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April 18, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Band inspires speaker

As President Bush was preparing to give his State of the Union address last night, Antonino D’Ambrosio was giving a different kind of talk to students and faculty in the Business Administration building.

D’Ambrosio, author, filmmaker and musician among other professions, spoke on personal development of political activism and, specifically, the influence the punk-rock band the Clash had on his own work.

“I don’t like the term ‘activist.’ It’s culturally based work. To us, it’s like we are workers,” D’Ambrosio said.

D’Ambrosio, from Philadelphia, is currently on a Midwest book tour to promote “Let Fury Have the Hour,” a collection of D’Ambrosio’s essays and pieces by the Clash’s frontman Joe Strummer.

“Joe Strummer, the Clash, radical politics, activism — that’s what this book is all about,” D’Ambrosio said.

D’Ambrosio used clips of songs from the Clash as well as concert video footage to show the fun and energetic, but politically-charged, music they produced. Overcoming the grimness of the material the Clash dealt with was one of their greatest accomplishments.

“Their music is fun and engaging. It shows that the world is worth fighting for,” D’Ambrosio said.

The Clash came to the forefront of punk quickly by the optimism for change in their music.

“They offered an alternative,” D’Ambrosio said. “(Their music) is not just nihilistic complaints against the right-wing. They offered hope.”

Many artists have followed the Clash’s lead by making music that has messages of activism including Mos Def, Fugazi and Public Enemy but none has been able to reach the status of “the only band that matters,” as the Clash was often called.

The subject of Iraq, American intervention and the 2004 election were also touched on by D’Ambrosio. He spoke on how in American people of different ethnic backgrounds have built this country and the current need for acceptance of different cultures worldwide.

“Bombing buildings that have stood for 500 years — that’s terrible,” D’Ambrosio said.

Others at the forum shared the same sentiment.

“We need to look toward revolutionary art if we are going to find a solution to the forces that run both our nation and nations across the globe,” said Daniel Boudreau of the American Culture Studies department.

D’Ambrosio was well-received by the crowd and many stayed afterward to continue the conversation.

“D’Ambrosio’s presentation was important, not only because it offered insight into the extraordinary life of Joe Strummer, but also because it provided a model as to how we can increase social awareness and political activism in our culture,” said Calli Helldobler, a BGSU student.

D’Ambrosio is the founder of Lalutta, a 75,000 person-strong organization dedicated to — among other things — documentary filmmaking, programs advocating activism and has its roots in technical assistance to grassroots groups. Members of Lalutta, established in 1997, recently attended the World Social Forum in Brazil, and met with Brazilian president Lula as well as Southeast Asia to address the Tsunami disaster.

The speech was called “Politics in the Drums: Creating Activist Culture, Retaining a Punk Ethic.” The title comes from a quote by hip-hop pioneer Fab Five Freddy, referring to the militancy in the rhythm of early rap, who said, “The politics are in the drums.”

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