The War (from MRR #312)

On her first Christmas back home from Iraq, I helped my mother roll out dough for piecrusts. She was showing me how to roll it out nice and even when my stepdad popped the cork off a champagne bottle. She froze like a small deer: tense with wide terrified eyes. She dropped the pin and put her hands to her face like an embarrassed child. I put my arms up in a panic to comfort her. So quick I didn’t have time to process it, she yanked me into the pantry and shut the door.

I pulled the dangling string and lit up the tiny food closet. Surrounded by oatmeal boxes and cooking oil, and every kind of canned vegetable imaginable, my mother stood crying.

She looked up at me meekly, her face flushed wet, as she said, "Is my make-up okay?"

I took a napkin from its bulk box container and patted away her smeared mascara.

"Good as new," I said, touching her cheek with my palm, starting to choke up a little myself.

“I could stand to feel this way as long as I didn’t have to do it in front of everybody. It’s so embarrassing.” She muttered as she leaned forward into my shoulder. I held her and stroked her hair the way she used to hold me when I was I child.

"We can stay in here as long as you need to momma.” My voice broke at the end and I looked around for something to distract myself with as I kept stoking her hair.

“I mean, look at all this food! We could camp in here for weeks if you wanted… Crap, we forgot to bring a can opener though. You think anyone would notice if I reached out and got one out of the drawer?"

She rumbled a little, chuckling into my shoulder. She leaned back and used her apron to wipe the last tears away.

“We’d better go out there before anyone notices,” she said as he smoothed her hair.

“No one expects this to be easy for you,” because no one knew what to expect at all.

My mother is a small woman, with quick eyes and delicate wrists. Only the faintest ring of her southern accent remains in her small soft voice. She likes show her military ID to people and giggle when their mouths drop open in disbelief. I wonder with them. How did this little soft spoken woman, one who never used to raise her voice or swear, how did she end up a Lt. Colonel in the Army? How did she end up a medic in the middle of a war?

She’s defensive if I ask her outright. She says, “I knew what I was getting into, I knew there was a possibility things would end up like this. I went in with my eyes open, I want you to know that.” I do, I know she made a choice, that she knew there were risks. But I still can’t piece together what combination of events and sentiments brought us both here.

Her first real love and fiancée died in Vietnam. She only speaks of it in her faraway voice as if he were a dream. “He was dark and tall. I loved him and he died.” She carried it with her, through two subsequent marriages as a waitress and a single mother of two boys. She struggled, scraped up enough to put herself through nursing school. Met married and divorced my much older father. And at the end found herself in her forties with three children, and no security --nothing to steady herself with.

She wanted to finish college, but couldn’t find a way to pay for it. She lived in a rented house she couldn’t afford, and let my brothers grow a crop of weed in the garage to help make ends meet. I was eleven, and I could tell my mother was falling to pieces inch by inch. In this moment chance and need and predisposition collided when she joined the army as a nurse, and an officer. She said she dreamed of saving the lives of other people's loved ones so that they might be spared her pain, so that they might not have their futures ripped from them.

Now, having been through war, my mother has dreams of a burning woman she can't put out. She wakes up sobbing, and buries her face in the soft sheets of her queen-sized bed in her king-sized track home in the middle of quiet California farmland. The woman she dreams of was a real woman, a patient burned in a bombing, who though full of morphine screamed for hours until she died. A woman she could not save, whose pain she could not lessen.

Sometimes she wakes up at night to her own screams. Other times she can’t sleep at all because of the burning tingling that shoots up her legs and arms from her last series of anti anthrax shots. The VA doctors think it will get a little better over time, but the neuropathy caused by the drugs will probably be with her all her life. Sometimes she’ll wake up sleep walking looking for her rifle that was by her bedside in Iraq. She says she has this sense in her dream that if she finds it she’ll feel safe again, that only then she can really sleep.

When she first came back it was hard to talk politics with her. She was quick to jump to defending the war, to insist that it would be too much if all these people were dying for nothing. When she's feeling defensive you can almost hear the war drums rise in her voice. Borrowed words, and sweeping sentiments used as armor. It was too much then to even consider that everything she had witnessed had been for nothing, had been a big sprawling mistake.

