Sound Strike Responds To One-Sided Salon.com Article (w/Update)

zackie.jpg
Zack's been coming to AZ long before 1070 was an issue

When I read the recent Salon.com article "How a boycott meant to save Arizona is hurting it," I wondered to myself how its author, a woman by the name of Drew Grant, ended up writing such an insipid, one-sided piece about the Sound Strike, a piece that's essentially a Q & A with Rialto-general manager Curtis McCrary of Tucson.

Then I read Grant's bio on Salon:

"Drew Grant is a pop culture consumer and producer with a specialty in fan fiction. She majored in comic books at Oberlin College, where she once taught a class on `Twin Peaks' a decade after the show ended....She lives in Brooklyn and hopes to one day buy her own TV."

Say no more. 

Music fans are suffering according to Grant and McCrary. Well, bestill my aching liver. The pair should explain their alt-music angst to the Hispanic families that have fled Arizona because of Senate Bill 1070, or the kids whose parents don't come home at night because they were caught up in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's anti-immigrant raids and sweeps. And then there are those who've suffered severe injury at the hands of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Surely those who die of thirst crossing the Sonoran Desert will feel the agony of all those iPod-bearers who won't be able to see their fave indie acts while sipping on a delicious micro-brew. 

Maybe the immigrant woman whose arm was broken while in MCSO custody will shed a tear for them. The undocumented lady who got her jaw busted during one of Arpaio's operations? Perhaps she could do a fundraiser for these lame-sters.

Sorry, I have little patience with all this petulant kvetching coming from folks whose main dilemma in life is figuring out which to do first: download a Kings of Leon album, or catch the latest gossip on the FB.

A couple of days ago, I wrote a blog post, pointing out why the boycott (including Sound Strike) has worked, detailing the good deeds Zack de la Rocha and Sound Strike have done here in Sand Land, both before and after 1070 became law.

So I'm not going to rehash all that here.

Rather, I'm going to direct you to Sound Strike's project manager Javier Gonzalez's rebuttal in Salon to the Grant piece. Gonzalez points out, much as I did in my recent post, that Sound Strike has been an important part of the boycott, which has enjoyed some recent victories. He also mentions the positive things the Sound Strike has done for immigrants and poor families here in Sand Land.

Gonzalez writes:

In December of last year Zack de la Rocha and Girl in a Coma participated in a toy and food drive across the state. Over 40 tons of food and 2,000 toys were donated, and Girl in a Coma performed a free show in Phoenix. Just recently, Sound Strike artists Ozomatli performed at a benefit show organized by Jackson Browne for the victims of the January shooting in Tucson where six people were killed and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was almost killed. Tigres del Norte are playing a free show at the Pima County Fair this Saturday to promote activism and voter registration. Conor Oberst did a benefit show in Nebraska to fight a similar hate bill.

In July of last year Conor Oberst and Rage Against the Machine did a benefit show in Los Angeles in which over $300,000 was raised and donated. Since then many artists have donated time, money and lent their voice to the cause of immigrant justice. Since the Sound Strike launch, close to four million people have visited our website and over 4,000 articles regarding the stance artists were taking have been published in print or online.

In fact, Gonzalez tells me that the more the haters whine and blog and Tweet, the more support rolls in for the Sound Strike. I can believe it, as these pathetic, twaddling attacks on the boycott have an emetic effect.

Gonzalez also makes an important point about those wishing to hold benefit concerts in Arizona while honoring the spirit of the boycott.

"Anyone is welcome to promote benefit shows or free shows to raise awareness and needed funds for local groups," writes Gonzalez. "To their credit, many have. We hope to engage in sincere offers. If not, we are in discussions with several acts for a fall show. In the meantime, on behalf of the Sounds Strike we repeat a line that our critics conveniently leave out: This is a boycott of COMMERCIAL shows in Arizona."

A boycott is a time-honored tactic in the history of social-justice movements. There were the boycotts during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The Cesar Chavez-led boycott against California grapes. The divestment movement against the apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1980s. And the successful boycott of Arizona in the early 1990s over no-holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr.

A "strike," a "boycott" of an employer or employers by workers, is older still.

