Passion is No Ordinary Word*
I have never been one for grandstanding, and self-congratulatory backslapping leaves me winded, longing for an exit. Certitude, whether from an artist or a politician, is an invitation to the furies and harpies to haunt you down and peck out your eyes. These days, a weary and cautious optimism is the only safe hand to play. Perhaps it is this reticence to be overly demonstrative (or maybe I am just a condescending prick), for when the ten-year anniversary of Ink 19 arose, I was at a loss for a topic to write about. What could I possibly say that someone has not already said before? Is it possible to enumerate the things I have gained from Ink 19? Moreover, would any of the readers even care? So, instead of listing all the great things that Ink 19 has done, I’m going to list all the things that Ink 19 hasn’t done.
I’ve never been paid for anything I’ve ever written. To many observers in our society, working without being repaid is at best, stupid, and at worst, downright unpatriotic. But far too often, we expect our just rewards, and no enterprise is undertaken unless we are guaranteed our fair share of the spoils. This is not the case with Ink 19. There is no taint of commerce or compulsion to please and no writer is compromised by the curse of silver. Most of the writers from Ink 19 began by submitting reviews on items they had already purchased and/or otherwise paid for. The goal was not to make writing a lucrative career, but it was a chance to communicate with music lovers. The greatest gift was to share a profound and rewarding listening experience and possibly expose someone to an artist that they otherwise might have missed. While none of the contributors expect to get rich, they find the very act of creating something, whether it is an excellent review or art, to be rewarding in and of itself. And, as any “John” will tell you, there is no substitute for passion.
Ink 19 has never encouraged me to write something savage or nasty about an artist in the effort to attract more attention to the print or electronic version. In the music industry, as in most media, what passes for insightful commentary is designed to cater to the lowest common denominator. Innuendo, hearsay and bias are the rules of thumb. If you doubt me, peruse some of the British music magazines. They have turned backbiting and slander into an art form. Instead of following this model, staffers are encouraged to submit ideas, reviews, and art that they are passionate about. Indeed, if one were to define a creed that Ink 19 staffers adhere to, it would be: above all else, have passion.
Lastly, I have never been lied to with Ink 19. The magazine is as diverse as its staff contributions, and so there will always be at least one artist, book, film, or object that a reader may find compelling. Unlike some magazines that bill themselves as “alternative,” yet in fact merely uphold the status quo of milquetoast performers, Ink 19 provides diversity. Although the magazine focuses on the traditional outsider music (indie, metal, punk), a wide array of performers are covered and divergent points of view represented. No media or topic is considered taboo. Reading Ink 19 is like opening a long discarded chest, half-buried in the sand and once opened, brimming with the most exotic of jewels.
This is a fan’s magazine. Akin to the early ‘zines of the late sixties and seventies, devoted to art and music, not commerce. I have shown friends some things I have written for Ink 19 and they have said, “Oh, I could do that.” Indeed, most anyone could do what we do. But most people don’t do what we do. Most people are other people and their thoughts, ideas, and style belong to someone else entirely. They have no passion and lack the resolve or skill to contribute. As Lou Reed said, “Between thought and statement, lies a lifetime.” Lacking passion, they spend their time caught between these poles, their hands waving like a deaf mute signing to a blind cripple. Passion is no ordinary word, and Ink 19 is no ordinary magazine.
*The title is drawn from a Graham Parker compilation entitled Passion is No Ordinary Word.