MY KURT COBAIN STORY


Kurt Cobain died 20 years ago tomorrow. I think I was in 5th grade. I pretended to hang myself from the monkey bars on the playground to impress a girl that day and got in a small amount of trouble. I definitely was a tiny weirdo with long greasy hair back then, and I felt my slight, childish alienation expressed better by GRUNGE as it stood than anything else I had come across, but you know, I was a kid or whatever.

ANYWAY. When I got to Junior High School I got into PUNK in NYC which was very exciting. Punk is all about participation, rather than consumption, which I realized even that young, so I started writing a fanzine and I printed up two t-shirts to sell at shows, along with my shitty publication. One shirt had a picture of the state of New Jersey and it said "Kiss Your Girlfriend Where It Smells, Take Her To New Jersey" (I was fourteen when I made it okay?) which I think I stole from another fanzine. The other shirt just said I KILLED KURT COBAIN which I thought was a super punk sentiment, even though I still secretly liked Nirvana.

My freshman year of high school I went to a party at my friend Andrew's house. His parents were divorced and it was one of those situations where you tell your mom that you're sleeping over at the one parent's house but then actually the other parent is out of town and you have a party there. Andrew's step-sister Kristen was a cheerleader and she invited all her friends and Andrew invited our crew (me, Bruno and Diego) and we smoked bongs in the attic and like, listened to bootleg Operation Ivy tapes Diego brought back from the flea market in Mexico City, which is what we would've been doing even if Andrew's dad was home.

Eventually we wandered down to the living room and a bunch of dudes from the football team were in there getting drunk. Imagine a room full of wasted Moose Masons but listening to Biggie instead of whatever music they had in Archie Times. I was a young Freak on a Leash back then (metaphorically speaking, though the year prior I had spent much of my time wearing a LITERAL leash) so I was wearing: my brand new from 8th Street Grinders Combat boots with the neon NKOTB laces I stole from that weird biker store on St Marks Place, some big black JNCO jeans (do you remember those?), my I KILLED KURT COBAIN shirt and my hair in four pigtails (to invoke the corners).

Some of Kristen's football friends sold us Budweiser 40s for $5 a pop, which we thought was reasonable because we'd never bought beer before, and we started to drink and kinda hang out with them a little. And it was like, this weird moment where these young freaks and older jocks were getting along okay. AND THEN, this one gigantic sports dude just got all devil eyed and pointed at me and was like, "TAKE THAT SHIRT OFF!" and I laughed because I thought he must be kidding and then all of a sudden he was across the room right in my face and we were having one of those weird Man Moments where he was butting his chest into mine and talking through his teeth and he was like "I SAID TAKE THAT FUCKING SHIRT OFF!" and I was still laughing, albeit a little more nervously, because I still just thought he was fucking with me and was gonna laugh about it too any moment because why would some jock care about my I KILLED KURT COBAIN shirt?

And then he picked me up by my collar like they do in the movies and shoved me against a wall and I was scared. Kristen was like, "oh no Travis put him down leave him alone" super feebly and it was clear that she was actually so stoked on this display of raw masculine power. Very quickly and very quietly I said to him "what's your fucking problem man? You've made your point, you're bigger and tougher okay just put me down now." because everyone was watching and I hated it.

And then in that placid voice that shitty dudes get right after they Hulk out when they are gonna instill the lesson that was supposed to accompany their display of force, he was like, "My problem? My problem is with that shirt. I love Nirvana and I love Kurt you little faggot. So take that shit off."
And at that point, I busted out laughing so EARNESTLY and so intensely that he just dropped me on the floor and walked away mumbling that I was crazy. If I had any chutzpah or more of a death wish I would've leaned in and kissed him. What a perfect moment! Like three hours later he was asking me to teach him how to play "About A Girl" on Andrew's dad's acoustic guitar.

RADIO SHIT

 
YO WHAT'S UP? Listen: tomorrow night my first ever RADIO HARVESTER broadcast is happening during DISTORT JERSEY CITY on WFMU.


What does any of that mean?

RADIO HARVESTER is a new audio collabo between myself and Reed Dunlea (of Dipers, NY's Alright Fest, Greatest City In The World cassette zine). Reed is super cool and sometimes he looks like he's in Warzone. He takes a lot of pictures of himself flexing in front of stuff. He also does a million rad projects and is very productive and inspiring to be around. One of those projects is DISTORT JERSEY CITY, which is the punkest radio show on WFMU which is the punkest radio station.

RADIO HARVESTER is an interview based audio zine that is about ME interviewing OTHER PUNX at PIZZA PARLORS while we EAT PIZZA. That's right! You can hear a lot of chewing and GROSS MOUTH NOISES and that's the way we like it. The DEBUT ISSUE is being BROADCAST for the first time TOMORROW on Reed's radio show, which airs from 7-8pm on all Tuesday nights. The RADIO HARVESTER segments will be airing monthly. For now.

This Month's Guest is BENJAMIN "BEN TROGDON" TROGDON who makes NUTS! Fanzine and is also super cool and inspiring and fun to be around. He never looks like he's in the band CANDYFLIP, but sometimes when I'm sad I watch that video and pretend that guy is him and it cheers me up.

IN SHORT: at some point between 7-8pm on WFMU tomorrow night you will hear ME interviewing BEN TROGDON of NUTS! Fanzine at ROSA'S PIZZA in QUEENS. Listen on a real radio or stream it on the internet WE DON"T CARE.

Doing a reading next week + the last thing I wrote for NUTS.

SO I'm doing a reading a week from tomorrow at KGB Bar on E 4th St at 7pm. I am super stoked because the last time I was there it was to see Sam Delany read so it's the same kind of corny "same stage as my heroes" moment as playing my first show at CBGBs was in high school except this time I'm not embarrassed to mention that I'm excited because I'm not a teenager.

Also, as usual, I just finished my submission for the new NUTS magazine, so I'm posting my submission from last issue of NUTS. I wrote this in August. Hope you enjoy.

MUSIC I HAVE LISTENED TO FOR HOURS STRAIGHT ON REPEAT WHILE WRITING MY BOOK by COLIN ATROPHY

Sinead O’Connor – Black Boys on Mopeds

Someone made a thread on a message board I look at with the goal of collectively determining the saddest song ever written. I don’t know what the outcome was and I didn’t listen to 99% of the songs posted, but this song was a contender and for whatever reason I looked it up on youtube and ended up listening to it over and over again for like, maybe three weeks. I don’t know if it’s the saddest song ever, but I do know that at the beginning of the first week it would make me just straight up like, WEEP for the first two or three repetitions. I think I liked crying while I was writing so that’s okay. I also cry really easily. Olympia, WA by Rancid made me cry for years. True story: the other day I was driving in a car listening to Hot 97 and “Stan” by Eminem came on and during the last verse, when Slim Shady is finally responding to Stan’s letter, there’s that part where he implores Stan to stop harming himself and maybe seek counseling and I had to pull over because I was so touched by it and couldn’t see the road through all my tears. 

