July, 1994

I'll tell ya, it's pretty hard to get all of this done when I'm working full time. I don't always work full time, but for the past two months I have, and it has really thrown off my schedule and time availability making it next to impossible to get S&L done. At any rate, it's about 3 weeks late, but it's done and it's 12 pages. Who knows, maybe the next one will go up another 4 pages, but then again it may not.

I'm finding myself, once again, in the sweltering heat and humidity -- wondering how it could have possibly been cold enough to wear 3 sweaters and keep 3 inches of ice on the ground a mere 4 months ago. I am continually amazed at the dramatic seasons, just how fast it can get so totally different. I guess I'm about as obsessed with the weather as with the mail. Though I still feel like I am really unable to experience the true summer, without the tress. On the rare occassion that I do get out of the city to a place filled with trees and grass I am always so totally thrilled and overwhelmed by it all, and at the same time a bit frustrated with myself for being in a situation where I find that surrounding strange. Actually as I write this now I have just returned from a 24 hour adventure into the countryside of Pennsylvania -- where I got to lie in a field of trees and watch the clouds move by overhead at sunrise -- it was so inspiring and energizing and my state of mind feels much better from the situation. Unfortunately it was too short and I had to return to where I for now will stay, the Rotten Apple.

As for the punk rock enthusiasm, the most exciting thing that has been going on has been road trips out of the city, especially to shows in New Jersey. They are so totally different from shows in New York City and just fun because it's different. First of all it seems that in general the people that have come to the shows that we've been to are so incredibly nice and seem to have a lot of respect for the shows happening and have a general interest in what goes on around them. And that is cool to see, especially at a time when it seems like people (especially in the city) really don't seem all that aware or even concerned about what goes on, anywhere. It's nice to have a show where you don't have to keep telling people not to smoke in certain places, or drink, or graffiti or whatever. It's also been really cool to see the number of people who are doing their own tables and distros. Totally positive and inspiring. If anyone is putting on shows in the general vicinity of NYC (a drivable distance) send flyers to me or Neil (Tribal War) and Neil will probably bring his distro on the road and set up a stall. It's totally fun to do this and just get out of the city and see the trees and grass and breath the air. I totally trip out on this, at the same time hating the fact that I find such an ordinary sight and smell to be extraordinary. But that is the case when you live in the middle of a concrete island that doesn't have any of these things and you take it for granted and get conditioned and used to living without it. So, for me, just seeing those trees and water and breathing the air makes life totally worth living. The positive thing that has come out of my years living in the city and bitching and complaining about the lack of nature, is that I really have a renewed appreciation for the natural environment which is out there, which I probably would not have had if I had stayed living in central PA all these years. Most of the excitement in my life has come from small road trips out of the city. It's like I just discovered a new thing to do -- go to shows in New Jersey, besides the fact that I just take in the sights of the green trees and then the show just becomes a sort of afterthought. But just as something different to do, a change of scenery, and a new surrounding -- it's the most exciting thing going on for me. It has been avery positive experience, which is really appreciated after so much negative energy in the city. It seems that in the last year or so ABC has been flooded with tons of apathy, cynicism, and negative energy. To go to these shows where it seems that every third person there has their own record distro table set up -- whether it's 3 tables long like Neil, or just one little box -- it's so great to see. That is exactly the sort of thing that gives me enthusiasm and inspires me. It's great to see so many people doing their own thing and putting some sort of energy and effort into the scene, and not expecting someone else to do it for them. So on my quest for positive energy the NJ straight edge hardcore crew has been quite a good find. And that in no way is to knock the good old NYC drunk punk rockers, but...after awhile when you watch the same people do the same thing with a general surrounding of negative energy it gets to be very tiring. And though I know that a bunch of posi-kids can draw that same tiring bullshit -- as a change of pace it's nice to see someone actually doing something and caring about something!!

