Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Temporary living for a temporary life.
Introduction by Dave Williams
At the end of high school, which is now like 8 years ago, I'd abandoned my XL Chain of Strength t-shirt in favour of listening to Mineral & Sunny Day Real Estate a lot and in the wake of my newfound [embarrassing] sensitivity thought it'd be a good idea to write a book chronicling precisely why my life up to that point had been a festering pile of puke. After typing hundreds of pages of personal anecdotes it slowly came to my attention that maybe things had actually been pretty great most of the time. Upon further review, and the reviews of others who'd read my ramblings, it became apparent that my cliché coming-of-age stories were rather interesting and often quite lovely rather than entirely pathetic. Granted, some of it was melodramatic, "seventeen-year-old hardcore kid who wore sweater vests and listened to The Get Up Kids"-style humiliating drivel, but some of it I'm still pretty stoked about - the stories themselves anyway, not necessarily the writing.
The plan to release these writings as a novella or 'small book' never came about as I was kinda concerned with using people's names in some of the sections. I've always wanted to do something with it though and after the discovery of Aaron Cometbus and Dishwasher Pete and Al Burian and the rest of team zine - whose not-particularly extraordinary lives made for incredibly fascinating stories, I thought maybe I'd attempt something similar.
A personal zine by a punk rocker. Not exactly an entirely original approach. So I thought I'd spice things up a bit by asking not only friends of mine to contribute similar 'growing-up-punk' stories, but also some marginally-recognizable people within the punk community who I felt had a certain way with words.
Anyways, here's the first installment of Temporary Living Zine in its web format. There's constant discussion between Emmanuel & I about putting this out in a paper version but, historically, I don't have a pristine record of delivering the goods.
Fuck Permission by Damien Moyal
[This is the original intro for the aforementioned book, written by Morning Again/Culture/As Friends Rust/Damien Done vocalist Damien Moyal. I think we were both in serious nostalgia-mode at this point, but I still like a lot of what he had to say. The title of the zine, again originally intended for the book, is his.]
Firstly, my sincerest thanks for being at the other end of a line that I often have doubts reached anywhere at all. The fact that you were listening, reading and getting it is really, in itself, such a tremendous complement, and - admittedly - helps me to fulfill a very selfish need to feel that all of those broke, sweaty, malnourished years can, in fact, be validated. The Damien Done thing is pretty much an intangible, hanging-by-a-thread affair. That there is even a recording at all is nothing short of a fluke, and at this point all talk of a future is for show, and - again, admittedly - in hopes of being taken more seriously by some phantom, huge, loaded label. If it works, Dave, we'll get rich. If not, we'll continue to practice once every three months and post blogs about needing a guitarist, as if that's the real hold-up.
I need to sit down and read the rest, but I'm definitely digging the first five pages. Count me in. I feel it. I hate aging. I hate (and love) the nostalgia that plagues me. I hate that I am not, at my age, what I always thought one should be at my age. An adult. Mostly, I hate the fact that this thing that got me so hooked, that consumed so many years of my life, that shaped so much of personality (and wardrobe), that was so much bigger, longer-lasting and more important than anything else in my life would or could ever be... simply ran out of gas and puttered to a quiet, anticlimactic stop. And now I, (and apparently you, and perhaps more of us than my woe-is-me tendencies will allow me realize) am left with quite an identity crisis. What now?
As for the title...take it. Feel free to use anything I've written at any time, without permission. Fuck permission.
Ever ask yourself "How does everybody else do it?"
Punker Than Your Zine by Dave Williams
The idea seemed easy enough. We write an intro, talk about who we are, about some current punk rock events, write some reviews, do a feature on a figurehead who we deemed worthy (the Punk Of The Month, if you will), and that’d be it. Cut out some pictures, print up the type on Matt & Andrew's dad's home computer, and photocopy the entire deal in Judd’s Mom’s office. Very cut and paste. Very DIY. It wasn’t any of this, however, that got us into the trouble.
