PO Box 26632 / Richmond VA 23261-6632

Some Thoughts #58

   I haven’t felt too much like writing.  Even though winter has kinda passed us by — a part of me is still in hibernation making me anti-social.  I’ve been having a hard time communicating with people - like when someone asks “what’s up” -- my mind is a blank.  It’s not like I’m doing nothing; or doing badly -- in fact of late I’ve been up to some pretty good things.  But for the most part -- I’ve just been plodding along in my routine and haven’t felt there was much to share.  It always drives me crazy when people casually say “Hi” by saying “What’s up?”, “What’s going on?” or “How are you?” -- when they really don’t want to know the answer to any of these questions -- it’s just become a way of saying Hi. It’s one of those representations of the coldness of our society -- that we careless and thoughtlessly ask questions we damn well don’t want to hear the answers to.  How many times have you been out in a public place, seen someone you haven’t seen for awhile and had them ask you any of these questions -- to which you begin (even if briefly to answer) while they are already walking away from you.  It leaves you feeling kinda shitty.  On a communication level - it drives me crazy.  We’re all bad enough at listening - actually listening and being present when people are talking to us -- that things like this only make the severed lines greater.  I’ve been making a point over the past years to become more aware of the way in which I interact with people; the ways that I communicate and handle conversation -- everything from watching the balance of a conversation to really listening to what people are saying when they are talking to you.  Like recognizing when someone really needs you to let them vent their feelings and to know when someone is having a hard time saying something.  And I have been laughing hard inside as suddenly the radio news has been talking about studies to how the integration of the internet into people’s lives has created isolation and makes people have more difficulty communication with others and interacting socially.  NO SHIT!  That is what I have said from the start.  Sometimes it’s unbelievable that something can be a known fact; but relatively ignored.  And then all of a sudden it’s like a big breakthrough.  Duh.  Of course if you sit at a computer all day long and you will become isolated.  When you no longer use the phone or write letters your communications skills falter.  Then suddenly you don’t have the safety of that screen to protect you, your feelings and emotions, or your identity -- you talk to people one on one; perhaps even confrontationally -- and you flounder.  Oh it frustrates me.  But this is what is taking over like it or not.  It’s reassuring to me that there are a few people who still cling to the old ways, not having totally given in to technology.  I admit that I recognize the value of a “tool” to help do things.  And I see the internet as such -- but people go overboard into obsessiveness.  I always like to give the comparison to the ATM machine.  I can remember when they were brand new and it was cool to not have to go to the bank to do your transactions.  That was an elimination of a human element - but minor and ultra convenient (isn’t that word at the root of all the problems).  Now we can’t imagine life without our ATM machines.  I’m not going to continue to rant about the internet - I’ve done it before - and people still try to convince me or else they understand what I’m saying.  It’s kinda scary though that if I tell someone I’ve never been on the web -- or that I don’t  even know how to do it -- they think I’m from another planet.  Like with computer software, a part of me fears being left totally behind and frustrated at the need to keep up - but the rest of me can’t be bothered to keep up with something I can easily live more simply with out.
    My enthusiasm this winter has once again come from photography.  I finally started to organize all my photos for my long talked about punk rock photo book.  My goal is to organize everything from the past 10 years - mostly focusing on the NYC punk scene of the ‘90s -- to a comprehensive collection of my photos from this time.  Needless to say this is overwhelming.  It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years; tried to do in steps.  But for one reason after another (moving around too much; not having things in one place; not having the time) I’ve been unable.  I finally got to the point where I was like - if I don’t get to it now - I never will.  And I knew that I would never be able to live with myself if I didn’t complete something I need to do so much.  I don’t want to live with the “well I could have done this”; “If I would I have done this...”.  No.  I will do it - if only for myself. I hope to get this book together and publish it and be able to share it with people.  I have a pretty amazing collection of photographs -- literally thousands upon thousands of negatives.  Going through this photos is difficult in many ways.  There is a lifetime of memories in them.  And I’m a very empathetic and emotional person.  So I relive the times as I see the photos and sometimes that is pretty difficult.  Seeing the numerous people who have died, totally disappeared, had abusive relationships, drug problems, alcohol problems - you name it.   In many ways even I look at many of these photos - of constant drunkenness in utter squalor and wonder how I was always able to find the positive light there.  But I was - cause in the midst of that environment was some of the most creative, radical action and creation I’ll probably ever see.  I always find the good in things and focus my energy there.  And there was a lot of creative, positive active energy throughout my time in NYC.  So anyway - I’ve been going through all these photos and attempting to bring some order to them to make progress on the book.  It’s kinda like organizing my whole life in many ways.