When she first came back she was also prone to hilarious angry outbursts. We were in the mall trying to find some shoes she felt comfortable wearing after a year in boots. There was a woman ahead of us in line berating the sales clerk and pitching a fit that they didn’t have the color sandals she wanted. My mother turned a bright crimson before she yelled, “What the fuck is wrong with you? Be glad they have shoes here! Fuck, some people don’t even have feet!” I gently pulled her backward out of the store as the pale shocked faces of the customers stared at us. The offending woman said, “I’ll take the red ones” in a very small voice and I burst out laughing.

She also took to saying really grumbling old man things like: “war is fucking hell. All these people don’t know how fucked up the world really is. They get to stay here and shop and pretend nobody is dying. Fucking assholes.” Sometimes I can’t believe how much more alike we are now. We can relate in ways I never thought we would. We both hate war and warmongers. We both can’t stand the self-entitled decadence that is life in the US. We both despair that we can’t see a way out, and that these wars rage on. She used to be so optimistic, so cheerful, full of hallmark sayings, and faith in the world. Now that most of that is gone, I miss who my mother was, but enjoy the closeness our mutual despair has brought us. It might be the only pinprick of light in all of this.

After a months and months of painful adjustment, she has come into a little bit of peace. She works for a VA Hospital doing outreach to homeless vets. She says it helps her as much as them to have someone to relate to.

She has come to believe that the wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan are unjustified, and the people that have died, did in fact die for nothing. But this has only strengthened her conviction that she has a duty to go and help as many people as she can make it through.

She was deployed again last week, first to a base here in the states, then, back again to Iraq or Afghanistan. Back to sewing young men and women back together again. And I’m preparing to help pull her back together again when she gets home.

Crustier than the next dude (from MRR #310)

photo via macwagen on flickr

            Last summer Burt got ringworm and scabies at the same time.

           When he told me I just laughed at the absurd punkness of it. I’ve never had scabies, but I feel like it’s one of those supremely punk problems. Like on tour when we rolled into town and find the house we were playing emptied of furniture.

           “We burned the couches last night”

            “Whoa, why?”


            We all nodded our heads solemnly. Unconsciously beginning to scratch our arms, or rubbing the edge of one shoe against the other leg. We hugged our friends, but carefully, remembering every time our skin met their skin, trying not to think about it… but thinking of it all the same.

            Then we drank around the blackened remnants of the bonfire, and later sleep fitfully in the bare rooms with grime outlines where the couches used to be.

            Every tour it was a different house, but the rituals were the same.

            I’ve had and heard about my fair share of tour ailments, both illness and injury, but none so sadly out of control and preventable as Burt’s.

Burt is not the cleanliest of dudes. His once white shirts are the color of smog, and his previously black clothes have all turned a sickly olive or a rich reddened brown. But in general he takes care of himself. His is not a self-destructive neglect, but a general aversion to clothes washing or owning enough clothes to have to decide what to wear.  I like to call him a house crusty, or apartment hobo.

Even being as grimy a dude as I know him to be, it still seemed crazily impossible to get both ringworm and scabies at the same time. I made him walk me through it, step by itchy step.

            In his estimation the problems began before he ever left on tour.

            “Getting ready to leave. I had so much to do. I wasn’t showering. I wore the same underpants for a week and a half. I’m sure that was a bit of a factor.”

            He didn’t worry about the itching at first. Like I explained, he’s a generally grimy dude, so he’s used to some itching.

            “Everybody itches. It didn’t seem like a big deal. But it got worse. I woke up at night and couldn’t go back to sleep. I’d just scratch and scratch”

            It was two weeks of constant itching before he couldn’t take it anymore. The turning point came when it made it’s way onto his “junk.”

He’d woken up at 5am and tried showering to help ease the itching. But it didn’t work. He called around to find a free clinic, but no one could see him. So, he had the band take him to the emergency room.