The trouble started at school. The trouble involved one of us coming across a copy of another zine. That zine being Solestar. Solestar was the creation of David. David was a senior at our high school, and was generally accepted by the entire school population as the coolest guy alive. Long, stringy hippy hair, tie dyed hippy jeans, laid back hippy attitude. Basically the bane of our existence. For God knows what reason, we though it’d be a hilarious idea to bad-mouth Solestar in our zine, and title our zine “Punker Than Your Zine” (title idea supplied by my rabble rouser of a girlfriend at the time).
The opening of Punker Than Your Zine, Issue #1 went a little something like this - “We, the editors of this zine decided to start a zine because we’re tired of all the other crappy zines going around, namely Solestar. By the way, do you know what Solestar means? Maybe you should look it up.” Confrontational and grammatical genius. [The latter part of the opening, about the meaning of Solestar, was in reference to a small encounter I personally had with David in which he commented on the words Jello Biafra that were scrawled on my jacket, insisting that before I write things like “Biafra” on my jacket I should look them up.]
So the zine was finished. Approximately thirty copies were made and distributed amongst our closest friends. Everyone was duly impressed. We were quite pleased with ourselves. Then things got a little tricky. We had recently met an older fellow at our school, a great guy by the name of Dan who was three years our senior and played drums in the somewhat reputable local punk band Crank. Nathan took it under his jurisdiction to hand deliver a copy of our masterpiece to Dan, hoping that he would be blown away by our vast knowledge of the punk underground. We agreed that this was a good idea, hoping to impress Dan to the best of our abilities. What none of us bothered to consider was the fact that Dan was rather close friends with one David.
After that day, school mysteriously became somewhat hazardous to the four of us. We were shoved in the hallways, shouted at in the school yard, and stared down in the cafeteria. None of us understood where all of this hostility branched from, and we merely assumed that our intimidating attire and constant scowling was finally doing the trick. We merely assumed all of this until Nathan boarded his bus one fateful afternoon only to see David himself sitting at the back of the bus, perusing a copy of, you guessed it, Punker Than Your Zine, Issue #1.
It all made sense now. We were quick to blame Nathan for our impending doom, but we knew that we were all responsible. School days became more and more frightening, with threats and physical torment becoming more and more frequent. In fear of the situation escalating, it was decided upon that Nathan would talk to David about the whole situation, Nate having been friends with David’s younger brother Nick since kindergarten. Nathan grudgingly agreed to this task, but then opted for the path of least resistance, and chose to talk to Nick instead, and then, luckily, called me.
“I have David’s phone number, if you wanna call him. Nick thinks you should. I mean, it was you who wrote that part anyways, not me.” Nathan said to me, shakily.
He was right. I did write it. My long history of shooting my mouth off had come back around to bite its yellow hippy teeth into my ass. I took down the number. I sat on the edge of my couch, gazing at the phone for what seemed like a very, very long time. And so I dialed. David answered. I explained who it was, and he seemed genuinely pleased to hear from me. In my most mature tone and with my most mature vocabulary I explained the situation and apologized repeatedly. He said he really appreciated my call, and that even though he was not terribly appreciative of our taking a shot at his zine, he was impressed that we had made a zine in the first place, seeing as his was the only other one in school, and we were only in ninth grade. The conversation ended and I had rarely felt more relieved.
Things would have to clear up now. We were pardoned. King David had deemed it so. I called the other guys and explained every little detail. Sighs of relief were emitted. The school setting improved. Some tension still lingered, but as far as we could tell, everything was on the up and up. We brought ourselves to talk to Dan again, and he acted as if none of it had ever happened. We could have asked for nothing more. Dan handed us flyers for the upcoming school ‘Band Jam’ and explained that Crank would be playing. We assured him we’d be in attendance. The band jam was that Friday evening, and the rest of that week seemed as though we’d never committed the treason of taking a shot at the head representative of the “cool older kid” population.
