by carl wilson

On Home Towns, Actual and Cyber-Style

brantford003.jpg

Take a virtual walk through the downtown of my childhood home, Brantford, Ont. What can I say: These pictures somehow feel like they explain a lot about me.

Meanwhile, the on-line home of Toronto's indie scene, 20hz.ca, seems about to fracture into a whole mess o' competing Internets - which one will be left a rust-belt ghost town? Well, I wouldn't go putting the family fortune into 20hzmusic.com, the new self-styled pseudo-Pitchfork of Canadian indie rock, owned and operated by Abbas Jahangiri, who previously endeared himself to the Toronto music community (uh, not) by taking over one of the most storied nightclubs in town, El Mocambo, and proposing to turn it into a two-tier dance studio. He gradually backed off of that plan and returned it to existence as a music venue, with a spotty but not heinous programming record, and we were about to go all soft on him until he decided to swoop in (after the Spin and NY Times and other media stories that mentioned it) and buy up 20hz, which till now was owned by Brockville indie promoter Ryan Mills and run entirely internally. While Jahangiri claims he plans to leave the message-board community alone, the cheesy features page (full of stolen content and press releases) runs against the grain of what the boards are about, and his one-way communiques on-board (and suddenly appearing yes-men avatars praising his vision) didn't gain sympathy: The likely outcome is that the membership will abscond to the alternative site already under construction, the 20hz name will recede from relevant memory and Jahangiri will be left with an asset of fairly dubious worth and none of that oh-so-capitalizable street cred.

The stupid part is that Jahangiri could easily have built a show-info and band-promotion site much like 20hzmusic under a name like, say, Mocambo Music, provided a useful service for people looking for complete and interactive show listings and other music info (so I wouldn't have to do it!) and taken a respectful and respectable, and probably profitable, place in the community. But as he did in the battle of the Elmo, Jahangiri - who often really seems to have his heart in, if not the right, at least a non-evil place - proves himself tone-deaf to the etiquette and sense of community investment and ownership in cultural institutions, which doesn't have much to do with who's holding the deeds. Now, I just hope that all the different cities and towns with community boards - most of all the link between Montreal and Toronto - aren't lost in the transition. (There's predictable talk of a split on the Montrealshows-linked board, but no good reason given - one poster joked that they should all meet on the Charlottetown board to work it out, except that there is no Charlottetown board.)

There's a cultural-history 101 lesson here about how major labels and other industry entitites treat the grassroots, but like Jahangiri, few of them ever seem likely to learn it. So fan/musician communities continue to manoeuvre to preserve and produce autonomy, and each new evasion results in new cultural moments, and the merry dance proceeds apace at least until new paradigms render past industrial models hollowed-out shells like my hometown - and erstwhile indie kids eventually burn out and move to the outskirts of such towns to make babies and commute and the place turns into just another suburb....

News | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, April 20 at 5:14 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (15)

 

COMMENTS

Brantford: I was born at BGH...don't remember too much of it. The Wolfbeat label operates out of there. My late uncle and aunt (who also happened to be Stu Berman of TO Eye's uncle and auntie) lived there. I still wear Uncle Len's smoking jacket with pride.
What was the question?

Posted by Bruce Mowat on April 26, 2005 9:41 AM

 

 


More Brantford/Silent Hill pics:

http://www.horror-movies.ca/gallery27.htm

and more Brantford talk cept by movie geeks not music geeks (what happens when you cross the streams?):

http://aintitcoolnews.com/display.cgi?id=20007

Posted by Justin on April 24, 2005 12:50 PM

 

 

I'm happy to blame the Ozarks Co., but the Southwestern Ontario rotten core problem precedes Walmart.

Posted by Sean on April 23, 2005 5:28 PM

 

 

LOVED the tour of Brantford, ON -- all the silent hill references and goddamn funny commentary. Reminds me of my own home town. A person could do a serious photo essay about towns like this one with failing downtowns (thanks Wal-Mart!).

Posted by Lee Henderson on April 22, 2005 3:46 PM

 

 

i'm just yanking yr chain. but it should be noted that any 20hz sites outside of ontario (w/ the exception of montreal) are drearily dormant. of course, i guess they all are now...

Posted by barclay on April 22, 2005 10:18 AM

 

 

Mills hometown info corrected, batesondodds, with apologies - I should have checked that.

Posted by zoilus on April 21, 2005 3:58 PM

 

 

Sean, I think Laurie and I went to Zorba's for some schmancy occasion too - tho not prom becuz we didn't go to that, so maybe it was her birthday or a teen-dating "anniversary" - so Zorba's would also have been the first locale where I picked up a cheque in a "nice" place, too.

Posted by Zoilus on April 21, 2005 3:20 PM

 

 

Barclay, dude, I plead not guilty of Torontocentrism: I didn't mean there were no boards of any kind in Charlottetown, just that there was no 20hz board for Charlottetown (altho there are Halifax, Vancouver, Montreal, Brantford, Kingston, Sudbury, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg etc etc boards). Context, context.

Posted by zoilus on April 21, 2005 3:18 PM

 

 

Hey Carl! Hope you're doing well.

Today's been a veritable shitstorm. We've all fled like locusts and descended on stillepost.ca. The 20hz message board is carnage right now, as these morons scurry left and right doing as much as they can to cling to their now-worthless investment.

Posted by Gregory Collins on April 21, 2005 2:23 PM

 

 

not to be nit-picky, but since you were writing about hometowns, Ryan Mills came out of Brockville, Ontario, not Peterborough.

Posted by batesondodds on April 21, 2005 11:52 AM

 

 

photo number 35! Zorba's! That's where Sue and I went to dinner before going to the Prom!

I think it was the first nice restaurant I'd ever entered. The chef, who I believe was also the owner, claimed to have cooked for Queen Elizabeth II on a Royal Yacht... or something... I wonder if it's the same guy.

Posted by Sean on April 21, 2005 11:22 AM

 

 

oh, you toronto folk are hilarious. there actually is a charlottetown message board!

http://media.locals.ca/localsconf/viewforum.php?f=3&sid;=05e9b0bbcb32fd93d01e84b3b61aa871

Posted by barclay on April 20, 2005 7:38 PM

 

 

Really well said. There's been a lot of talk, speculation and spite over this whole thing, and this is one of the first concise summaries of what's actually happened that I've had the pleasure of reading. And a moral to boot!

Posted by Matt on April 20, 2005 7:21 PM

 

 

Whoa, lots of them, actually. Start with "Copetown," work your way through "Overworked & Underprivileged," and we'll go on from there.

Posted by zoilus on April 20, 2005 6:44 PM

 

 

There's a Scott Merritt song in there I know it.

Posted by bp on April 20, 2005 6:29 PM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson