Trick question. They’re all the best.

I loaned my Fugazi collection to a friend for a while, just recently got them all back. I stood outside for a few minutes tonite looking at the lunar eclipse, in the coldest air mass in the hemisphere according to the radio (it’s actually warmer tonite than it was, I shouldn’t complain; this morning, however, was way the fuck too cold). Then I came back in to do dishes before having a cup of tea (lovely rose tea from the hippie-and-yuppie co-op near my house which I loathe and which induces a bit of self-loathing for my shopping there, and an additional bit for caring; what can I say, they have good produce).

I was in a bit of a mood. I put on Red Medicine to lift that mood. (The mood was something along the lines of “what in the hell am I doing in graduate school?” but not as a sincere question, rather as a rhetorical question, as in – I know what the hell I’m doing in graduate school: I’m getting old and losing my hair and getting back aches and worsening knee pain and dealing with an institution I dislike and people who annoy me and tremendous pretentions and I’m getting paid very little and I’m not having a baby with my wife and I’m not living where I want to and I’m not playing music and I’m not seeing a lot of the people I love including the ones who live fifteen fucking minutes away from me at least by car anyway and I’m not seeing live music or getting excited or getting tattoos or having as much time as I’d like for political and organizational work, instead I’m blogging and grumpily washing dishes with music turned up in a small apartment that I don’t like – and as in – I know what the hell I’m doing in graduate school: I got an economically useless college degree and a lot of debts then I went to work in so-called “nonprofit social justice organizations” [all four words are false; they’re for profit, antisocial, unjust, and disorganized] then I started working in the labor movement and I loved it like an addiction and one I would go back to in a heartbeat if, heaven forbid, my marriage were to end in some way, and when the contradiction between working in the labor movement and being in my relationship with my partner came to a head I left the work, though it took me too long, embarassingly too long, to make that decision, the right decision; from there I had no skills or job experience and a lot of debt and a relationship to rebuild and some friendships to restore as well, and after two years of economic tailspin graduate school became an attractive option [I recently met a comrade of mine in person who I’ve known electronically for some time, he lives in the UK and had a similar experience except he went back into the labor movement instead of going back to school], and this assessment is not one which makes graduate school look good; so yeah, a bit of a mood. Hence the Red Medicine.) Red Medicine is a fantastic album. Of course, it’s a Fugazi album.

The song “Bed for the Scraping” makes me want to learn to play guitar, I mean, I know how to play guitar but I mean _really_ _play_ guitar, like Fugazi can. The rest of the record didn’t do it for me as much, though. That was weird. Like reconnecting with a dear old friend but not connecting. You love them, but you don’t feel the old feeling. That sucked. It lifted the mood while still sucking at the same time. Weird.

So I put on Steady Diet of Nothing. Steady Diet of Nothing is a fantastic album. Of course, it’s a Fugazi album. (Speaking of fantastic music, let me tell you, go buy something by Chicago’s fine Shot Baker. They’re great. I’d seen flyers for them around when I was in Chicago but never saw them, not until they played here in Minneapolis with Naked Raygun. They were really good live, and this is a band who was opening for the Methadones and Naked Raygun, live bands who make it easy to forget the other bands. The cd I got is good too. Melodic and tough. The singer sometimes does 80s hardcore shouty parts, and mostly does a shouty-singy thing. Kind of reminds me of Youth Brigade’s singer combined with the singer from SNFU. Check it out. And I like the lyrics. There’s a song about moving out of Illinois which makes me sad because I wish I still lived there. There’s another song with a chorus of “I don’t like it, I can’t stand it, I can’t help it,” which the first time through has a nice dramatic delivery – you think the singer’s talking about something in the world and really it’s about his own behavior. Also includes a final breakdown with a rousing set of classic Chicago punk rock whoa’s.) I first heard Steady Diet when I was 14 or 15. My friend Pat got me into them, and a lot of other good music. That means I’ve been listening to Fugazi for around half my life.

I had never heard anything like Steady Diet before. It was like … musical, but not like other music. I remember repeatedly having the “how did they make that sound?!” response, and yet that sound was always a good one, even – especially! – when very dissonant. I tried repeatedly to see them live – I thought it was so cool that it was always cheap to see them play live, that was part of the mythology, though also true and to their credit – but it never worked out. I can’t remember all the complications. One of them was when I was 18 or 19 and I actually had tickets to a show of theirs 2 or 4 hours away. I ended up staying up all night the night before and after staggering around all day I decided that I would probably crash if I drove so I skipped the show. I finally did see them at the Congress Theater in Chicago, with Colin. It was fantastic. (I saw the Descendents there another time, with Handsome and Less than Jake, and Guttermouth who really suck. I think Jim got his glass broken at that show and we hung out with either Tyler who later got “Hott Mama” tattooed on his ass and showed me at a Lawrence Arms show in Milwaukee – a tattoo done, small world, by a friend of my friend Tim – or we hung out with Darren whose name I never remember except for just now but who I still sometimes see when I’m back in Illinois at rock shows and who was at the Lawrence Arms show where I choked a stoned dumb ass in a sudden fit of anger over which I’m still mortified. In my head I can’t remember if it was Tyler or Darren at the Descendents show. How odd. Jim, do you remember? [The Congress Theater was right next door to where the Autonomous Zone was for a while in Chicago; I never went there really except once in a great while. I found the subculturey vibe offputting. I went to only one event there I think, a performance by Reverend Billy of the First Church of Stop Shopping. I remember he said he wanted to be “post-new” which I thought was hilarious. I went to one other A-Zone event, when it was at a different locale. It was an event on gender and cross dressing during something called, I think, Midwest Ladyfest. I would have made a decently attractive woman given all the proper costuming and make up, if I had remember to shave first. The not shaving plus my build – the jaw and shoulders – made me I’d say only a 6 out of 10. Shaving would have easily made me a 7, possibly a 7 1/2.])

I remember Guy Piccioto (sp?) talked about the World Bank before they played “Public Witness Program.” He was kind of mumbling and rambling and hard to understand at first. He was asking the audience who had been at the World Bank protests in DC where Fugazi is from and most of us – at least the people I was with – didn’t understand him. Either most people in the crowd didn’t understand him or hadn’t been at the protest because most people didn’t respond, myself included even though I had been there. He was incensed about that, which after I figured out what he was talking about struck me as a bit funny. Fugazi played a really long and really great encore, which I don’t think was like a planned rock and roll encore because they took forever to come out and the venue had turned the lights on and stuff and a lot of people had left but the remaining people kept chanting and clapping and stomping their feet. I mentioned to my wife tonite that the first time I heard the refrain “It’s time to meet your maker” I had no idea what they were singing until I read the lyric book. The closest my ear and mind could come was “it’s time to be Jamaican” which I have to admit I always think of every time I hear that refrain to this day. She said “maybe instead it could be ‘its time to be Shot Baker’,” which is funny. And it’s definitely time to be Shot Baker. I wish I was Shot Baker. Maybe when I grow up.

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