Some Thoughts #76

    This all go, no sleep routine is starting to take it’s toll.  You can only push yourself for so long before you start to crash.  But that isn’t stopping me yet.  This issue has been put together in a frenzy of faster and stricter deadlines that usual.  The goal behind that being to get this issue done, and back from print, before heading to the west coast for a 2 week jaunt between Portland and San Francisco.  Pulling together an issue, is always a grueling task.  Dragging columns, reviews, and ads out of people.  Being a torn in the procrastinators side.  But when you set yourself up against a deadline with no flexibility, it can make for quite a stressful state.  My thanks to all those who got their stuff in early and on time in order to make this all possible.  Yikes.  As the 5 am late night layouts come together, the last lines of text get adjusted, and the type gets shrunk yet one more time, and everything fits in just so, I can breathe a sigh of almost relief.  Soon enough I’ll be on a plane to the punk mecca, getting ready for the zine symposium.  I’m supposed to help out with a workshop on offset printing zines, and I’m a bit nervous.  Quite honestly, I’m also a bit nervous about meeting all these other zine folks - people who’s words, handwriting, addresses and art I know - but who’s faces I’ve never seen.  One guy wrote to me and said that it would probably be awkward and it make me realize how true that is, cause we’re all used to having loads of confidence behind our typewriters, camera and computers, but face to face, many of us zine nerds are shy and awkward.  So by chance, if you’re reading this at the zine gathering, don’t be shy, say HI, to me and to everyone else.  We’re all in the same boat.  And honestly that goes well beyond this specific event.  I think we all too often build things up and make people more than they are, or rather, get intimidated because we know something of them, or intimidated because we are afraid they won’t know who we are, or care, or because we enjoy their writing or music, but face it, the beauty of punk rock is that we are all supposed to be standing on the same ground.  We’re all equal and have the ability to talk to each other, share ideas and dreams and we shouldn’t be put off by these invisible boundaries.  Not that I don’t do the same thing sometimes.  But I try to break those boundaries down because I know I should fight them and not let them gain any power over any of us.  I’ll admit that earlier this spring, when I was in the midst of some foreign panic attack of social disorder, I convinced myself that I wouldn’t be able to go to this zine fest because it would break me in two to see all these people who had their whole lives ahead of them, who were doing amazing things, who had so much energy and creativity and passion, who were in the throws of the moment.  And now I ask myself, what was I thinking?  Don’t I have my whole life still ahead of me?  Don’t I embrace all that same energy, passion, creativity and dedication to my zine and to punk rock? Of course?  And perhaps I even have something to offer others, just in the same way I hope that other people will  to inspire me and challenge me to do new things.  Everything is a circle. It’s interconnected and we ultimately have to work together, push each other and hold one another up occasionally.
    It’s funny sometimes how things can be so interwoven, especially in our punk scene.  You meet some people and they instantly play an important part in your life.  You meet others and they are fleeting moments, sometimes intense and then gone, sometimes not that impacting.  What is interesting is how those relationships can change over time.  Someone you met but don’t even remember later on down the road becomes very significant.  Someone who once was very close and important to you drifts away and you don’t even know what happened.  Of course that aspect of it all is sometimes hard and sad.  But I like the way sometimes people come to play important roles later on that you might not have anticipated.  Some people have amazing memories for these things—some people remember everything.  Some times they remember everything because everything matters, and other people are just good with details.  Some people have huge hearts but lousy memories.  Some of my nearest and dearest friends are lousy letter writers.  And some of the people who have grown to be best friends were the letter writers who never quit writing over the years so that now we have this long past behind us, overlapping and .  I’ve always put a lot of importance for that reason on the friends of friends.  And generally speaking the friends and peeps of my best pals, often find the same or  spot with me too.  But I’ve found myself thinking a bunch about how things overlap and grow and how I meet someone now who tells a story about when we first met and how different that time and place is in relationship to today.  I love those stories.  It makes everything more solid, when our lives sometimes seem so fleeting.