Pagans – (Us and) All Of Our Friends Are So Messed Up

What a title—excellent use of parentheses, and who doesn’t feel this way?!? I was determined to like this song before I even heard it, when I saw it posted on my friend Nathan’s facebook feed. That’s right. I’m writing a book and I don’t interact with humans and I find out about everything from the internet. I’m not punk anymore, get over it. ANYWAY, this song is so good. I didn’t realize the Pagans had even kept existing into the 90s, and I am totally pleasantly surprised that they released this, possibly their best song, during the band’s twilight. The part where Mike Hudson sings, “Yeah, I saw an old friend yesterday / It wasn’t easy, we stood and searched for things to say,” was maybe a little too real. And the song is totally a bummer, but there’s also a sense of triumph or celebration in still being a bunch of awkward freaks even now that we’re grownups! I love that! ALSO there are a couple of horror movie vampire laughs, which I shouldn’t have to tell you is AWESOME.

Bossy – Who Loves You Most -> Who Loves You More

This weird thing happened at the beginning of August where I got this totally impossible to control urge to listen to the Bossy record, and I found myself just listening to these two songs back and forth over and over. They are the last and first songs on The Best of Bossy and they are definitely cutesy poo little twee love jammers. It’s clear that Who Loves You Most is a home recording and Who Loves You More was the studio result. Listening to them back to back feels pretty seamless for this reason, because the chord progression is the same but the first one is way lower-fi, has slightly different lyrics, and is sung by Jamie, whereas the Who Loves You More has full instrumentation and Cassie is singing. This record came out right after Jamie died and I think the inclusion of Who Loves You Most was a sentimental nod to what a sweet dude he could be at times. A few days into my week of listening to these two songs over and over Kevin Morby reminded me that it was Jamie’s birthday and I remembered that every year at this time I get this totally overwhelming compulsion to listen to some songs of his. Last year it was Elizabethan Collar and Alabam from the Young Men tape Barker put out. It all comes back, I think, to the fact that I had been listening to Stray Dog Town over and over again for the first time in AGES the week that Jamie died and every night I meant to call him and tell him that I loved him and see how he was doing and every night I just went to the bar and got drunk and didn’t call. This year has been especially difficult, though. Listen: what are you gonna do? I am still so sad that my friend is gone, but I am also very grateful for his incredible body of work that I can remember him by and also grateful for the friends I still have.

Amps For Christ –Circuits / Sister Irene O’Connor – Fire of Gods Love

The cover of the other Amps For Christ album I have (Thorny Path, I think) actually looks way more like this record sounds than the cover of this record looks. This record has a picture of bugs standing on a scrabble board or something (I can’t even remember), whereas the cover of Thorny Path reminds me of playing Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny on the computer in my parents’ basement. The music on Circuits sounds like I am at some weird psychedelic Renn Faire. The Sister Irene O’Connor record is something I heard about from Francesca at MRR. It is this weird private pressing Catholic missionary record by this nun that is apparently impossible to find because record collectors know it rules. It sounds like Vashti Bunyan singing about teen abstinence over Castlevania music. Pairs well with Circuits, maybe because Amps for Christ is actually Christian music and the name isn’t a joke? At least that’s what Naters told me at the record store one day, but I can’t say for certain he wasn’t just yankin my crank. At one point I didn’t leave my house for like three or four straight days and just listened to these two records back and forth the whole time. I felt like I had to “get weird” or something because that’s what writers do, so I put on bizarre outfits and got super stoned and paced my apartment. None of the writing I did for those few days was any good, but it pushed me out of a nasty bit of writer’s block and I recorded an art film of just my mouth saying “Master P says, ‘Masterpieces!’” over and over again for like 15 or 20 minutes.

Albe Back feat Fabulous – Mira Mira Ven Aqui

I heard this song coming out of a car when I was sitting on my fire escape brooding one night and then I listened to it eighty million times. I incorrectly predicted that it would be the big summer jam of 2013, but I was wrong because this song actually sucks, and I can admit that and still love it. Albe Back is a terrible rapper, but he is really young and he is Big Pun’s nephew and his rap name is a PUN and a reference to Terminator so that’s cool. Also at this one part he says “BYE BYE” in a high pitched voice and sounds so vulnerable and adorable and it’s so cute and he says he is “older than a beeper,” but that would make him like, maybe 17? Also a secret about me is that I LOVE Fabolous but I can never remember how he spells his name and every time I write it down I have to do the “FA-BO-LO-US” he says in Holla Back in my head to remind myself. This song has a totally hypnotic, super corny synth loop that has been stuck in my head since before I heard it. It maybe seems like something Trick Daddy and Trina would have rapped on before they had any money to buy real beats. Whatever, I love this song and no one else does but fuck y’all.

SLICE HARVESTER HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

I would like to take an opportunity to highlight some cool stuff my friends made and I am doing it under the auspices of a "Holiday Gift Guide" even though writing those words makes me want to puke and half this stuff probably won't even get to you or your loved ones by Christmas. Whatever, get over it and give people their presents in January. Who fucking cares?

2014 Paquita Calendar ($12)
This is one of my favorite things that happens every year! Caroline is my best friend and a wonderful artist and she prints these calendars on her RISO machine each year and they are absolutely stunning. This year's calendar is no exception. If you like rad drawings of ambiguously gendered nature freaks riding motorcycles and swimming in the ocean and doing eachother's tarot and shit, this is the calendar for you. Seriously this shit is so beautiful and Caroline's commitment to creating affordable fine art for regular lowlives like us is super admirable. ALSO: buy the other stuff on the Pegacorn Press Webstore because ALL OF IT IS GREAT.


Nevada by Imogen Binnie ($17.95)
I bought Nevada because Imogen is an MRR columnist and also a friend of many of my friends and I was feeling like supporting a "fellow punk author." I didn't know what to expect and then it just ripped my head right open. Imogen has this ability to mix totally casual/vernacular language with intensely heavy subject matter in a way that feels like you're being talked to by the coolest person you'll ever meet. She is one of like, maybe five writers that I would hand over Slice Harvester to if she asked because I think we are on the same ~wavelength~. Look for our posthumous "Collected Emails of Colin Atrophy Hagendorf and Imogen Binnie" in like 200 years when we're both dead.