            “I said, ‘it itches’ and she had me drop trou. She glanced me over and said. ‘You probably just have jock itch.” (Aka. Ringworm. Aka Tinea Cruris. Aka punk itch)

            ‘She prescribed pills and ointment and told me to wash thoroughly twice a day. So, I had to try to shower twice a day at weird punk houses, and sadly the next string of houses we stayed at only had tubs. I spent a lot of awkward time crouched over in these tubs washing my groin. It fucking sucked, but we did get to make a lot of ‘there’s a fungus among us’ jokes.”

            The additional thing Burt had to do to get rid of the itching for good? Boil his underpants. Which seemed easy enough to arrange since they were staying with good friends. But when Burt asked if he could do some panty boiling on their stove the answer was an unequivocal “No way!”

            He grimed through another night in his ringworm underpants, and the next day, in the next city, he decided to go for it and boil them while his hosts were away at work.

            “I only had a small pot, so I had to boil all my underpants and a couple shirts in batches. My clothes hadn’t been washed in… well, ranging from two weeks to a year. I didn’t add more water between batches so the water got all low and black. I singed some of the clothes a little bit”

            No one came home from work to find Burt making dirt soup and burning his clothes on their stove. He got it done, and presumably killed the fungi living there.

            Two weeks later and he had finished the anti-ringworm regimen. During that time he had gathered a vast array of anti-ringworm accessories: special soap, a loofah, tea tree oil, and some boxers. But he was still itching. Bad. Some of the redness had gone away, and it seemed to have retreated, but it was not getting less itchy. Luckily, they had a few days off in his hometown so he could see a doctor he knew and get things sorted out properly

            “I went in and said ‘hello sir, I’m having a problem with my penis.’  He examines me and says ‘let’s just think about this.’ We spent a while comparing my junk to pictures and realized it looked just like scabies. We deduced I had killed the ringworm, but had let the scabies take over.

            Burt was given a cream to apply over his whole body, and leave on overnight. Unlike the old days of being forced to use the harsh foul smelling Lindane, he was prescribed a mild scentless cream called premethrine. He was warned that even with the treatment done he would itch for another month, but he would no longer be contagious.

            “I want to clear up some misapprehensions it seems most people have about scabies. It’s not that bad, and it’s harder to pass on than everyone seems to think. According to my doctor you have to ‘share clothes or naked hug someone’ to pass it. I spent eight weeks in a hot van with my band, and no one else got it.

            “I’ve changed my habits a little. I mean, we all want to be crustier than the next dude, but I change and wash my underwear more often now. I’m also more likely to go to the doctor now; these are the kinds of things that I always struggled to take care of with a home remedy. I’m all about home remedies, but I think this is a situation where you want to have ‘the man’ give you a chemical.

            For home remedies Burt says the tea tree oil helped alleviate some of the symptoms, but it didn’t come close to any kind of cure.

            “Couple tips for those with scabies: hot showers are no good! It encourages them to thrive. As for killing them on your clothes, boiling works… but you should iron them too to be extra sure. And crusty dudes particularly – change your underpants dude, please.”

            Both Ringworm and scabies are things the punks seem particularly prone to. We live and tour in filth, shower less frequently, wear tight pants, and tend to wait for our ailments to cross the last possible line before we seek treatment.

            The kicker? Right before Burt left on tour, he told a friend about his slight itchiness. They said. “dude you probably have ringworm, take care of that shit before it gets out of hand.”

            Dear the punks: Listen to your friends, change your underpants, quit putting off taking care of shit you are hoping will just go away but know won’t, and please take care of yourself so next summer I won’t show up to your empty house wondering if I should risk hugging you.

            It is now perfectly safe to naked hug Burt, but for at least a few people who read this-the following will be true: he boiled his ringworm scabies underpants on your stove, in your only pot. 


The Dickies - Banana Splits

The "Banana Splits" single came out in 1979, and somebody thought it wise to throw some money at these crazies and let them make a video.
Rumor has these dudes all met because they had the same speed dealer. surprised? no, didn't think so.
1977 in San Fernando Valley, what else to do but get high and start a punk band right?

more factual info on the Dickies

Corrupted (from MRR #308)

I’d say it happens once or twice a year. A show that reaffirms or re-inspires why punk is important and relevant, one that fills you up, carries you through the shit we call life. One you can really say makes it all worth it. Some of these moments get added to the annals of punk history, repeated and made legend. Some are only remembered tenderly by those few who were there. Some others are made into memorable moments in post production, given a glossy sparkly sheen by time, and remembered more by those who were not there, than those who were.

