Some Thoughts #61

ABOUT THIS ISSUE
    Something has drastically changed here.  Not too long ago I was trying to figure out how to fit all of the ads into these few pages.  Now, I find that I don’t have enough ads to even make an issue.  I’m not sure what has changed -- whether it’s the frequency of publishing or whether S&L’s not cool anymore.  Who knows - but S&L is dependent on advertising in order to exist and to be a free publication, which is essential.  So -- if you are interesting in supporting this paper by advertising - please get in touch with me. 
    In the meantime, this issue may much smaller; and consequently not all of the material that should be here is.  There are no classifieds -- sorry.  There are also no record reviews because my turntable has been broken for some time now. Even the back-up turntable died.  I’ve had it into the shop twice now -- and they still can’t figure out what is wrong with it -- but have recently assured me that they have a part on the way and it won’t be long.  In the meantime -- this issue has no record reviews.  Sorry for that too. I didn’t purposely neglect vinyl, nor decide to go the route of CDs only.  In fact with this issue I had full intentions of getting to “ground zero” with the records because I’ve got probably a few hundred 7”s waiting for a review - many of which I’ve had for a long time, too long now.  I’ve had a really hard time with the reviews of late and the details of broken turntables only make it even harder.
ON THE REVIEWS 
    I’ve been having a hard time with reviews.  It seems that I have always had a hard time with reviews -- but of late it’s been even worse.  I seem to be getting more and more stuff and having less and less time. I literally have stacks and boxes of stuff that has been neglected for way too long.  7”s that I’ve had for over a year and not yet reviewed. There is literally more stuff to listen to in my house than I could probably do in a lifetime.  That may be a slight exaggeration.  But I remember a time (and it doesn’t feel all that long ago) when I got a new record and listening to it until I knew it well.  These days it seems that even the things I like a lot barely get that kind of dedicated play. A few do but there is a lot of stuff that with the time I would love like an old favorite, but whether because on the first listen I didn’t get it into the right pile, or copied onto a tape that traveled with me, or simply wasn’t moved enough at the time; many things just get filed away.  And it frustrates me and eats away at me because music is what fuels me and I get so much inspiration and energy from rocking out to a band that really moves me.  For so long now my life has literally revolved around music and bands.  And the funny thing is with the reviews of music thing -- while I can easily complain about the “workload” and impossible amount of music to review on my shelves, I still feel like there are many things out there that I want to hear and review that I don’t get my hands on -- either because they are not sent to me, because I expect them to arrive and they don’t, or I just can’t get my hands on them.  And that is the weird thing.  I don’t want my complaints about overload to stop people from sending stuff that they think should be mentioned in the pages of S&L -- but I do think it is important that people understand where I am coming from with the reviews.  Because I do put so much energy and time and thought into getting the reviews done and fretting over the ones that don’t get done all the time wishing I just had more time to do it all; because the whole process is so important to me I want people to realize that I do try my damnedest to get the stuff written about and described in sound, quality and intentions.   It’s important to me to give fair attention to everything that I receive -- letter, zine or music for review.  At this point it has become physically impossible for me to review each and every thing that I receive.  And as I’ve come to realize, even if I did manage to get everything reviewed -- the space does not exist within the limited pages.  So - I fight a constant battle to review until I have no words left in me and then cram all those words into as small a type as is still readable and fit it all in.  Some sort of decisions, editing, and eliminating needs to happen any way that I look at it. If anyone has suggestions or comments --- feel free to express them.  I’ve had enough people say that I should cut down the reviews and expand the columns and articles and the funny thing is that would be so easy to do and does feel a natural progression.  But the bottom line is that I’m still way attached to the need for all those reviews to fill the pages.  I recognize that this is a great means of getting word out there and that it’s the “ultimate” means of communication that I strive for. The reviews won’t be going away, just continually being re-thought.  Hopefully with the next issue -- the turntable will be back and I’ll get sorted through all of the neglected vinyl.  And hopefully have the page space to print as much as is possible.
    Massive thanks are due to Aprille for kicking ass with the zine reviews -- without her I couldn’t do it.  And equally massive thanks to Bob Surren and Sound Idea for consistently getting me a full page ad without delay for each and every issue for a long time now!  Again - without him -- this wouldn’t be happening.
