Some Thoughts #62

    I’ve always been pretty big on landmark special occasions.  It’s the sentimental side of me that records every detail away in my mind somewhere to be delved back up one day all sentimentalized.  Consequently New Year’s eve has always been a fairly exciting time -- besides the cause for celebration and a good party -- it’s a time to reflect and I used to really get into that -- looking back on the year and all that had happened; how I had grown and changed.  As I get older, I have lost a bit of that clinging instinct -- I think in part because the time just passes more and more quickly.  This year the seasons are advancing at a rapid pace and the landmark holidays approach before the time feels right.  And this year the landmark is even more monumental.  And since I’m in tune to the specialness of these events -- I can’t help but get a bit caught up in much of what it means to have the millennium changing. And yet I could get so much more sentimental about it -- reflect over every little detail of my life, of the year of the decade.  But I can’t help the feeling that I don’t quite have the time for that. I recognize the change and actually greet it with a bit of excitement.  All of the Y2K computer bug paranoia has been fun.  I admit that I’m a sucker for a conspiracy as well as for anything that throws a wrench into otherwise regular day to day life. The kind of wrench that makes you stop and think about things - take a deep breath, be forced out of a routine and therefore be able appreciate things around you and get perspective on life at large.  I think it’s important to be reminded that we are not in control of everything and but put in check, so to speak.  Not to mention the fact that I’m a big techno-phobe, so the idea of having all technology cease to function is a bit of an exciting idea to me.  Like a severe weather storm, I think that the idea of computers shutting down is a exciting because it reminds us all of dependence that we claim to want to fight so much - whether it’s dependence on technology, public transportation or the system itself: whatever it is that come to expect and depend on to flow smoothly.  I think it’s important to be reminded of that dependence, and to recognize it.  In doing so -- we inherently get to the heart of things.  Consider what is really essential -- what we feel we can not live without -- those things which are the most meaningful.  Much in the way that if you find out that you have x-amount of time to live -- you want to make the most of it.  I’m not any kind of fatalist or doomsayer, and I certainly don’t think the world is going to come crashing to an end anytime soon. But I do think that it is important not to loose grasp of the passion for living.  In other words -- to live each day as if it’s your last.  You know -- not put off today what you think you can do tomorrow; not spend all of your time wading through shit, only to get to the good stuff another day.  I’m guilty of this method too much of the time -- and so I’m always appreciative of the reminders that say -- “live life now and enjoy the present.”
    With the whole Y2K paranoid, there has been a new awareness of sustainably and self-sufficiency.  Whether you think the system will fall or not, just about everyone has at least considered stocking up on food and water, cash, and has been thinking through the essential necessities of life.  And while I think that self-sufficient life should always be considered as much as possible -- and that it is always a good idea to have some bare necessities stored up -- I like the event that makes everyone at least give a passing thought to this kind of thing.  I really don't think that there is going to be a big disruption in our lives come January 1st, but what I like about this whole past year is that people have all been forced to think about the implications of what it would mean if something did happen.  And just like realizing the problem is half of the cure -- just thinking about the potential for having the system as we know it cease to function, and just thinking about what we would do, where we want to be, what things we would really need to have on hand -- simply letting the idea of simple survivalist thinking enter into our lifestyle is a huge step in the progression of our lives. 
    I spent a few years living minimally.  Actually most of my life is minimal, besides being a pack-rat.  But I  had several years of intensive and intentional simplicity.  I traveled and roamed and was able to carry all that I needed in a mobile transient way.  It’s very empowering to know that you have all your possessions on your person - you cease to think in terms of I want and think only in terms of necessity.  Accumulation of ‘stuff’ is impossible and those things that you do hold onto not only become your treasures -- but you also don’t spent useless time keeping track of it all.  I often find myself thinking in terms of minimizing to a back-pack when I feel the clutter of life catch up to me.  I also lived in a cabin for several months one winter where we had to haul our water and cut our firewood for heat.  It was a pleasant simple life which taught me much about needs and necessities.  For me, living that close to the elements, really being in touch with the earth and the ebb of life as well as with my consumption and waste habits, was an important lesson.  I learned how to make every drop of water count and to not produce any garbage at all.  The realization that you can life in a manner in which you don’t leave a messy trail and that in turn has minimal impact on the earth’s resources is also a liberating feeling -- and one that can always be taken further.  These are lessons that I try to maintain in my life today, when it’s so easy to get caught up in a materialist, consumer culture of waste.  It is exactly because of that ease that I appreciate the reminders that come in the form of computer crashes, winter storms and natures wrath, that put us in check and remind us to tread lightly and with respect, passion and consideration.