In search of the past

The night before, I worked a smaller show, one that deserved a bigger crowd, but it was a cold blustery night, and wintery rains will keep punks home with hot cider here in California. (To those accustomed to trudging through snow banks to get to the show, I know you think California is perpetually temperate and that we are just crybabies, but it isn’t so! It gets cold and miserable here, I swear, and not a single person I know has a decent rain jacket. But I do wish we had more of your fortitude sometimes.)

I was listening to the dark hypnotic post-punk/death rock of Swann Danger, wondering why they aren’t a cult sensation yet, when a reporter from the Daily Californian came to ask a few questions for his article about the 20th anniversary of Green Day’s first show at Gilman. I should have given a fake name, told half-truths, or refused to comment… but I never think of these things in the moment, and I can slip into an overly helpful mood while working.
He asked about my feelings about Green Day, and was clearly disappointed that I had none. I told him I was six at the time of their first show at Gilman, and didn’t know anyone that was there for it. He asked angled question after question, until he finally just asked what he’d hoped I’d say all along.
“Don’t you think they sold out?” he said with his pen poised to write in his little top bound notebook, like a kid playing reporter.
“I wasn’t here when it happened. I wasn’t even punk yet.“
“But you can still have an opinion about it…”
I’m not one to turn down having an opinion, so I told him, “You have to have stood for something to begin with to sell out. And maybe I could blame them for spawning countless horrible pop-punk bands or for mainstreamizing punk… but they weren’t alone. I hope you understand they just aren’t on my radar at all.”
“But don’t people talk about them here?” he said slowly putting his notepad down, tucking his pen in his shirt pocket.
“Only tourists and reporters.”

He shook my hand and left, saying he’d be back to try and find someone with an opinion or more insight. I was angry, mostly at myself for bothering to talk to him. Then at him, and every other reporter who shows up to get a good line to put in their article about the mega-band, trying to craft a narrative where there is none; either trying to paint the club as a bitter ex or a proud parent. It never occurs to them that we are too busy running a club to be constantly contemplating the past, and that some of us have never known a scene that included a punk Green Day. To us, it never happened.

I stayed a little mad at myself for talking to a reporter, knowing he could probably find a fraction of one of my sentences to use the way he wanted. I went home, went to sleep, and dreamt about the apocalypse.

Try not to blink, or sleep

It can be any combination of things that make a show amazing, but there is something extra, something like magic that can push it over into the realm of perfect. Everyone you want to see is there, people you haven’t seen for years came out or drove in for it, there is an air of excitement, the bands are not only playing well, but playing as if they are playing for posterity, playing how they want to be remembered. (Add to that the hundreds of vegan tamales, and something truly magic happens.)

After an amazing set by Stormcrow, and a pretty interlude by Amber Asylum, Asunder took the stage in total darkness. I don’t mean it was very dark, I mean the stage was a pitch black void, and they played so well, so tight, that it seemed impossible (without some sort of night vision or extrasensory abilities). All three bands played short sets (for them) of about half an hour or so, so that Corrupted could blow everybody’s minds and play for two hours.
Let me guess, you’re thinking, “Two fucking hours???” You’re right, I exaggerate. They actually played for only an hour and fifty-four minutes. An hour and fifty-four minutes of the heaviest, slowest, most epic drone/doom/sludge; shit that can be a mindfuck even when you aren’t beyond tired and hopped up on too much coffee.

I’ve been waiting a long time to see Corrupted. After hearing their split with Phobia, I had a friend tape me a copy of their Llenandose de Gusanos record. I was nineteen, and walked through the forests of Santa Cruz listening to that record, eating too-strong weed food, and in the process scaring the shit out myself. For a few hours I forgot I had a walkman on and just figured this must be the sound a forest at sunset makes. I was out of my head, but it was the first time I actually enjoyed living in that weird burnout, forested beach town. To see them now, sober, but older, was much the same as then, only not scary, just transformative.
To see a band carry out an epic vision, see a show transcend into event, and to know that what is happening is special the moment it happens (not years later while reminiscing), is really all that you can ask. Particularly for a band that you’ve been waiting to see, hoping you would get the chance to see.

