1757830

OLD FIRENDS

Originally Written 12.18.2000

Got a call from my friend and ex-bandmate this afternoon. He wanted to have a bit of a Fallout reunion. Unfortunately, Alicia, the bass player is off studying art in Rome, and Mark, the drummer is busy working for a software company. So we got one of Adam’s friends to fill in on bass and Adam played drums. It was a good time. The playing was a bit sloppy, and I was embarrased at my lack of improvisational skill and overall technical proficiency with the guitar, but I still had fun. It’s amazing to just sit and watch these guys play. After the session, we went to another kid’s house and my friend brought along his guitar and played there as well. Growing up, there were always guitars everywhere and we would play and listen and sing. Hearing my friends play reminded me of that. Its crazy. Every time I hear them play it seems that they’re better and better.

Its odd seeing my friend again for the first time in 2 years. We were pretty tight, in fact he was the first kid I met in third grade when I moved to PA. However, after I got a girlfriend and went off to college, we grew apart. The cool, and slightly odd thing, which I’ve found to be universal to many of my experiences coming home, at least with friends, even old ones, is that there was no awkwardness. It was as though we just picked up where things left off 2 years ago. Certainly we’ve both changed and I was very surprised as my friend seems to have gained a heightened perspective on life. He’s back in school and making plans for the future which is really cool. I hate to see people get stuck in Carlisle when they have so much talent.

So after the jam session, we went over to another kid’s house (who I had also not talked too in years) and hung out, talked and watched some football. It was really cool and indicative of the social scene. These are kids that I knew, but was never super tight with, however there was no awkwardness and we spent a fun couple of hours doing what we always used to do, sitting around with nothing to do making the best of a boring town. A little later, one of my good friends showed up which was a definite bonus. Eventually, we got bored and left to try to find a fire in town that had been reported by the news. We didn’t find the fire, so we went to an all night diner and ate some food while talking about various goofy things. I really miss the charismatic, witty convesation that I had so often growing up and it was good to be able to just hang out like old times. This is really the first time that I’ve been home for more than a week in 2 years, and I’m glad that I got together with some of my friends. As we grew apart, I was really a bit afraid to get in touch with some of these kids because I didn’t want to deal with akwardness or have to face the fact that important friendships were completely over. However, tonight once agian supported a reality that I still have a difficult time accepting: its better to just confront potentially uncomfortable or painful situations. Sure, things could turn out bad, and one’s worst expectations could be confirmed, however avoiding such things also means that one misses out on a great number of things. I’m glad that I didn’t miss out tonight.

1692454

CHRISTMAS TREE HAIKU

Went out with Tim and my mom to get a Christmas tree today. It took significantly less time than when we used to go with my father (he was a perfectionist who could never decide on the right tree). Tim and I wrote a haiku about the tree. Here it is:

norway spruce stands tall
pillar of forest beauty
bushy green phallus

1687106

717 HXC IS ALIVE AND WELL

Just got back from a real fun night. I spent all day hacking on my perl/sybase code so by the evening I was psyched to get out of the house. I hooked up with Tim and we headed towards the school to check out a hardcore show featuring one of his friend’s band. The show was at a little place in Boiling Sprngs called the shack which is located in this alley behind the school. The shack is a small venue with a surprisingly good sound system that the owner uses for shows and youth group meetings. This was the first show I had ever been to at the venue (most of the past shows were primarily christian acts) and it was definitely a fun time. The first band to play was Disengaged from Anneville. They played a tight set of hardcore that got everyone moving and they finished it off with a clever and well executed cover of frosty the snowman. Get sick! The next two bands to play were pretty weak the first was just a bad rock band from Perry county who were very sloppy, played mostly covers of 80s songs, and had pretty bad vocals. At least they were having fun. The next band was also from Perry county and they played super-fast punk rock. Unfortunately, they weren’t very tight at all and sounded pretty poor. Hopefully they’ll practice more and be tighter and more enjoyable when I come home next time. The show was closed out with an awesome performance by Carlisle hardcore band Louder Than Words. My brother’s friend Mike (who is the younger brother of the girl who played bass in my band as well as the younger brother of the drummer from Schoolyard Bully) is in the band and another kid I know from hs plays bass. I had heard their demo CD and it was intriguing, but didn’t blow me away. Their live set was above and beyond my best expectations. The band had significantly tightened up from the demo CD and their frontman seemed to have unbridled energy as they blasted through an intense set of positive hardcore. They worked the small crowd into a frenzy and verified that the torch had indeed been passed from great Carlisle hardcore bands like Rightstart and Reaching for Tomorrow to a new generation of bands. It makes me wish that I was living in Carlisle again. Just the excitement of all the kids and the diversity of the kids in the scene is really exciting and is indicative of everything that I love about independent punk and hardcore music. These bands are striving for a dream and the music offers a truly positive outlet in an otherwise somewhat dismal community. Its nice to see that the scene that played such a huge part in shaping me as a person is still around for other kids.