When the history of this time is recalled, Sound Strike will be written about as part of a larger movement that was ultimately triumphant.

The complainers, the fault-finders, the quibblers? They will be noted as being on the wrong side of history. Apparently, it really burns them up.

One last comment, McCrary's contention that the Sound Strike is responsible for the ascension of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to power reveals the well of ignorance we're dealing with here. Why not blame Zack de la Rocha for Arizona's arid climate, or the fact it's a red state and the sun came up this morning?

The more McCrary pouts, throws stones, bemoans his fate and blames Sound Strike for everything but his failure to hit Lotto, the less sympathy I have for the struggles of the Rialto, which are nothing by comparison to struggles of the undocumented in this state.

Postscript: Had a frank discussion with Mr. McCrary after I got off deadline for the day. We disagree on several points, but, if he's sincere, there may be grounds for some sort of an agreement between him and Sound Strike. McCrary and Gonzalez will have to hammer it out. Or not, as the case may be.

I'd hate to see a place like the Rialto go under. That would be a shame. However, as I've stated before, and I'll state it here again, 1070 was the symptom, not the disease. The war on ethnic studies, Russell Pearce, the feds' Operation Streamline, etc., are all part and parcel of the sickness of nativism that has laid waste to Arizona.

Playing doctor, there have been encouraging signs in the patient of late. But the cancer is not in remission, and I'd like to see the chemo continue full blast until it is.

Here's hoping McCrary and Gonzalez can smoke the peace pipe. But if they do not, I will continue to support the people who are speaking out against injustice and helping Arizona's immigrants, whoever they may be.

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42 comments
Dan
Dan

So the PROBLEM is that an entire class of people (hispanics in AZ to be exact) are being penalized to get at a few (you know, the actual criminals, cartel members and so on).

The brilliant SOLUTION is to penalize an entire class of people (entrepreneurs and music fans in AZ to be exact) in order to get at a few (the jingoistic racists who keep pushing that agenda).

Of course, the cartel guys aren't the ones Arpaio is hitting, and the racists aren't the ones getting nailed by the boycott either. The hypocrisy of this situation is staggering.

Add in that all of these guys are ignoring the same legislation that's been in effect in California for WAY longer (but you know, the weather is nice there, and who wants to sell of a Malibu mansion in THIS market?), and these guys are actually worse than Arpaio. At least he's honest about being an asshole.

Apointtoprove178
Apointtoprove178

Steve, you were pretty well on the mark before acquiescing to McCrary. That must have been some phone call/brow beating he doled out. It saddens me deeply that you were so easily swayed by his propaganda.

There has been almost no mention of how those directly effected by SB 1070 ( Latino/Hispanic/people of color) feel about Sound Strike or other boycotts, but they are precisely the people we should be looking to for an answer to the question of whether or not this is an action that should be supported. Instead, we have to hear about how concert promoters and fans feel like they are getting slighted. It's really kind of gross. If the Rialto et al were truly concerned about other matters besides their bottom line, then why have we only heard from them at the very beginning of the conflict, and now, when an artist has cancelled a show during what looks to be a slow month for the RIalto? Why, when things were a little quieter overall, wasn't the Rialto still promoting shows that benefitted organizations who fight this kind of oppression? The fact that McCrary has something to lose financially gives his argument few teeth.

Further, I find it hard to take seriously someone so wishy washy. In his own words, as part of a letter to Cypress HIll, McCrary said:

Let me express my general agreement with the idea of boycotting a state that would pass such a law, both as an objection to such an anti-human-rights piece of legislation and as a means of applying pressure that might prevent the law from taking effect or cause it to be rescinded it if it does take effect, as planned, in July. A boycott from high-profile Hispanic artists such as yourselves sends a very strong message that this hateful legislation should not be tolerated by any respectable society.

So, either he clearly understands how a boycott works, or he was just blowing some smoke.

