There is a lot that has been said and will be said about the short-lived zine Corruption And Faggots All Around Me. It was written and released by a group unidentified Texans who possessed an unrivaled fealty to all things New York hardcore. Make no mistake about it, as abrasive and politically incorrect CAFAAM was, it was on point and true to its source.
There has always been an obscene amount of romanticizing about the 1980s NYHC scene. A lot of hardcore kids love to feign that they subscribe to "mag life", that they "don't forget the struggle, don't forget the streets", and other adapted NYHC colloquialisms. These hardcore kids they want to believe they relate to their heroes of the Lower East Side and CBGBs. Here's the reality of it: NYHC became what it was through a perfect storm of conditions. Much like Burning Spirits and its precision and Boston with its flair for raw hatred, NYHC is a unique creature.
Corruption and Faggots All Around Me captures a lot of the sketchier elements of the NYHC scene and plays to them. While a lot of PC kids would likely decry this stuff as ignorant and disgusting, I think it paints a picture that offers more context to life in 1980s NYC. I want to analyze a couple of the elements:
- Nationalism: no scene in USHC history has flown the flag the way New York has. Agnostic Front, Warzone, Youth Defense League, and others all emerged from New York and made US imagery a staple of their aesthetic. This can be attributed in large part to New York being a distinctly AMERICAN city. It is the melting pot itself. It is where foreigners go to die and become Americans.
- Homophobia: without getting into a long-winded history lesson, here's some facts about gay relations in New York in the early 1980s. 1.) AIDS until sometime in the early 1990s was a criminally misunderstood disease 2.) the first few years of the AIDS epidemic was focused almost entirely on the gay community (until 1984, AIDS was actually known as Gay Related Immune Deficiency or GRID) 3.) the mid to late 1980s saw the gay community begin its gentrification of the LES (which actually led to the CAFAAM lyric). 4.) a lot of 1980s NYHC personalities were not very well educated 5.) you put a community of people, who are known to almost exclusively carry a mysterious killer disease, into the same area as a group of deviant, largely uneducated people and certain things will manifest. Namely, homophobia.
CAFAAM is a zine that gets NYHC. It focuses on the realities of the NYHC scene as opposed to its mythology. Too often now are kids taken in by the idea of NYHC without understanding where it came from, how it was shaped, and what it means. Hardcore, at its foremost, is about its history and its surroundings. These two things are far more important than personalities, bands, venues, etc. The best eras of hardcore are shaped by a variety of conditions that make the people in the scene who they are. The NYHC scene came up in a climate that can never be repeated. Abject poverty, astronomical crime rates, overcrowding and the specter of gentrification, and nihilistic violence. CAFAAM understood this and captures all of these elements effectively in their zine. Here are the only two issues that were released.