CHANGE IN SCHEDULE
    Apparently in the last issue I led some people to believe that I was considering not doing S&L anymore -- and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I have been re-evaluating things and thinking about the focus and direction that I want to see S&L continue in -- which is pretty much the same as it’s been.  But I’ve been struggling with time so much and feeling really dragged down -- so I’ve given a lot of thought to the best ways to deal with that.  I think the main thing that I will do for now is go to a schedule of every 3 months instead of every two.  I like the idea of S&L being bi-monthly (quarterly doesn’t sound often enough).  But the fact of the matter is -- my self-driven schedule is killing me.  Every step of the process is taking longer and it’s gotten to the point where as soon as one issue is all sent out -- the deadline for the next is right on top of me.  I’m thinking that this is one of the reasons why the ads aren’t coming in either -- it’s all just happening too fast for anyone to keep up with.  So I will try to slow down a bit, but only a bit, and go with a 3 month schedule.  Hopefully this will give us all a time to actually take it all in, breathe, and enjoy things at the same time. Enthusiasm and Inspiration are among my favorite words these days -- so I think it’s time to really focus on the things which cause those words to come to life.
INSPIRATION & ENTHUSIASM
    Finally the season of inspiration and renewed energy comes to me with a change in air currents and relief from the brutality of summer.  I’ve had a really rough summer and I couldn’t be happier to see it come to an end.  In the past week or so, the air has changed: dropping the humidity and bring a much more honest sort of weather.  Clear and sunny in the daytime and crisp and cooler at night.  It’s so invigorating.  As I’m outside now, I can almost barely remember (though in actuality I’ll never quite forget) that feeling I was plagued with of not being able to spend another minute outside.  When the 10 extra feet the compost pile or trash can was more than I could bare.  Now once again, I can sit outside on the porch and basque in the day -- drink deeply of the sun and breathe deeply the fresh air.  I’ve been in a super funk for the last couple months.  I finally likened the heat of summer to affect my moods in much the same way as the depths of winter.  Both force me to stay inside in a stagnant false environment of controlled air -- which in turn leads to a lack of sun and fresh air -- which leads to a funky pissy mood.  The layers are quickly peeling away as my energy level sky-rockets and I once again can embrace life fully.
    This summer I also managed to rope myself into show booking.  In part because it seemed that all of my favorite bands and best friends had contacted me for a show and then because there was a decent diy venue which seemed to be getting people inspired.  Well all good things come to an end and all diy venues get shut down (it seems).  The shows that I had lined up all turned into a huge fiasco and headache and even for my best friends and favorite bands -- I was putting way too much time that I didn’t have, in a direction that just wasn’t any fun.  For weeks there, I was at the breaking point of totally losing it -- spending what seemed like all my time either sorting out details, or fretting over each and every show.  Sadly, when you hold all that over your head for too long, and care so very much, once you finally get to the day of that show -- you forget about the excitement of seeing your friends and favorite bands and are instead a stressed out bundle of nerves worrying about whether enough people will show up, whether you’ll be able to pay the bands what you feel they need and whether someone is going to cause some sort of bullshit problem.  Fortunately, it all worked out one way or another.  Most of the shows happened -- the stress in hindsight was minimal and the chaos factor was non-existent.  But when it takes me 2 weeks after booking a show for Citizen Fish for the reality of the fact that my absolute favorite band were going to be playing here again to sink in — for the giddy excitement of that special yearly (in this case though it’s been several years) event to register past the show booking mode and into my heart -- it’s a clear sign that things are other than they should be.  Fortunately -- I was able to shed those layers of bullshit and get myself excited out of my skin to have my best-girl Karoline in town for a few days to await the excitement of Citizen Fish and to remember that it was a tour that I had considered going on.
