe a "bleeding heart libertarian"?

Actually, the term "bleeding heart libertarian" is a progression from what a blogger/syndicated columnist friend of mine (Amy Alkon) called me in her book "I See Rude People". When we first became friends, I was a Republican (and had been for approximately 20 years). I was (and still am) an idealist and an activist (not the march in the streets kind of guy, but the file California Public Records Act requests and sue egregious telemarketers kind of guy). She coined the term for me of "bleeding heart Republican". As a Republican, I always held strong libertarian beliefs. Keep the government (and others) out of my life as much as is humanly possible. A lot of folks equate the term "libertarian" with the Ron/Rand Pauls and some of the nutjobs that follow them. I suppose you would call me a "soft libertarian". I believe in regulatory oversight, but the implmentation of such is frequently so onerous (especially here in California), that all subjects of such regulation spent so much time on frequently useless tasks and are kept from their core competencies. For me, being a libertarian is generally opposing those concepts which restricts the rights of an individual to express their opinions, have gainful employment, receive needed services, etcetera.

Having spent two decades in politics (in political campaigns and working for the California State Assembly), I can assure you that politics is about sticking it to the other side, not necessarily what's best for the community. There are some exceptions to this. I have a friend who is a current Member of the California State Assembly and is currently seeking higher office. He is most assuredly in it for the right reasons and recently faced a major backlash that almost derailed his electoral career because he did what he felt was the best for the State of California and helped broker a deal with the Governor that raised some taxes.

The key to my libertarian beliefs lies in its root word: Liberty. The more that we snip here and clip there, the lesser our individual liberties. In practical terms, this means that both my liberal friends and my conservative friends think I am an idiot. That's fine with me!

If anyone reading this is interested in donating to Hardcore for Education, what should they do?

There are several ways that folks can help out.

1. Buy a T-shirt from HelpGoldenEmpire.com. 100% of the proceeds after printing/shipping costs goes to the school.

2. When the auction starts on August 12 on eBay, find something you like and bid on it.

3. If you are a band or a label or have memorabilia which you would like to donate for the auction, get in touch with us via HelpGoldenEmpire.com. Your donations are tax-deductible (for U.S. tax authorities).

4. If you are a parent, get involved in your own children's school. Unlike in the past, schools are more welcoming of parental involvement. In fact, public schools are statutorily required to facilitate parental engagement/involvement. I was skeptical at first, but I can assure all that the schools are quite receptive to parents wanting to take part. Heck, if my son's school Principal would allow some tattooed chucklehead like me to do something like Hardcore for Education.