A group of us were dropped off at the Band Jam that Friday night by our friend Sarah's mom. Matt, Andrew, and Nathan met us there. A handful of our high school's bands were scheduled to play, including Crank, the local metal band Dug, a terrible “alternative-rock” band with the equally terrible moniker Seven Leaf Dream, and headlining the evening would be the pièce de résistance, Slow Children Playing, fronted by the one and only David.
The event started off well. Crank were excellent, and no one seemed to even give us a second glance. Things had actually blown over. Dug went on and the metal dudes were very pleased with the outcome. Seven Leaf Dream took the stage, and I don’t know that anyone was pleased with the outcome. After the Dream finished up their painful set, the curtains closed and people crowded closer for Slow Children Playing’s set. The lights went on backstage, and the curtains slowly began to unclose. Simultaneously, our stomachs jumped and our jaws dropped. Heads turned to face us and the gymnasium was filled with furious shouts and wild laughter. Taped to the microphone stand at center stage was Punker Than Your Zine, Issue #1.
As the band began to play their very warmly accepted brand of psychedelic Phish-rock, the very individuals who had refrained all week from shoving us in the halls and staring at us in the cafeteria were now spitting on us, whispering death-threats in our ears, and throwing many fists and elbows in our direction as they danced. After enduring this torture for a couple of songs, the collective agreement was made that it would be a fine idea to get the fuck out of that gym. Sarah rushed to the phone and called her mom.
The short distance between Greely and Manotick seemed a frightfully long drive that night, as we inched towards the exit with great fear and panic. Finally, Sarah gave the word that her mom was pulling into the parking lot, and we tore out the door. Eight of us piled into a heaven-sent five-seater that night, and with much shifting and lap-sitting, the car doors were finally closed and we drove out of the parking lot, accompanied by the jeers and curse words of many, including the final, biting hurrah: “Hey look, there goes a fucking clown car.”
News at Nine by Ryan Young
Hey. My name is Ryan. I play in a band that was formed in Minneapolis called Off With Their Heads. It’s cold there, so I moved to Southern California. That about sums up my life to this day. I was asked to write a little something for this zine, and it turns out that little bit of information isn’t really all that interesting. I can dive much deeper into my story, but to tell you the truth, I don’t really know how interesting it would be. That being said, I’ll tell you a little bit about the first time I hit the road with a band. I could not have possibly learned more from that experience, Although, at the time, I thought it fucking sucked hard. Looking back, it wasn’t really so bad, it was funnier than anything.
The band was called News at Nine. Shittiest band name ever. It was a weird math rock band. I had no real interest in that kind of music, but I didn’t know anyone that wanted to do the things I wanted to as far as traveling. I met these guys on some message board. They had a manager. I thought that was kind of weird. This dude promised them so much it was sad. He supposedly had everyone at Capitol and Epic Records ready to “cut a deal” with them; they just needed to see the live show first. I never really believed any of it, but if that was their motivation to tour, who was I to complain? I’m just some 18-year-old kid from Forest Lake. I’ve got nothing better to do.
We hit the road and began what was supposed to be a 48-day tour of both coasts in a cargo van with no windows. We pulled up to the first show, which was at The Fireside Bowl in Chicago. CANCELLED. Big sign on the door. Everyone in the band freaked out. They got in a huge fight with each other, and the singer threatened to go home. This whole time, I just couldn’t understand what the big deal was. We were just out one show, who cares? I didn’t realize that I had essentially hit the road with one of the most sheltered people in the world, a hippy, and an angry redneck. Great. We wound up driving to the next town and partying with the guys that lived at the house we were playing at the next day. Kalamazoo Michigan, man. To this day, I haven’t had a bad time there. Odd. Anyway, that show turned out to be the only good show of the trip.