You can talk all you want about what was. About what must have been the perfect moments in our shared punk history, you can even write trite articles in local newspapers, but don’t be so hung up on the past that you miss the moments that are now, with current bands and current faces. Don’t miss your chance to say “I was there”.

Thank you to Jay for all his hard work putting the Corrupted show together, Karen for all the glorious food, Pat for keeping shit secure, and to all of the other Gilman staff/volunteers that make a show like this possible. Thank you to Corrupted, Asunder, Stormcrow, Amber Asylum and Swann Danger for providing the soundtrack to a weekend I won’t forget.

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digital hearts analog

yes, you can use to turn your digital pictures into polaroids.
It is fun to play with  and instead of $1 a pop it's cheap as free.
but it's still not as fun as shake-shakin' it.

(photos are a mix of mine, and ones via ffffound and flickr)

Pick one. (From MRR #307)

I’ve been waiting for two hours to turn in my Food Stamp application and talk with this, the gatekeeper of social services. She wades through and confirms all of my information line by line: Name, address, Social Security number.

She looks like uncannily like Teresa Covarrubias from the East LA punk band The Brat. I know it isn’t her, but can’t help but think of her as some other punk turned social worker (probably the fate of more than a few punks) working for the state and serving the public. Doesn’t seem like a bad gig either. I know more than a few punk teachers who love it, and I read somewhere that Exene is a librarian.

Feeling warm toward her, as an imaginary punk, I interrupt to ask her name. I feel like it’s the polite thing, she knows who I share food with so I might as well ask her name, but she is awkwardly surprised and skeptical. She stares at me for a moment, and then says, “Just call me ‘lady’.”

I feel momentary embarrassment for crossing some kind of unspoken line, but we are right back to my application, moving forward as if I never said a word to her. She is inputting my information into her computer when we hit the stumbling block. Ethnicity.

"It will only let me check one."

“I’m pretty sure at least one of the forms said ‘check all that apply’ for that portion,” I say shifting from foot to foot on tired legs.

She is still staring at the screen, brows furrowed, not hearing me. “I just don’t know what you do in this case.”

Looking around the room at all the people, thinking of the volume of people this woman has assisted, I could not imagine I was her first mixed person. It seemed a statistical impossibility. An involuntary flush began rising in my cheeks. I’ve been waiting a long time; I’m tired and, well, hungry.

“This doesn’t affect how much I get in benefits right? Can we just check “other” or something? What do people usually check?” I ask, hoping this doesn’t take longer than it has to.

“They pick one, sometimes they say you are supposed to side with the mother. But it is self-identifying.”

“What happens if I don’t want to pick?” I ask, starting to feel like I just want to leave.

“The county will do it for you,” she says matter-of-factly, looking up at me.

So much for self identifying.

As of the 2000 census the county where I live, Alameda County, had 1,443,741 people living in it, of which 5.63% were of two or more races. Even with statistics almost a decade old Alameda county had somewhere in the neighborhood of 81,000 mixed race people, and still Social Services has no way easy way to categorize them? The “mark all that apply” option is usually the best in terms of inclusion, so why not make it so in their internal system? Why this checkbox category system to begin with?

Sure, for Social Services, the need to collect data is understandable. They are trying to answer pragmatic questions: Which communities are underrepresented and in need of more outreach? Are there languages other than the ones they are offering that they need to hire translators for? Etc., etc.

But if their forms aren’t dynamic enough to really represent people, isn’t it flawed data to begin with? If people simply have to choose one, won’t our understanding of others and ourselves stay as stagnant as the forms we must fill out?

The human impulse to categorize isn’t limited to race/ethnicity. It’s in gender, sexuality, class, and for many the fewer categories the better. For a long time the dominant paradigm saw the world as such: man/woman, straight/queer, white/not-white, rich/poor, Christian/godless, good/bad. Things have certainly gotten more complicated, but instead of understanding that the system of categorization was the problem, we have simply added more categories. As if there ever be enough categories to explain or encompass what we really are. Sometimes try to rephrase our category to be more positive, something we can own, but even that isn’t all that empowering. It also has a tendency to reinforce the idea that you are born with certain characteristics, and that they do not and cannot change over time. That your sexuality cannot vary and shift and grow with age, that your gender cannot also be ebbing and flowing more toward one end of the spectrum or another across your lifetime. We are made to choose, and when we choose, we are expected to stay. Like good dogs.