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry ($9.99)
This book knocked me on my ass too! I don't remember why I bought it, but afterwards I realized that Sarah was the same person that had released my friend/mentor (frientor?) Mimi Nguyen's last zine PUNK (which she wrote collaboratively with this awesome lady Golnar who I don't actually know but who is in a sick hardcore band and we are friends with all the same people). All Our Pretty Songs is about a lot of my favorite stuff: mystical teens, drugs, punk. HEAVILY reminded me of Oranges Are the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson, which is one of my top five books EVER, probably. Look out for an interview with Sarah about pizza, being punk, etc. to appear here on Slice Harvester some time in the next 500 years.

Mother's News Subscription ($25)
I don't really know how to talk about Mother's News because it doesn't really make much sense and so I won't try to explain it too hard. Mother's News is a newspaper. It comes out every month and is mainly the work of this super tall weirdo Jacob Berendes but also involves a lot of collaborators. It is the only place I have ever paid to advertise Slice Harvester and that advertisement resulted in some dude sending me his low budget Christian horror film. I think if I had to make a list of reasons why I am not ashamed to be a human it wouldn't be a very long list and Mother's News would be somewhere at the top. Seriously if you get someone you love a gift subscription to MN it will make their life tangibly better.

Maximum Rocknroll Int'l Punk Comp + Subsciption ($59)
Look MRR was really important for me to get into punk and then to realize that punk is super fallible and totally susceptible to the pitfalls of the square world. It was kind of a shitty bro-zone for a while, though "luckily" for me I was a fifteen year old boy when I got into it so I didn't really notice. Anyway, at some point a series of super rad women took the reigns of the magazine and now it is so fucking cool again! There is an active attempt to focus on punk being made by queers, women, people of color, those residing in "The Global South," etc. You can just get the subscription for $45, but if you throw down an extra $14 you get this 2xLP comp of 32 bands from 14 countries! What?! I am so stoked. Only band I've heard on here is Nuclear Spring, who are totally sweet anarcho punk from Brooklyn. Get into it.


My friend Jes Skolnik helped put out this comp tape with Sean who runs Accidental Guest. You can stream the whole thing on Rookie, but just drop the $6 for the tape and help support Rachael's Women's Center. If you don't have a tape deck, you can pay-as-you-will download from the Accidental Guest bandcamp page. Standout tracks (for me) from Good Throb, Stillsuit, Split Feet, Perfect Pussy, Household. But everything on here is fucking great. Jes is super cool and a huge inspiration for me in terms of "staying rad" because they always seem to be working on the most awesome shit. Keep up the good work, comrade!

Conopio Family Relief Fund ($??)
Now that I'm a grownup and I basically buy everything I want for myself, I usually ask my family to give money to other folks in lieu of getting me a gift. Last year I had them all donate to the Ali Forney Center because they got totally wrecked in the hurricane. This year I'll be asking them to give a couple bucks to my friend Robert's mom so she can help rebuild her village in the Philippines that was just destroyed in the Typhoon. I am so wary of foreign aid organizations, but this is a rare opportunity to give money right to my friend's mom, who is there using the money directly to give aid to actual people instead of lining the pockets of some international nonprofit bureaucracy.  Anyway, you know I always talk about being punk means having eachother's backs so maybe just give Robert's family a couple bucks to rebuild their houses okay?

OKAY THAT'S IT FOR THE GIFT GUIDE, ASSHOLES. You can also always buy yourself or a loved one a full set of Slice Harvester Fanzines, but that will definitely not get to you by Christmas because I'm TERRIBLE at keeping up with my mailorder.

CBGB the movie: "I was there, man"

I wrote this a few days ago. A friend of mine who edits some important music website hired me to write about the CBGB movie premiere, but illness, personal tragedy, and technical difficulties prevented it from being published by it's intended recipient. So here it is now in case YOU want to read it. 

When I showed up at the theatrical premiere of the CBGB’s movie I had already seen the whole thing on youtube a week prior. I sung it’s praises to like, basically everyone, and I think at least six people watched it because of me. The universe punished me for lying about this movie being good by forcing me into a situation where I would have to watch it for a second time, in a place where I couldn’t smoke cigarettes or eat an ice cream sundae or tweet the whole time.

I had never been to a movie premiere before, except working craft services a couple times when I cooked for a catering company, so this was very exciting to me! As a kid I was on Steampipe Alley once, but that is probably the most glamorous thing I’ve ever done prior to tonight.

I’m not a movie critic and I don’t know anything about film. I watch a lot of crappy horror movies, without much of a critical eye, and sometimes I watch a TV show or something. I think I’m qualified to review this movie though! Here are my credentials:
  1. A few years ago I ate and reviewed every slice of pizza in Manhattan so I know how to review stuff.
  2. I snuck into CBGBs through the back door after getting kicked out of there for bringing in booze probably like 800 times when I was a teenager. When we were sixteen my best friend smashed the toilet in the men’s room with a sledgehammer. When we were seventeen my other friend took a shit on that same toilet! Or on whatever toilet they replaced it with. You know what I meant. I think he was the only person to ever shit on that toilet in the 40 years that CBGBs was open. It was like a five minute dump and during that time about a dozen people stopped watching whatever band was playing (the Queers, maybe?) to form an audience while my dude dropped one. Also: my high school band played our CBs Audition Night with an as-yet-unsigned Puddle of Mudd! Also also I went to like 9000 hardcore matinees on Sunday afternoons even though I’m a tiny wimp and all the dudes that went to those shows looked like Action Bronson dressed like the Bushwackers.
  3. I’m really punk still even though I’m 30.
So yeah, my friend offered to send me to write a review. I’m sure plenty of more qualified people will be reviewing the film, so this will mostly be a review of the movie premiere. I hope that’s okay with you!

I was really excited because I’ve never been a proper journalist and Claire even got me “Red Carpet Approved” and I didn’t know what that meant but it sounded absolutely enchanting. Turns out what it meant was that I got to the thing like hoooooouuuuuuurs early and then I stood around on a wood platform with a bunch of photographers. I learned two important things on that platform:
  1. Photographers are mostly horrible men who say awful things about women so casually like it’s no big deal.
  2. Duff McKagan is really hot still and kind of looks like David Bowie. 
I spent my time tweeting CBGB’s Movie Red Carpet Fanfic, but after a while that got hella boring and I was cold and I was smoking too much so I wandered inside and read a book in the bathroom for a while. I’m currently reading A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle and it’s wonderful so far!

