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PO Box 26632 / Richmond VA 23261-6632

Some Thoughts #83

    It’s the best time of year, of that I’m eternally predictable and ever consistent.  For all the doldrums of March, April is the reward.  One day there is just a hint of spring and I cling to the buds on the trees, the warmer sun and the longer days.  And before I even know what happened everything is alive, the trees are not just budding but are green with new leaves, the grass is a foot tall, the tulips and wisteria have gone from my favorite peek of full bloom to now leading the path for the next round of plant life.  April just plowed on through with such speed that I don’t know what happened.  Except that I do, because in the midst of it, I was savoring every moment and enjoying it.  I actually found a balance in my life and took the time to lounge in the hammock in my yard and watch my tulips grow (my current figure of speech for actually enjoying the moment), and continuing to read a book here and there and generally do whatever my heart desired, all while managing to keep up with some insane work schedule and the usual zine deadline.  It’s hard to sit inside reviewing music and formatting files, while the sun shines and the best of April awaits, so I did both.  But somehow for all the enjoyment I got out of it, the month evaporated — just as every day week and month seems to do lately.  Life feels more like a freight train cut loose than a rollercoaster lately.  I wonder sometimes I why I’m perpetually so tired, and then I look at my life and my schedule and the crazy things that I do with my time, and I have to sort of accept that I push myself to the extremes in trying to do everything all the time with rarely a pause.  Yet there is no other way for me as I literally want to do everything at once and be in multiple places at the same time. 
    I still have a tendency to base my life around seeing bands.  And I chronicle my time with photos of the bands I’ve seen.  I remember a time, a season or a year through my memories and documents of these bands.  This spring was the season and the year of To What End? my favorite band from Sweden, and the band that I have been raving about being the ultimate and favorite band of all time for me and my obsessiveness.  The obsession that started last year.  Once I found out they were coming to the East Coast, I focused my attention on seeing them as many times as I could and put that at the forefront of my spring frenzy.  I got to see them first in Richmond with Kakistocracy, I knew I couldn’t miss out on the show in Pittsburgh with Riistetyt and Die Screaming (sigh!) and then onward to Chicago, via Milwaukee for the Chicago Fest.  All this with in a bit over a week, on a schedule that defies all sense.  I think I can drive up to Pittsburgh for a show, then drive back home and get to work the next afternoon.  And while technically I almost can, and have in the past, mentally I wanted to stay and hang out a bit. And so I did as I had to, and closed down the bar with the rest of the Scandinavians and Pittsburgians, slept in my car and then drove home.  I barely got back on track and then I was off to the midwest, already in a sleep deficit.  The Chicago Fest was overwhelming with so many bands all crammed into a weekend.  Half of them I’d never heard of, but just about all of them I enjoyed, and I did watch each and every one.  The highlights were what I expected, the faves I already had... the last chance to see To What End and Riistetyt; a new and improved and out of control RAMBO; Municipal Waste representing the RVA cranked up the energy and tore things up, WB2D and Signal Lost did what they do, and we got a short introduction to BSA.  Hit Me Back by far were the best surprise and new band for me to see.  Energetic E. LA hardcore posi kids with more energy, passion, and sincerity than a bunch of jaded old hardcore bastards could ever hope for.  I was too tired to get my shit together and take photos and that is my big regret of the weekend.  Sunday was topped off with I Object ruling the hardcore punk and Direct Control nailing it down for Richmond, again.  Dancing at the goth club with the Swedes and Finns was as much fun as the show, hanging out with all the people and friends from afar was as always the reason to be there in the first place, but whew, I went home exhausted and barely recovered before heading to NYC for my first visit back in 5 years.  The wedding of my childhood best friend is what got me there, and it was a manic 48 hour trip in which I tried to cram in a hundred and one things, and pretty much succeeded.  The walking was the best part... as soon as I was out of the bus station, I was dodging people and cars, and speed walked 40 blocks downtown to visit some old haunts.  No shows for me that weekend, but some good old friends were re-aquatinted with and I found my footing easily in NYC again. 
    Somehow life hasn’t really slowed down too much, although I have not been stressed out even though I’m pushing the limits on what I can physically and mentally do within each day. So many times in my whirlwind adventures of late I have found myself just being so stoked about everything: I find myself driving through the PA mountains after seeing amazing bands and just thinking about how much I love my life.  I hop on an airplane on no sleep, straight off of a 12 shift at work, on my way to a fest with my best friend and again I love my life.  I come home to my cozy house with an amazing garden, and for all my fun and adventures in the world, and I’m happy to be home.  I enjoy pushing the limits and balancing the extremes and I think that opposites make each extreme better.  A frantic punk show in the city and then an escape to the rolling fields of the country make both a bit more special.  And being able to hold it all together by a loose thread, and stitch it all along into a patchwork quilt that holds together keeps me inspired and stoked.  And in all those bizarre and crazy obsessive journeys, jaunts, and visits that I  have, I always know that it’s the punk rock lifestyle that holds the dental floss strong threads together without fraying and that is what I really love about my life. 
    And while right now I kinda feel half nuts because so much has happened lately and it seems impossible to process, and there is so much to look forward on the horizon, and spring is still hanging around in Richmond being the best season of possibilities and hope for the future and my enthusiasm is uncontainable  It seems like forever ago that I was in San Francisco for Karoline’s birthday party and the All You Can Eat shows—and indeed, it was 4 months ago —which is kinda forever ago.  And just the other day Kylesa and Born Dead played here in Richmond and smashed my head in with a power house of heaviness and punkness, and it will be another 4 months before the documents of that show get printed and put into my punk archives.  I’m sorting through photos for the 20 year anniversary photo book of Slug & Lettuce, and navigating my way through the digital world of the future, while stubbornly wishing I could just dig in the dirt and savor that smell of the spring garden being worked.  And in the end I’m doing both, and all of it, and finding balance and reward in the extremes.  With 2,001 ideas flying through my head, with inspiration everywhere and travel plans and experiences galore, somehow I’m still managing to keep my feet firmly on the ground, and I’m tired, but I’m still passionate about all that I do.  And yes, I’m stoked.
     Three cheers for all those people who have been supporting S&L and giving the extra push to make sure it sticks around.  I’m sure the financial slump will continue to be a struggle, but with support and help and a bit of working together, I hope to keep this thing ticking for a long time to come.  Thanks to Mandi, Barney and Dug for the t-shirts (benefit S&L t-shirts are available for $12ppd - see the ad in the centerfold).  My apologies Johnny and all the bands he reviewed, because those reviews were left out of the last issue by my mistake... but they’re in this one.  And apologies to the zines that were not reviewed in this issue due to a death in Aprille’s family.  I’ve read a hundred and one books that I wanted to review and chat about and talk up, and for all of my enthusiasm about books I seem to slight them in each issue; slight meaning: I don’t get the actual reviews done or the find the space to fit them in.  I did get a stockpile of DVD’s reviewed some of which have been hanging around since last year.  Hey, we do what we can, but everyone has had spring fever and pulling the pieces together for this issue has been as hard as ever when people want to be riding bikes or falling in love or doing everything other than working inside, so get to it.  Live fast, love hard, and make it last.
xoxo  Chris