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



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.



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.