In the beginning, there was skateboarding. Back in those mid-70's, when
Glen E. Friedman first brought his camera to the school banks and empty
pools, skating was played to a punk soundtrack that over the years gave
way to rap. Throughout it all, Friedman kept shooting, amassing a
portfolio of naturalistic portraits of his friends, many of whom went on
to fame and fortune.
One of them, Rollins, late of Black Flag, ended up publishing this
seminal collection of photographs, as part of his impressive publishing
company. The coffee-table book (which was inaugurated by a brief
bi-coastal exhibit of the photographs) is called Fuck You Heroes. Oh
well, there goes Wal-Mart.
Not that Wal-Mart would have been a big market for the book, which
is peopled with underground old-school skaters such as Jay Adams, cult
heroes such as Fugazi's Ian MacKaye and Jello Biafra and establishment
faves such as the Beasties, Rollins, Ice-T and Public Enemy.
In a lengthy, heated phone interview, Friedman, who remained
unfailingly polite throughout, defended his use of the word heroic, even
though the group included artists who promote misogyny, violence,
homophobia, anti-Semitism and the willing participation in a system that
they claim to be subverting.
Admittedly that's a mouthful, But, he explained, he didn't chose
them for their social responsibility or political activism. Instead, they
were heroes because they did things their way, at the expense of
conventional wisdom or advice.
Now, Fuck You Heroes is Friedman's exhibit and his book, so he
certainly is within his rights to package it any way he wants. And
there's certainly no quibble with his work, which is revealing,
naturalistic and deserving of attention.
When he talks in the book, though, about the dissatisfaction he
now feels about today's world, I believe he introduces and then begs the
larger question. "Toward the end of 1991, I began to feel that a serious
amount of integrity was being lost from many people's lives, maybe even
more than I had ever noticed before," he writes.
This collection, he continues, is "for our hearts to see and
remember what we are all born with and hope we never lose - the hardcore
soul of true integrity."
"Shouldn't we all be grateful to the individuals who say 'Fuck
You' to those trying to limit the thinking and ideals of others? I think
so," he says.
I have no argument with that. Indeed, Friedman's approach, his
dedication and the quality of his photography should all be applauded. But
since so many of the people in the book seem to exhibit the same
narrow-minded behavior he accuses so many others of, I also believe it
proves that heroes, like beauty, are in the eyes of the beholder.
Blur magazine 1995
(1 full page with several color photographs)
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