It was a bit odd, however, as it seemed that the group of kids at the show was completely different from the kids who I hung out and went to shows with during my time in hs. Save for a few of my brother’s friends, I didn’t know anybody. I guess that’s really indicative of how the Carlisle scene works. The scene thrives on the hard work and passion of a couple of great kids and bands and then dies out when they move on to other things. Then, a few years later, a new group of kids discovers the scene and reinvents it for themselves. Its really kind of neat and exciting like that. On one hand you have sort of a tradition, but at the same time, you have something fresh and new and exciting. Going to the first local d.i.y. show in a long time its really great to see that the things that meant so much to me when i was younger are still there for other kids, but at the same time it leaves me feeling just a tiny bit connected. Oh well, it was still an amazing show.

After the show, I left with Tim to go to one of his friend’s house to hang out and watch movies and whatnot. I am generally easily loath to that sort of thing, but after and intense hardcore show, sitting back and chilling is just the ticket. That’s one of the great things about the Carlisle scene. You go to a show, and sure you see the kids in their perfect youth crew gear or spiked leather jacket. At the same time however, you see more mainstream kids who just happen to be friends with the bands, as well as the younger siblings and parents of the band members. Its really a neat diverse mix and it makes the shows more fun. Its definitely one of the things missing from the shows in Columbus. I’ve lived there for 2 years and I still don’t feel like I’m part of the whole scene. The Carlisle scene is all about fun and not about politics. It’s warm and inviting and withouth pretense. But I digress … What was really odd is how Tim’s friends have changed. I don’t really notice the changes that Tim has undergone, because I’ve always been around him and I suppose one just overlooks gradual change. However his friends, who had always to me seemed like just, well, Tim’s friends, now have transformed into real people. Real people with girlfriends, plans for the future, and memories of the past. Real people about to embark on the tumultous journey that I myself have only recently undertaken. Needless to say, it was significantly less akward hanging out with them than in the past which is fortuitous as I’ve severed most of my relationships with the crowd I hung out with in hs but still like to have people to hang out with when I come home. The kid’s basement was totally tech, just an array of old ghetto televisions and VCRs rigged up to gaming consoles. A total nerd valhalla. The kid calls it his fortress of solitude. We were going to watch the tapes of the dune miniseries, but the VCR had a mind of its own so we ended up just talking and watching the classic teen comedy “Better Off Dead”. All in all it was a completely fun night. A true Boiling Springs night. I’m going to go read a bit and then go to sleep, perfectly content

1670287

MP3 OF THE WEEK – DRIVING HOME BY HOT WATER MUSIC

The other day when I was at Wal-Mart, I ran into a punk rock kid from the old Carlisle scene. Some of my friends dismiss my clothing with patches as bullshit posturing, but it sure is a great mechanism for starting conversation. We reminisced about the old Carlisle scene and all the great bands and shows that we had gone to. He also told me about a record store in Mechanicsburg. Yesterday, I had a chance to check out the record store, and it is indeed as cool as he said it was. It’s called BeSides and it’s right next to Market Street Music on the main drag in Mechanicsburg. Check it out. They deal primarily in punk, indie, and hardcore, and vintage vinyl and have a nice selection of both CDs and 7″s from those genres. I can imagine a parent walking into the place asking for a Britney Spears CD and getting their head bitten off, a scene straight out of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity.

I ended up buying two great CDs: Bitter Tongues by Richmond punk rock outfit Ann Beretta, and No Division by Gainesville gods Hot Water Music. Both CDs are excellent in their own respect with Ann Beretta playing the straight-up danceable punk rock (reminiscent of One Man Army) that I love and Hot Water Music playing moody, intense music that blends hardcore, emotional, and punk rock together into a hard-hitting package.

The song I’ve selected for this week is Driving Home by Hot Water Music. Some of my friends really dislike girttier, hardcore influenced music, but I contend that there are some situations that cannot be described and some emotions that cannot be expressed by four chord power pop or by rock and roll guitar solos. This song is the perfect example of this. This past quarter has been the singular hardest period of my life, and this song captures the feelings of self-doubt and anguish that have plagued me over the past few months. However, in the end, the message of the song is overwhelmingly positive, which is really what I need: someone to say “yeah, I’ve been through this”, but also “we can make it”. The song is here and the lyrics are below:


i know the sink and the rot gut feeling, “is this happening to me?” and i know what it’s like to want to end it all driving home between the lines in the road, i swear that i’ve been through this before when nothing makes much sense except for doing yourself in razor blades are hard to hold when we’re hit in th heart with problems that won’t shift. it’s hard to admit that we’re afraid when we’re hit in the head with unanswered questions that repeat, “how could I ever live after this day?” we can take the hits and grow tougher collect ourselves to live longer and find there is no need to be afraid because we all have more to offer when we struggle to cope with whatever it takes to make the days we all have what it takes to make it home

