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PO Box 26632 / Richmond VA 23261-6632

Some Thoughts #84

    It’s already August, and hot as ever.  It seems like just yesterday I was sweating in Texas at the Chaos in Tejas fest, and now it’s just about time to head back to Philly for the “Pointless Fest”, which this year is aptly being called “Hot August Nights”.  Indeed it’s been hot—as hot as I can ever remember.  I’m staring longingly at my sweatshirt thinking of how hard it is to imagine the need to wear anything more than a tanktop.  In Texas the punks gathered for the chaos fest, and it really marked the beginning of summer.  It seems so long ago already, though really it’s only been two months.  I think Texas is a crazy place and it works for a good punk fest.  Right in the middle of a 40,000+ statewide biker rally and gay pride weekend, the 600+ punks don’t stand out or even make a  dent in the color of the town.  There were shows on bridges at night and backyards during the day, and then of course the shows at Emo’s at night which were the “official” fest shows.  It’s hard to carry on in heat you are not used to, drinking all day and all night, and watching bands the entire time.  I like to break things up, see a bit of the sights and make the most of my time in any one place.  But I also can’t stand the idea of missing even a second of the shows I came for.  And so I would forsake a swim in the river (any excuse not to get wet really) to get to the show on time.  And I literally didn’t miss a beat.  Well maybe one, when I got consumed with a portabello mushroom sandwich down the street at the Cockroach bar.  But suffice it to say, from noon till 5 am I was raging and punking out watching bands and no, I never get tired of it.  I get tired, physically and mentally yes, but not of watching bands.  There are a ton of photos in this issue from the Texas fest.  I think I shot over 40 rolls of film in that weekend.  Someone asked me randomly at a show recently why I was taking so many pictures, and I paused, thought about it for a second (usually the question is more along the lines of “what or who am I shooting for”) and said simply, “cause that is what I do.”  In fact I’ve been having a blast shooting photos lately, as well as seeing things come together like in the new Profane Existence where there is a 30 page photo spread accompanying an interview with me.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t both really proud and really excited about that.  In fact I suggest that you check it out and see for yourself!
    By the time I got home from Texas, the heat had settled in and it was even hotter here with heat indexes over 100°.  It’s the kind of heat that I don’t even go outside in.  I can’t breath right, it makes me sick and nauseous and tired and lethargic.  That heat that started in Austin has not quit all summer long here in Virginia and it’s driving me mad.  I’ve been working later hours overnight, and staying up later which usually has me watching the sun come up before I head to sleep, so of course I sleep later into the day and watch the days fly by.  The more that my awake time is at night, the less I interact with people and the world at large—which hasn’t been a necessarily bad thing.  I’ve got more tomatoes growing in my garden than I know what to do with and so I wait for visitors to come and share a pasta salad with me, or a beer when I get off of work at 4 am.  Erik is finally home after what seems like (and has been) months on tour and so that is pretty damn nice.  But I’ve been getting around to the punk shows, doing my own fair share of traveling.  A manic week in Texas, shot me straight up to Philly the next weekend to see Hellshock again (at Hazel’s high school graduation party in her parents basement (!!!)) and then the following weekend it was off to Chicago, yet again to see Hellshock, and then to Dan & Shannon’s wedding in Milwaukee.  With my outrageous obsession with Hellshock I love the fact that I could say I saw them every weekend for a month in 3 totally different parts of the country.  Most of my excitement has come in the form of manic trips out of town for crazy shows. And China and I have had some terrible luck of late with traffic.  Not the usual crappy traffic we are used to in the megalopolis of the east coast endless city (one of the worst of which is DC).  All of our traffic nightmares were in that area but getting stuck in traffic that has you missing shows, missing your favorite bands, and missing the bands you are going to see (when you left home with plenty of time to get there)—well, that is the kind of thing that our current driving nightmares have been made of.  It took us 7 hours to get to Baltimore, by far a worst ever record in my driving.  (It should take 3, perhaps 4 in shitty traffic—not 7!!!).  And the prices of gas!?!  A twisted part of me says keep on raising the gas prices until we change our lifestyle and stop being so dependent on our cars, and on gas, and all of the vicious circle of eco-cide.  But at the same time I am one of those who is dependent on my car, and I do live a life that requires driving and getting to all those shows eats up gas, and I don’t know how bands can afford to tour anymore (as best as I can tell, they actually can’t).  The times are crazy.  I’m seeing it with the zine too - I’m broke, everyone I know is broke.  The labels that have advertised regularly are either ceasing to advertise period, getting incredibly selective and budgeting like crazy, or simply calling it quits on the labels all together.  It has really made me stop and think about things.  And the irony of being dependent on advertising is not lost on me who absolutely hates that we are living in a commercial buy-sell-own world.  But that gets too depressing if I delve any further into that, so let’s get back to the shows...