I've been giving a lot of thought to both the popularity of punk rock these days and its direction to the mainstream as well as thinking about ways in which people involved in the DIY punk scene can take their talents and energies and make something out of them. What I mean is that we should be able to do our art, or distributions or whatever it may be on some level that does not have to compromise or sell-out to the rest of the world, but at the same time not have to sell our own souls to the rest of the world by working some shit job for a boss, so that in our spare time we can do our punk rock hobby. At some point, sooner or later, you get to a point in your life where you need to get yourself set up and prepared to live the rest of your life, and I don't believe it has to be a matter of giving up punk rock and "getting a 'real' life," nor should you have to compromise on your own ambitions. I really think there is a way for like-minded people to work together and do things like Punks With Presses, or construction, or landscaping, or whatever it may be that you do, and work it on a DIY ethic level and still be able to survive off it without ripping off other people in the process. Anyone have more ideas on this?

And as far as the popularity and the mainstreaming of punk rock...well I am fucking sick of it, and to be honest with you, I'm not even going to get into yet another tirade of why it shouldn't be that way, and what you can or should do to keep it from happening. Enough people have written and enough of you have probably read them (read Lee's column on major labels and selling out)...But it is a weird fucking thing. I feel like already there is a generation gap between young kids who are into this hip hop rave grunge culture, I just don't get it. Sometimes I want to try and talk to these people, and not necessarily try to convert them, but just try to get them to "see the light" or understand the ideals of the DIY punk scene, which is so close to what they are hopping aboard, and yet tyhe entire beliefs and meaning are lost with in the mainstream adaptation. I want to educate these people and get them to see through it all. But then at the same time, I sort of ask myself why? and wonder if it is really even worth putting the time and energy into thinking about, let alone bothering with.

So I've been delving into MRR lately, the new issue (well not new anymore) on major labels was quite good. It's probably about the most of an issue that I have read in a few years, cause it was actually really interesting. It also really got me to thinking about the whole thing and really I have to wonder how anyone could even consider the major label thing, or even the small indie/major label thing. It seems completely obvious to me that it's a load of shit and it is just leeching off the punk scene and taking all the credibility away from it. I say, fucking do it all yourself! If you want to have it done and can't do it, maybe you don't deserve it. I guess I find myself feeling a lot stronger about these things, but it really seems like the lines are being drawn deeper and clearer and you see the people and bands that are flocking over to these indie labels and I just don't get it. I mean I get a ton of press kits and stupid shit from these labels every day and it's just a big waste of everybody's time. I can't even give away the stuff they send. Once upon a time you could sell records/tapes (or CDs) to some stores to sell used, or at least trade in for something, but now, no one wants any of it, because everything has become so flooded with garbage that it's meaningless. I think it's pathetic. The bottom line is that these labels do not need true DIY fanzines to promote them because they can get plenty of attention from people who are interested in that kind of bullshit. And if they can't, well then they still don't deserve to leech off the punk scene.

It's been a great spring so far with a lot of great shows, as always seems to happen in April. Lots of punk rock activity and bands coming through. We've been having some problems at ABC NO RIO, having recently received a termination of lease notice from the city. For those who do not know, ABC NO RIO is in a city owned building, which we rent. ABC NO RIO as an artists collective has existed since the late 70s. ABC has also been in l;itigation with the city for several years and has fought to keep the space. So this most recent turn of events is not at all surprising. We do not yet know what will happen to ABC, we have not solved anything with the city. However, we hope that we will get to keep the space and we are trying to round up support for ABC. Most likely we will be in the same place for awhile before anything actually changes, basically because whatever action the city does decide to take will take forever, and so in the meantime we continue to do the same old thing.

The Punk Art Show that I talked a lot about in S&L went extremely well. I had really hoped to put together a booklet of some sort documenting the artwork that we receive, mainly because I felt that it was really great stuff that deserves to be seen. Due to all our other problems right now, it looks like we can't afford to actually do the booklet, however you can see some of the artwork here in S&L. I am planning the second PUNK ART SHOW at ABC NO RIO. It will be in October of 1994. Anyone who is interested, whether you contributed to the first one or not, plan on sending stuff by early September. A lot of the work in the first show was xeroxes of originals which worked out really well. You are welcome to send originals, or copies, framed, or not. We are perfectly happy to just tack copies onto the wall. Hopefully even more people will hear about this and we'll get even more work. I also want to plan a booklet of the work to be printed in conjunction with the exhibit. Since this last one has such an excellent turn-out of really good work I think that there is a lot of punk art that is really worth letting more people see. So send your stuff!!!

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ABC No Rio: The Culture of Opposition Since 1980