1667915

CHANGES

If one looks carefully at this site, one will see that there have been some changes. I’ve scrapped my handwritten weblog perl scripts in favor of using the very cool blogger. It makes things a little bit easier on me in terms of maintainance and archiving, and it makes it very easy to create a site such as this. I strongly encourage all of you to check it out and maybe create a weblog/journal of your own.

The web page, unfortunately, isn’t the only change that’s going on in my life right now. I find that as a person I feel that I am changing, and in many ways that I can’t do anything about. I’ve been spending a great deal of time with my brother and with his friends from school, either hanging out, or helping with his quiz bowl and debate teams. While things feel natural with my brother, and his close friends, the younger kids completely frighten me. I have no idea who these kids are, and likewise they have no idea who I am. High school legacies are fleeting I guess. Additionally, it seems as though everyone I know has finally graduated. There’s really no more ties to that part of my life. Scarier still, the younger-younger siblings of the people I associated with are no longer the small children I remember, but independant teenagers. I look around and I envy them. I envy their energy, their naivite, and the fact that they have more choices ahead of them than I have. Erin might say that I still have 3/4 of my life to live, but the bottom line is, I’ve already made some choices that could impact my life forever, and set myself on a course that if strayed from could have dire consequences. The youth I see around me still have those choices ahead, they still have a more firm control of their collective destinies. I wish I could just take every one of those kids aside and tell them everything. Tell them all the mistakes I have made, all the regrets I have, all the triumph and all the tragedy in the hopes that it will somehow help them make decisions which will allow them to avoid this paralyzing saddness and uncertainty that I am now faced with. I think it would be nice to be a teacher, parent, or perhaps a catcher in the rye. One has less time to reflect on one’s problems when one has to look out for someone else. I’ve found when i’m at home I take a much more positive tone, if only to try help out my brother who is arguably more mopy than me. The problem with being around youth like that, however, is that one becomes acutely aware of one’s growing seperation from youth. College kids, for the most part, seem so restrained, so boring, so lifeless, at times, but at the same time, I can’t hekp but feel a bit odd sitting around with 14 year olds. So yeah, to recap. The first change is that I’m getting older, and in all honesty, I don’t like that.

The second change that I’ve noticed is this area, central PA. Since the last time I was home, we now have both a Barnes and Nobles and a Borders. There is a Zany Brainy too, and new stores and facades abound at the mall. In my community, new housing developments are springing up, bringing hordes of families that I will never know. The new middle school has finally been built (even the middle school kids refer to its design as prison-like). Dammit, even the road that I live on was re-paved so I can no longer zoom down its smooth hill on my skateboard.

Still, though much has changed, there is still a great deal that remains the same. The stomping grounds of my childhood, the center of town, the bubble, the A+ and the Uni-Mart, remain unchanged. As I drive through my town, all 30 seconds of it that is, despite the short drive, every damn corner offers some significant memory from my childhood. I have much lamented growing up in a small, conservative community, but like it or not, this is my home, it has shaped me and will forever be part of who I am. I lived the majority of my life on these streets, among these mountains and forests, among these people. So yeah, here’s the big change. It seems that this summer, after my brother’s graduation from high school, my parents plan to sell the house and my mom will move out to Ohio to be with my dad. I’m not trying to be selfish. This seperation has been hard on them, I’m sure, and I’m glad that they’ll be able to start things out again, take a new direction in their lives. However, that leaves me without any home base. As I’ve gone away to college out of state and lived in far away places like Austin, I’ve realized how itinerant my lifestyle is, and also that it will no doubt become moreso. Still, I always had a home base, a place where things changed, but changed slowly. A place that was familiar and safe. Now, it looks like that will be over. Sure my parents will have a new place and they’ll be there, but the neighborhood won’t be my neighboorhood, the streets won’t be my streets, the ball fields and parklands won’t be the same ones that I played soccer upon or trod barefoot upon in the spring. It will be their life, not mine. And its rough. I mean for my parents, PA was just a drop in the bucket. They had lived many places before, and it was just another gig. They’re ready to move on and try something new. But for me, Boiling Springs, PA is most of what I know. It’s all I have. I don’t know what I’ll do. Now, I often define myself by my hometown. “Where are you from?”, they ask. “PA,” I respond. But when my parents leave, that really won’t be true any more. Another thing, I find that when I come home, I don’t really remember the house any more, that is, where things are kept, what stairs creak, which hinges squeek. I can’t imagine having to learn another house when my parents move. It feels as though my entire safety net is being thrown away. The ties that have been stretched so thin already are being severed in one final, mighty slash. But what will I do to replace them? The community I have at college seems tenous at best. Nothing seems more than temporary, nothing seems like it isn’t disposable. People go in and out of my life so quickly. I just wish that I could still have that seperate, slow moving world going on, as if in a parallel dimension, that I could go back to when I needed something solid and unyielding. Something strong and comforting.

