Ya gotta start somewheres.
Weird how it is that Facebook ‘fills in the blanks’ of all the ‘background people’ you see in your world.
Back when I was both ‘of age’ and ‘cared about music’ (approximately 1994-2008), I’d see a strange-looking guy at shows in the ‘underground’ scene. He had lumpy face (no one I know knows why!), bad posture, always carried a camera and always had a lanyard which, I guess, let you know he’d been places with more elaborate security measures than ‘wide-bodied sloth fills up door jambs.’ I may well have seen him at the few ‘all ages’ ‘punk rock*’ shows I went to at the Dry Dock, the Hour Haus, and the Towson Armory. Anyway, by the time I was 21 and seeing the ‘punk rock’ of the time**, I’d see this startlingly ugly dude with his ‘punk rock uniform’ fairly frequently at places like Memory Lane and the 8×10. He didn’t seem to have any friends; he’d hang around the periphery of the room unless he wanted to get some photos. By the time I had ‘friends’ on the scene, it never occured to me to ask them ‘Who the hell is that guy? I see him everywhere!’ or ‘That guy I just mentioned: what the hell happened to his face, man?’
Oh, but the clothes. Sunny’s Surplus West German army surplus jackets, Doc Marten’s, some kind of ‘punk rock’ t-shirt. A canvas backpack, no doubt from Sunny’s Surplus as well, which is a clue that tells the adventuring suburbanite-by-night that ‘this guy is too ‘Punk Rock’*** to drive, man!’
It turns out the guy had been making a ‘zine. You remember Rolling Stone and Spin mentioning them (‘zines) in a hand-wringing fashion between 1992 and 1996, don’t you? Fortunately, the guy’s photo album showed the covers to bunches of the damned things. I don’t know where he sold them; my guess is probably just Reptilian Records, which just didn’t have much stuff that interested me, and that’s probably why I never saw them.
If I hadn’t read ‘We Never Learn,’ by Eric Davidson, I wouldn’t be able to identify anybody touted on the cover of Lumpy Mystery Subject’s ‘zine. On the one hand, the ‘zines looked shabby; but then, ALL ‘zines looked shabby. On the other hand, at least that dude was doing something with his time, and he’s turning all his old ‘zines into a coffee-table book aimed squarely at occasionally nostalgic slobs like me.
*It’s got an asterisk because even back then, the vibe was ‘if you act like ‘punk rock,’ it will happen!’ In case you were wondering, not even teenagers find it fun to watch dudes in their early twenties imitate what they’ve seen in seventh-generation duplicate Black Flag videos. So I hated all-ages shows when I was underage, and I hated them when I was of age and got stuck playing them; unless you’re at the white-hot center of some dopey kid’s narrow band of experience, you’re pretty much made to feel that you should probably just go suck it.
**A much more laid-back, less fashion-intensive experience.
***It didn’t occur to me that he might be ‘too poor!’ Also, when you make friends who are too ‘punk rock’ to drive, you should drop them. Just total dingleberries.