Eventually it seemed like the movie might be starting soon and so I made my way into the farthest possible theater and took the seat in the furthest back corner and kept reading my book. It was like an hour before the 8:30 screening time and there were maybe six people in the theater. They seemed teenage but at some point I started thinking everyone under 23 was a teenager, so who knows. Eventually some more people showed up and they were all women and they were all different ages and they all seemed to know each other! They were yelling and screaming about some actress from the movie called Stana Katic who they are all superfans of and they were taking videos and trading pictures and calling each other by their twitter and tumblr handles. It was so cool and earnest and way better than rich middle aged white dudes wearing CBGBs Forever tshirts under blazers and like, fake Rolling Stones LES rock’n’rollers doing studied pouts and wearing stupid paisley scarves.

At one point these two The Strokes type douches walked in and kind of paused at the door to survey the crowd. Everyone in the room was being super loud and rambunctious and they were so excited to be at a movie premiere for a movie that their celebrity idol was in. Like, one lady exclaimed, hyperventilating, “I DON’T EVEN CARE THAT SHE’S IN VIP AND I’M ALL THE WAY UP HERE! JUST KNOWING THAT I’M IN THE SAME BUILDING AS HER BREATHING THE SAME AIR AS HER I MEAN… UGH!...” and she trailed off in excitement and everyone in the room just shook their heads knowingly all, “yeah, us too.” And these two dudes just could not hide their revulsion. It was palpable from across the room. I get it because being a superfan of a celebrity is really vulnerable and uncool and that’s scary to dickheads and they can only respond by sneering at it. But I’d definitely rather be in a room full of Stana Stans than at fucking Max Fish or that other one.  Lit Lounge. I had to google “LES Hipster Bars 2001” to remember the name of Lit Lounge. FYI, there are soooo many yelp lists called “LES Hipster Bars” apparently. Weird world.

ANYWAY, the point, I guess is that the Stana Katic fans were way cool and fun and really eager to talk and enjoy themselves and weren’t putting on airs or pretending. (In fact if you look closely at the top left corner of this video you can see the moment where a really kind woman who was next to me took the time to explain the entire Stana Superfan Subculture.) And those two fake Strokes are imposters and they’re miserable and their friends only pretend to like them but actually hate them and besides that’s not even how cool people dress anymore so they were either Secretly Old or they Just Moved Here. Open invitation to those two dipshits to hop in a fucking time machine and stay there.

Then the movie started and I watched it again and look, it’s not that bad, okay? All these dorks are gonna get so mad but like WHAT. EVER. Who expected the CBGBs movie to be good? Is this what you want to spend your time worrying about? There was some stuff I really liked about it.
  1. Hilly Kristal was a saint and he deserves to have a movie about what a saint he is, even if it’s a corny failure of a movie.
  2. Lou Reed looks like Moose Mason dressed as Slim Shady dressed as an undercover cop trying to sneak into a punk show.
  3. You can totally tell it was filmed on a NYC set in some other town (Savannah, GA, apparently) and not actual New York and it’s a fun game to spot the different signifiers like the shape of the awnings or the type of streetlights.
  4. I like the idea of having John Holstrom illustrate bits of it even if the director totally blew it and made them look stupid.
  5. Corny failed punk movies are always fun for punks to watch and be like, “UUUUH-UUUUUUH” with their hand over their mouth.
  6. I don’t know who any of the actors were, basically, but they all looked kind of like other actors from some angles. Like, there was a sort of Jared Leto and a kinda James Franco and a maybe Willem Defoe and I think Legs McNeill was played by the actual singer from the All-American Rejects.
There was also stuff that totally sucked:
  1. So much of the plot is just straight up told to you by characters instead of shown via action and that gets hella boring. Like there are these bikers that hang out in the bar, and then one day the Lead Biker is like, “Hilly I think we’re going to leave this place because we scare your customers and it looks like something big is on the cusp of happening here and we wouldn’t want to stand in the way of your dreams and inevitable success” and it made me think that the director or writer or whoever thinks I’m stupid and doesn’t think I can figure stuff out.
  2. Why couldn’t we have any NYHC cameos? You couldn’t get Freddie Madball to be the loan shark? C’mon. 
  3. There are at least two moments where they show footage of a modern subway and there was no point in them being there and it really bugged me. It’s okay if you can’t afford to make a fake subway car, but these new ones have little LED displays on the sides and this is supposed to be the 70s! I don’t know why that one dumb thing out of the millions of dumb things bugged me so much, but it really bothered me a lot.
All that said, I genuinely enjoyed watching this movie the first time, alone in my underwear, when I could like, clip my nails and fill fanzine orders or whatever while I was watching it, but the second time it seemed unbearably long and totally boring.

In conclusion: Go see this movie if you are a Stana Katic superfan or if you like stuff that sucks.

CONCERT REVIEWS.

In celebration of finishing my contribution for the upcoming issue of BENJAMIN TROGDON PRESENTS: NUTS! FANZINE, and because I haven't written anything else besides stuff for my book this month, here is a thing I wrote for NUTS a few issues back. Ben asked me to write show reviews for him but I couldn't do that since I'm a hermit, so I wrote reviews from memory of shows I went to in High School. Some names have been changed, others have not. Sort it out yourself.

My teenage band playing a show in our high school cafeteria circa 1998.
SHOW REVIEWS by COLIN ATROPHY

Ramones Final Tour - Capital Theater, Port Chester, NY, 1996
My friend Jason invited me to come with him to this show for his Bar Mitzvah. He was my best friend for a while. I liked going to his house because we always watched R Rated movies. One time he showed me his older brother's condoms. We used to sit in his room and listen to the Geto Boys and play with his pet Salamander. I don't remember why we stopped being friends but we did. I think it might have been as simple as him moving away, but I have a vague memory of being really mean to him one time in like, a kid experimenting with cruelty kind of way. I don't know. He just friend requested me on Facebook. I am going to accept his friend request but I will not email him and he will not email me and I will probably "unsubscribe" from his "news feed" before the month is out. Whatever. At one point during this Ramones show I’m supposed to be talking about some dude started smoking weed and Jason said “it smells like my dad’s office in here.” Also this was the first time I moshed.


