PUNK was doomed to be an obscure musical interest in my small town community in the beginning of the 90s. Both as musical taste and style. In an area where pop where at its´most pretentious, the assortment of punk was not the largest sections of the 2 record stores available for the few and the proud punk kids . The only way to get hold of stuff, records, merch and fanzines, was to order oversea. All ads instructed you to send money in advance,cheap fanzines as expensive vinyl. So I exchanged my sparse savings into dollars and posted my orders.The risk was obvious: In 5 out of 10 cases you got ripped off by greedy people who never got back to you with what was rightfully yours. EQUAL VISION is a NY punk label once founded by Ray Cappo (ex-VIOLENT CHILDREN and YOUTH OF TODAY) to help out the distribution of the first releases of SHELTER, the band he formed after his conversion to Hare Krishna. Cappo aka Raghunatha, as his band grew bigger in addition to his religious duties as a brahmana[1], ran out of time and passion available for the label and eventually sold it to a fellow Krishna punk.


Steve Reddy was the new label manager and his beads-rubbing hands were even sloppier than the formers, at least considering the mail order section of the label. He was, just like all the  deadheads that came from the streets and into ISKCON in the late 60s, probably just spotting an easy opportunity to rip people off. He became a pirate sailing under the flag of religion and "compassion", giving official statements like his label being an important  tool for spreading of  the message of Krishna etc etc. I see no reason to doubt his dedication and support of the music, but I don t buy that there s any underlying compassion about his phony business, other than for the greens.


The Sanskrit word for illusion, Maya, is often used in lectures to explain  how everything we experience in this world, in fact ain´t the real deal. This point of view is even acclaimed to be obvious for an intelligent person to buy, even with a total lack of physical evidence. I wonder why so few of us end up dancing around in the streets in orange dhotis[2], looking like a bunch of misplaced weirdoes, instead of getting drunk, having sex,starting families or maintaining a career. “Bhagavatam” is to engage yourself in spreading the eternal love of Krishna, the blue god. This is the main activity and concern for every bhakta(monk) or bhaktin(nun),and they´re encouraged to think of Krishna as much as possible, mostly through the compulsory chanting of the maha mantra[2], but preferably in most other situations in life.


Vic Dicara aka Vraja Kishor das was a guy who pretty fast became a notable name in the hardcore/straight edge scene of late80s. He played in several bands[3] and also did this Krishna hardcore fanzine called Enquirer. In print and layout one of the better of its´ time,  but it contained mostly different pics and interviews with his own projects, not to speak some hilarious columns on different aspects of Krishna Consciousness. In a number of the zine from ´91,he introduces his original  interpretation of Bhagavtam, one very suitable for the average hardcore kid, who usually had an interest for skateboarding. Dicara had a suggestion on how to incorporate the thought of his blue god even when cruising the streets with your board, illustrating the manual for a spiritual and religious life with the metaphor of some skateboard trucks grinding the coping[4] of the vert ramp. The general idea was to think of the board as material body, which made the ride of wheels  some sort of a metaphor for your life. Every time you felt like grinding a suitable edge on your trucks, you could read it as a rough meeting with the hard edges of the material world(maya). But the problem of this particular example is the fact that few normal persons, Krishna or not, approaches those “edges” of life intentionally or with the same eager as the skater spotting the perfect curb for a grind. Along the lines of this pretty far fetched example on how to read the religious conviction into almost anything you do or say, there are far more dangerous and manipulative implications for a person who claims to be Krishna conscious. When the thought of Krishna is the most important concern, not necessarily the action carried out of it. It´s a well known way to justify whatever, leading the attention towards the intentions instead of the deeds. A holy goal can justify even the most horrible and cruel means, just think of the systematic torture and killing of innocent women by the Catholic church during the dark years of the middle age.


With the (anti)material philosophy of Krishna consciousness and their concept of maya,  talk about the 0how modern science and their physical proofs can´t be trusted, it is a piece of cake writing off any objections as illusion. As the giant in Twin Peaks tells  Agent Cooper: 

"The owls are not what they seem."