    After all that in the month of June I was kinda ready to settle into my quiet home life again, but that didn’t last for long as before I knew it the Subhumans rolled through the east coast with From Ashes Rise and Leftover Crack.  It was a perfect line up for me cause those are all good old peeps.  I haven’t seen Leftover Crack since they were still Choking Victim, and while I knew they were hella popular, I was mouth agape shocked at the total insanity that ensued when they played in Philly.  From Ashes and the Subs are like my family and it was radder than words to get to seem them playing together and sadly these were the last FAR shows, as they are calling it quits now.  In fact, it feels like a slight end of an era with Severed Head of State also called in quits, and I feel like there were others that are near and dear who are calling time, but I don’t want to dwell too much on that just now.  After the Subhumans dates, they flipped around and did a week of shows with Citizen Fish and I set my life up around getting to NYC for their show at ABC NO RIO.  During all the years when I thought I’d never go back to NYC again, when people would ask me why or what I missed or what I’d go back for—my answer was usually something along the lines of “well if Citizen Fish played at ABC NO RIO, I’d go back for that.”.  It’s not that I meant it as an “it’ll never happen, so I’m covered” kind of statement but for many years I can’t say that I thought it would. I took a bus which dropped me in the middle of Chinatown at 7am when the city is rolling out and cleaning off the sidewalks and making ready for the world to walk into a new day.  It’s a weird time of day and I felt plagued by the filth and grime and stench and the incessant noise of the garbage trucks which were everywhere.  As the morning got to be slightly more suitable, I made my rounds as the bookstores opened, taking a detour to the farmers market in union square which to this day is the only place I have ever found Matsu apples, and continues to be one of the best places to get amazing fresh organic produce.  Leave it to NYC to have the biggest, freshest and bestest of most everything.  Including my favorite, my beloved, the thing which actually got me back to NYC in the first place... the bagels!  I got my Ess-a-Bagels and walking the streets and browsed books in the Strand and St. Marks books, looked for Creepers, and then drank a few glasses of iced coffee at Blue Stocking Books before heading over to ABC.  The funniest thing about walking in there was the smell, and I even declared out-loud to an almost empty room something about the smell of the building and how good it smelled and how much I missed it.  Unlike Chinatown, this was not a stench... this was the essence of a building that I had spent many many days and nights and it smelled good.  Needless to say the show was crowded, crazy and hot.  Really hot!  For all the talk everyone does of how much it has changed up there, I found it to be much the same.  The faces have changed but the energy was the same that day as what I remember from days past.  The kids are different, but it’s amazing how many double takes I did thinking I saw an old face from the past only to realize it was just a similar shoe filled.  There were a few old friends and faces which I was delighted to see and everyone danced their butts off the way I always remembered from my favorite Fish at No Rio shows.  Granted there were no 40s being drunk on the sidewalk, but the bar with margaritas across the street did a good business.  Oh if we would have ever thought that 15 years later we’d be drinking margaritas on Rivington Street on a Saturday afternoon, I think we might have... well anyway.... we had some giggles about it, but had a good time all around.
    And as I have been trying to pull this issue together, it’s been harder and worse than ever.  As you notice it’s only 16 pages, not the usual 20.  I can’t remember the last time I did a 16 page issue... probably 8+ years ago.  At the deadline time I didn’t even have the ad revenue to support a 12 page issue and that got me seriously depressed and fatalistically feeling the pinch of the new digital age where I really found myself contemplating the future of print media.  It took longer than I would have liked, but she came out fighting as always and the zine sprung to life as best of compromises as had to be made—mostly in the minute text, which is even smaller than normal—and that is just plain ridiculous.  But so be it, I had so many photos I wanted to print, and it’s not like I can just chop out all the music reviews from “The”-on, and so the text shrunk and the zine went to press after I pulled a non-stop marathon of zine-making-freak-out-stress-out crazies that only Erik was a witness to.  There is still a future for S&L—I really believe that.  I hope it doesn’t continue to get smaller in pages but whatever has to happen will.  We’ll keep on fighting one way or another.  And perhaps even get some of this on-line one day as well.  But I don’t want to see my zine become another digital bleep.  I think it’s really important to have something tangible that can be handed out, held and passed around.  And so while I am no longer refusing to give in to all things tech-no-logic-kill, I don’t believe that the end of anything is on hand.  And so we’ll find some energy to battle the sweat and heat and rock for another long weekend in Philly to our favorite bands and then get right back into reviewing records and zines and soliciting ads and finances for another print-run this fall.  And hopefully by then we can start to think about at least wearing a long-sleeve t-shirt every once in awhile and maybe take a small break from all this jet-setting around the coast and country for shows.  Yeah right.  Let the punk rock chaos continue cause I’ll be there.