Our next show was in Terre Haute Indiana. We played at some bar to a couple of regulars and the other band (which was one dude with a drum machine that did Dave Matthews songs). As the night went on, I started to notice the regular bar crowd looking our way with the total collective stink eye. The music stopped, and one of them yelled “Hey Bob Marley, cut yer fuckin hair!” to the bass player of our band. Yes, the hippy in the math rock band with dreadlocks (Mike). Mike immediately goes to the van and gets his weird hippy knife. This thing had some kind of bird on it with a feather that dangled from the handle. It was also about an 8-inch blade, so the size of it ruled out the hippiness of it as far as the intimidation factor. The singer and I were both trying to get him to just calm down and sit in the van. The redneck drummer was all about taking on twelve people with the two of them. Eventually, the bar crowd spilled out on to the street and kept heckling the bass player. The drummer (named something like “Gillis” or some shit) proceeded to do one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen: He took a running start at the main guy yelling shit, jumped in the air, and fucking dropkicked this dude to the curb. I lost my shit laughing. Who the fuck dropkicks someone? Jesus Christ! As you can imagine, the crowd didn’t take too kindly to that and basically ran him back into the van. They threw shit at us until he was forced to drive us away. We obviously didn’t have anywhere to stay in Terre Haute, so we decided to drive on to the next show: Olean, New York.
In the middle of Pennsylvania, we decided to take a shortcut that left the interstate. We wound up about an hour outside of Hershey, and the van broke down. Fuck. What were we going to do? In the middle of nowhere, no money, and no phones. That’s when the party wagon pulled up to help. This girl, her chubby boyfriend, and their EXTREMELY gay friend pulled up in their SUV and offered us a lift into town. We went to gay friend’s house to try and find a place in the phonebook to fix the van. Now, I am by no means homophobic. I am what you might call a “Friend o’ the gay community”, but what do you suppose is the opinion of these other guys in this band? I’ll never forget walking into gay friend’s room. He literally had those posters of hot dudes that you might find at a Spencer’s Gifts in the big rack. His screensaver was a half naked fireman wrapped in an American flag. Gillis couldn’t handle it. He went outside and waited for the rest of us because gay friend was “totally fucking looking at my cock”. Priceless. The party wagon folks kinda got the vibe that we weren’t going to be friends, and dropped us off at a bar to deal with our own problems. In a town of less than 200 on a Friday night, you know you are in for something special at the only bar around. I had no idea exactly how special it would be.
We sat there drinking pitcher after pitcher of two-dollar bud light trying to figure out what to do. We wound up wandering around the bar avoiding each other. Gillis ran into the mechanic of the town. He said he would go and tow the van the following day and make his first priority for the day. Awesome.
I noticed something really weird about this place. We were in what appeared to be a very classic rock/country music kind of joint. The only song that came on the jukebox was “Who Let the Dogs Out” by the Baja Men. I also noticed that the person responsible for this was the drunken old man who kept going to the jukebox and playing it. Over and over. “Who Let the Dogs Out”, I swear, 30 times. By about the twentieth time, this old man was dancing and singing along to it. He finally danced his way over to our table and introduced himself as “Old Pete” and he really liked this song because it reminded him of his 3 dogs. Turns out Pete was a 72-year-old turkey farmer. He and his wife were out celebrating the fact that she won $200 on a scratch off lottery ticket. We kicked shit with they turkey farmers and told them what we were doing there and that we had nowhere to go. Pete offered up his garage for us. We accepted.
We all piled into the back of drunken Old Pete’s pickup truck (which resembled something out of that movie Jeepers Creepers) and headed for the turkey farm. When we arrived, Pete pointed us to the garage and told us to grab beers out of the fridge. He was gone a while, so we started to explore a little. When we left the garage, we found Pete warming up his hot tub. He told us all to hop in. I respectfully declined. The last thing in the world I wanted was to be in a hot tub with these guys. We were saved by Pete’s wife who told us no guest of hers was sleeping in the garage. She had made up beds for each of us, and told us to mess with the thermostat all we wanted. I climbed in my big ol’ country bed and fell asleep. I woke up to scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee. Pete’s wife made a feast for us. They then loaded us back up in the Jeepers Creepers mobile and drove us to a Days Inn where they paid for a room for us. The only thing they wanted in return was if we were ever to return, to bring them a giant bottle of grain alcohol. It is illegal to sell it in PA, and they needed it to make their special coffee. We said goodbye, and that was the last I ever saw of them.
