Some Thoughts #67

    Hard to believe that last issue I was all in a tiffy over not getting any snow, and now we’re full on into the throws of spring.  Everything is a blooming and a sprouting and coming to life again.  It’s my favorite time of year.  I am on top of the world, on top of my life, in love with everything and feeling great.
    I found myself in a car with Fly, Ben, Atom and Sascha - and I felt so lucky to be surrounded by such a good group of people.  Good friends from all over the place - brought together almost unexpectedly.  One of the best things and one of my most favorite things.  People together out of context.  But then again, what is context, when we’re all moving around and traveling and finding ourselves at home in so many different places.  But here was a group of some of my most favorite people in the world.  People who’ve inspired me for years - been among my closest comrades - and here we were all going to get avocado milkshakes - quite possibly the best icing on the cake imaginable.
    I walked into Gilman, in that slightly disoriented to be in a crowded room with lots of people you feel you should know but you probably don’t.  It takes a minute to assess the room and the situation and figure out where you belong and if you belong.  But before I could process any of that - I heard my name and there was Aaron in front of me.  I hadn’t seen him for years, and what I treat I thought - to run into Aaron in Berkeley.  I got a new zine and was all stoked to be talking zines with a fellow zine-writer who I admire.  In fact it made me realize how seldom I really get to talk about the things that are most a part of my life - postage rates and print runs.  And with the latest crisis in international postage, I was all ready to talk about how to battle it out with the stamps. 
    Speaking of the new postage rates: It’s been a really huge issue in my life of late - cause it’s effecting Slug & Lettuce drastically.  I have found that it’s basically impossible to send packages of S&L overseas - without paying upwards of $25 for 50 copies or so.  In fact, many of the packages of the last issue have been late or haven’t gone out at all - cause it took so long for the post office to actually give me the new rates and then just as long to actually accept that they were for real.  It is ridiculous and it frustrates me that with all of this globalization happening - it feels as though the borders are being fortified even tighter for the regular people (read: non-corporations).  The entire international punk community is going to suffer from this postage increase and it really saddens me to see the doors close like that.  I’m totally interested in working to find new options and alternatives.  I am even considering working on a website - simply to make S&L more available to people who can access the web with out having to deal with the high cost of postage.  It’s like the final straw which broke my anti-internet(ism).  Personally, I much prefer the portable mobility of paper that you can take with you.  But if I have to deal with the obstacle of the postage rates then I am willing to try to work around it - and I think that it might just have to be on-line.  If anyone has any suggestions on alternative shipping possibilities - let me know - let everyone know.  Let’s get the punk post started!
    Before I had even arrived in California, Karoline told me that Fly had found a tree at the botanical gardens which I had to meet.  And so I was excited, cause I go crazy over trees - and any tree that was so remarkable as to make someone think of me and want to take me to the tree - gave me great anticipation. Aaron offered to take us walking on some trails in the Berkeley hills behind the botanical gardens.  The day almost got away from us, what with sleeping late and getting he mundane things of life taken care of before one leaves town for a month long tour, but finally we all got our act together and met up for what would be a quick jaunt.  It seemed we wouldn’t have time for the day long hike we’d planned, if we wanted to make sure and meet with the California Buckeye (the marvelous tree).  And I couldn’t help but think - incredible as it may be - the tree in the garden isn’t going anywhere, but the opportunity for a walk with a native, especially one renown for his adventuresome walks - well how could we pass up on that.  We started the trek up through the eucalyptus trees and as Aaron sized up the mountain and then a fence, I couldn’t help but think, “oh shit, this is the guy who scales fences on all his walks”, and me not being any sort of a climber or fence scalar had a bit of a panic.  But before I knew it we were heading up this awesome path straight up the hill with the most stunning view of the bay and city beyond.  The mists were rolling in, yet the sun was shining bright.  It was sensational.  When we started out on our adventure, all in a fit of time crunch and the need to get Karoline and Fly back to Robert to go see Willie Nelson (!), Aaron let out with some really chill talk about climbing to the top of the mountain and zoning out and forgetting everything and relaxing and enjoying and the whole meditative process was enough to lure all of our intensity whacked selves up there in a bit of a quest.  Well I was tantalized by the view, and all of the amazing plant life that was sprouting forth in the most iridescent of spring green glow.  My camera was broken and not fully cooperative with me, which further delayed me.  Sadly, we didn’t get to sit at the top of the hill and reflect on all of life and sing songs, as had been proposed.  Instead we walked at such a pace as to induce a near asthma attack for one not used to scaling mountains in a matter of minutes - while the professional walkers disappeared around the bend of the hill.  Eventually at the top, and then started to weave our way back down through these paths and between houses literally built into the mountain. We hightailed it through these cavernous steps and pathways - right up to people’s front windows, feeling we were on some secret private yet public, non-intrusive, we know where we are going sort of way.  We made it to the botanical gardens with 10 minutes till closing - long enough to meet the California Buckeye and reveal in it’s magic.  And then just as we left the clouds started to roll in with a slight drizzle.  By the time we made it to AK Press - it was pouring and Karoline and I were both on fire with the splendor of the walk.  She was even almost ready to blow of Willie and that is saying a lot.  We were all thinking about how much of an awesome journey we were having - and felt the energy of the great outdoors and the gathering together of special people.