Boycotts work, and this includes Sound Strike's, whose intended goal may not be a financial one. By simply calling an awareness to the fact, they have succeeded. Calls for artists to participate in benefits and to raise awareness within the state are naive, as most people who live in Arizona already know the issues, and know which side of the fence they are on. And, let's face it, there has been such a glut of " benefit shows" for the last several years, that they just don't have the impact they once did. Honestly, the more people like McCrary publicly decry the Sound Strikers, the more attention he gives them. If those who opposed Sound Strike ignored them and went about their business, less attention would be paid, and thus less legitimacy. If the Sound Strike wasn't working, then people like McCrary wouldn't be worried.

ZachHenry
ZachHenry

Why shouldn't we hear about how the fans and promoters feel slighted? Who else would Sound Strike possibly slight, if not fans and promoters? Let's ask Russell Pearce how Sound Strike has thrown a wrench into his daily life.

The local music industry are not the people who voted in Pearce and Brewer, or the people that supported SB10, and the music industry is pretty far tangent to the legislature and immigration reform. If Sound Strike artists want to help, why don't they come here and actually DO something? They are acting like the schoolchild who takes his ball and goes home after losing the game.

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

McCrary plead his case. That's about it. I know he and the Sound Strike have been communicating. I hope they can come to some accord. If not, I'll still support the Sound Strike.

Well?
Well?

To ExpertShot (couldn't log in to reply to your comment appropriately)- So your theory is that there is only 1 possible solution? If this is the case, then why wouldn't organizations like The Sound Strike try and educate people as to why this solution would work instead of using this as a "wedge issue" to promote distrust among people? If you believe the number of undocumented immigrants is out of hand and something needs to be done, then you're labeled a racist, or if you believe that people should be granted citizenship then you are unpatriotic, if you are an undocumented immigrant you are labeled a lazy criminal. The problem with this issue is that everyone is looking to blame someone else & I hate to burst your bubble, but the politicians are not the one's to blame. We as people are to blame. People are selfish and look at issues only questioning "how will this effect me". For every horrible story listed in this blog, there is an equal story from the opposite view point such as people being murdered or beaten by a person that happened to be an undocumented immigrant. It's stupid to believe that every law enforcement agent or politician in this state is racist. Just as it's stupid to believe that every undocumented immigrant is on welfare or selling drugs. Both sides are taking a short cut to thinking in their handling of this issue. They find the most horrifying story about the other side and then write articles about it & post it all over television to prove that their opinion is correct and promote hate for the opposing viewpoint. Are there racists in Arizona? Definitely... Are they all white? Absolutely not... I'm a white guy that grew up in South Phoenix... I've seen racism and it doesn't have a specific color or job title.

STEVE SUMMERS
STEVE SUMMERS

Wow!!! Huge list of issues that WOULD NOT HAVE EVEN HAPPENED if the illegals hadn't even been here!!!

ragin
ragin

keep up the soundstrike, don't let up. Just like the bp didn't let up beating a poor immigrant, just like arpiehole didn't let up on seperating families.

Well?
Well?

In my opinion, The Sound Strike and articles like this one are an example of the real issue in the US. Too many people are eager to protest and complain without presenting a valid solution to the issue. So, tell us, what is the solution to the immigration issue? How do we as a country deal with the massive amounts of undocumented immigrants entering this country? I have friends that own small businesses in the construction industry that are close to going out of business due to the fact they are continually underbid by companies that use undocumented workers and pay them under the table at less than minimum wage. So is it ok to pay those workers far less and take advantage of their undocumented status? Or should the businesses that try to pay reasonable wages be forced out of business so they are not able to feed their families? How is either solution reasonable? The typical answer I've heard is that it's the fault of the business that hires the undocumented workers. So going with that, is it fair that these undocumented immigrants can't get a job to make a better life for their families? No matter the solution, someone gets a raw deal and there are those that will say every possible answer has a racial bias. So how do you solve the issue? Who's opinion do you disregard? The Sound Strike and SB1070 are both examples of racism in our country. Both prey on the fear of a specific culture/race to move forward their own agenda and neither look at a full picture of equality for all people. Maybe both sides should stop bitching and blaming "the white man" or "illegal aliens" for the issues and look to promote a solution with the understanding that no matter the outcome, someone will feel the outcome is unfair. At least at that point we can move on without all of the petty grandstanding and name calling.