So things have changed. And I’m sure, to some degree, I’ve changed. But what do I do now? The rules are thrown out. Hell, they whole playing field has been bulldozed. How does one build a life from scratch? I don’t know and it scares the hell out of me.

1667629

WINTER BREAK

Originall written 12.11.2000:

I’ve been home maybe 48 hours and its already been a whirlwind. I went 70 mph the whole drive home (its funny how there are never highway patrolmen around when I decide to drive the limit) but was still able to make it home by 4:30. That gave me just enough time to unload and pick up Tim before heading out to Philly to go to the Flogging Molly/Anti-Flag/Avail show. The show was pretty teriffic. Flogging Molly’s punked-up irish folk songs are always a good time. Anti-Flag always plays an intense set, but they seemed a bit off at this show. I suspect they might have been ill. It was unfortunate that there were a couple of hecklers in the crowd at the show, especially when they had nothing better to say than “shut up you emo fag”. I don’t mind people who disagree with Anti-Flag’s politics, but these kids possessed a gross misunderstanding of the issue. First, I noticed one heckler was wearing a Boy Sets Fire sweatshirt. I don’t know about Anti-Flag’s policial affiliation, but I know for a fact that at least some of the members of BSF are communists, and BSFs music is every bit as politically charged as Anti-Flag’s. I guess that kid should try actually listening to the music before he puts on the sweatshirt. I had another kid shout “well you’ll sure as hell take my money” at the band trying to somehow impeach the band’s credibility with respect to consumer issues. Well, I’ve seen Anti-Flag play enough shows in tiny venues in small towns for little cash to know that they’ve paid their dues and even the $10 cover for the Philly show was pretty insignificant. It just goes to show what happens when dumb rich kids hang up their Abercrombie and go to punk and hardcore shows. A punk rock, straightedge, or hardcore idiot is still an idiot. Avail played the best set of the night. They have so much energy its amazing. Their blend of rock and roll, hardcore, and punk rock always stays musically interesting but never loses intensity. I think that Richmond must love the rock and roll music as even River City High, a band that is good but a million times wussier than Avail, has a penchant for the rock hooks in their music. Avail plays straight ahead music with little pretense, but at the same time maintains deeply thoughtful lyrics. Again, they were great. Go see Avail, buy their CDs, you’ve got to hear this band.

Yesterday, I went to watch Tim’s quiz show appearance. He totally destroyed the other team. His knowledge of trivia is astounding. He completely blows me out of the water. For most of the game he dominated scoring almost all of the points for his team. In the last round, he slowed down a bit, but some other team members were able to pick up the slack. Its really unfortunate that the quiz team can totally kill but gets no respect of support from the school administration. I heard an unverifyed statistic that our district has the lowest poverty rate in the area, but despite that, I find that the district has done a terribly poor job of utilizing its assets.

I had a long discussion with Varu and some of her roommates the other night about education policy and other political issues. It was very cool. It was the kind of experience that renews my faith in going to school and reminds me that not everyone is a beer guzzling whore. Varu was going to teach me how to cook Indian food, as I love it but have no clue how to cook it. She made potato curry, and it was really good, but her idea of cooking is throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot “to taste”, which makes it rather hard to replicate. After dinner, some of her roomates came down and I told them about my girl rating system which amused them for a while. Then this other kid showed up, and started the whole liberal vs. conservative debate. Luckily, this kid had half a clue, and it was a good discussion. I hope that the conservatives I know are indicative of the rest of their clan in my generation. It seems that for the most part young people agree on the importance of various issues and just disagree on the best mechanism to accomplish those goals. I hope that is indeed the case, as I feel that those differences are much easier to reconcile. One of my friend’s other roommates proved quite discouraging. When the discussion turned to politics she annoyingly tried to shift the topic of conversation before exiting the room stating “my head hurts”. It was blatantly anti-intellectual and really frightening, considering she was a journalism major. I think her attitude is indicative of a great number of young journalists which is why I really dislike mtv style, substance free, pop journalism which tends to gloss over the important issues and encourages the vapid escapism displayed by my friend’s roommate.