Rest in Piece: David Bowie (and music and cities)
The rock musician David Bowie died yesterday. Creativity music and the rock scene is associated with cities. And many of the best places to see concerts have been in cities ("Remembering David Bowie appearances, influence in Maryland area," Baltimore Sun).
Capital Ballroom, on Half Street SE. The site is now an office building.
Bowie at Capital Ballroom, September 1996. Barry Wilson Photography.
As the Economist piece "Remembering underground Washington, DC: DC never stood for Dodge City," makes clear, back then DC was a very different place, and Half Street SE was decidedly not a part of the "Capitol Riverfront" and Ballpark District of today, even though then it too was a short walk (or bike ride) to the US Capitol and Capitol Hill.
Each of the concerts was very different. The first was more focused on what you would call art rock and "B side" material. The second was focused on his hits. Both concerts were incredible.
I miss Capital Ballroom.
One of the circumstances that follows from DC's relative lack of industry, height limit, and the fact that 1/3 of the city's land is comprised of federal and other special districts, is that we lack the kinds of large buildings that Jane Jacobs wrote about as fostering innovation and creativity. In part it's because we never had such large buildings in the first place. The other reason is because the height limit leads to a voracious energy to repurpose lower density uses to the maximum use allowable by zoning, especially in well-located areas, which Half Street SE is today, even if it wasn't 20 years ago.
-- "Tale of Two Cities: Washington's Inability to Sustain DIY Culture Highlights Baltimore's Greatest Strength, Baltimore City Paper, 2008
-- "Do it yourself culture #5," 2008
-- "Ground up (guerrilla) art #2: community halls and music (among other things)," 2011
-- "Planning your community's night time attractions in terms of music," 2011
-- "Seattle creates priority parking privileges for musicians un/loading equipment, 2014
-- "Music and urbanity," 2008
-- "Why did DC's attempt to create a music museum fail?," 2008
-- "Does Chicago finally have a Music Office? Maybe, though most people don’t know about it yet," WBEZ radio, 2013
-- "Chicago Music City: A Report on the Music Industry in Chicago by the University of Chicago for the Chicago Music Commission
-- "Don't mess with Austin's music moniker," New York Times, 2006
-- Austin Live Music Task Force presentation
-- Biennial white paper: State of the Music Industry in Austin, Texas, 2015, Austin Music People, the trade association and advocacy group for Austin's music industry
There is an important academic exploration, Decline, Renewal and the City in Popular Music Culture: Beyond the Beatles on music and cities, focusing on Liverpool as a case study. The author, Sara Cohen, also co-authored this journal article, "Local music policies within a global music industry: cultural quarters in Manchester and Sheffield," Geoforum, 2000
Panic in Detroit