    Getting to see Sascha was a real unexpected treat as well.  A few months back Sascha was intent on the world’s demise as planned by the ubiquitous “they.  I had gotten completely wrapped up in Sascha’s visions and had spent a big chunk of each and every day thinking about him and his visions. But it didn’t seem as though our paths were going to cross in the Bay Area.  So when Fly mentions that Sascha is in town, then in a few days calls saying Ben “I’ve got Atom and Sascha and we’re on our way over now” - I was stoked.  I mean all these special people together at once.  As if just spending a week with Karoline and Robert, two of the most amazingly awesome people you could ever how to meet, isn’t enough of a satisfying experience.  Having all these rad people that I didn’t expect to be around just sort of be there.  Well it was super cool.
    We all went for a trek up north to a high school where Athena teaches and has a lunch group called “the evolution of revolution”.  They were interested in getting a book table going, so Karoline, Robert and I went up there to do a bit of a lunch presentation.  It was kind of scary to show up at a high school for a presentation - but it was actually quite cool and the kids interest and enthusiasm gave us all a real jolt of satisfaction and energy shared.  We then proceed to follow my wandering nose to the ocean, via winding roads with rad huge trees and rolling hills with sheep and cows.  I was on fire.  Karoline was on fire. After we left goat rock and started driving on the 1 we were so amped that we were literally screaming at the top of our lunch all but howling out the windows.  We laughed and hooted so hard that I ended up giving myself a headache.  There is no better feeling than begging with your very best friend(s) in the whole world and having those smile muscles ache in pain from overuse.  I mean I had a whole week of the giddy giggles and smiles and jubilant love of life.  Having these sorts of reunions with long lost pals and favorite people of the world makes you realize that often times your best friends and favorite people are far away from you - but it’s okay - cause those bonds of friendship and connection hold strong and blossom when given the opportunity to be together again.
    And I am reminded that the most important people in my life are all scattered to the wind in the far corners of the world.  And that we do come together and reunite, often times in an unexpected way, but that is the very best cause when it goes happen - all of life seems to have a purpose and reason, as you sit there with aching smile muscles and a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
    Sleep?  What is sleep?  Or should I say, how can I sleep when Karoline is in my house.  Or how could you sleep - if your best friend from 3,000 miles away is in your house for a mere 6 hours over night in between shows on tour?  That was the situation I found myself in and I was on the sort of sleep-dep kick that makes you really disoriented and strange.  But I was so giddy that there was no way I could fall asleep - knowing that as soon as we woke up 4 hours later she would be hopping in the van and saying good-bye.  Consequently, I was remembering some of the fun times in my teenage years when I would get myself into a fun situation and be off my usual sleeping at home during usual hours schedule.  It’s amazing how much fun and ultimately how memorable those breaks into the routine of sleep can be.  Though I do have a tendency to do it on in a binge manner which makes me sick in the long run (not the sleep dep for 3 days to get high kind of sick) but the push myself to the limits and think, sleep?  what is sleep?  I will carry on 20 hours of the day and do as much as I physically can.  Well that only last for so long, and in this case about as long as Karoline and Richard could be in town.
