John Holmstrom

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‘Helen Keller Was an Asshole,’ and Other Things You’ll Learn at the Acker Awards

(Flyer via ACKER awards)

(Flyer via ACKER awards)

Helen Keller was an “undisciplined wild child who nobody could contain, and that’s what makes her heroic,” said Clayton Patterson as he explained the quote in the headline to this story.

I’d heard the unofficial elder-guardian of the Lower East Side say plenty of controversial things like this before, it’s usually part of a strategy of illustrating his radical points– how he disapproves of feminists (for often ignoring the need for the advancement of all women) and gay marriage (also for a reason you might not expect: because legalizing gay marriage does not necessarily signal that all queer people will reap the benefits of mainstream approval). The point with Helen Keller was that real adversity breeds character and makes for interesting art, and that the “wild child” can be a marker of artistic purpose. It’s all connected to how, as an artist-activist, Patterson considers almost everything he does to be both a work of art and an expression of solidarity with the underclasses, the maligned, and the avant-garde. Enter the Acker Awards, a way of recognizing members of the avant-garde arts community for their achievements and influence, happening Thursday, March 17 at Howl! Arts in the East Village.

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Remember When Punk Magazine Made the East Village the Center of the Universe?

Punk magazine celebrates its 40th anniversary at Howl! Arts in the East Village (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Punk magazine celebrates its 40th anniversary at Howl! Arts in the East Village (Photo: Nicole Disser)

In 1976, a comic artist named John Holmstrom begot Punk magazine as an excuse to stalk his favorite bands from the downtown scene, and look cool in the process. Needless to say, Holmstrom succeeded (beyond what he ever imagined) in permanently etching the East Village into the throbbing heart of the punk movement, and visualizing an R. Crumb-like vision of the scenes running through Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. Soak up the 40th-anniversary exhibition that opened last week at Howl! Happening and Punk’s lasting influence becomes sharply real.

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