The Toasters, Spring Heeled Jack, Jiker - 7 Willow St, Port Chester, NY, 1997
This was the first night time show I ever went to besides the Ramones Final Tour. My dad and my Uncle Kevin came because they hadn't seen a ska band since seeing the Specials open up for the Clash in the 80s. I was scared they were gonna try and hang out with me but they just sat at the bar the whole time. I liked the Toasters a lot and they played my favorite song "Mona" which I had daydreams of learning how to play on guitar and then playing at the 8th Grade Talent Show because then my neighbor who I had a crush on would obviously finally fall in love with me. I had never heard Spring Heeled Jack but I bought their t shirt because I liked that they used the rebel alliance logo because I was in the middle of a really tough campaign in the Star Wars table top role playing game that my friend Tony was DMing. He didn't come to the show because he didn't like music and soon after this I stopped hanging out with him because I got into doing drugs and being punk and Tony just wanted to play Final Fantasy games and shit like that which I thought wasn't cool anymore. I think he is a doctor now. Jiker were from Connecticut and pretended to be from Canada.


The Specials - The Globe Theater, Stamford, CT, 1997
I won two tickets to see the Specials from Tunnel One the ska radio show on WNYU, which was on right before Crucial Chaos, the punk radio show on WNYU. Or maybe it was on right after because ska was more "adult" than punk? Either way, I listened to both religiously every Thursday night and there is probably still a box of cassette tapes I dubbed of both shows sitting in my parent's basement. I asked my dad if he wanted the other ticket because he was the only person I knew who liked the Specials and knew how to drive. We got to the venue SO EARLY to claim our prize and this fucking like, nineteen year old intern at the door wouldn't let me in because I wasn't eighteen. My dad was like, "I'm his dad," but the dude would not budge. I cried in the car and my dad took me to an Indian buffet as a small consolation and then I think we went to see Face/Off.


H2O Matinee - 7 Willow St, Port Chester, NY 1997
I remember imagining what H2O sounded like a lot and then being really surprised that they sounded just like the Bouncing Souls to me, because they were a hardcore band and I figured they were gonna sound like Hatebreed. During the afternoon before this show I smoked an entire pack of Kamel Red Lights because I was trying to become a smoker but didn't know how to do it yet and so I just smoked them all in a row. At one point I was standing around the show talking to my friends Adam and Trevor and I felt like I was going to have a puke burp. I am a long-winded storyteller and so I put my index finger up to my mouth to gesture "one second" so they wouldn't stop paying attention to me while I burped up some puke and then swallowed it and then kept talking. But instead of having a puke burp I had a whole crazy puke! It was fucking so much puke, too. And it came out at this really high velocity and filled my cheeks and then burst out of my mouth. My finger split the stream and so it hit both Adam and Trevor in the chest. I have a really clear memory of finishing puking into a urinal. And some whack straight edge dude telling me I was lucky I looked so pathetic right now with my mohawk all crumpled up in the urinal water, because it was the only thing that saved me from him kicking my ass.


Less Than Jake, Plow United, Howitzer, approximately 1 million other bands - 7 Willow St, Port Chester NY 1997
It was some time around Thanksgiving. I fought like hell with my dad to get him to drop me off around the corner from this show, because I knew there would be a line outside the club and I didn’t want other kids to see that I had parents. I think I was wearing my new Toy Dolls t-shirt I got on St Marks Pl that I used to wear all the time. I didn’t bring a jacket because I knew it would be hot in there, and this was before smoking bans in NY so there was literally no good reason to go outside once the show had started. Also this was before I got a leather Ramones jacket which I would have warn regardless of the temperature. As we pulled around the corner in front of the club, my father and I both noticed a huge line outside. I was chagrined at the notion of all of these people seeing me get out of his car, he was bothered by something else. He was like, “why don’t you let me wait in line and get your ticket for you? It’s cold.” And I was like, “you don’t know anything, there’s not a ticket they just stamp your hand.” And he was like, “well then borrow my jacket,” which was one of those weird smooth leather jackets like Ross from Friends and I was all, “ewww no I hate you leave me alone.” And got out of the car. Like fifteen minutes later I was halfway through the line, which was like the one at the movie theater where it snakes back and forth, cordoned off with velvet ropes, so like, a million people can get crammed into a dense yet organized square, and I noticed this jostling towards the back of it, but didn’t pay any mind. The commotion seemed to be moving towards me but I didn’t really care and then all of a sudden there was my dad, standing in front of me, holding out a sweater he had taken from the trunk of his car. “Here just take this, I don’t care if you lose it. It’s so cold out here this is ridiculous.” I pretended I didn’t know him, spoke through gritted teeth. “UGH! I hate you. I don’t need a sweater. Go AWAY!” And then he looked at me, and said, “alright, see ya later, champ,” and he gave me one of those little playful slo-mo punches in the chin like a coach gives a basketball player. And I was fucking livid. That was the only time in recorded history that he ever called me “champ” and the only time he ever did one of those stupid chin punches. The whole show was ruined because between all the bands, when all the different groups of kids would stand around in circles and hang out and smoke cigarettes and joke around, any time any of those little circular cells of my peers would erupt into laughter, I’d just imagine all the kids giving mock chin punches and sarcastically calling each other “champ” and pointing back at me and laughing.


Furious George, The Artless, Boris The Sprinkler - Coney Island High, NY, NY 1997
This show was advertised as being an MRR columnist-themed show. I don't remember the bands much. I liked Furious George a lot and I still think some of their songs are really brilliant in terms of mindless bubblegum punk. Mykel Board asked me how much heroin it would take to get me in bed and I told him none and he said “great let's bone” and I was like, "naw, I don't do heroin and also I don't want to sleep with you because you are old." He was wearing a really big Michael Jackson Bad Tour t shirt and black jeans. I’m pretty sure I was taller than him. The conversation was weird but I never felt pressured and it never felt creepy, if that makes sense. George Tabb was cool to me because I was a young zine guy and also because he had a crush on my Aunt, I think, or his bass player Evan did. I didn't talk to Rev Norb but shortly after this show I learned that one of the b-sides to one of the Boris the Sprinkler 7"s was creepily written about sexually assaulting someone I was penpals with and I started to critically re-examine his body of work, which had previously appealed to me because he talks about being a dork and that resonated with me, and I realized that he was a scary insidious creep who hated women.


25 Ta Life Matinee - Coney Island High, NY, NY 1998
I know this show happened in the summer of 1998 because I went to Kim's and bought the Black Star record right before the show because it had just come out that day or that week and I was so fucking excited. Rick Ta Life had his whole face bandaged up and looked really scary. I think during one of the opening bands I jumped in the pit and earnestly tried doing some kung fu moves even though I was a little scrawndog. All the other dudes there looked like the Bushwackers from WWF. While 25 Ta Life was playing, me and my friend Sandy started smoking a joint at the back of the club and the bouncer freaked and threw us out. He said we were lucky we were just getting booted from the club and not getting our asses kicked by the throngs of terrifying edge dudes bro-moshing like one hundred feet away from us in an unventilated room. I think we went and got a 40 and drank it in Tompkins Square Park after that.


