The idea of writing sometimes is so repulsive. What is more gruesome than rock journalism? Some choad emptying their bowels on an unsuspecting audience, explaining the sound, outlining intentions, tellin’ it like it is brothers and sisters. Is there anything more grim than journaling or personal confessional pieces, a supposed arduous journey on which you found something of yourself and managed to put it on the page nice and neatly, an arc like storyline tying everything together, containing the trials and troubles experienced like packaging tape. I work at a San Francisco literary landmark, and we frequently have readings at said literary landmark, sometimes it’s an occasion, say a certain insurrectionary Hungarian writer, someone whose work shifts landscapes and disturbs mindsets. But most of the time it’s a line up of local luminaries opining and whining, the same vocal tones employed in word delivery, the same shit eventually emerging, the over use of the word I, here it is, my story, for you but mostly for me! Listening to these voices makes me want to contain all my thoughts and ideas. To refrain from inflicting more bad art and feelings on an imagined audience. Just the manner in which these people read their work makes me want to vomit, makes me feel like a surly teenager who just can’t fucking stand it, the most corny of stances, Holden Caulfield as a woman in her thirties. Grim! But spoken word! Is there anything more wretched? The performance of nothing, the tropes and routines employed by these dismal soul patches. Yet another personal narrative diving into the depths of dissatisfaction and inanity, a kitchen sink drama, a horrible childhood all rendered with the subtlety of a mime troupe. It fills me with such horror that I am adding to the garbage pile. Not that I think of myself as a fine writer by any stretch, but over the course of two years of working at my job, listening to some of the most turgid self indulgent bile, it makes you want to throw in the towel somewhat… Reading old columns I have written for MRR is sometimes painful; I can feel the stress and insanity behind the tired words, especially when I was coordinating the magazine, at one point I wanted to make a zine of some of my columns, but… rereading them is work enough! (If you want to you can digest the entire series in one sitting at whatwewantisfree.blogspot.com and no I don’t even own any Articles of Faith recordings! What a poser. I like the phrase but prefer the music of Silver Abuse in terms of Chicago sounds of that era).
Punk is DIY, making your own culture, whether that’s making music, writing fanzines, all the other aspects of culture you can participate in as a punker, and I am not insinuating that because I am no Andre Gide there is no point in me writing at all… Nor am I saying that I think I am part of the wretched personal journey narrators that haunt my workplace. I am sure there are people reading this that would align my words into that school. There has been a push in recent years to move away from the dreaded “per-zine” dredge and unfortunately for this reader (who mostly finds perzines as vile as the aforementioned spoken word enunciators) this has mostly meant a million boring zines full of boring people writing boring things about boring music. There are a few who have stuck out (Brendon Annesley (RIP) and DX are the obvious ones, I would add some of the writers I hired to write columns for this mag, Viktor, Alex Ratcharge, Shiva, Sam, Bryony… a few Midwestern zine writers I am too lazy to go over to my zine pile to dig through and get names…) Rock criticism, music criticism ultimately has the same effect, anyone can do it, and they will so watch your fucking back. Read say, Patti Smith writing in Creem, or Lester Bangs, or Ellen Willis or Tobi Vail, Joe Carducci, read old Forced Exposures, Charlotte Pressler’s writing about the early Cleveland punk scene, and then go read some random music review website. A punk one; that “guy that used to work in a record store but now holds down an office job and writes about noiserock in his home office,” or a mainstream blog rocker one… All these confident casual opinions streaming 24 hours a day relentlessly like air conditioning in an Arizona mall; it feels like a never ending tape loop of the most banal, and again who wants to contribute to the deluge?! People aim for Lester Bangs or maybe more cerebral blogrocker types, Greil Marcus, but much like the pummeling stream of woeful tiki bar attendees and sorority sisters buying Bukowski all day at my work, dreams do not pan out and reality is a lot more painful and difficult to get through.
A long and labored diatribe about why I stopped; when I was writing my columns as coordinator for the most part I was unhappy with their contents. Running the magazine is so exhausting, a relentless treadmill of woe, and who wants to read about that?! I wrote about it a lot however! Endlessly. If you browse the archive you will witness this fact. Trying to figure out how to write for kicks was part of my vision for post-MRR life as a deadbeat with no future or plans. So here is the personal journey part of my story arc I guess? Barf! I am not sure if I will keep writing a regular column, but I am working on a fanzine and you can email me Layla at maximumrocknroll.com and I will keep you updated on that in the distant future when it’s more than a mess of late nights and smeared eyes. Writing from a state of malaise, diffident alienation and so on, in the face of fifty million wannabe Keroaucs who just have to do it or their soul will be all parched.
Sometimes it feel like punk is stuck on a late night rerun binge, a relentless parade of images and snatches of past events reconfigured in less and less interesting ways. Things that seemed absolutely life altering a few months ago suddenly seem tired and dull, losing their shape or meaning. Why is one group of lunkheaded brutalists privileged over another, why does everyone look like extras from a pre-fame Michael J Fox movie or a Sears catalogue man circa 1954?! A long list of boring constructions, with a few bursts of excitement making the rest seem like it’s worth sticking around for?! There’s always something there to remind me.
1) Lose 7” on Subterranean 2) First two Pere Ubu 7”s 3) Lori and the Chameleons – “Touch” and Dorothy – “IConfess” 45s 4) Rosa Yemen – “Herpes Simplex” 5) Electric Eels – “Crummy Fags” 6) anticipation of new releases this fall from Hysterics and Household 7) PleasureLeftists live and 45 on repeat 8) End Result cassettes finally getting reissued!? 9) Magits 10) Flesh World 12” out soon on La Vida Es Un Mus! Oh andHoax live in a cave by my house?!