- XARA THUSTRA - "Friendship Between Artists Is An Equation Of Love and Survival" - It's a book, yet there is no text to speak of. It's mostly photographs taken from Xara's last 15 or so years of doing art on the streets, in galleries and elsewhere. I'm not sure where I first encountered Xara's art, but I've always been in awe of everything they have ever produced. I got arrested in 2002 for spraypainting yuppie condos in SF and sat in jail for a few days at 850 Bryant. For my community service, I had to paint over graffiti in the Tenderloin (that's an SF neighborhood) with a fucking cop. We came across a beautiful piece by Xara and the pig told me I had to paint over it. I looked at him and said "This is by a world famous artist. I'm not doing this. You can put me in jail or whatever you have to do, but I respect this person and I'm not painting over it." He looked at it for a long minute and agreed that it was beautiful, so we moved on. I think it's still there. Xara has achieved a lot of "success" in the major art world over the years but has managed to keep it really real in a lot of ways that I truly respect. Xara has always served free meals at all events...even when they got invited to do a huge art show for the MOMA. Xara still served free, mostly dumpstered and donated food, because people need to eat. It's just this simple, basic thing that the larger art world has big problems with. I love it. Xara also did an interview recently in the SF Bay Guardian where they made a fairly controversial statement that I agree with. Xara said that the murals in Clarion Alley should be erased. Get rid of them. It's not what it used to be and it's not what we want it to be. It's over. We had a funeral for it already. Buff it out. It's done. Anyhow, my point is, I like Xara's book a lot. I love Xara's art. It tells a story of San Francisco that everyone is attempting to block out. It's out history and it will still be here long after the tech people have moved on to their next big thing. Thank you, Xara.
- NO STATIK - Live at Prank Fest. This was the single best set of any band I saw this year. It started out innocently enough: fast hardcore band, lots of people going nuts, stage diving...but somewhere in the middle of their set, the entire band seemed to get some kind of energy from another world and just moved the whole fucking thing into another realm. Their singer, Ruby was in the middle of the audience, with a circle of wild moshers around her, but with no one coming close to her. The rest of the band seemed to gain energy from out of nowhere and completely surpassed the constraints of a simple hardcore band. It was transcendent. I can't explain it. It was everything I wanted hardcore punk to be but so rarely is. It was perfect.
- ICELAND. I went to Iceland and it blew my fucking mind. I met some incredibly nice, hospitable Icelandic punks and walked around a lot. The volcanic and stark landscape was like nowhere I've ever been in my life. I took the advice of my US friends and went to the fancy spa / geothermal pool and I haven't regretted it for one second. We were taken out to the place where the continents of North American and Europe meet. I can't put it onto words. It was amazing and I usually check the plane ticket prices to go back at least once a month.
The person who makes my life complete in Iceland
- THE NEW ENGLAND PUNK SCENE!! I went to visit my friends in Worcester, MA for a week and fell in love. Everything is so close together and the scenes in each town are so different, but still sorta cohesive in their own ways. I love all the bands so much.....like CLEANSING WAVE, FUNERAL CONE, WHO KILLED SPIKEY JACKET?, etc, etc......Maine is so beautiful. Vermont too!! There's a bunch of clean spikey kids in Boston and a bunch of freaks in Providence. The real freaks are in Worcester. AHHHHH!!!
- RIDING TRAINS IN EUROPE - I rode on some long train trips from Germany to the Czech Republic and from Prague to Budapest. Even though it was kinda long and uneventful, it was also perfect and awesome. Sometimes, I would hang out in the bathroom, looking out the window in the middle of the night at the eastern European countrysides. If I smoked, I would have done so. I felt like I was in the midst of some sort of noir novel. Somehow, these "nothing" moments really grabbed hold of me and made me appreciate my time in Europe so much more. I will always remember it fondly.
Somewhere in Hungary.