    I’ve been fighting stagnation and complacency.  I’ve been in one place for awhile, sticking to the same patterns, same projects, same schedule, same jobs.  For awhile it was really hard for me to accept.  I would run into someone, whether near or far, who would ask how things are or what I’m up to, and I felt lame because everything was exactly the same.  I craved the fire and energy that comes from change and new things, and I managed to get down on myself for smoldering, without  that  and dedication and the stalwartness of keeping at it all, counts for just as much as fire and growth.
    I’ve been thinking about birds a lot lately.  It seems like everywhere I turn there is some cool bird art or logo looming and tantalizing me.  I’ve long been one to notice signs and pay attention to things.  Years ago when I was first thinking about leaving NYC, I started to notice feathers everywhere.  I would walk out of the office I worked in and see a feather, I would turn the corner and there was another.  I read something about finding feathers in your path being a symbol (or sign) cutting loose and seeking freedom, new things and change.  The exact meaning I don’t remember.  But at the time I took it to mean, time to get the hell out of the city.  Being an eco punk and all, tuned into nature and the seasons, and sensitive to things around me, I got to talking with my mom about the kind of people we are.  She’s super into birds and dreams of flying.  I’m terrified of heights and cringe at the thought of being out in the open high spaces.  Trees on the other hand speak to me in a deep way.  While she starts talking about flying, I talk about keeping my feet firmly planted on the earth, digging my roots firmly into the ground.  I kinda take it for granted that she feels the same kind of  I do about trees, but I realized that she doesn’t.  Sure she likes trees in the same way that I like birds.  But when I come upon a rad old tree - I have to touch it and hug it and worship it;  where as she loses it when she sees a hawk or eagle soaring high at the tree tops.  I was honestly so shaken by the depth of this discovery, to realize how much this has to do with the kind of person that I am, it was quite an epiphany.  And what I’m thinking on now is that while I’m very much a tree person that stands firm and puts down roots, going at things for the long hall with little wavering, except for a dance in the wind or storm... I’m craving the wings of the bird right now and I think that is why I keep seeing bird artwork everywhere, and now that I’m putting birdseed out in the feeders again I’m seeing birds all over my yard too.  After all these things tend to always been there, it’s just when you stop, look around you, and observe things for what they are that you start to take notice of what was right under you all along.
    So I’ve had plenty of fire in my life lately with loads of punk rock flowing and plenty of show going.  Just around the time the last issue was completed this amazing frenzy of shows happened -- every day, every week, punk rock city.  Richmond all of a sudden was rad again (for me) and I felt like I was rediscovering what originally charmed me.  Getting out of my house, finding it in myself to talk to people again, and generally just being on the go with the spring energy felt so good.  I felt alive after being numb for so long.  As I said before, I feel like I found myself and I feel like me again. I tend to be rather obsessive.  When I get into something, I get fanatically into it.  Especially bands and music.  When something strikes a chord, I get hooked and relentless.  I want to play my favorite song, favorite band, or every little part I like, over and over for myself and anyone who will listen.  Lately I’ve had a lot of great stuff to obsess over.  At the forefront of that would be Aphasia, from Pittsburgh.  I fell in love with that band first time I saw/heard them, and with each time it’s grown.  I’ve been up to Pittsburgh several times now for amazing shows that they’ve played and it got to the point where it was all I could talk about.  They’ve got a 7” record out now and I listen to it relentlessly.  I could carry on and on about this band, and will do so some more.  I think I’m getting to that point where even I might be  to be talking so much about them, but fuck it, when I love a band and when I find and feel something amazing I want to share it.  I want people to love them as much as me, and I know they will once given the chance to see/hear them.  Another band for the season is Kylsea who I got to see twice, once here in RVA and once w/ Aphasia in Pittsburgh.  Seeing Kylsea is akin to nothing .  