    Of course in amidst my love of the idea of the apocalypse, and my wish for the World Trade Towers to fall across the Hudson to New Jersey, I have absolutely no actual wish for harm to come to anyone or anything.  I do not relish in the destruction or the misery and hardship that comes from disaster.  And there have been enough intense natural disasters and horrible storms this past year around the world to really know of misery and hardship.  No, it’s the smaller things that just stop the flow of the routine -- the minor disturbances that keep us in check and make us think about the way we live our life that I think are so important.  And that is kinda how this past year has been -- kind of like an eye opening consideration that we are entering the “future” that sci-fi novels and movies have been telling us about.  I am still a believer in the idea that many of the creative sci-fi folks actually work with the scientists and government in order to pave the way for us to accept new technology.  But hey, I do like those government conspiracies.  Seriously though -- for the past year we’ve been hearing all about the Y2K computer bug, and like I said, all of us in one way or another has considered the possible implications this could have on our life and for me -- that simple consideration is all that matters.  Not that everyone is going to become self-reliant over night.  In fact, even if the computers were to shut down completely -- the consumerist materialistic urges would not go away that quickly.  People who have never considered the essential necessities of life will not have such an easy transformation.  But I think that anything which brings this sort of thought pattern into society at large is a positive thing.  Whether it’s a lifestyle change in the smallest scale, or even just a consideration, a rediscovery of a simpler way of life and a mindful way of thinking -- then I think it’s a step in a positive direction. 

    On an even smaller scale, the changing seasons have been a turbulent transformation for me.  I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder -- which means that the changing seasons, in particular the shortening and therefore darkening of the days causes me to suffer from mild depression.  I have a hard time getting my energy level up to par, and go through these days of low-self-confidence and low motivation where I just want to sleep and can’t fight the feeling that I’m just not myself (even though at the time I can’t figure out what is wrong).  I’m talking about heightened sensitivities.  Moodiness that causes tears for next to nothing.  I’ve always had problems with the changing seasons, and because I’m so affected by the weather and the seasons I tend to write about it -- because it’s a big part of what sets up my day and propels my momentum.  It seems that each year and each season the sensitivity increases and this fall it was really severe.  I think that as I get more and more in touch with nature and more and more in tune with the outdoors that my sensitivity to these changes likewise increases.  And even though the winters here in Richmond are extremely mild -- when we had the first frost that killed off half of the fragile plants in the garden -- it was as if a huge part of me died along with them.  When autumn first arrives -- I celebrate in the cooler temperatures and all that the season brings.  But then as the days start to get shorter and the sun’s angle shifts to a lower point where it’s never quite bright enough, and the trees start to get bare, and all the remaining plots of green fade to brown -- I shrivel up.  I’m a night person by nature, never to be up in the morning - and unsensible as it is, at a time of year when I need the sunlight more than even my instincts are to sleep all day and stay up all night.  I finally found that not fighting it is the best thing for me.  And of course like with everything -- finding a balance where I get to see part of the day but also get to stay up and ride the late night wave of creative energy is the path to follow.  Getting past the initial change of season is always the hardest part for me.  It’s the time where it doesn’t feel like winter (when the days are still 70°) and the garden is still growing, that is the hardest, because logic gets in the way of my emotions.  By the time December comes and all the trees are bare, all the green is gone and the colder air has settled in -- I have given over to the change in season.  The garden is done for the time being -- hibernating like me.  I had a dream one night that I moved to a place that had no garden.  In my dream I was only just realizing that my garden was gone.  The horrible realization was so intense it was like the worse of all possible nightmares.  And yet it struck me as odd that it affected me as strongly as it did.  I know that my garden is my passion.  But somehow the thought of not having the garden with all those lovingly tended plant-friends, specifically the ones that I have planted and tended the past several years (and the newly planted garlic bulbs) made me realize that the garden has a bigger hold over me than I even recognized. I think that realization is part of me realizing that I am becoming more and more like a plant.  This fall I decided that I have the strongest kin-ship with lettuce.  No pun on the Slug & Lettuce name -- but like the plant -- I thrive on cool weather with lots of sun and wilt if it gets to hot and die if it gets too cold.  The fact that my affinity with lettuce is manifested in the name of the zine -- from long before I even knew I was interested in gardening is, well kinda profound.  I used to work with someone who joked about my “gardening journal” when S&L was as punk as it gets and not a word was mentioned about plants.  Funny how those things come around to meaning more than you ever thought possible.