In the pretty shocking book on ISKCON, Monkey On A Stick, by John Hubner and Lindsey Gruson, you get so many examples on how these methods of manipulation are used to justify all human action of this world that certainly ain´t associated with the spreading of love peace and love: murder, incest, fraud, swindle, abuse,drugs and weapons. Why they did it? Well, you´re in the chains of maya and wouldn't´t understand it, but we actually did it out of our unconditional love for Krishna and hence also you blah blah blah.  So after PRABHUPADA [5]  died in 1977, the movement was haunted by a series of scandals and activity he sure as hell wouldn't´t tolerate from his disciples or even less give his blessing as bona fide. But what do you expect from a bunch of ex-hippies and drop outs who suddenly get the chance to rip off innocent people and use any means necessary in the war on the karmis.We´re talking more of losers who was given a chance to make money, gain power and influence in an easy way, and the best part is that can even make you believe that these are not in fact illegal, brutal and selfish behavior, more acts of altruism and the common good.


With my discussion above in mind, we can probably easier understand the ruthless stealing of money from innocent kids only trying to support the movement, showing interest of a unlikely linking of religion and punk in his contemporary hardcore scene. EGO VISION mail order mostly held their own releases and merchandise, but also the standard  Krishna assortment of tulasi neck beads, lectures on tape and of course the long rank of publications by well respected swamis,was more of an idealistic project, REDDY said in some interview, than a commercial business(read:”fraud”). His label had the main concern of bringing out the Holy Name to a corrupted world, not earning money on naive European hardcore kids.

I was stupid enough to place quite a big order through mail in my most devoted days of Krishna hardcore. Months went on without a sign. After writing EQUAL RIPOFF at least 3 times to check out the situation without a word happening, I came up with the idea to make a fictive flyer entitled “Boycott Equal Vision”, which I told them would be included in the LASH OUT "Worn Path" 12" of 1994. We were kinda big abroad, and our label,STORMSTRIKE RECORDS was the European chapter of the US label Doghouse Record.

Of course the hypocrite Steve Reddy, probably sky high on his "success"(well,it wasn't´t exactly ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES, SST or SUBPOP,that´s for sure) at the time,ignored my last resort of a prank and stole my goddamn money. If I was given the opportunity to explain his criminal way of “making business”, I bet he had been cheeky enough to say it was for my own personal good etc, perhaps because the money had been used in a more karmic way to his god of fraud. I´ve grown old enough since then to even care about my lost money today, but I´m more pissed off by thinking that the hardcore hoax of  EQUAL SUPERSTITION is alive and kicking these days as well, sailing under a false flag of "hard,edgy Krishna conscious music". but I know what that business is all about by now and I certainly Good to know that most of the stuff he is releasing totally bores me and ain´t much of a loss at all. I used to be a lot into the early releases of SHELTER,108 and REFUSE TO FALL, but they certainly lack the timeless qualities of, let´s say,YOUTH OF TODAY,BEYOND or INSIDE OUT. Living without these bands is just as easy as with their blue god playing the flute

Nevertheless,a German lowlife that I can t recall the name of, who we met on the first LASH OUT European tour, had this stinky mail order I was stupid enough to send a great deal of money.I didn t recive a shit,and after writing the scumbag 6 times, I repeated the EV prank. After 1 week I got a huge packet,containg among other things the rare PROJECT X 7"on Schism Records, and a note that said..."FUCK YOU!  

[1]:Sanskrit word for the Hindu priest.                            
[2]:The orange,yellow and white robes worn by Krishna's.    
[3]:Vic Dicara played in several influential hardcore bands in the late 80s and 90s:BEYOND,SHELTER,BURN,INSIDE OUT and last his own alter ego, 108. 
[4]:Pipes of steel used as the upper edge of skateboard ramp,perfect for grinding on trucks, board slides etc.    
[5]:Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada(1896-1977),often referred to by devotees as "His Divine Grace",was the man who brought Krishna Consciousness to the Western world and founded their movement in late 1966.    
[6]:A karmi is a non believer, trapped in a world of illusion and bound to rebirth over and over again until they start chanting the holy name.  
[7]:Tulasi  is a three in India which is regarded as holy and a "helper of Krishna". They wear neck beads made of tulasi for protection from evil spirits and the many demons in this world, according to them.    
[8]:A Swami is a spiritual leader or guru in the Vedic Hindu tradition.

1 comment:

AJ said...

This was one of the best things I've read lately.