The Casualties, The Krays, LES Stitches - Tramps, NY, NY 1998
I took some codeine pills and drank a 22 of Ballentine and then slept under a table through this entire show.


LES Stitches, Blanks 77 - The Continental, NY, NY 1998
This show was on the first night of Channukah. I gave Mike Blanks a Poison's Greatest Hits tape I stole from Sam Goody that afternoon as a Channukah present. He thanked me and told me I should come to Jersey in the spring when he has a pool party in his mom's backyard, but then I never heard from him again. Me and Joaquin snuck in whiskey and drank in the bathroom. We also shoulder tapped grown ups to buy us beer from the bar, which everyone was willing to do. All the members from Blanks 77 and LES Stitches got in like, a rockette line arm in arm and sang the 12 Days of Christmas a cappella but changed the words to be about booze and drugs. I just remember all of them saying "...and a vodkaaaaa craaanberryyyyyy" alot. I thought it was really really cool at the time, but in retrospect it seems so corny.


US Bombs, other bands - The Continental, NY, NY 1999
This show was during my week of seeing MTV celebrities everywhere. First me and Joaquin pushed over Jesse Camp on St Marks place for being a poser. It was probably one of the shittiest and meanest things I've ever done and I think about it sometimes and feel bad, but we were fifteen. Then I was on the subway with my friend Milo and I was like, "dude, that's John Norris" and he went over and karate chopped him and came back and was like, "doesn't seem so tough to me," and I was like, "no, JOHN Norris, the MTV News guy. The karate guy is CHUCK Norris." Then at this US Bombs show the singer from Smashmouth and Carson Daly were there. All the punks kept trying to elbow Carson Daly in the face whenever he would get anywhere near the pit. I don't know how I feel about that, but whatever, it happened. My friend Andrew said he pantsed the guy from Smashmouth, but I didn't see it happen because I was outside with my friend Trevor and these two kids we met standing in the foyer of St Mark's Books smoking a blunt and freestyle rapping, which is something I did a lot back then.


Turbo ACs - The Continental - NY, NY 2000
Even though this show was 21+ me and Joaquin and Tom went anyway because Damien the bass player from the Stitches usually worked the door at the Continental and he would let us in even though we were underage as long as we promised not to drink. But Mick from the Stitches was the bartender at the Continental and he would often let us drink anyway. For whatever reason, this night Damien wasn't working the door, Trigger, the owner was. He is this total shithead with a big scar on his face and a hat like Raiden from Mortal Kombat. A few years later my then-girlfriend told me that her best friend Krista's dad had given Trigger that scar in a bar fight at Max's Kansas City in the 70s and that her and Krista had been banned for life from the Continental when Krista's dad came to pick them up from a show when they were really young and Trigger figured out who he was and the two men had some kind of Shitty Man Confrontation right there in the street. ANYWAY, Trigger obviously didn't let us in and we got real mad and were sitting on 7th Street drinking beers when this dude who looked like a Dennis Leary character from an Irish Mafia movie came up to me and pulled a badge out of his shirt and was like, "alright, what's in your hand?" I was all "...um, it's a 40 oz of Olde English, officer." And then he was like, "no, your other hand." And I was like, "uh... a cigarette," because I was smoking a cigarette. He didn't believe me because it was a rollie and so I showed him my package of Drum and he still didn't believe me and so he took it from my hand and he held it under his nose and made a face like he was thinking real hard, then he gave it back to me and walked away. He never even talked to Joaquin or Tom and he never mentioned that we were drinking open containers and he never even asked for ID or anything.


Tons of Shows at ABC No Rio - Just about every Saturday from 1997-2000
I didn't watch any bands at all. Me and Joaquin bought 40s across the street and drank them in the backyard. I thought I looked like such a grown up but looking back at pictures of myself I can't believe those bodega guys ever let me buy any Hurricane. I probably played dice with Win the Skin for cigarettes. Maybe I stole a bottle of liquor from the box of ancient bottles of liquor hidden in my parent's basement that had previously been in my grandparent's basement for many years from when my Grandfather's bar in Brooklyn closed in the late-60s. One time we smoked a dusted blunt and Joaquin had a hallucination about Ike Turner. One time I puked cheese doodles down the sleeve of my leather jacket. One time I came home after drinking almost an entire fifth of vodka and my dad asked me if I was drunk and I slurred “no” and he asked why my breath smelled and I said, "uhhhh, I just ate a buncha New Yawk City hot dogs, pops." As a young adult I made lots of friends who I learned were also at these shows when they were teenagers but we couldn't remember if we had ever really talked to each other partly because we were all so fucked up and mostly because we all just remembered being totally shy and terrified of everyone else except our one or two friends we were there with. I stopped going to No Rio when I was like 18 because I had "grown up" which meant I stopped caring about stuff and started listening to Social Distortion all the time and combing vaseline into my hair and hanging out at the pool hall thinking I was so mature. That was a pretty dark time in my life and I can't really appreciate Social D at all anymore because I blame Mike Ness for almost turning me into a Rockabilly. Ultimately it's okay because I started going again when I was 20. Recently I found a video online of an old band of mine covering the Ramones at No Rio on Joey Ramone Day in 2006. My mom and dad were at that show and I was really disappointed they weren't in the video at all. It was the first time I ever invited them to see a band of mine play.


The Banned - CBGB’s, 2000
I don’t actually remember anything about this show at all but I asked some of my friends from back then about details from the time Joaquin smashed the toilet at CB’s with a sledgehammer. I remembered it as some kind form of justice for some wrong that had happened to me, but apparently he just smashed it because he found a sledgehammer and that toilet was just begging to be smashed. I think I am confusing it with the time I almost got arrested at SUNY Purchase College and Joaquin got mad and smashed the windshield of an unattended cop car with a pickaxe and then kicked over an entire row of police motorcycles, but that was like, in 2002 or 2003. ANYWAY, CBGB’s. The men’s bathroom at CB’s had a row of about five or six urinals along the righthand wall, and then at the back, there was a toilet, with no stall around it, on a small raised platform, probably about six inches high, like a stage. The only time I ever remember seeing anyone shit in it was when APR Steve dropped one at some show and there was a crowd of spectators who erupted into applause when he got up because no one had ever seen that toilet used for anything besides getting pissed or puked into. The show where Joaquin smashed the toilet had been put together by some friends of ours in the band The Banned and they were hella bummed that the toilet got smashed on a night where they felt more or less responsible for the well-being of the club. Apparently they knew Joaquin had did it and while they were playing, Brian, their bassist, who was older than all of us, like probably 24 or 25 when we were 17, got on the microphone and was like, “so, I just wanted to say that some ASSHOLE smashed the toilet in the club for NO GOOD REASON. Shitty behavior like that makes places like this that are willing to let us have shows think twice about booking our bands again and it is a DICKHEAD MOVE.” Then he paused for a few seconds and said, “Joaquin, why don’t you get up here and sing this next one with us?” I think he was trying to do some Ian McKaye “ice cream eating motherfucker” older punk Uncle thing but Joaquin was so drunk he was just pumped to go sing a song and had probably forgotten about smashing anything by then anyway. I don’t remember any of this, though it was recently recounted to me. What I do remember vividly is walking down the stairs and seeing Joaquin, alone, standing on that riser, raising a sledgehammer over his head like Thor the Great God of Thunder and then just slamming it down on the toilet and the whole thing shattering and water going everywhere, which was pretty cool and definitely worth a semi-stern talking to from some older guy. And also, whatever fuck CBGBs, right?


