The Pullman punk ethic

Amongst the terraced houses of Pullman, sits the home of the Cooperation Operation, or, more colloquially, the “Co-op Op,” a fledgling urban farm and activist group currently in the process of becoming a 501(c)(3). On Saturday night, the group hosted a housewarming party and concert to raise funds for the construction of a nearby greenhouse and community, which will provide healthy foods for nearby areas with little access to fresh greens. They were predominantly raising funds for soil, PVC, and other materials necessary for building the greenhouse. The house, which is situated on S. St. Lawrence Avenue, is home to four of the six founding members of the Co-Op Op–most of whom are recent graduates working temp jobs. Speaking toward the group’s larger efforts, one of the members, Erin Delaney, explained, “I think the best way in this society that you can have control over the way that you feel is through food.”

Of the six members, just two, Justin Booz and Liz Nerat, were part of the musical line-up. Booz played a solo set, while Nerat performed with the Fuzzy Bunnies of Death, who manage to sound as endearingly grotesque as their name might suggest. Other acts included the political ska-punk band Dirty Surgeon Insurgency and Emanuel Vinson, who introduced himself as equal parts rapper, poet, and journalist.

Booz was the first act, playing guitar behind an enclave of blinds hung from the ceiling. In the unfurnished, unlit basement, strobe lights flashed intermittently behind Booz’s makeshift stage as he was accompanied by looped guitar and keyboards–a growing swell of half-distorted sounds. Now and then he would tap the blinds in a kind of rhythmic fashion. The crescendo coincided with Booz opening the blinds fully, and then the sound began to dwindle, ending the piece just as it had begun. The mysterious rapper who followed, under the pseudonym One Bell, sang numbers that dabbled on issues of social injustice, idolatry, and post-modernism. He prefaced one song with the cryptic explanation: “The tempo is designed to model dampened harmonic motion.”

Then came the Dirty Surgeon Insurgency, composed of two saxophones, a guitar, a bass, and drums. They sang with spirited intensity and vivacity, though the lyrics were generally lost amongst the cacophony. Around this point, well after midnight, some form of inchoate and good-spirited moshing ensued.

Incidentally, only a few doors down, visual and multi-media artist Rosa Gaia Saunders was hosting a house showing of some of her works. These were abstract images projected on walls and screens. On a table sat an archaic television set, inviting the spectator to put on the nearby headphones and observe the morphing images, which were synchronized to electronic music. By the time the showing had ended, many of the guests, including Saunders herself, had wandered their way over to the party, which was still getting into full swing. Some wore costumes; others donned face paint. Many had made the trek from various suburbs and other parts of the city–an eclectic mix for an equally eclectic lineup.

In one rousing section of Emanuel Vinson’s set, the second-to-last of the night, he pleaded with the audience for silence before proceeding with a rising, cathartic chorus of “My life is fantastic!” The chorus grew to raucous intensity, and after breaking, everyone laughed. It seemed, at least momentarily, they all agreed with the sentiment.

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