This is the Beginning, Not the End
An informed opinion on last week's all-ages forum
A new music movement has just begun in Albuquerque. It is made up of intelligent, creative and articulate youth who have come to the political table regarding the health of their music community, and they are demanding that their so-called leaders listen. Simply put, this can only be a good thing. The kids are more than alright.
On Friday, August 26, for six grueling and exciting hours Downtown, more than 53 youth and numerous supportive parents testified against a measure that threatens to end all-ages shows in bars; an initiative the mayor (among others) proposed to the Gambling and Liquor Control Board.
The overwhelming majority of speakers on Friday seemed to be from the ska/punk/rock/metal community. Among other things, the youth clearly communicated to the board that their current mayor has in no way offered their community a viable alcohol-free place to rock, if in effect, the proposal he spearheaded ends up closing the doors to their venues. Neither side was able to find a middle ground. The glaring difference, though, is that the youth and mayoral candidate and City Councilor Eric Griego actually showed up to the meeting; our current mayor did not.
One side spent most of their time defending the responsible manner in which the Sunshine Theater and Launchpad serve alcohol to adults only, in the presence of minors. The other side concluded, with vague and even absurd sentiments (not facts), as to why these same venues were somehow responsible for drunken teens on Downtown streets. In addition, the so-called experts who testified on the effects of alcoholism didn't think it relevant to mention how the proposed measure in no way addresses the city-sanctioned venues where hundreds of teens each year are legally documented as consuming alcohol on the premises. That is, at the Journal Pavilion, Isotopes Park, Tingly and Colosseum.
The bottom line is that each side is stuck in a defensive position. Failing to take responsibility for how our business and entertainment industries remain addicted to alcohol attacks both our community health and our all-ages music scene. And what about adults who are addicted to the politics of maintaining control over youth and making decisions for them, while at the same time demanding that they get more involved?
The mayor's Music Advisory Panel, which I sit on, has not once held meetings when youth who are at school or work can responsibly attend. This, in effect, deems his so-called alternatives for youth a paternal manifesto, not a genuine choice. For the record, repeated requests for a meeting time change have been made.
On the other hand, the youth on Friday, who seem to be a part of a movement, have yet to put down on paper even a rough draft proposal of what would be required to create alcohol-free, professionally "underground" events Downtown. So let's get going.
Somehow, someway, if we can harness the power and imagination of what was started on Friday, I believe Albuquerque can create a system that protects and supports the health of our youth and their beautiful voices. Isn't this what artist-activists do anyway?
Nora White is a musician and activist in Albuquerque. She is currently making a documentary about youth in Gallup, Jemez and Albuquerque "who are slowly but surely, building a viable alternative to current alcohol-driven music venues."
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