    My other adventure has been to finally get out into the countryside and find these old abandoned farm houses that excite me so much.  I feel as though I have finally latched onto the subject matter I’ve been lacking since I got depressed with the NYC squats. When I find an old house that has trees growing out of the windows and weathered clapboard walls holding the house together -- I get so excited.  I feel as though my entire purpose is in front of me.  I get this jolt of adrenaline that makes me feel invincible.  As I explore these places, camera in hand, it reminds me of my first explorations in NYC.  And yet it also feels so much more right.  So I’ve been indulging myself in this exploration - doing what I feel is the best work I’ve done in years.  One days explorations is enough to propel me forward for awhile.  I’m almost at the point where I can work in the darkroom again.  But it’s going to be a tough fight this spring -- while I need the moderate temperatures to print in the darkroom -- I want to be outside in the garden on these early days of spring.  Words can not describe how excited I am about the coming spring.  I’m looking at the buds on trees and the bulbs that are starting to come up from the ground and I am imagining the transformation about the take place.  Remembering each  step - as new plants come back to life until everything is lush green and earthy smelling.  I have already had tastes of these glorious days and I can feel the adrenaline that pumps through me - the explosive energy I get from the sun.  Oh to sit outside and just basque in it all.  It won’t be long now.
    It’s funny cause for awhile now I’ve wanted to live in a rural place where I can devote myself to these kinds of things.  I’ve had this internal battle this year - what some have called my “growing pains” as I adjust my new place in the “scene” here in a new town.  And as I deal with the minor and major changes of getting older.  I’ve recently been very aware of a growing distance between me and “the kids”.  I’m not really that old.  But esp. around here - I just don’t have any ties to a younger generation.  It’s a very strange thing too, which is kinda hard to adjust to.  I felt like a I had a revelation when I realized for a long time it’s been by association that I have gotten to know young new bands.  You want to support your friends and people you know in what they do.  But suddenly I’m realizing that I don’t really know any of those folks and so I don’t know their bands or zines or whatever.  Well it made me sad in a big way.  Here I am about as actively involved in the punk scene as one can be - with a ton of energy and enthusiasm and dedication -- and I’m feeling isolated.  Pretty strange. And that is when I laugh.  Cause my envisionment of living in a rural place where the trees and plants are my companions and reading books my obsessive passion.  And I realize that even in doing that — the active link to people - to the “scene”, to friends, to people in general is vital.  I’ve known several people who have had this same problem and realization.  They want to live the self-sustainable rural life but they miss urban action and activity.  Of course - that is why ultimately people would live in groups in this isolated environment -- so as not to be truly isolated. I’m certainly not living in a rural place and I’m far from being physically isolated - I can’t help but apply all of these scenarios and details to my thoughts.
    I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration these days in people who are working at bridging that gap and finding ways to follow their dreams and do what they want in life while incorporating their DIY punk ethics and not feeling limited by their punk life.  We all talk a lot about how people drop out of the scene when they get older; or aren’t punk after a time or whatever.  And there are endless debates about what is truly diy and what is deemed okay by the hardcore police, etc.  Meanwhile so much of these ideologies prevent one from “living off of” what they do; and therefore limit either how much can be done or for how long it can be done.  As more and more of this is talked about -- and more of these ideas and ethics are explored - and more and more people figure out ways to juggle it all -- continue to do their label, or their distro, and not have to feel their are compromising.  It’s those people who are an inspiration to me.  As well as some people I’ve encountered who are several years younger - in college on opposite ends of the country from where they grew up and finding a whole new world that has opened them up.  It’s very inspiring and exciting for me to watch someone go through that exploration and discovery process - to see them finding what they have long searched for or didn’t even know existed.  And to see the energy level and activity level just skyrocket.  It’s these folks who are in a place where they can literally do anything that kinda reminds me that we all are able to put ourselves in that place -- of finding stimulation and inspiration that can literally put us at the top of our own world - able to do it all.
