SLUG & LETTUCE #27
Ah, Fall is finally here, the most beautiful time of the year! My garden never really got started over the summer. I got a few beans and I have tomato; big and green that I'm sure will never ripen, but it was fun anyway. With the changing seasons I've also become reswamped with everything, which seems to be getting worse. I miss those lazy summer days! I wonder how I managed to fill all my days, oh but I know how; I was relaxing and reading and doing all those things which I can't even think of now. I'm back to living in a rushed haze.
What I've been giving the most thought to lately is the whole community thing, that is the punk community and the wonderousness of the whole thing. It seems to be a timely subject, that other people have been touching on lately also. What really triggered it for me was a Rorschach and Econochrist show this summer at ABC. There was such a good turnout and the enrgy was so good it gor me thinking about the entire network of people within the punk community, and what an incredible thing it really is.
For me the most wonderful thing about this whole punk scene is the friendships and community which are a part of it. ABC NO RIO really has the ability to pull together an incredible group of people from all over, with a common interest for a common purpose. A good show is a great way for this community to really be seen. To be sitting at ABC and have friends of mine come through; while I'm meeting people I've known through the mail; putting it all together can be a bit overwhelming at times. I'm always blown away and astounded by the feeling of a community network. When all those things get working, and people are brought together, the energy is good, people are having fun, more acquaintances are being made, it makes me excited and happy seeing the way this community works.
It's kind of strange when you think about the communication of people in the punk scene all over -- it makes you realize how small the world really is. I can feel it just through my mail, in my own little world, which makes it seem as though my friends in California or England really aren't so far away. It's incredible that with people so far away, there is so much in common, that between thousands of miles, we have our own little communities that are all part of one bigger community. You realize how familiar people are with others, so far away. When I pick up my mail -- I get such a wonderful sensation of the connection -- the network, the community. It's something that I have been thinking so much about, because it never ceases to amaze me! I feel the connection to people, and there is just nothing like getting a letter from a friend. When I read all my mail I just get such a, cliche as it may be, a unified feeling -- one that makes me feel the purpose of what this is all about.
ABC has really been getting me down lately, things seem too depressing. Oh we're trying, and we still have the weekly shows, the bands, well the energy and enthusiasm is gone. However, when a good show happens, oh boy do things fall into place. I seem to be stuck in this phase of looking in on my life, as if I'm an outsider; which leaves me constantly analyzing and thinking about shit so much so that, well it gets annoying at times. Sometimes I whish I could just turn my brain off. Ha! Every so often, say at a really great show, this feeling seeps over me, this wave of energy that's so good I don't even notice the details of my surroundings and I am able to live for the moment and enjoy the present. My emotions seem to be so much stronger lately, when I get happy -- I'm so overwhelmed by it, it's like I could cry. And yet, why so much of the time do I battle frustration and annoyance at everything. It's the same old thing where I can feel the elements of the city breaking me down. But like I was saying with shows in particular, when things come together, well there is no comparison. I suppose after the usual average weekly (lame show) I can so much more appreciate the end result. Like when friends of mine in a band I really like come from afar, it always seems that when these good bands pass through, that many other people (say people I write to or know from here and there) all seem to come together at once, which makes for such an incredible feeling. There is no better feeling, (well?) than that sense of community -- it's like a certain sense of satisfaction -- in that what so much of us spend so much time working at, this whole network of community -- when people meet up, it just endlessly amazes me that people all across the country, and the world, from thousands of miles always in some ways don't even feel so far away. It's as if through our own means we have the various station points, spread out and we all keep in close contact, eliminating the distance. ABC and probably Gilman are special in that people do flock to them (often expecting more than they find). Yeah the places are special, but every week is not a euphoric experience, and if you and I, if we don't make it cool, well than it won't be. It's not like it happens on its own. We have to make it work, and when it does, well it's great!
Several times of late I've been struck with the feeling of really enjoying the present. Like when Aus Rotten played at the Beer Olympics show in Brooklyn. Picture: an abandoned warehouse filled with burnt out cars and graffiti on the water front docks of Brooklyn with tons of punks of all sorts spread around while band after band of punk rock played way into the wee hours of the morning. Shit, it doesn't get much better than that! I still can humor myself over what a perfect punk background of urban decay that warehouse makes. There was quite a gathering of people from several states away, and so many bands, and of course we can't forget the endless beer! It's things like that, that make it all worth it, and fill me with such great feeling, well of knowing that we really have something special. This is the sort of thing that fills me with enthusiasm and energy.
Citizen Fish is another show I could go on about, where I really felt like I was in the right time period, really able to appreciate the present. It's really great to see one of your favorite bands, esp. in a scene where we're so used to clinging to times past. To actually be able to, in the present, see a favorite band is great! I was so excited about CF, for months before. It reminded me of when I was 15 and we used to wait for weeks for a band to play. When I lived in PA we didn't have weekly shows, and we would eagerly await the upcoming day for whatever band was going to play in Pittsburgh and we would make those memorable trips, to see the good old punk bands. Well that approach has since changed, and unfortunately I don't find myself looking forward to a whole lot, much less getting excited. But CF dragged out that excitement, which is something I appreciate. From the minute I got there, maybe from the time I woke up, I was excited. I was siked and living it up, totally in my element so much that no one could bother me, or "bring me down." Not even a few stupid incidents that occurred. Nope, not on this day. I stayed happy. I floated through the day on a near trance, purely through happiness. It was an ecstatic feeling, which is one of the most wonderful, natural feelings we can have. I'm afraid most of us don't allow ourselves this often enough, or we allow many things to get in the way. When CF finally played, it was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. I was so happy my skin was tingling and it nearly brought tears to my eyes. Yeah, it sounds exagerrated and drastic, maybe even crazy, but I think some of you can probably understand that feeling.