The van got fixed the next day, and we took off for Alabama. Played a funny show at a place called Barnstormers Pizza and later partied with the locals. Blah blah…I started to realize that I was doing something that I just didn’t like. I was with people that I didn’t like. I was playing music I didn’t like. I was spending money to be on a vacation that I just wasn’t having fun on. After the show in Tallahassee, I told them I was going home. I was a second guitarist, and they could easily go on without me. They were pissed, and dropped me off at a greyhound station. 36 hours later, I was back in St. Paul. I guess in conclusion, the reason I decided to tell this story was for the part about Pete and his wife. Sometimes I can get down on people for being so fucking shitty to each other. Pete and his wife, to this day, instill a belief in me that for the most part people are good. People like to help other people in need. I think about that all the time. Every time I see a situation where I might be able to pull a Pete, I try to do it (see, I’m not such a dick).
If you are ever an hour outside of Hershey Pa, try and find Old Pete. Don’t forget to bring the bottle of grain alcohol.
Chicken Killa by Emmanuel Sayer
My first “real” job was hopefully the worst that I’ll ever have. I got hired at a chicken slaughterhouse/processing plant through my friend Mark. I started working there the summer after the 10th grade. We’d get dropped off in the morning and be greeted with a terrible smell. Picture the stench of a truck filled with crates filled with 3000 to 5000 chickens shitting all over each other. It was a four day work week and we would slaughter around 20 000 chickens weekly. We’d say hi to everyone, find out how many chickens there were that day and then put on our rubber boots and our vinyl aprons and the day would begin.
The entire process started with the guy on the truck who took the crates down and placed them on a set of rollers kind of like the ones at the beer store. The roller went from the truck and into the big hangar-like room where two people would receive them. They’d open up the crates and hang the chickens upside down by their feet onto a metal rack that was constantly moving down the line. That’s where I worked most of that summer. You had to keep up the pace so there were ideally no gaps between chickens so that they would be slaughtered quickly and efficiently. The chickens would be knocked out by having their heads dunked into electrified water. The next guy would be slitting their throats and if one had not been shocked properly it would start flapping about and spray blood everywhere. The chickens would then turn the corner and continue down the line into the next room which was where they were submerged in boiling hot water then put into a machine that de-feathered them. The Eviscerating Room was next which is exactly what it sounds like. The birds would then be spinning around in the chill tank waiting for the old ladies in the processing room to chop off the breasts and the legs and put them into boxes for delivery.
After a week of working there I got pretty sick. The sickness was referred to as “Chicken AIDS” and had the same symptoms as the flu. Vomiting, diarrhea, you know the drill. Not surprising since the room I was working in was filled with fowl shit. Sure, I would be wearing one of those dust masks but that doesn’t really do much to keep all of that filth out. It didn’t help that one of the kids I was working with would amuse himself by squeezing the chickens’ stomach to propel its feces onto the wall before he hung it up by its feet. He also once wanted to see how many times he could twist a chicken’s head around. The total was five. It was also in this room that I smelled the best smelling cigarette in my life. Some guy lit up a smoke while he was hanging out in that room in the winter and it smelled so great. Anything that could somewhat cover up the smell of feces was welcome in my nostrils.
By the time we were done sending the chickens to their deaths, the room was filled with excrement and feathers which would have to be shoveled into huge garbage bins. On my first day, I had to clean the blood out of the bottom of the stall where the throats were slit. It was a huge pool of congealed blood. I had to cut out huge cubes of gelatinous goo with a shovel and then heave it into the garbage. Everyone that worked in the first 2 rooms would get to leave once they were clean except for Mark and I. We would get to have our lunch break which involved forced interaction with a bunch of hicks with whom I had nothing in common. The lunch time conversations were less-than-fascinating. One day, Kathy, an obese woman who had what looked like an enormous sack of water hanging from her stomach, started asking me about what food I like. “Do you like lasagna?” “Do you like pizza?” and my favourite: “Do you like leftovers?” At one point during the interrogation, Cindy felt the need to chime in: “I can’t eat broccoli. It makes me gassy.” Afterwards, Mark and I would have to clean the guts off the floor and the machines in the Eviscerating Room and the Processing Room. The Eviscerating Room was Mark’s division while I took care of the Processing Room.