It’s usually only those who fall between or outside of these categories who see them for the human inventions they really are.

“Lady” surprises me with a personal aside, but it’s almost like she is speaking to herself. “My husband is from Ukraine, and my family is Mexican and Filipino… my children are mixed too. It seems silly that they won’t know what to check. Okay, I know what to do. I want you to check “other,” but we are going to write everything in the margin, and I will input it in the comments and show to my boss.”

She handed me a stubby little pencil and I wrote as small as I could in the margin. In alphabetical order: Apache (Junimano), Basque, Catalan, English, Scottish, Yaqui.

It felt good. Once the need to categorize was eliminated I could for the first time in my life spell them all out. One by one, each portion of “makeup.” As soon as I had, I felt how arbitrary they were. Little pieces of the past, people and places no longer remembered, collected together. I had thought the world at large was just too lazy to understand, and for my whole life, even I had labeled myself in order to make it simpler for others to understand. Now it seemed like just stories about people no longer remembered, with no real ties to my life.

I crossed out my little list and wrote “fuck you” below it.

When I handed it back to her, lady laughed, and dutifully typed “fuck you” into the comments field. Maybe she was a little bit punk after all.

It's Fucking Free (from MRR #306)

photo from Sam K.

As I try to lean over most of the piss puddle to tape an "out of order" sign to the urinal's makeshift trashbag covering, there is nastiness seeping in the sides of my shoes. My right foot slips and I catch myself on the handle, saving me from a face first tumble into the urinal, but instead sending another little wave of pee water over my shoes.
It’s already been a long day, full of problem after problem: the bands are late, there are not enough volunteers, not enough small bills for change — but as of then, no injuries, no fights, no vomit… it’s not as bad as it could be, not as bad as it has been.
I start laughing at the sad little list of things I’m thankful haven’t happened yet.
I laugh harder when I realize that I’m not alone in the bathroom and that to the boys sheepishly crowded near the door I must look bizarre, awkwardly bent over the urinal laughing to myself, one hand now tangled in the duct tape I was trying to employ.
I reach a hand out and one of the boys helps me to drier ground, and they all begin to chuckle with me about my ridiculous situation.
“Shit, I hope you’re getting paid extra for taking care of this,” the tallest says, headed for the stall with a door.
“No way, you couldn’t pay me enough to do this.”
Blank perplexed stares.
In a culture that values money above all else it seems hard to explain the satisfaction of giving your time and labor freely to anyone, besides those already well acquainted with working in volunteer-run collectives.
My mother tends to portray it as altruism. She tells her friends, “Ari works with at-risk youth,” which in itself is too crazy to try and correct. Or maybe is hilariously correct, but misleadingly vague. Yes, the people I work with (my coworkers) are sometimes pretty young, and are, if it’s a good night, totally at risk of getting into some kind of mischief — but then so am I. But the kind volunteering I’m talking about isn’t based on a selfless devotion to others, its work like any other, just unpaid.
Sure, part of the time I work for money. I work in a steel fabrication shop at the end of the BART line, in an underserved and violent little city at the edge of the East Bay. I work in a steel box inside of a bigger steel box that is always hotter or colder than seems natural. I sit in a swiveling chair, stare at a screen making figures add up. I’m not particularly good at it, I don’t think anyone can be good at that kind of work, it’s automatic. It’s like breathing, but more boring. But I don’t work there for fulfillment: I work to eat, to pay rent, to have some cash on hand to buy things I want or need (records, paint, cans of mock duck, plastic cameras, etc., etc.)
The real work I do, the most valuable time I spend, I do for free, for the joy of doing. Like the work I do as a show coordinator at 924 Gilman St.
There the work itself has intrinsic value. To be given money for it would cheapen it, would break the magic spell that makes it all worthwhile.
Why? Because as soon as you begin to accept money for work you begin to calculate the value of your work in terms of hours and in terms of dollars. You begin to say what can my time buy me? (Or how much money is it worth to wade through the mini pee lake in the dank grimy bathroom to tape up the urinal?)
Whereas, unpaid work is valued by the people it helps, the art it creates, the world it inspires. Or in my case, the crisis it averts, the shows it keeps running, and the bands it supports.
