The World Would Be a Very Different Place Without Calvin Johnson

By Jason Kron

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Olympia musician Calvin Johnson, who's playing at The Trunk Space on April 13th, here's a little background information: In 1982 he co-founded and began singing for the band Beat Happening, who combined the stripped down elements of punk rock with sounds of high-spirited innocence and thus became pioneers of a style known as twee pop. In the process, they helped prove not only that punk doesn't have to be testosterone-driven, but that musical sunshine might in some cases be an even bigger “fuck you” than traditional distortion.

Throughout the years, Calvin has continued to make music with such projects as Dub Narcotic Sound System, The Halo Benders, and The Hive Dwellers. On his excellent new solo album A Wonderful Beast (produced and largely co-written by Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney), his trademark baritone voice and auditory geniality have remained intact. Unlike the Mick Jaggers of the world, whose unchanging with age results in their becoming elderly parodies of themselves, Calvin's retention of youthful energy seems to be a natural and optimal state for him.

Around the same time that Beat Happening began, Calvin started the label K Records, whose slogan is “Exploding the teenage underground into passionate revolt against the corporate ogre.” The artists that he released on K in the 1980s exerted an immense influence on the then-burgeoning alternative rock scene, which included a band called Nirvana. Kurt Cobain was so influenced by the label that he had a K Records tattoo on his arm, which he said he got as a reminder to “try and stay a child."

Calvin also went on to record and release then-obscure musicians such as Beck and Modest Mouse, who went on to become superstars and influence new movements of their own. Because of the trickle-down effect of this chain of events, the history of mainstream music from the 1990s onward would be very different without him.

Another way that Calvin has changed the world is his influence on DIY (“Do-It-Yourself”) music culture. His generation of musicians included bands such as Minor Threat and Black Flag, who also formed their own labels to release their bands’ work. They were amongst the first to spread the message on a large scale that musicians could be successful in releasing their own music and booking their own tours. For them, the DIY aesthetic was a philosophical badge of honor as opposed to being solely out of economic necessity.

This brought newfound empowerment to the whole venture, which has since helped underground music communities of various genres flourish. Not only was major label support no longer deemed necessary in these scenes, but it was also now even frowned upon by a large subculture who were encouraged by the example of people like Calvin to have more control over their music. “Making it” in the mainstream no longer the end goal of every band, but instead they could achieve their goal instantly by creating and releasing music for the love of the act. 

It’s no wonder that Calvin has compared the idea of subculture to the comic Peanuts, in which the kids live in a self-contained world where the adults exist only as irrelevant, incoherent background noise.

By Sarah Cass


the institutions who have taken the DIY ethos to heart are The Trunk Space, a

venue that's flourished for fifteen years with a communal “Do-It-Together”

attitude, as co-founder Steph Carrico has described it. They've become a local

symbol for the culture of all-ages shows and off-kilter music that was

popularized forty years ago by people like Calvin. Between this and the fact

that multiple past and present K Records artists have performed there, his

appearance on that stage seems inevitable. And it is at events such as this

where older and younger generations can unite out of love for rhythmic revolt and

hatred of the corporate ogre.

WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less