    My winter transition was made passable thanks to the discovery of writer and poet May Sarton (thanks to Erin who recommended the journals to me).  What a gem of comfort her Journal of a Solitude was on these cold dark days.  Her sensitivity to the details of the day, the weather, the plants - the earth, the quality of light and moods full of emotion.  She photographs with words.  And I found a voice with which I could identify and relate.  It’s so amazing how the timing of things can work out so ripe for the occasion of necessity.  What goes around comes around and when you really open yourself up to be receptive, (hopefully) what you need the most will present itself, even in ways least expected.  I treasure the sharing - the recommendations for reading - so much essential to my life has been passed like a gift.  As when I discover a writer, an artist, a book, or a record or a band -- my need to share it is intense.  Hence much of my ‘work’ is about sharing my inspiration and likewise continuing to search for more.  Hence - completing the circle while on my continual quest for balance stemming from wanting to do so much with such varying interests.  What I love in a book, is a writer who speaks to me deep inside to my heart and soul, who says what I wish I could say so profoundly - choice words - minimal words - which read deep with impact.  That remains my admiration and influence.  What I enjoy is that which I feel.  I want to give back all that I take - pass on and share.  The intensity of it burns in me as I want others to feel with the emotional power and intensity that I have.  My emotions are charged - potent and powerful and my sensitivities are heightened, perhaps more than ever. 
    Now as mid-winter is upon us, I’ve eased into the transition and found an explosion of energy. I’m so excited I feel like I’m going to burst.  After a really dry sad and lonely time of feeling isolated and alone -- all at once things blossom and explode. The birds have been frequenting the feeders in the yard so much so that I’ve added a second. Tons of small little chickadees and an enormous amount of bright red cardinals keep a constant presence.  They frolic.  Eat and fly.  Peck at each other and play elaborate games to get to the food.  It’s quite a dance to watch from the window.  So much can happen so quickly and one days mail can change the course of things.  I’ve been making full intentions to write to long lost friends, people I’ve been in touch with and lost touch with, labels that I enjoy and friends that I don’t see often enough.  And what you put out there comes back to you.  I beg for ads for S&L and as the deadline approaches I’m flooded with ads from my friends labels and from my regular contributors.  In one day I get 3 new columns in the mail. Exciting stuff is happening in the world.  That Seattle demonstration really stirred shit up.  People are active and dedicated again -- feeling the spark of potential and the fire is burning.  I can feel it too.  The “victory” of that demonstration -- in the organization and coming together -- for once not being beaten down in utter defeat -- has charged people in a way that has been missing since the squats of NYC started to get shut down in mass.  The idea that this gathering was an eye opener for the world -- that an otherwise secretive organization is now going to be accountable for their actions -- is in itself the victory.  Or is the victory the potential of possibility and renewed faith?  The new His Hero is Gone new LP shows up and that is the soundtrack for my explosion.  I get a rad zine that I adore on a note with a bulldog in a red plaid scarf looking at a snow-dog sculpture and it makes me giddy.  I get a letter from a friend who’s band makes me feel the revolution -- who inspires me, brings tears to my eyes and makes me feel like it is all possible -- and he tells me that my words brought a tear to his eye.  Fuck, we all sound like sobbing hippies - but I mean I feel it.  I feel so much.  And I care.  And when we’re all in touch on such an emotional, caring and meaningful level -- the power, the passion of that dedication really makes it feel like anything is possible.  The collective conscious, the collaborative energy.  We can really change the world and I think His Hero Is Gone will be the soundtrack for the coming apocalyptic revolution.  It’s incredible how much these few kind words that all come at once can jolt me so — Fuel my fire.  Reignite my spark.  All at once.  So powerful.  Everything that I have missed.  And Indecision are playing tonight and find myself amidst the most explosive connected feeling I’ve felt in a long time.