Social Distortion or maybe Mike Ness solo? - Irving Plaza, 2001
This show was right after 9/11. It was sold out but my Uncle Scott was friends with the sound guy and got me on the list. I was really excited but when I got there the show was cancelled because Mike Ness had a sore throat. I had spent a while gussying myself up to look cool. I was wearing Chuck Taylors and my crisp dark blue Levis and this awesome plaid shirt I lost many years later at a weird New Age birthday party in Providence and my leather jacket and my hair was looking just right. I was standing around outside smoking and thinking about how cool I looked and all of a sudden looked around and realized that everyone else standing around looking cool and feeling disappointed that the show was cancelled looked JUST LIKE ME. Except they were all like, 40 and their pompadour hairstyles were augmented by receding hairlines. I felt an acute sense of embarrassment that I had spent so much time cultivating my rough and tumble rebel aesthetic only to look like a Rocker Dad and that was one of the final straws in me deciding to be really punk again.

Thoughts about internalized white racism with a passing mention of pizza.


Sophomore year of high school I was two years advanced in math, so my class was comprised of like, one other sophomore, a handful of juniors, and then mostly seniors. In New York at the time they had these standardized tests called Regents Exams, that you had to pass in order to graduate with a Regents Diploma. I don't know if this was true, but the pervasive atmosphere was that if you didn’t get a Regents Diploma you might as well not graduate, the other diploma was thought to be essentially worthless.

There was this older Puerto Rican girl who sat behind me who I didn’t know that well but we had smoked weed a couple times together at lunch. She knew I was really good at math and just straight up asked me if she could cheat off me on the Regents because she wanted to get that Regents diploma. I couldn’t see a single, substantial issue with letting that happen, so I did it. She cheated off me and she passed her regents and she was really happy and I felt good I had helped her graduate.

In return, she invited me to her birthday party. That weekend, me and my best friend Juan showed up at her mom’s apartment not knowing what to expect. We walked in and there were her and these two guys we had seen around school but didn’t know, a couple pizza boxes, and so much weed smoke. Me and Juan were definitely PUNKS, and these guys were like, rap dudes or whatever. Is there a succinct noun for that? Like, they wore white, ribbed, tank top undershirts and baggy Mecca jeans and had cornrows and those beaded Puerto Rican flag necklaces that everyone used to wear back then. I knew black kids, Mexican kids, white kids, Jewish kids, Indian kids, but I didn’t really know any Puerto Rican kids, or know much about Puerto Rican culture beyond Big Pun yelling “BORICUA” and that the US was bombing Vieques for Airforce drills thanks to a Crudos interview in MRR.

Anyway, these two dudes were definitely the sort of blustery, hyper-masculine teenage boys with stringy muscles who strut around and make noise at school and act hella tough. I did that too when I was on St Marks place or in a pack of teen drinkers outside No Rio, but in school I was meek and passive where they were loud and confident. My masculinity was constantly embattled whereas their’s seemed self-assured and confident. I went to a big high school, but I remembered both of these dudes from seeing them around the hallways because they were cool looking guys who, though they dressed differently from me, nailed whatever aesthetic they were going for so perfectly that it was almost impossible for a fashion conscious person like myself not to notice. But the point of all this, honestly, is just that they were basically just two pretty normal teenage boys.

Anyway, we smoked a ton of weed, ate all the pizzas, which were slightly undercooked and doughy, but had a delicately flavored sauce and the perfect amount of cheese—objectively flawed but ideal for a "blunt to the dome" kinda night. There was a little stilted awkwardness when we first got there because we were practical strangers walking in on three best friends, but that eased off as we all got so blazed and soon everyone was having a good time.

They were watching Dirty Dancing when we walked in. I expected these two, tough masculine (non-white!) guys to be making fun of it a lot more than they did. In fact, one of the dudes (I’m sorry I don’t remember any of these people’s names, but this was like, fifteen years ago and I have smoked a lot more weed since then) mouthed almost every line. I don’t think it’s crazy to find it novel that a hyper-masculine guy has memorized all of Dirty Dancing, but I also don’t think I would’ve been as shocked had this been one of the affluent Italian boys who drove Escalades their dads bought them and pretended to be gang bangers.

Because for me, even though my best best friend was Mexican, my “crew,” while majority white, was incredibly diverse (thank you New York), I still saw many people of color as two-dimensional archetypes, rather than fully fleshed out human beings. They were characters from New York Undercover or from a Mobb Deep track or a fucking Ralph Ellison novel, even, but they were not people. The fact that this tough, masculine dude knew all the lines from Dirty Dancing, even shed a few tears at the end, is certainly notable, don’t get me wrong. The shock of walking into this rugged, kinda thugged-out girl’s birthday party and seeing just three friends hanging out, eating pizza and watching a movie might be legit too. (What was I expecting, though, the Gin and Juice video?) But in my retelling of this night—which WAS a cute night where people from different backgrounds had fun and smoked weed and ate pizza and watched Dirty Dancing—I found myself emphasizing that these PUERTO RICAN GUYS were watching DIRTY DANCING and one of them EVEN MEMORIZED SOME LINES?! And I found myself telling it mostly to other white people, white people who had much more homogenously white upbringings than I did. And it was this thing that I did and it sucked.

