Growing up in the 90s, I was greatly inspired by the alternative cultural movements happening at the time. Back then, New Orleans was blessed-cursed as a relatively slow, quiet backwoods city in the deep South—at least in terms of this counterculture renaissance. There were certainly people active in the NOLA punk and indie community, but as a kid I was struck with the mythology of far-away places that seemed to have more action: the legendary 924 Gilman Street venue in Oakland, the seminal punk zine Maximum Rock’n’Roll in San Francisco, ABC No Rio in New York, and so on. At the time, it was nothing short of a miracle that a scrappy band from New Orleans would put out a record and maybe tour behind it. These days, of course, New Orleans looks a whole lot different and I’m very pleased to see “the scene” thriving right here like it never has in my lifetime. Record shops that actually cater to this culture abound, labels like Community proliferate and prosper, bands release records and hit the road at a breakneck pace, and ~ahem~ a certain magazine is even around to document some of it.
Most impressive, perhaps, is the story of Parisite Skatepark, our cover feature for this month. Growing up, we had nothing like this. Skateboarding was relegated to abandoned grocery stores and off-hour bank parking lots, a bane to upstanding citizens and law enforcement alike. Today, Parisite not only carves out a space for kids of all ages and upbringings to congregate, but also creates an environment of positivity and encouragement. Sometimes all this scene talk can feel a little insular, like in the end it’s all entertainment, fun and games-type stuff for a microcosm of people, but with the case of Parisite, that crew is really building something out there that could impact the future of this city for a long time.
It’s also important to note that projects like Parisite come to fruition thanks in large part to our so-called transplant community, those who have found New Orleans in their blood, if not necessarily on their birth certificate. People like artist Skylar Fein and Candice Metrailer (who we say bon voyage to in this issue) bring some much-needed perspective to a town that at times can be too complacent and apolitical. We’d like to think that New Orleans is an island unto itself, but the reality is we live in this country and on this planet. We are connected to people as far away as Tunisia—and if you don’t know who Mohamed Bouazizi is, please let Brian D. enlighten you in Derek’s blazing interview with the Catharsis vocalist. (Derek, ironically enough, though a born Chalmation, now writes to us from Oakland. The AG team is spread far and wide, people!)
Of course, we still have a lot of work to do. As Skylar is quick to point out, Parisite should be only the first of several skate parks built around the city. I also hope we can start a movement to create another dependable all-ages venue. As I’ve discussed before, these spaces can really mean the difference between wasted adolescence and a lifetime of inspiration. Up the punx who get shit done! —Dan Fox