They are so heavy and so intense and so amazing that they resonate through your chest and like all my favorites and give me goosebumps of euphoria.  In talking a whole lot about one band I hate to leave out so many others who’ve moved me just as much.  Behind Enemy Lines have been one of the main motivating favors behind several of my roadtrips to Pittsburgh.  The politics and the metal of BEH leave me .  Some things make so much sense and feel so good and so right that you don’t have to carry on, cause you just know how important it is and how good it is.  Seeing Caustic Christ was like being back home again with old friends, cause that is the bottom line truth with those guys and me.  Richmond’s been representing with some great local bands playing good small shows.  My War and Direct Control both hit the old hardcore root spot and Operation Latte Thunder. the Set Up and Are You Fucking Serious hit the new crazy hardcore RVA energy. And Municipal Waste, well those guys just tear shit up and waste them all.  Witch Hunt reminded me of home (NYC) and were inspiring with all the good message they had about strong women with fists in the air.  For months I had my calendar marked with From Ashes Rise.  I knew I had to work and would miss that show.  I even went so far as to plan my west coast travels around getting to see From Ashes Rise at Gilman.  But having learned from my Subhumans experience that seeing a favorite band across the country, after having missed the home-town show just plain sucks, I moved mountains and fought the system and managed to get down to the club just as From Ashes Rise played their first song.  Talk about the feeling of everything falling into place.  This band moves me in the right direction, pummeling and  and speaking a language in heavy deep tones that I feel deep into my soul.  I was  that I got to see them and have at least one more chance in the coming weeks.  And following the obsession of music I’ve been listening non-stop to the Enemies, AFI, the Subhumans, the Amebix, Born / Dead, the Unseen, Born Dead Icons, Tragedy, and of course Aphasia, From Ashes Rise, Kylesa, and Behind Enemy Lines.  Sometimes I get to thinking back on old reviews I did, and feeling like they just were not enough.  As I get to listen to a favorite band more, see them, know them, weave them into my life, I realize that things have changed and the importance and relevance has turned around and changed and became so much more than it was on a few listens when the reviews were written.  Sometimes I feel bad, and or weird about that, as if these reviews end up less that what they should be.  And yet it’s the bands that I’m still listening to every day long after the reviews are done that hold the flame for the long haul.
    So a few last minute things that I want to mention that didn’t make the reviews section - There is a new Amebix CD out (Arson Records) - it’s a live recording from 1986 and it’s amazing.  I’m an -head and I’m flying my Amebix banner high and proud.  Born Dead Icons have a new CD and LP out (Partners In Crime) and they continue to be one of my obsessive favorite bands.  A current band who manage to carry the same spirit of Amebix and absolutely rock.  The Bouncing Souls have a DVD movie out that is amazing!  I love the Bouncing Souls, they’re old friends and I consider them family.  There are 2 DVD’s that come together — one is a documentary movie which is so well done it reminds me of those Legends of Rock VH1 specials.  These guys have collected an amazing amount of footage over the years and in turn this movie captures the feeling of them - their friendship and their music.  Quite honestly, the film is SO good that even if you’re not a rabid BS fan, there is no way that you can not appreciate this movie.  The 2nd DVD is all live footage.  This film was my obsession when I first got it, and somehow the proper review still hasn’t made it into S&L.  And speaking of proper reviews - the zine Off the Map about two punk girls  Europe has been printed as a book by the CrimethInc crew.  It looks fantastic.  It’s an amazing story - very , a good read, and rad all around.  And they sell them for only $3 - postage paid.
Just a few more things:  Misery is supposed to be playing a show or two to celebrate 15 years of Misery at the end of August in Mpls.  The Pointless Fest, which I hate to call a fest, and prefer to call a birthday bash is the weekend of Aug. 14-17 in Philly.  It’ll be the punkest event of the year with some of the most amazing bands around!  Sure to be out of control and overwhelming in the very best way. So bring on the caffinated punk rock revolution!