After the summer was done we would keep coming to Baron Poultry four days a week after school to clean up those two rooms. The good part about that job was that everyone else was gone so we would bring in a stereo and listen to music for the three or four hours it took us to clean the place up. We’d be blaring Operation Ivy or NOFX or, ridiculously enough, Propagandhi. We’d also listen to the Beastie Boys or Wu-Tang Clan to switch things up.
We would have tons of fun there messing with people though. There was one guy who worked there who used to work at Jellystone Park where he dressed up as Yogi Bear. One day we took a marker and crossed out his name and replaced it with “YOGI” in giant block letters. Our aprons were adorned with the name “Chicken Killa” and skull and crossbones. At the end of our shift while we’d be waiting around to get picked up we’d eat any food leftover in the fridge figuring that if they left it there, they were done with it. We didn’t really run into any problems with this system until one night we ate some burritos that were left over. Mohammed came in the next day, furiously shouting “who ate my taco bell sandwiches!?!?!”
One night, inspired by an article in Big Brother magazine, we made a variation on the milk chicken bomb. Instead of putting raw chicken and milk in a jar and placing it in a heating grate we filled up one of the decorative cookie jars that were on a shelf in the kitchen with raw chicken and milk. That thing started to get pretty gross after a while. We kept adding stuff into it until we couldn’t stand to lift the lid anymore. We almost got caught by the boss as we were sticking something in there once but we got away with it [I wonder how long that thing lasted, who discovered it and what went through their mind when they did]. We also tried to convince this guy Ron that worked there that we did coke. This was before cocaine had made it’s big comeback and everyone was doing it. He didn’t believe us that we did it so we told him we’d bring some in and do it. We knew we couldn’t bring in flour or anything else that if he tried tasting it he’d know right away that it wasn’t cocaine. Mark ended up bringing in some alum powder which had a really weird taste. At the end of the day, Ron followed us to the bathroom where mark laid out two lines on a Method Man Tical cd case. We both snorted a line and shortly after left to go home. It was the worst thing ever and just stung and clogged my sinuses.
I worked there the next summer but by the time August hit I'd become a vegetarian. I became much more aware of my surroundings and the effects my choices had on the world. All of the information I was getting in zines and at tables at hardcore shows and those repeated listens to Less Talk, More Rock was sinking in. I used to read the insert to that record all the time and I would agree with every thing in it but didn’t take the next logical step and actually do something about it. That last month was particularly terrible because I was well aware of the atrocity I was taking part in but felt some sense of duty and responsibility to stick it out and not just quit. One day, I was working on the truck pulling the crates of chickens down and onto the conveyor belt. I had to look these chickens in the eyes as I sent them to their certain fate. It wasn’t a very pleasant feeling at all. Hypocrisy never feels good.
As I’m writing this I still can’t comprehend why I would have worked there. Any time I tell anyone that I used to work in a slaughterhouse they can’t believe it either. I guess it’s one of those situations you just end up in. I needed a job, my friend told me he could get me one, I went for it. I was fifteen years old and didn’t really think about things too much. It was a job where I had weekends off so I could go off skateboarding and go to shows and have fun. No questions of ethics really came up when it came to my chosen profession. It’s just something I did.
That's it for issue one. Hopefully you enjoyed the mediocre-yet-sincere writings of this installment's contributors. With any luck, there'll be future installments with more exciting guest-authors. Whether or not this ever actually gets printed, we'll have to see.
Also, if you feel that you absolutely must write something for us, send me an email or whatever. The wait list is surprisingly short and our standards surprisingly low.