Thursday, March 21, 2013

Notes on Nothing: a desolate report

I haven’t written a column for the past few months; I broke my right hand in a terrifying bicycle collision with a SUV and it was too frustrating to type out a sentence with my left hand, let alone a few thousand words. But also I have felt pretty dissatisfied, a sense of malaise and torpor settled in and I had nothing to say so I didn’t say anything. One of the reasons I quit coordinating MRR is that I envisioned myself doing all these cool projects on my own terms, like writing for myself and not just for the magazine, maybe starting a band or a new fanzine. Instead I have been holed up in my room with various illnesses and injuries and filled with misgivings and a total lack of energy or desire to do anything but go to work and go to bed. I am forcing myself to write this screed, just in an attempt to get back into the act of writing. What can I write about? The guy at Trader Joes who asked me about my Die Kreuzen badge, then launched into a list of bands asking me if I liked any of them. NO, I hate them all. None of this has anything to do with Die Kreuzen or my button, and what is it with people like me wearing a signifier like that but not actually wanting to talk about Weezer or reunion bands with some random guy in a grocery store?! Things I hate: Weezer, Jawbreaker, the audience at any reunion show, competition, 7”s that cost over $7 that are brand new records, men who think your very presence in public is an invitation to a monologue / “lesson.” The Punk Nod is all very well, because it’s a nod, a secret signal, but maybe I have PMS, maybe I am just in a bad mood, but that’s about all I can take right now. Certain bands make my skin itch and I would rather listen to Doc Dart’s solo record fifty times in a row than anything Blake Schwarzenbach will ever produce.
This fascinating article I am producing might indicate a sort of distaste with the punk idea; this is far from the facts. I love the sounds and ideas that exist under that particular umbrella, new and old, that is one of the benefits of volunteering at MRR, continual affirmation that the punks are producing good sound ideas on a frequent and never ending basis. The opposite is also true, there are many dull and tired ones, but they are wiped clean by the excitement of the new possibilities that exist! I wrote a thing on ye olde blogge ( about sounds and bands I am excited for new sounds from in 2013. You are welcome to check it out and maybe mention your favorite new bands/records. 2013 is a broken possibility so far in terms of personal goals and health, but the sounds are gonna heal us all right? Charred and jagged massage through punk rock.
Things I don’t want to talk about: Riot Grrrl. I think girls are starting cool bands, and making radical culture in many different contexts, which is great and inspiring, and I hope that some of the women who instigated grrrrldom write books (Allison Wolfe / Tobi Vail / Kathleen etc etc) BUT I am totally not interested in participating in panel-discussion-cultures about my own experience as a thirteen year old Riot Grrl no more. Not right now anyway. Maybe I will in the future, and I have done in the distant past, guilty as charged, in a Gehry designed museum nonetheless. Maybe it’s the combination of working at City Lights and formerly helping to run MRR, but the whole academic writer’s workshop culture creation lifestyle is making me wanna run to the hills, or at least stay in my room and brood. Definitely not create new works of art, or arts of work. I would say just write a zine or start a band, do something… desperate times. We are disappearing into an age of endless critic culture, where things get commented on until they are pounded into a fine grain, micro granules that blow away, to be forgotten next week. If you self-identify as a writing type, one who likes to put words on the page, to whine and opine, then what are you to do in the face of all of this noise? Not writing seems like the obvious choice, and I think one of the things that attracted me in the first place to punk and hardcore and DIY was the creation and negation aspect of the culture. Denial! Refusal! I don’t wanna go down to the basement… I don’t want to write rock criticism; I don’t want to talk about it. At any rate, this is a rambling anthem to the dispossessed and abandoned. Make of it what you will.
Things I love, a list for your eyes only.
Charlotte Pressler: a writer and musician from Cleveland OH, who has written deftly about her city’s profound musical history and heritage, and who has a beautiful solo LP with art by John Morton, of Electric Eels and X_X fame that you should grab instantly. Someone just uploaded some tracks she recorded in the mid ’80s in NYC to ye olde youtube, look up Red Dark Sweet if you want relentless joy imposed upon your brains. It was a cassette only release, and sounds like Electric Eels and Screamers and um fucking No New York all at once. It’s a gift! Charlotte Pressler for prez. “What’s That Sound I Hear” is particularly fantastic. Oh wait I think it's actually called Mrs Hanson! Sorry.
END OF LIST! Write me at Layla at maximumrocknroll dot com.