Some Thoughts #78

    I think everyone is half asleep right now, myself included.  I’m not talking about  sheep following blindly, as in not fully sensitized or paying attention kind of sleep.  Actually I think there is so much bizarre stuff happening in the world that people are quite awake and angry.  I’m talking more like moving slow, being lazy, not quite getting it all together, and watching time slip by right through your fingers and almost not even noticing or caring, just kinda thinking that things will eventually get on track.  I guess that is what winter is all about.  While I’m not feeling the depth of the usual SAD depression that comes with the cold dark days, I can’t say I don’t feel the season, cause, oh I do.  And the cold dark days are still good for hibernating, sleeping late and often, and curling up with a cuddly brown dog and a good book.  I found myself wanting to skip many of my own obligations and just watch a movie, read, or otherwise play hooky.  And it seems like everyone else did too.  The reviews and columns mostly came late, and the ads hardly came at all.  But as I’ve come to say, we’ll get it done one way or another, and that is how it is, late but completed none the less.  The small type fits more content in - stop complaining about it.  If I used a normal font size then this zine would be 100 pages and then it would not be free.  I like to think of this format as my best attempts at conservation by maximizing content and using every single speck of space.  And all those good reviews?  Well what is the point of talking shit and tearing things down when there is so much to support and talk up?  At least that is my philosophy.  I think of this paper as a means of supporting our community, of sharing resources and contacts, sharing some ideas, and reviewing the zines, music and books that are most relevant. So yeah, there ends up being a good amount of positive reviews but quite a lot of the not-so good ones get left out.  I have even tried to curb the use of the fuck yeah, cause I figure that ultimately that doesn’t mean much.  Although when I was in Milwaukee in January and I had the chance to see High On Crime and hang out talking music with Robert and I realize that the “holy fucking fucking fuck” description for something sometimes really does hit the nail on the head.  And there have been a lot of those shows late into end of last year for me, I’m pleased to report.  A new bands to look out for, in my opinion, is Requiem from North Carolina.  It’s a couple ex-Catharsis members, but that doesn’t mean they sound like Catharsis.  Stef plays drums and Brian plays guitar and they have a mystical metal hippie woman singing operatic vocals, while Stef busts out with these guttural growls.  And while they sounded nothing like what I expected, I was totally blown away and felt like it all made sense.  Sometime it is cool when you really have no expectations, but just in knowing the people and knowing the history you share, and the common denominators that link you together - well of course you’re going to like their band or their zine or their artwork or whatever it is they do.  So I felt with Requiem - they rocked and reminded me of Insurgence, who were an old peace punk metal band from NYC circa 1990; kind of a Nausea junior with 3 singers.  Requiem isn’t quite as metal, but even their band name is an Insurgence song, and the best thing is they’ve never heard Insurgence.  Look out for Requiem, and for that matter, cross your fingers and hope someone digs up that old recording and releases those Insurgence songs on a 7”.
    I missed seeing some good shows here in Richmond, so I traveled to Philly to see From Ashes Rise, Resolve, Caustic Christ and D.S.B., and let me tell you that was a show to reckon with, making that town just rise above all else and create an illusion of being a punk utopia.  It’s easy to think when most of the people I see for every show there are not actually from there.  I’m not slamming Philly - it’s a rad city and they do some killer shows.  From Ashes Rise only gets better each time I see them, just when it seems impossible to do so, they played a flawless set and wheew.  Seeing both Resolve and Caustic Christ made me sentimental for how long I’ve know all these great people and these great bands and well I just love that stuff.  And Resolve were awesome! And D.S.B. well they lived up to the hype.  Everyone kept saying, “you’re going to get great photos,” so much so that I felt like I was gonna get jinx and have my camera malfunction or something.  Nope - they jumped around, wailed, flew through the air, and I got great photos.  Radical punks never die is a greet slogan and they whipped up a frenzy.  I’m still kicking myself for missing Born Dead Icons and La Fraction and I can’t even remember what month that tour was in.  But on new years eve Richmond had one of those rad shows that made me say, “we’re not in Richmond anymore”.  Somehow this town has gotten punk again and it’s always nice when you’ve got a good show that makes people travel.  Hence that whole Philly thing - they put together good shows, people come from a far, and it’s amazing.  New years eve, we had that here in Richmond.  The circle pits were out of control in the best happy Pittsburgh punk way.  Kids that haven’t been to shows in a long time had their mouths hanging open, saying “since when did this become the norm around here?” and I knew it was the Pittsburgh influence which has somehow infected half the east coast.  Annihilation Time and Holier Than Thou played.  I Object from Rochester were awesome and reminded me of being at ABC No Rio a decade ago, not something I can say I’ve felt ever at a show in Richmond.  A lot of beer was consumed, shit got crazy, confetti fell, and Municipal Waste ended off the night, or should I say started off the year right.  The next day there was another great show in Richmond at the Pace Center with Requiem, 1905 and Zegota.  I missed Requiem, which was a huge bummer considering all the raving I’d been doing about them.  But I got to see the mystified frenzy of happy punk kids dancing and clapping and hands waving around in the air for 1905 and I was stoked at how they have grown into such a solid band with fanatical friends.  A whole room full of people singing along every word and just freaking out.  It was beautiful.  And it was so good to see Zegota again after they’d been spread across the globe.  Moe always says amazing things that make my heart feel warm and squishy and that night it was mostly just the marvel at their years as a band and how many good friends were there that night, still by their side, and how he hoped many of us would continue to grow old together.  Might sound cheesy in my rendition of it here, but if you’ve been kicking around the punk scene for any amount of time, you’ve seen people come and go, and there are those people that you’ve known forever and a day.  There are those faces that you’ve gotten used to seeing, even if you don’t really know the, and hopefully a handful of good people that feel like they’ve always been there.  I’ve gotten to the point where I just appreciate the people who are still around that I recognize from what I refer to as a former life cause I know that whether we’re pals or not - ultimately we’re all in this crazy world together and the punks that are still punk after a decade and well into their 30s probably are going to grow old together, and that just plain rocks.