and by the way, many of those "folks whose main dilemma in life is figuring out which to do first: download a Kings of Leon album, or catch the latest gossip on the FB." are the reason these artists have a platform to speak or people like yourself have a media outlet to write your opinion. I was at Coachella in 2008 when Rage played and I am guessing that a lot of the people you are generalizing about were there too. I'm sure Zack got paid more than us normal folks will make in multiple years, so he should be grateful to them as well.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

The solution was there with the comprehensive immigration reform bill proposed by John McCain and John Kerry - it was opposed by republicants who use this matter as a wedge issue to separate U.S. voters from each other based on a fear of brown-skinned immigrants from South of our border - Just like politicians have done with the germans, irish, jews and so many other ethnic groups.

It's a shame that we buy into it - I won't - I'm boycotting Arizona until these sandbillies stop trying to blame the immigrant and start blaming their politicians who stand in the way of comprehensive immigration reform.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Please, Mr. De la Rocha, make it stop!

I know that death in the desert and indefinite detention and vigilantes and breaking up families are bad things, but PLEASE, oh PLEASE don't do anything that would interfere with our alt-music scene or its "venues," THAT is just too inhumane to contemplate!

After all, all of that misery inflicted on the brown is bad, but it can't really outweigh a slight inconvenience to a small handful of privileged, whiny white pussies in rock and roll tee shirts, right?

Remember, we're your allies, as long as it doesn't cost us anything, inconvenience us in any way or require us to take action.

ZachHenry
ZachHenry

Come on, Stephen. The music strike is infantile. Meaningless. It is going to have zero effect on Pearce, Brewer, or any of the voters that support their shenanigans. It isn't going to help the woman who had her arm broken, or any of the other victims you mention above. It will only hurt music fans and venues, people who should be presumed as allies in the cause. Why not come here and play shows, and try to rally people against SB1070? I don't have any respect for Sound Strike's childish tantrum, and I'm sorry to see you've bought into it.

JohnnyUtah
JohnnyUtah

Fact:

The ONLY people these Sound Strike bands are hurting their tiny handful of fans. That's it. They are punishing the only people in the state who give a fuck what they have to say.

No one else cares.

No one, least of all the people in State government.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Fact:

Prefacing bullshit with the word "Fact" doesn't make it fact.

The nature of boycotts is that they are mass actions dependent on a cumulative effect. You can easily pick out any individual participant in a boycott and say "I don't think what he is doing is making a difference" but by doing so, you miss the point, which is, it is many people making small and perhaps even insignificant efforts that taken together have a powerful effect.

So if you oppose SB1070, STFU and get with the boycott!

Native Guns
Native Guns

Feathered Bastard why is this news? Why bother with this arcane subject and "Salon.com"? Who the fuck reads that btw? Where's all the cool stuff you used to report on? I was hoping you'd be the first to report on Shurf Joe Ar-Pie-Hole's goons who beat down a brave man for raising up the U.S. Constitutional document in the air while screaming the truth, at a recent Tea Pottier event.

Don't burn out just yet Feathered Bastard. The community needs you.

shocked
shocked

Si senor. Where is the coverage of that man. DId anyone talk to him on your staff?

jefstr
jefstr

i'm sort of happy that mlk didn't give his speeches or do the protests in minnesota, or on the moon, or somewhere else. he took it to the south, where it was going on! do that sound strike!

Slow Down
Slow Down

so I read "Why not blame Zack de la Rocha for Arizona's arid climate"

I think I will. FIX THE TEMPERATURE ZACK!

There. I feel better now.

linbb
linbb

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Curtis McCrary
Curtis McCrary

Stephen, you clearly don't have much of a clue as to what you're talking about. If you were actually a journalist, you could have picked up the phone and talked to me about it. Not sure why you are so angry at me, or why you conclude that the article as presented in Salon is an accurate representation of the problem and how I (and we at the Rialto) feel about it.

