The Good Magazine Block Party

Everybody's a GOOD Samaritan these days: the music trend of worthy causes

No one cares about trashing Best Westerns and scandalizing groupies any more. When it comes to public image, rock stars these days are hankering for Al Gore merit badges, and the music and media industries are rapidly supporting their attempts at green karma.

Last week Live Earth funneled performances by Madonna, Metallica, AFI, and 147 other acts into a 24-hour, seven-continent marathon to conjure more awareness for our "climate crisis." The latest issue of Spin asks how touring bands could be more effective in reducing toxins, pushing the issue beyond your typical quotes and press clippings. After considering the negative impact of electricity at amphitheaters and fume-belching buses, the magazine offers a sardonic solution for fans: "Stay home, maybe read a book, preferably by candlelight." Looks like there's a bit more work to be done beyond Honda sponsoring an "eco-friendly" Fall Out Boy tour.

Locally, San Francisco's upcoming Treasure Island Music Festival is promising "green standards" and aims to educate Modest Mouse and M.I.A. fans on the value of a cleaner environment. The promoters are even negotiating bio-diesel school buses for public transport to the two-day September event. If only this snowballing trend got vendors at major venues to sell human-sized bottles of water instead of the paltry spritzers that clog garbage cans, we'd really be in business.

It's smart marketing to use an event with a captive demographic to remind folks not to waste so much plastic crap and to unplug the iPod charger when they're done with it. It's especially savvy to couch activist messages inside parties that music-savvy folks would hit regardless of politics. Take, for example, Choose GOOD — the Sunday, July 15 block party at 111 Minna that runs from noon until 8 p.m. — which aims to hit a populace that generally "gives a damn." The event hits home on multiple levels. First, it pairs GOOD, a new, young national magazine with lefty coverage of issues ranging from the environment to homelessness to abortion rights, with a lefty city invested in many of the same causes. I haven't read the rag much myself, but I bought my liberal-values dad a subscription last Christmas, and through some kind of magical business mathematics, 100 percent of that subscription cost went to the charity of my choice from GOOD's list of a dozen partners. The year-old publication claims its income comes from advertisers happy to be associated with its readership. As publisher Max Schorr explained via e-mail, "GOOD Magazine partners with companies who want to connect with our community," partners that include Marc Jacobs, Netflix, and Virgin, among others.

GOOD's influence spreads beyond print, though, as the company also includes films and events among its offerings. Which brings us back to the block party, a theme that fits with a city where every neighborhood, ethnicity, and Grateful Dead fan has its day this summer. Choose GOOD focuses on raising awareness of the company's philanthropic vision while padding the coffers of organizations like UNICEF, Teach for America, and World Wildlife Fund, causes worth the donations.

The $20 entrance fee is for a GOODsubscription, which then goes to the nonprofit partner of your choosing. It's also the admission price to hear top-notch DJs from around the country. Kanye West's buddy A-Trak headlines alongside globetrotting beatmaster extraordinaire Diplo and Chicago's Kid Sister. Hip hop, '80s electro, disco acts, and DJs round out the rest of the lineup, which includes Bedtime for Toys, Squeak E. Clean, Richie Panic, and Vin Sol.

On the whole, the Choose GOOD lineup may be more overtly good vibes than Good Samaritan (although Diplo recently launched his Heaps Decent nonprofit to connect artists around the world with poor kids craving a music education), but GOOD is aiming for the bigger picture. "Music is just one part of this," says Schorr. "It is really about connecting people and catalyzing ideas and relationships that lead to action. Positive things will happen because people show up and have a good time." And see here, in the process, no Best Western has to lose a television set out the hotel window — which of course would be very environmentally unfriendly.

 
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