Perambulating the Bounds

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Svenonious on real estate markets and musical style

Ian Svenonious, currently of Weird War and formerly of Nation of Ulysses, had a great commentary on the public radio show marketplace last week:

His hypothesis is that Alan Greenspan is responsible for neo-psych folk and electroclash because his monetary policies have encouraged massive real estate speculation that makes space so expensive that musicians in cities have to make music in close quarters and therefore forego a drum set. I don’t know if acoustic bands like Wooden Wand (I think that’s one of the clips in the piece) stay away from the drum kit for this reason – there’s plenty of aesthetic reasons for skipping it – but there is a claustrophobic sense on the cultural scene right now. The overcharged economy runs down people’s incomes and makes it more expensive to have a place to live, practice, or perform, and the ethos of getting squeezed down and out is knocking around in the air. There seems to be less room and time for urban, youthful Bohemia, and this has the potential to change the culture in very deep ways if the typical ferment among the young is throttled. You can probably argue that real estate has always been hostile to the young and poor, and that it has always chased people from neighborhood to neighborhood. But the next neighborhood seems harder to find, and even secondary towns are infected by the virus that demands instant conversion of every asset into ready cash or multi-digit gains in value. Svenonious is one of the few people I’ve heard try to articulate the specific ways these economic shape what goes on with culture at these levels.


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