    The fun season really began with Oi Polloi and the Primate Freedom Tour.  Having Neil and Richard -- and the entourage around me once against filled me with a glee that skipped a beat in my heart.  It was like I was reunited with my family once again and that made me easily realize all that I had been missing this past season.  Running around the Spanish speaking neighborhood in bodegas picking up coffee, juice and peanut chews - it was just like being back in NYC.  And sitting at the book table and extended distro put me right at home.  It was such an awesome realization for me to recognize how much these friends are like a pillar of support for me -- something that I’ve come to depend on so much more than I realized.  And as Oi Polloi played I was filled with so many years of them being a favorite band and I couldn’t help but think back to the first time they played at ABC NO RIO in 1990, at what to this day I still remember as one of the very best shows there.  Sadly I wasn’t able to get a show for His Hero Is Gone and I freaked out and missed seeing them in DC.  And now they’ve broken up and I’ll kick myself over it for awhile.  Aus Rotten rolled through at the end of August also in part with the Primate Freedom Tour and it was so good to have them around.  That was the beginning of a short period of whirlwind reunited friendships.  It’s been awhile since I’ve traveled and likewise it’s not as often that my friends roll through Richmond and so when they do it is a special thing.  And these days the enthusiasm of life comes from those brief wonderful connections.  At this point the Primate Freedom Tour posse were a regular part of my family and household and it was easy to have them come and go with welcome -- knowing they’d be back soon.  In the middle of all of this - I met a good pen pal, Molly who I totally connected with and share much. It’s so exciting to meet someone that you feel you know and realize how much you have in common -- how much you even remind each other of the other and to totally click.  Fueled with that bond,  I headed for the hills to get out of the city for a day and visit some good old friends who are not usually in the same place at the same time.  The mountain air and earthly people did so much good for my wounded and wilted self.  And I left with so much inspiration, feeling that I had found the “medicine” that I needed. I returned the following weekend to sleep under the stars and photograph old houses.  And after a summer long quest to find good peaches (the super market ones have been horrible and the organic ones are like $5 each!) — I had the absolute blissful pleasure of discovering a bountiful peach tree right at the foundation of one of these majestic old houses that I was photographing.  This sent me into a frenzy of ecstasy and I filled my shirt with as many as I could carry and danced around the fields with Stephane & Felix as we savored the freshest juiciest peaches you could ever hope for.
    A few days later my girl Karoline came to Richmond and we had a few days to dedicate to each other and rediscover the rewards of a best-friendship. These few days were the icing on the cake to a period of ecstatic bliss -- that reminded me once again about the important things in life: favorite bands and best friends all connected through the punk community. I finally got to meet the girls from Harem Scarum -- a band I’ve been completely obsessed with of late. And after hearing so much about Jessica from Gainesville from close friends - I had the pleasure of expanding my circle of rad women and meeting her too.  She was meeting up to play sax for the Fish -- after two weeks of studying notes and no actual practice with them.  She proved how completely rad she was by fully rocking and fitting into place perfectly.  And I have to point out that what makes he radder beyond words is that she’s rockin’ out with a baby in her belly too!!!  I’m completely obsessed with pregnancy and seeing friends embracing motherhood within the punk community is inspiring beyond words.  Thinking of Victoria from Damad rockin’ out almost up to the point of giving birth.  The strength of womanhood comes through strong!!  It’s so cool when the ingredients for a wonderful thing just keep adding up to be better and better.  Who could have asked to be surrounded by a better group of people -- all so rad in their own rights and magical when brought together.  Harem Scarum were amazing!  They are an all women punk band that are just absolutely and completely perfect in my eyes.  After two days with them I felt like I’d known them for a long time.  When they played -- I had chills of excitement and inspiration.  It was so right to be around all these utterly rockin’ women!  Citizen Fish topped it all off -- as they rocked in perfection and I was in utter bliss.  The only thing missing was the crowded basement of sweaty pogoing bodies and voices that can scream “Flesh & Blood” and the choruses louder that a PA.  But I sat there with my camera as the sweat poured and my body bouncing and my eyes watered and I was so ready to go on tour with them again.  Full of the emotions of wonderful people and wonderful music that has lured me away from a stagnant stationary life twice before.  It all felt so right and I was so ready to hit the road w/ my family. I had to satisfy myself with a mere two days of them, cause I’m still staying stationary here in Richmond. Saying good-bye -- to everyone -- to my best friends, my new friends, my favorite bands, my road family and all the folks that I’d so quickly gotten used to having around -- all at once - it was almost more than I could bare.
    Now the slate is clean.  I’ve got no more shows lined up and I’m planning a break from show booking.  The weather patterns have changed delivering some cool air and cuddly sweater days will follow soon.  It’s a better thing than I can even put into words to open the back door and be lured out  into the garden once again.  I’ve had a satisfying fill of favorite bands, best friends and inspiration all at once and now I’ll to sit and chew on that and savor the time for a short while as my inspiration channels itself inward.  It’s those magical, wonderful people out there in the punk rock world that I connect with so deeply that keep me going.  And sometimes it’s the most obvious things that get overlooked and missed -- and realizing that, and remembering what is important makes everything feel so good.