Please stop comparing every DIY space on earth to Gilman. Next time you’re about to, stop it! Don’t you dare say it.
I know it’s the epitome of DIY punk in a lot of peoples’ eyes (whether it actually should be or not is definitely debatable for a lot of people), but you just can’t expect a venue that’s been around for less than five years to be even remotely on-par with Gilman in terms of logistics, pull, and professionalism.
I don’t know if this is a Fresno thing or if this is a widespread issue, but people have this idea that Gilman, Ramen, and Hazmat are/were completely without issue at all times and that there are no asshole squatter punks refusing to donate and no underaged kids getting wasted all over the place and no bands not getting paid and blah, blah, blah. I realize I’m not from Berkeley or Oakland, but that’s where I really hope to be in the future, and I love tons of the music, people, zines, and spaces that have come from there. In my stupid idealistic world, Berkeley and Oakland are the epitome of all things good (and at the same time, totally fucked up for some really different reasons). However, there are a lot of things people aren’t realizing. Firstly, Fresno is a very, very different city. It’s policed differently, governed differently, the money is distributed differently, the population is different, the lay of the land is different… The list goes on and on. Secondly, most of the DIY spaces up there are old. They’ve had years and years to solve their problems and have their big fuck-ups and build their reputations. (Hazmat’s still gone, as far as I know, so clearly, things are NOT perfect.) Do you really think Gilman was the legendary, “family-friendly” place it is today back when it was new? Do you really think they had every little bit of their shit together and never had any trouble internally or with anyone else? Do you really think ANY DIY space has ever just started up and been problem-free?
As someone who’s worked their ass off and put everything into a stupid piece of shit venue that no one locally respects but people elsewhere adore, this shit really bothers me. No, we’re not Gilman. No, we don’t always have our forms an paperwork neatly filed away because we’re a bunch of kids who are trying to work and go to college and deal with assholes who just want a place to drink and have no respect for us or what we do. No, we’re not perfect, and yes, we’ve had a lot of problems, but we started in October of 2010. We haven’t been around for 25 years like Gilman and we can NOT be held to the same exact standard.
I’ve tried so hard to do workshops, movie nights, open meetings, and start a zine library, and we’ve tried to do community stuff (I wasn’t able to make it, but we served a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and people in the neighborhood), but people don’t get involved. And that’s fine. We can’t force people to care about any of that shit. It just really hurts when people act like all we ever tried to do was let people in for free so they could sit around and drink and pretend to be punk. And when people who haven’t been there from the beginning and gone through everything we’ve gone through try to step in and micromanage, even though they never felt the need to come to the open meetings and say anything then, that really pisses me off.
I know I bitch about this a lot, but really, it’s my life. I care more about the Bel-Tower than I usually care about myself. It kept my mind off a lot of shit that really needed to be kept off my mind, and now it’s all back and I’m a total mess. I just want everyone to stop expecting us to be perfect because we can’t be.
I’m gonna go cry and listen to Blatz and hate everything.