    Karoline’s birthday is in January, so I decided to head to Milwaukee for a long weekend to visit her and celebrate winter.  See, I’ve been waiting around here for some snow, and it just doesn’t come.  Then it got really cold and I thought, what a dummy I am - going to Chicago-Milwaukee in January where it’s really really cold.  I got all prepared for negative wind chills and the Nordic tundra of cold.  I got myself so prepared that it actually didn’t seem that cold and my northern roots took over and I felt rather at home.  Snow on the ground, snow falling almost every day.  It was great.  Of course it’s only when I leave Richmond to visit Karoline and Robert that it actually snows here at home, but no matter.  I got time with my Milwaukee pals, got to drink pints with the tattooed face punks and hear the most amazing Celtic black metal band on the bar stereo, drink lots of Fuel coffee, go on book buying frenzies with Karoline and keep Robert up till dawn talking about bands and just exactly why European crust is my favorite and Swedish hardcore is his.  I made everyone listen to the Amebix record cause they all didn’t know it by heart and it was like rediscovering the best band on earth.  (duh!)  And as if everything that happened wasn’t just drop dead perfect, I got to sample some Madison community center punk, finally getting some photos of a non-jumping Damage Deposit and High On Crime, who got the “holy fucking fucking fuck!” mouth dropped and agape response from me.  I loved Seven Days of Samsara, I liked the 2 guy demo of HOC, and then knowing that they added guitar and bass from Artimus Pyle - well look out this band is going to knock you out.  I couldn’t stop raving, gushing and carrying on, to the point of embarrassing everyone, as I seem to be want to do when I get really over the top exciting.  I haven’t forgotten about you Aphasia (smile).  So look out for these amazing great new bands.
    But it’s been a weird season for us here.  In November, right as I got to that punker than punk show in Philly I found out that our dog Phooka died.  She was our mascot and queen and out of no where developed a very agonizing neurological problem, which stabilized for about a day, and then right as I left town, spread through her and took her life.  Erik & I are crazy dog people who treat our four-legged friends like our children and so losing a 10 year old companion is not something to take lightly or easily.  Straight to the point - it broke our hearts.  I’d been visiting the SPCA and city shelter, just to spread some of the dog love around, long before Phooka got sick.  At Christmas time a couple friends organized a toy drive for the city shelter.  We gathered enough toys and treats for all the homeless dogs and cats to have something to play with and let me tell you, seeing those guys blissfully going crazy with a toy was too cool for words.  That is where I met the old timer Chihuahua.  I ended up going back several times and ultimately adopting this 12 year old blind and deaf girl named Steele.  They all kinda thought I was nuts, but I’m the first to admit that.  She was cool, I knew we could give her a great home and lots of love.  She fit right in and got around surprisingly well, in spite of her blindness.  She was full of personality and just damn cool.  We had her for 2 weeks before she contracted a cough which turned into a respiratory infection and congestive heart failure.  While you might think that having a dog for such a short time might make it easier when you lose them, it does not.  Now we’re mourning for two dogs.  And I’m still making the rounds looking for the right new four-legged friend to bring home.  I’m a sucker for the special needs dogs who need good retirement homes.  But I think this time we need to try for a young and healthy one cause our emotional well being can not stand any more loss.
    So I’ve been oddeling over dogs, rocking out with the European crust punk, and reading about dragons.  I had this stack of zines to review and I was reading a book about a dragon (called Eragon) and every night I would sift through the zines—seeing articles about the FTAA, protests, George, rape, sexual assault, abortion stories, more protests, and I would say, “I just want to read about dragons.”  Not that I don’t want to read all the zines about heavy topics - and I will in good time.  But that is the kind of time I’ve been having lately, feeling like everyone is half asleep, or half frozen, not turned off from the world at large exactly, but still seeking some kind of escape.  In fact perhaps it’s that we’re all so overwhelmed with the intensity of everything — of the fucked politics we hear about on a daily basis, the attempts to define marriage at the exclusion of same sex partners, the attempts to make abortions nearly impossible to get, the constant threat of unemployment and a bad economy, and hearing George and his cronies bullshit day in and day out, coupled with our own mini-life dramas and scene politics—I don’t think that anyone is not feeling the anger and frustration, and we can hardly be called unthinking or unfeeling blind sheep with out a voice, but well, sometimes I think we do need to allow ourselves to have a mental time out.  And so I’ve been doing that by curling up with a warm blanket, in a comfy spot and reading about dragons.   —Chris(tine) winter 04