Here's a pertinent fact: I am not the "owner" of the Rialto Theatre. I am the General Manager of the operation, as was stated in the Salon article. The Rialto is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and we've repeatedly expressed our willingness to host benefits and donate proceeds to those fighting SB1070 and similar legislation, including the Sound Strike. We have yet to be taken up on that offer, nor have they ever answered the question of what they would have us do... now it seems the party line is that any shows that are to have their blessing must be "non-commercial" in nature. Ok great, where do we sign up to do those? They have yet to say what they mean by that, precisely.

You've taken a stand that seems misguided to me, based on what you view as the efficacy of the Sound Strike boycott. I am of the opinion that the Sound Strike has had absolutely no impact on those writing hateful legislation, and has gone completely unfelt by the larger business community. I'm proposing to try other means, both out of self-interest (we don't want to keep losing shows, obviously enough) but also because what they are doing is not having the impact they are claiming. I agree that the loss of convention business and the larger boycott is having an effect, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the Sound Strike.

So are you a mensch, or are you a petty sniper, venting your spleen at someone you don't know who merely expressed an opinion about a very complex and problematic circumstance? If it's the former, why don't you give me a call? The Rialto's phone number can be found easily via Google. If I don't hear from you, I may just give you a call and see if I can't give you a little more perspective on the matter.

JohnnyUtah
JohnnyUtah

" I am of the opinion that the Sound Strike has had absolutely no impact on those writing hateful legislation, and has gone completely unfelt by the larger business community"

"I agree that the loss of convention business and the larger boycott is having an effect, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the Sound Strike."

Of course.

In other news 2+2= 4

Shocked
Shocked

Johnny your right. I can't understand why people think that the Sound Strike boycott has any impact. You'd think those musicians were down here on the front line getting people registered to vote and working on the the recalls for Brewer and Pearce. The truth is the list of musicians of SS's rarely ever came to Arizona so what's the impact. Zach played here? When? He and Morello have performed here how many times in the last 20 years? Counting them opening for someone and an improv performance at a local community center, maybe 4 times. The donations at Christmas for the displaced was awesome, that they have to repeat it with every press release reeks of self promotion and image making.The impacts of the boycott that the AZ Chamber of Commerce addressed in their letter to the States lawmakers had little of anything to do with a handful of musicians who rarely came to Arizona in the first place. This all stinks of self promoting performers, who have lost their 15 minutes of fame and relevance, jumping on a cause to promote themselves and create an image of rebel activist to a new generation of kids who think political activism means jumping up and down shaking your fist at a concert and buying a RATM t-shirt. Zach has become the Machine now. New Times is sucking up for back stage passes. Disgusting story.

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

Duly noted, you're the GM, not the owner. Thanks for the comment, I've made the correction. I'll be happy to buzz you once I'm off deadline. However, I would note that your side of the equation was spotlighted on Salon, and you've given a nice version of it here as well.

Ragin
Ragin

great piece stephen...I can't wait to hear what Zack will say at the RATM concert in LA.

turnthisthinup
turnthisthinup

you focused too much on the stupid shit they said in the article (i.e. hurting music fans) and entirely missed the part were they could've better spent time time activating voters before the last election. some of those were real close. i've seen various respected local promoters try to organize benefit concerts and voter rallys with artists boycotting, and they ignored the requests. I'd also be curious to know the organization that the food & toy drive was for. i'm guessing the results were more from a much larger effort and not just because de la rocha was volunteered for a day or so.

PeaceWalker
PeaceWalker

Zack&SoundStrike donated ALL of the food and toys for the Posada what Puente put on. they held in on supervisor Wilcox's property. there's a video on the soundstrike page.

I make tamales
I make tamales

So you hold similar criticism for Martin Cizmar? When Salon.com is criticizing your left of center political action, you're doing it wrong.

Steve-CenPho
Steve-CenPho

I think the point to be made here is the artists have a chance to inspire people who listen to their music and to change their thinking. Case in point...Win B. of Arcade Fire probably made a huge impression on the audience when he said very politely that he would never have met his wife and co-musician regine if the US had not allowed immigrants so he hoped they still let people come here.