    As for shows - things have been pretty quiet.  No roadtrips or anything.  And Richmond seems to be quite limiting in many ways.  The few shows that happened were awesome.  Hot Water Music, Ann Beretta and ATP played on New Years Eve and that was awesome.  A big celebration and a sold out show.  And since it all happens at once - the next day was Converge.  I’ve become obsessed with Converge this winter.  I listened to them non-stop in my car for like a month.  So finally seeing this band was a big deal.  The show was packed.  It was freezing outside and hot as hell inside (always a difficult thing to negotiate).  The vibe at the show itself was horrible and I don’t know if I have ever felt such an unfriendly crowd.  I almost gave in and didn’t even bother to take photos but Beth wouldn’t stand for that and she got us to the back of the stage where I could photograph and as soon as Converge started to play I got goosebumps and felt this craziness inside of me.  I was practically in tears I was so happy.  The show was nuts - everyone was going crazy and I was in the middle of it all with goosebumps and a huge smile on my face.  When they finished I was speechless in my excitement and so happy that Beth hadn’t let me give up on getting the photos.  I always enjoy a band more when I am photographing them.  And it seems that each time I convince myself it’s probably not worth it (cause the show is too crowed or crazy or hectic) — when I get myself to take photos - I’m always happy for it.
    The next show for me to anticipate was Indecision.  Another band that I have been obsessively listening to and going nuts about.  I overlooked them for all the time I lived in NYC.  It seems that they generally play with a sort of bands that I don’t like or just don’t go to see and so I associated them with that.  When I got their new CD I was blown away and super into the fact that they play crunchy metal hardcore of just the sort that I like.  So I’ve been crazy about this band for months now and excited about getting to see them again.  I had been to Pennsylvania - photographing all through Virginia these old farmhouses.  I had to drive all day in order to get back here in time for work and then rush through work in time to get to the show to see Indecision.  My timing was perfect.  Artie is now singing for Indecision which made it even cooler since he has been a long time friend.  And when they started to play - even though there were only a few people since the other big band had canceled and everyone left -- I was ecstatic.  I got the goosebumps and felt this wave of utter perfection and total synthesis as I couldn’t help but work through all the days passage of getting me to that very moment.  It was explosive and I had one of those synthesis moments where everything feels perfectly meant to be. 
    I booked my first show in a long time for Deathreat, Zegota, Lewistown and Catharsis.  Catharsis couldn’t make it so I was excited to get TFA to play.  This local band jumped into my world at a local animal rights benefit a few weeks earlier which gave me a jolt of excitement about the local scene.  There were a ton of people there - so many more than have been at shows lately and it made me think maybe things were on a rise again.  This was my first time seeing TFA who were the first band.  I didn’t even know who they were but I was so into them I was going nuts.  It’s always exciting to find a new favorite band - esp. when they live in your same town.  So when I needed to get another band for my show I crossed my fingers and hoped for TFA to play which they did.  The problem was that I got myself so stressed out; being a perfectionist and wanting everything to go smooth and perfect at this show that I literally made myself sick.  I didn’t take photos of TFA, Lewistown or Zegota and I’m upset about that now.  Kinda silly, considering that I used to book shows all the time and everything went fine.  TFA and Lewistown are both such good bands.  To me they represent the diy ethic that I live for.  These guys are humble and dedicated — and they utterly rock.  They just put out a split CD which I bought and proudly walked around saying “look what I got!” in a way I haven’t done for a long time.  And Zegota were the ones that put me at ease - they were so excited and had such a good attitude about the whole show that I knew it would all worked out - which it did.  I’m going to do another show in May for Trial, Catharsis and the Episode.  I’m super excited about having these favorite bands of mine play and I need to work on not getting so worked up about it so I can actually enjoy it all.
    I think some roadtrips are in order soon.  If anyone has any shows happening in the general region of Richmond - let me know - send me flyers.   Embrace spring and rock out.
    Chris(tine) * Feb. ‘99