And make no mistake; I’m no martyr, no lone figure fighting selflessly to keep punk’s head above water. I am just a part of a community of volunteers, and a scene of punks committed to keeping the place open, to keep it thriving. I know what I do helps in that aim, and there is the value, there is my pay. And no money is worth that feeling. It’s fucking free.
But still, you ask, why not earn a living doing what you love? Like say, playing music? As soon as you make your music a product you depend on for your life’s expenses, the shift in emphasis will swing immediately from playing to selling, from moving bodies to moving units. Soon to follow are all the hallmarks of a corporately marketed band: a press kit, a booking agent, a glossy 8 x 10, and a repulsive air of entitlement. In that moment everything good and true and punk about your band will start to die.
Even in bands who know better than to try to make a living off of it, who consider themselves as punk as can be, I’ve seen a worrying trend developing. It happened gradually, almost imperceptibly, that less and less of them freely give their money to other bands after I pay them at the club. It used to be common, every band would give most if not all their pay to the touring band, maybe keep a couple bucks for bridge toll, but that was all. There are definitely still bands that do that, but less and less of them. It also used to be bands would regularly give money back to the club, but that’s so rare that I am surprised when it does happen.
It seemed there was this code of conduct among bands that has started falling away. A general sense of camaraderie is still there, don’t get me wrong, but the generosity is what I see less of.
There are expenses to being in a band, I know (my band is currently a couple grand in debt after putting out a bunch of vinyl), but on a show with one or more touring bands you can’t convince me they don’t need the money more.
Shit, you can’t convince me that the money should matter at all to local bands.
Another place I see a rampant and gross use of price to equate value is in record collecting. In any conversation about records, particularly about older ones, it seems inevitable that someone will pipe up with a report of how much something went for on eBay, the riculous price adds a layer of mystique to the record, and whether or not anyone in the group would deem it to be good, suddenly they must concede that it is valuable.
You can almost hear the gears turning. “If it’s valuable, lots of people want it or are willing to pay exorbitant amounts for it, therefore it must have something about it, maybe something I don’t get. Better think twice about how I feel about it.”
This kind of thinking is in opposition to everything punk is about, so why are we all a little bit guilty of it? It’s because we don’t overtly think it, it’s just lurking there in the back of our minds, the product of a culture dazzled by money, and obsessed with getting their due.

Jobs that pay more (or at all) aren’t better jobs, expensive records aren’t better records, and just because your band gets paid doesn’t mean that you can’t give it away.

From the ‘this is why we can’t have nice things’ dept:

The Long Haul info shop in Berkeley was raided by a cooperating task force of University of California police, FBI agents, and Alameda County Sheriffs. News sources point to the recent surge in ALF activity at UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley as the cause, at least one source suggested the raid was due to threatening emails traced to the info shop. The first outrage is, of course, at the space being broken into, that the warrant is inappropriately non specific, and that the computers that aid in publishing the Slingshot newspaper, as well as computers belonging to organizations renting office space in the Long Haul were seized, not just the Long Haul’s free access computers.
This, however, ought to be a lesson to us.
Our radical free spaces are vulnerable, and if you are going to be doing some online activism and want to remain anonymous, send your shit from the fucking library! (They’re not about to seize all the library’s computers…not yet anyway.) Or maybe a bougie internet café. Not from a valued space that is already a target. The point is to be careful, and be aware of where your actions are traceable to.
We know they’re out to get us; lets not leave a trail of breadcrumbs.
Donate to the Long Haul by PayPal (to or send a check to 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94705. Make checks payable to “Long Haul”. They’ll need it for a legal defense fund, new computers and to repair damages.

Oh, and please send a dry pair of shoes to:
PO Box 301, Berkeley, CA 94701 USA

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