Yesterday I saw a new documentary about the Minutemen, a band who epitomized everything that was ever any good about American punk rock. Here they were, three working class guys who turned out to be Gramsci-style organic intellectuals, proseltyzing endlessly for a particpatory ethic (“there should be a band on every street and a club for them to play on every other street,” late guitarist D. Boon explained) and demonstrating through their open-ended abstract-to-the-point-of-haiku lyrics how political commitment isn’t about dogmatism and party loyalty but restless questioning and an eagerness to take positions and then continually revise them. What struck me most watching the film, though, was a comment one of the interviewees made about their songs: He noted how diaristic they were, how they would take a scrap of inspiration and transform it immediately into a finished scrap of song to share with the world, committing to it with total intensity for the moment that it’s fresh, and then moving on just as quickly to the next scrap of an idea, the next moment of inspiration. No song is meant to stand in isolation, but all are part of the “river” of songs bassist Mike Watt mentions, the ever expanding and multi-dimensional totality that made up their music’s message. This sounds to me like the Minutemen were proto-bloggers.
Blogging, of course, is DIY journalism and opinion making, a refusal to be passive in the face of current events. You want to participate in the conversation about ideas and you take your positions in public, serially, explaining them while they have a hold of you in as concise a form as you can, and then you move on, start somewhere else when the next idea takes hold of you.