Linwood, by general consensus, is a shit hole.
A town in the west of Scotland, just down the M8 from Glasgow, Linwood was a tiny village until Chrysler opened an auto plant there in the 60s. The village expanded rapidly, becoming one of the UK's key manufacturing centres - a real, old fashioned company town where nearly the entire population worked for the same employer. This resulted in relative prosperity. People felt financially secure. Some bought property, others started small businesses. Local authorities built community resources - a sports centre, a community education facility, schools to educate the baby boom children growing up in the abundant council houses.
When Chrysler dropped the axe on the Linwood plant, 10,000 people were left unemployed. The local economy was devastated. Nowadays Linwood is an urban dystopia - the concrete block 60s architecture is beyond repair. The biggest employer is Wal-Mart. The sport, education and leisure facilities that people used to be proud of are now crumbling. Local gangs of neds smash bus shelters, set rubbish bins on fire and stab each other in the street. Grey sky meets grey buildings meets the grey rubble of the old car plant - now the site of the incredible Phoenix Retail Park.
Daily exposure to this environment can break one's spirit. I know this because for five years I took the bus into Linwood to get to school. The place wears you down gradually to the point where you feel completely demotivated and start running on autopilot. Every day seems the same as the last, with no indication that things will ever be any different, ever.
Someone's got to do something.
One thing that everyone should understand about me is that when I have a stupid idea, I do my best to make it a reality. It's a little trait I've developed which, while it certainly makes life more interesting, can lead to some unfortunate situations.
Previous stupid ideas I've acted upon include starting Drive By Comedy - bastard child of freestyle rap and David Blaine-esque street magic, where my comedic comrades in arms and I take our sketches, stand up and improvisational comedy to the streets, much to the confusion of onlookers. I also had the idea of starting a political party devoted to heavy metal - although we're yet to contest any elections, and one day, in a quest to get thrown out of as many places as possible, managed to get myself ejected from a bowling alley, two shopping malls, three clothes stores and a sex shop (although I was outdone by my friend, who we'll call Sam, since that's what's written on the crazy bastard's birth certificate, who is now banned from all trains in Scotland, forever).
What I'm trying to say is that I love spontaneity. I consider Situationists, culture jammers and flash mobbers to be truly enlightened individuals who are actively making the world a more intellectually stimulating place.
If anywhere could use a dash of spontaneity, it's Linwood. So over the last couple of days I've called up all my buddies in various bands. I've contacted the local council. I've obtained amplifiers, monitors, PA systems and I've organised a rock festival.
What better to shake the town out of its tedium than ear-bleedingly loud metal, incomprehensible hardcore punk and oh so much moshing?
I'm willing to put considerable amounts of time and money into organising this event (concert promoting is what I "do." When people say "What do you do?" I either tell them that I'm a concert promoter, a comic book writer or a Catholic priest struggling against the encroachment of secularism on society), but there is a method to the madness.
I firmly believe that the mosh pit is a great social leveller. Go to a thrash metal or punk gig and you'll see inner city kids beating the shit out of middle class suburbanites. Guys who would normally wear a suit and tie as part of their daily routine run around in circles with their shirts off. Race, sex, sexual orientation, all become unimportant in the whirling chaos. The only time I've ever been in a fight in a mosh pit was against Nazi skinheads (not to be confused with normal skinheads, who tend to be pretty cool guys), and they started it.
In the pit, everyone's having fun.
In the pit, everyone's looking out for everyone else.
I seriously believe that a few of these events could go a long way towards building more of a community spirit in Linwood. If people have some sort of concept of local events bringing people together, maybe they'll take the time to actually find out what their neighbours are called. Maybe they'll see that they can support each other in making their environment more habitable. Maybe they'll turn away from the ever present threat of cultural imperialism and learn to play guitar.
Maybe I'm expecting too much, but at least it's gonna be fun.
So *puts on announcer's voice* ladies and gentlemen, Puny Human Promotions is proud to present:
A free festival in Linwood's world renowned Tweedie Hall, featuring some of Scotland's top underground metal, punk, hardcore and indie bands.
I'm passionate about making this happen. I've got a bunch of bands willing to play for free. I'm going to advertise through local newspapers and radio stations. I'm going to put this in peoples' faces and I don't give a fuck whether they love it, hate it or react with the dismissive grunt and shrugged shoulders brought on by too much TV and not enough life. It's going on, and everyone's gonna know about it.