    Then it was on to making a quilt for Carol and Dave for their wedding... It is not too often that punks get married, although it is happening with more frequency - as many of us get older and find our life partners.  But even when the punks do get married - it’s not necessarily guaranteed to be a scene event.  But with Dave and Carol it was very much that.  I’ve come to really love to see how friends choose to celebrate their weddings; and likewise how they choose to go about pregnancies and child-birth.  It’s such standard of life stuff, yet it’s fascinating on how many levels you have choices to make and even for what many think to be traditional rights of passage - there are endless possibilities.  So I love to see how people plan their weddings - opting for convention and radical alternatives.  It’s always cool to see how the punks turn up at these gatherings - some get all decked out in fancy clothes, some look just the same as every day - with an extra accessory or new shoes or something.  Once again - so much room for interpretation.  But when you get a bunch of punks together at a wedding - along with family and well a couple hundred friends - you are bound to have quite a crew.  Carol and Dave’s wedding was such an event that the local news even showed up at the request to see her custom made red dress with flames on it.  It was an awesome celebration - with friends from a far - all gathered to celebrate with Carol and Dave.  And then there was a hardcore show and that was out of control.  Congratulations to Carol and Dave - a stunning pair who literally glow in their love for each other!
    So much has been happening - what with the celebratory issue of Slug & Lettuce and the coming of the wonderful season of rejuvenation.  The greens have been planted in the garden and the flower bulbs are blooming.  The trees are all starting to bud and turn green here and there - dropping hints of what is to come just around the corner.  It’s such an exciting time.  A time when everything feels possible.  I realize that I haven’t been to many shows of late though.  When I was in SF - my camera broke.  I was traumatized.  I mean, I have never had my camera just stop working - and I had myself all set to photograph everything and go crazy.  And there I was in Gilman, with the Black Hand, unexpectedly (to me) playing.  I get all set up to shoot - and dead broken camera.  I was so upset, that I couldn’t even concentrate on the band that I loved playing, nor on most of the show.  I mean - it was cool as can be to see a lot of old friends and talk record and band talk with some people... but all the while I had this nagging feeling as though an extension of my body had fallen off.  It also snapped part of my urge to seek out seeing more bands while I was there - which was a shame cause there were so many to see.  Unfortunately, when a band is in front of me, and my camera is broken, it’s like rubbing it in my face.  And since I already see in terms of snapped frames - it was painful.
    I’ve had time for lots of reflection what with this being a landmark issue for me.  The thing that I think is cool about the 15 year anniversary - is that it also marks doing the zine for half my life.  I turn 30 in a few months.  I just think that is pretty damn cool.  It really explains to me what is so much a part of my life - an extension of me.  I’ve been thinking about how much it’s changed over the years and how I’ve pushed on, ever forward.  I can’t say there has ever been a time when I had certain big goals or aspirations with the zine.  Meaning, it’s not like at 15 - I was like, “I’m going to keep at this for 15 years and have a staff of people working for me and blah blah blah...”  No, it’s just kind of plotted it’s own course and takes me along for the ride.  Many people have helped it along over the years and I’m eternally grateful to those who have given me inspiration, helped me with printing and technical issues, made it all possible with the support of advertising. As well as to all those who have contributed artwork and columns and helped with the reviews! Those of you who have never missed and issue and have always been there - know who you are.  So much has changed over the years.  I always have to wonder how much I have changed, cause we never really think that we change.  I mean we continue to grow and evolve and get deeper into our things that we do (hopefully). Sometimes I look around at people I have known and how they have really pursued different paths - really pushed themselves into new directions and I wonder - “am I merely treading water here, doing the same thing, over and over, never doing anything new?”  Sometimes it is hard and sometimes it’s frustrating.  And that is the sense in which I feel that nothing has changed and yet everything has changed.  The scene has changed a lot.  I think back to when I was in high school and of how I would grasp on to anything remotely punk - so desperate was I for a scene.  Now I can laugh at that to a degree and yet I also cringe to think how people have their punk scene handed to them on a silver platter these days.  So much is happening, so many different genres and niches - that it’s possible to be picky and choosy and buy your hair dye kits at the mall.  Ha.  The network for bands to put out their own records and distribute them and tour has been so well established that everyone can do it.... the foundations have been laid.  And we can always  continue to push ourselves toward new things - but I don’t think that ever has to be at the expense of leaving the past behind or letting it go. And I guess there are many who just have to keep plodding along and keeping the foundation set.  We can integrate it and make it better and build an even stronger community.  It’s spring, and anything feels possible.
    So in celebration of this fine weather - plant some herbs and veggies - if you don’t have a garden - get some soil and pots and go crazy with container gardening.  Listen to some really loud punk rock.  Run around in the sun and have fun with your friends.  And read lots of good books!  Maybe I’ll find some time to sleep one of these days - but with so much fun stuff happening - it seems a waste!!
Rock on! -Chris(tine) 3/2001