Why don't they come here and help us on the ground? Why don't they come educate people about what good immigration policy would look like? It seems to me nobody has any good ideas about what to do about this problem. I'm so sick of everybody pointing fingers or saying just round 'em up and ship 'em out. We need real solutions not a bunch of pompous blow hards who are doing nothing on either side of the issue to find solutions.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Yes, if only RATM and Steve Earle would come here and change the thinking of their many East Mesa Mormon neo-nazi nativist listeners, (and there may be as many as three of them) it would surely turn Arizona around.

Nah, no it wouldn't. Stick with the boycott.

IHeartZach
IHeartZach

Dude, your bizarre, pandering, dogmatic ideas about social activism have reached a tipping point. Look to your coworker Martin Cizmar for a saner, more relevant take on Sound Strike. Honestly, so sick of your carpetbagging, De La Rosa-arse-kissing anti-AZ bullshit.

PeaceWalker
PeaceWalker

from wikipedia:

"In United States history, "carpetbaggers" was a pejorative term Southerners gave to Northerners (also referred to as Yankees) who moved to the South during the Reconstruction era, between 1865 and 1877.The term referred to the observation that these newcomers tended to carry "carpet bags," a common form of luggage at the time (sturdy and made from recycled carpet). It was used as a derogatory term, suggesting opportunism and exploitation by the outsiders. The relocated northerners often formed alliances with freed slaves and southern whites who were Republicans, who were nicknamed scalawags. Together they are said to have politically manipulated and controlled former Confederate states for varying periods for their own financial and power gains. In sum, carpetbaggers were seen as insidious Northern outsiders with questionable objectives meddling in local politics, buying up plantations at fire-sale prices and taking advantage of Southerners. Carpetbagger is not to be confused with copperhead, which is a term given to a person from the North who sympathized with the Southern claim of right to Secession.The term carpetbaggers was also used to describe the white Northern Republican political appointees who came South, arriving with their travel carpetbags. Southerners considered them ready to loot and plunder the defeated South.[1]In modern usage in the U.S., the term is sometimes used derisively to refer to a politician who runs for public office in an area where he or she does not have deep community ties, or has lived only for a short time. In the United Kingdom, the term was adopted to refer informally to those who join a mutual organization, such as a building society, in order to force it to demutualize, that is, to convert into a joint stock company, solely for personal financial gain."

versus carpwetbaggers or confederates, i'll takeb the carpetbaggers

Curious Bystander
Curious Bystander

Is there any proof that the actual Sound Strike boycott has had any positive effects, aside from the people involved simply telling you it has? The previous article listed the money that has been donated by the artists through various benefits concerts as aiding the cause, but these artists could still raise money for the local groups in Arizona without avoiding the state altogether. In fact, don't you think they might raise even more by playing for the people that are directly impacted by the legislation they oppose? The boycott by a handful of touring music groups is going to have almost no effect whatsoever, other than to hurt the venues they would have played at. But that apparently doesn't stop them from patting themselves on the back regardless..

XSoldier
XSoldier

I have no idea who Zack de la Rocha is, nor do I care.

If the politicians became like boa constrictors on the illegals, we wouldn't have such a problem with them, now would we?

I read that President Obama wants to reform immigration. Good for him. As long as it doesn't involve offering the illegals amnesty or signing the DREAM Act. I personally believe that it should be a little easier for SOME immigrants to be granted American citizenship while weeding out the immigrants who aren't worthy of the title American citizen.

I say round up all 12 million illegals and put them to work securing the border and using them as border patrol.

Abbey Arletto
Abbey Arletto

Sorta like how the nazis made jews guard other jews in the death camps? Charming.

They say you should turn your clock back 18 years when entering Arizona. I think it's more like 68 years.

Exodez
Exodez

I LOVE ZACK DE LA ROCHA AND RATM!!!!!!!!!! AWESOME! I know who he is more than I know who you are, so I really don't care about your post. He speaks up for the Hispanic Americans who ARE LEGAL and have a right to be here and not be faced with racism or discrimination because they "look" illegal.

Tzuniga2
Tzuniga2

He speaks up for both the undocumented population and the Hispanic American population!

Bobby
Bobby

Yeah but somebody has to tell him Afro's went out in the 70's---of the last century.

ralph shirts
ralph shirts

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