- NEON PISS - Okay, yes, it's my band, but check this out....I didn't start/join bands with all men for at least 10 years because I don't like the way men operate together. There is a lot of testosterone. I don't like the way I (or many of my friends) act when they are in a group that consists of only men. To put it simply, shit has a lot of room to get ugly. I started this band with new friends without really thinking about the dynamics and I'm (we are) lucky it worked out for better or worse. I feel comfortable discussing how I feel. I feel comfortable telling my bandmates that something they said is fucked up...and I feel comfortable when they tell me the same thing. It works most of the time. I like that we have traveled together in 34 states and 15 countries in the past year and I still want to hang out with them and get a burrito at any time of the day. It's cool. Deal with it. Oh, also, I'm very proud of every song we've ever written together.
- BAY AREA PUNK SCENE: When I was growing up in Alabama, my friends and I would talk about all the bands from California that we loved. Bands like CRIMPSHRINE, CRINGER, SEWER TROUT, RAOOUL and HICKEY all informed the ways that we approached music. When I moved out to SF in 2002, it was exciting but I also had a sinking feeling that I had missed the boat in many ways. (I was wrong. There were many great bands then) The active bands in the Bay Area right now are all just phenomenal. I don't know where all this energy came from, but I welcome it and hope it lasts for years to come. I get the same feeling now that I did when I was younger while watching many of my peers play music here in town. If you haven't checked out REPLICA, TRUE MUTANTS, OVENS, NO STATIK, PERMANENT RUIN, HUFF STUFF MAGAZINE, THE NEW FLESH, HUNTING PARTY, SYNTHETIC ID, THE LIGHT, VIOLENT CHANGE, NASTY CHRISTMAS, WET SPOTS, NEEDLES, APOGEE SOUND CLUB, MOIRA SCAR or ALABASTER CHOAD, then maybe it's about time that you did. If none of these work for you, I've got about 20 more on deck.
- RUNNING INTO PETER PLATE ON THE STREETS OF SF: Sure Peter Plate is an accomplished author of San Francisco noir and all that. Sure, I've been to his "readings" where he will walk around the audience and recite entire chapters of his book completely from memory (if you ever get a chance to see one of his rare appearances, do it). But, what I really like is just seeing him out and about in random corners of the city. Even though our encounters are brief, he always remembers my name, always follows up on something from our last conversation...He is a living, breathing encyclopedia of San Francisco street corners and forgotten histories. Sometimes speaking with him is like stepping into one of his books and you can almost feel yourself slipping into the abandoned buildings, social services offices, seedy donut shops and neighborhoods that the city is trying to push out.
- FUNERAL CONE Live in Worcester, MA - This was the third show in a row that my band played with FUNERAL CONE on the East Coast and I feel like this is the one where they really hit their stride. The members all come from various backgrounds of the punk world and their influences seem to gently fight each other in ways that are advantageous for the outcome of the band. They end up sounding like a fucked up B-52's fighting DEVO (on drugs) while getting attacked by the band from Get Crazy, but with a much better understanding of hardcore. It's great. At this show, the band was on fire and their singer, Dan Wars could be found walking across tabletops, kicking beers to the floor. They could've played all of their songs twice and I would have been happy. EP out soon on 100% Breakfast and West Coast tour in April. Oh, I forgot to mention that the show was in a cold ass bar that looked like the inside of a ship.
- GETTING A NEW BIKE FOR MY BIRTHDAY: This one requires a backstory. My bike got stolen. Out of my garage. While it was locked. There was no forced entry. It was an inside job but none of my neighbors would claim that they knew anything about it, which is part of the reason that I can't stand them. I was too broke to buy another nice bike for at least 4-6 months, due to touring and other monetary commitments. I ride a bike every day to work and to run errands. It's my main form of transportation. My other option is usually the bus and it takes forever to get anywhere on that thing....if it even shows up. My girlfriend, Anandi secretly took up donations from a ton of my friends so that everyone could give just a little bit and I could still get something practical and awesome. It really made my day to be able to buy a new bike so quickly and every time I ride it, I think of all the wonderful people who chipped in to make my life a lot easier. I have the best friends. Thanks a ton to Anandi, Jesska, Alex Turner, Caitlin, Sarah Sky, Jesse Jane, Gaybob, Kari, Janelle, Ivy, Morgan, Molly, Heather Blotto, Tessa, Trash, Michelle, Lee, Danielle, Megan, Anders, Sarolta, Arwen, Carolyn, Chiara, Jeanette and Jessica.
I have one new year's resolution, which is to stop putting energy into friendships where that energy is not reciprocated.