It always makes a good band that much better to me, when I know them and/or have some sort of connection to them, that personal element. I'm talking about friends, and the smallness of the whole scene. In the case of Rorschach, that particular day I was blown away by these loaded memories and the personal connection through my friends. So many things which haven't been the same suddenly fell into place...be it the fact that there were good bands playing, that there was a really good crowd there. It all reminded me of the old shows at ABC, when the energy was good and people were into things. When a good show comes around, as rare or frequent as they may be (more rare these days), it makes everything worth it. It makes all the days when I sit at ABC bored out of my mind, resenting everything, it all makes sense and it makes it worth it. I can remember all the old ABC shows with Rorshcach, a band I always liked; the shows in the basement, before that was regular, before there was a stage. I remember a particular one, where things were so crazy, I was smashed into so much, I was miserable, I actually told myself, this is not fun, I am not coming here any more, this sucks. Somehow that passed, I found a much better, more concealed place to watch the bands from behind, and have enjoyed it to this day. The old days of ABC, it's funny cause it seems so long ago. I look at fliers in Recond of shows in 1990, 1989 -- god it seems so long ago on one hand, in a way, so much has changed and it really has been a long time. But it still seems like just yesterday. Time is so warped. I guess that is partly why I'm so drawn to the place every week. I've been watching it evolve for so long, and I really believe it all! I got to thinking about seeing Rorschach for the last 3 years or so since I've been involved with ABC and just how much has happened since. Who would have ever thought an old friend of mine from PA I had nearly lost touch with would end up joining Rorschach in NY. Then after touring Europe, they're back to ABC. While in the meantime his girlfriend just had a baby, which is an incredible thing in itself, of which I could go on about. It's just a sort of mind boggling thing to see people all around you having children. It's really a beautiful thing! So while I'm thinking of the incredibleness of birth, I am also thinking of having this same friend play Minor Threat and Reagan Youth and a whole load of other stuff that was intoduced to me by him. See it's so much more than me seeing a great band, who happen to be friends...By rolling it all together, the meomories of the last, what 7 or so years, the whole idea of the punk scene, the way people are brought back together and are so much a part of each other, the fun everyone is having, the effect a band can have on people, the way music revolves around in our lives, the good friends I have in distant and not so distant places...all of this was added on top of seeing a good band. I looked around and it was as if everything were in slow motion, the crowd was heavily into the band, but while things were slowed down I saw the faces...the smiles, sometimes concealed behind fists and feet flying around, the enrgy and fun, the happiness and the sense of well, shall I say the whole meaning of punk, what all this shit is about, for me. As I'm seeing this, and feeling this energy...and thinking of all these things rolled up together, the memories of so much, which are coming to me in flashbacks -- the overall feeling I had was so good, it was such a sense of happiness that somewhere inside of me, something clicked and the only thing that I seem able to say, is that I understood. Everything suddenly made sense to me and a whole sense of purpose came to me, though it was more of an understanding, of what draws me down there to ABC every week, through the ungodly heat and the annoying cold, what draws me to the whole punk scene. Now one might ask, if ABC is such a chore, why not just go to the enjoyable good shows. Yeah, seems easy enough, but it just doesn't work that way, for me. If I were to pick and choose, I would not appreciate the good shows with the same amount of enthusiasm. It wouldn't be nearly so meaningful to me. It's the entire involvement that makes weeks of slow shows, no show bands, etc. etc...something to really appreciate and have a certain feeling of satisfaction at seeing the way things come together. It was as if I understood and didn't even need to answer my own question, of why I do all this stuff...And while these feelings are not anything new, and it's not such a groundbreaking discovery, I was just struck so clearly with such an understanding and it was really an internal feeling of reassurance, satisfaction, happiness...
That is why for me after a show, when I go up to Tom and say, "you guys were really good, that was a great show," it means so much more than that. It is more than just a good band, for me. I know Tom thought I was a bit nuts when I tried to explain this to him, but somewhere inside I hope he understood. I think most people probably can -- in some way or another relate to this, and remember a time when they felt really great, and were happy, when really things made sense to them.
Econochrist also brought memories of fun times...seeing them got me remembering California, going with my friend Naomi to SF, not knowing anyone or where we were going to stay, coincidentally following Born Against and meeting them at Gilman, with in a few minutess, we were surrounded by familiar people from NY and meet a few new people, we had a place to stay. I felt right at home (we really have a great community). I got to meet a lot of new people and it turned into 3 days of a drunken party, and what fun it was! For those fun times, and those memories, I wouldn't give anything. That is what brings me to thinking of the whole punk scene and the incredible network of people around the world. I mean in how many other situations could you go to a new city and just be "hooked" up and comfortable so well that you felt like you were right at home, were given a place to stay, pointed in the direction of where to find some fun, meet tons of new people, and all that? I am endlessly amazed about all this, and while on one hand, I feel that I am making a big deal of little things, the obvious, I often think of these little things and well, it is really a great thing to know we have friends all around the world, who share so much, the punk community never ceases to amaze me! I'm sure that many people have felt that same absolute happiness of travelling to anew place and meeting people, feeling part of another community, shit, that's what it's all about.
We've really got an amazing thing here, a network of people; a community. That is special to me, it is what makes me do everything I do, it is my life. Yeah, it really is so much a part of my life, that I can't even imagine it another way. I love this punk shit! And for things like this, the people I know and have met, the friends I have, it makes it all worth it. Yeah, it really does make sense. I can see the specialness of what we have, though it was never unclear, by realizing it, you can appreciate it so much more!
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