“So, what kind of ______ (fill in this blank with any kind of artistic endeavor or those that may house them, i.e.: movies, music, coffeehouse, etc…) do you like?” says the friendly but uncultured shell-necklace wearer.
“I kinda like everything,” says I, uncomfortably anticipating a blank stare.
“No, really. Tell me what kind of ______ (see above instructions) do you like,” they repeat.
“I like indie ______,” I reveal to this sour, “huh?” faced peer.
“Indie? What the hell does that mean? Like, Indians?” he/ she witlessly scoffs.
Yes. Indians. That’s exactly what I meant.
For those of you who may go through the above exchange a handful of times on any given week, briefly chuckle (because it makes me feel warm inside), stop reading here and use the rest of this column as an informative pamphlet for the next person that screws up their face to the mention of the word “indie.”
For the rest of you, thanks for coming to the “2004 Indie for Dummies Workshop.” Indie is a literal and figurative term for a non-mainstream artistic venture free from the trappings and restrictions of industry tampering (and, consequently, funding), instead done for the personal benefit of quenching a creative or innovative thirst for the sake of, well, artistry.
Lost you there? How about this: while Kid Rock, The Matrix and Oscar Meyer Wieners are so mainstream it actually hurts, Wilco, Bend it Like Beckham and Mel’s Hot Dogs reside in the wooded thicket that is “indie.”
It’s the yuppie businessman strutting, cell phone in hand, unconsciously through the streets of NYC — and, for that matter, life — while the penniless forgotten man spends his time under Grand Central Station, building a unique world around himself and a life only some can truly appreciate.
OK, so while it might not be so bad, that example serves as a melodramatic allusion to the real “indie” problem. Indies — which were for all intents and purposes non-existent until roughly 20 years ago — are mostly ignored, quietly (and critically) appreciated and blatantly cash-challenged. And for all the quality and creativity they exude, most of these artistic undertakings are never given a chance at the big time.
Simply put, indie music, movies and even hot dogs are usually a lot better than anything you’re played on the radio, most of what you’re shown at the Megaplex and definitely what you’re fed samples of at Publix (OK, enough with the hot dogs). Those things are fed to the mainstream public because big wigs that only care about cash think the masses are too stupid and lazy to care what they’re fed. And while some elitist indie-ists would agree, this journalist sees hope.
Fight the good fight, starting right here in this town. Blow off the bombast of Best Buy for the quality compounds of Vinyl Fever and Park Ave. CDs. Tell the people at Channelside and Madstone Theaters to screw themselves for pushing once-advertised indies to the side in favor of Terminator 6; Give your quid to Tampa Theatre instead. Spit on Starbuck’s Seattle-chic slop. There’s some small cafÃ© that’ll give you better bean for your buck.
Now go out there and use what you’ve learned today. It’s time for you to appreciate eccentricities, imagination and indignation. It’s time to appreciate the indies.
Entertainment Editor Nick Margiasso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.