    I feel like this issue of Slug & Lettuce is a celebration.  A celebration of all that has been and all that will be.  I’ve been excited about this issue -- and all that has come to be a part of it.  Unfortunately, there are many other columns that I wanted to include but couldn’t due to the space. I kicked such ass with the reviews that I ended up with about 40 pages of regular typed text of music reviews alone.  I’ve finally realized that the eternal review dilemma -- to get it all done -- is up against the bigger problem of how to fit it all in.  I harass myself for having so many untended records awaiting review (I’ve has some for over a year now and it’s not my intention that I let so much time pass by).  I push forth every waking moment of my day toward reviews to the point where it’s so compulsive - I find myself reviewing records from 10 years ago that I listen to. Trying to arrange my small vocabulary of adjectives to best describe the music. I feel like I live for the sole purpose of doing reviews for weeks on end until I run out of words.  Pushing myself at unreasonable self-demands of obligation and yet I am still wracked by guilt that I have not included all that I had hoped.  I want to have nothing left on the shelf.  No one waiting.  And I actually stand in the middle of the room and say “I just wish I could get all the above reviewed and all the mail answered and all the letters in my head written. And then when I get that done I’ll read every book ever written (just on my day off, of course). But I still fear (and know) that it is all impossible.  I run out of words. I run out of space. And when I start to push myself too far, I get tired and suddenly distractions start to lure me away.  Fact is when I’m on the zine reading and music reviewing process - I thoroughly enjoy it and feel really inspired.  It’s just that in this day and age there is so much happening -- so much creativity -- the diy scene has been so successful in encouraging everyone to put their 2¢ out there -- that much gets lost in the glut.  But reality kicks in and even with a 20 page issue right on my timely deadline -- I still have about 4 more pages of music reviews that are not going to fit -- even with my already reduced to 5.5 point type!!  Such is the frustration and eternal review dilemma that never seems to bring satisfied contentment.  But if we are content does that mean that we stop pushing ourselves?  Does contentment bring stagnation?
    Well this is it, S&L #62 entering the year 2,000 — Inspired by dogs, photography, getting hitched, iced coffee, St. John’s Wart herbal tea, Sweetwater, leafy green vegetables, french fries, vitamins, His Hero is Gone, Anti Product, Aus Rotten, POW, Anti-Flag, Choking Victim, the Lunachicks, Catharsis, Trial, As Friends Rust, Born Dead Icons, Boy Sets Fire, Gunspiking, Talk is Poison, From Ashes Rise, Ann Bereta, Operation, Manner Farm, One Way System, good books, white christmas lights, leopard print pillows and cow slippers.  With the sun shining bright  welcome to the new millennium -- and best wishes to rock your world till your hands can feel the earth!! —Chris(tine) 12/99
PS: ** The heading art on this page is done by Jeremy Clark/ 315A East 38th St., Savannah GA 31401.  ** For a complete listing of info-shops and collective spaces I have collected - send an SASE or IRC.  Send listings from places in your area to be included.  ** The S&L book distro continues to grow.  See the ad for more details of new titles.  ** If you find yourself in Richmond I have my (non-band) photography on display in two local restaurants -- new stuff at the highly recommended new Sweetwater Bar & Lounge and older work from NYC at Banditos.