Like, why did it gotta be crazy to me that a Puerto Rican guy could like a really good movie? I guess because I saw Dirty Dancing as a "white people thing." But then like, when my punk friends who weren't white liked "white people stuff" I wasn't shocked because they were punks and also because I saw them as fully-formed, complicated people who had a plethora of interests that might seem out of the ordinary to some small-minded square, but not to me. And like, the fact that I was way into rap music and like, reading Black Feminists didn't seem suspect or weird because like, I am a fucking extraordinarily sensitive and intelligent individual and I'm just trying to make sense of the world, right? BUT THESE TWO PUERTO RICAN DUDES LIKE DIRTY DANCING?!!? 

And as the years went on and I'd find myself telling this story, the narrative began to change, as narratives often do. Suddenly these kids were Latin Kings. They were drug dealers. They were stick up kids. And here I am bumbling white punk, gaining access to their sensitive side or whatever. And like, I knew actual gang members in high school, which made it easier for me to fill in realistic details. I was friends with some folks who were in that world. But the thing is, I didn’t actually know if these two guys were in a gang. They just "looked like they could be," whatever that means. (We know what that means.) And it made the story better, right? So why not exaggerate. Hyperbole never killed anyone.

Except that kind of hyperbole just did kill someone. You get what I’m saying?

I’m saying the kind of logic that makes it seem like benign hyperbole to change these two normal teenage boys into gang members in a story that I’ve told in order to improve the dramatic tension or whatever is actually the same pernicious misconception that allowed an adult man to turn a teenager buying a bag of skittles into a menacing bad guy who needed to get dealt with. It allowed six adult women to let that adult man walk free. I made the same fundamentally racist logical leap as those people, the consequences just weren't as bad when I did it.

And I like to think that I’m one of the good white people! It feels good to think that. But check this out, this is next bit is important: I am still racist. And other white folks, y’all are still racist too. And creating this “us” and “them” mentality where “us” is non-racist regular white people who don’t judge anyone based on skin color (although maybe we are pragmatic about certain issues, or maybe we do a certain voice when we imitate certain brown people to other white people, or maybe we change normal teenagers into gang members when we tell a story) and “them” is the racists, (who are like, people who live elsewhere or maybe your shitty libertarian Uncle, but it’s never you or anyone you’re actually close to)… creating that mentality helps to further entrench your racism, it helps to obfuscate your own racism so that you never have to deal with it. AND THAT IS FUCKED UP, OTHER WHITE PEOPLE! Cut it out!

So instead of doing that, try just dealing with it! Be critical of why you think certain stuff, why you find certain things funny, why you draw certain conclusions. Accept the criticism of other people in your life without getting defensive. If the goal is to not be racist anymore, actually work on that goal instead of just pretending that the racist shit you do or think or feel is okay. It isn’t that hard.

Also realize that no matter how completely you wipe out racism within yourself, you are still complicit in a white supremacist culture and unless you are working actively to dismantle and destroy it you're still part of the problem. ;)

I should've posted this letter from Jeffrey Lewis a long time ago.

This letter I got from Jeff Lewis is the best email I've ever received and was the entire letters section of the final issue of Slice Harvester Quarterly. Seriously, it is so good, and it was really exciting to get a fan letter from him because I am a big fan of his and have been for years!

Okay, 

Well I'm slowly savoring Slice Harvester zine # 6, because that's the East Village issue and that's the not only the neighborhood I grew up in but is now the neighborhood I once again inhabit, so I was really looking forward to reading this issue, essentially saving it for special occasions and only reading a few reviews from it every day or two.  So I'm not even done with the issue, but there's a few  things I must comment on, at length (sorry).  Not complaints, just long-winded commentary!
 

1) Iggy's, on 1st Ave between 12th and 13th.  This place IS my childhood pizzeria, although it has gone thru many changes since those days 3 decades years ago.  It used to be Rosemary's, and in my mind is still Rosemary's - According to my own family legend, Rosemary (I assumed that was her name) and the rest of the people who worked there used to call me "The Calzone Kid" or even "The Calzone Baby" because I was such a fan of their ham & cheese calzones, even at a very young age.  This was also the very first place I ever saw a video game.  It was Pac Man, and I was very compelled by it because the arcade shell/frame/whatever you call it had images on it of the bad guy robots from The Black Hole, which had nothing to do with the disappointly dinky content of the game... they also had a "Breakout" arcade game there for some time in the early 80s (that was the precursor to Arkanoid) and at some points a pinball machine, and I think this was the pinball machine that involved the devil and literally gave me nightmares as a kid because it had a built-in "devil" voice that would say scary things like "I got you!"  All through the years, into my young adulthood, even when the place was in it's "Five Roses" name phase, this remained the ONLY place I would ever eat a calzone, especially after a couple of horrible calzone experiences elsewhere.  The calzones at Rosemary's/Five Roses were so superior to all other calzones, it was like a whole different food.  Holy cow, they were absolutely amazing.  Now that this place is called Iggy's, there is part of me that is absolutely overjoyed it still exists at all as a pizza shop and has not turned into a Starbucks (yet), but the fact that Iggy's does not make calzones is a personal tragedy to me.  Those calzones I guess are gone forever.  However, Iggy's currently has the best eggplant slice in the neighborhood by far, in my opinion.   I was glad you gave them a 7-slice pizza rating, just for old times sake, in fact I think this may be your highest-rated pizza slice for the entire East Village, nice for me to see that my old childhood pizzeria is holding up so well against all newcomers.

2) Concerning "Famous Joe's" pizza at 7 Carmine St (Bleecker & Ave of the Americas) - this is a tricky one.  I could be remembering things wrong, but I think this is an IMPOSTER place.  Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong.  There WAS a "Joe's" pizza on the CORNER of Bleecker St., just a few storefronts down, and in days of yore it really was an excellent, top notch NYC street slice pizza joint, it was like the Slice Harvester ideal, and I always held it in very high regard.  At some point, perhaps within the past ten years, a competitor opened up just a few storefronts away, calling itself "Famous Joe's" and capitalizing on the well-deserved respect of the real Joe's, suckering in people who had heard that they should be looking for a great pizzeria on the block called Joe's - but this "Famous Joe's" was an imposter, and not as good as the real place on the corner.  Now, the original place on the corner has closed, replaced by some absolute nightmare yuppie desert-snack boutique or some such gentrification, and all that remains of Joe's is this imposter place "Famous Joe's" which is NOT in fact the actually famous one.  This "Famous Joe's" still probably serves the best slice of pizza for a few blocks around, but it is not to my mind a really exceptional slice, and definitely not as good as the original Joe's.  Am I having a paranoid fantasy?  
ALSO - anytime I'm on that corner, I can't resist walking into Bleecker Street Records JUST TO SEE THE CAT.  They have two cats, both grey, one of which is the fattest cat you have ever seen in your life, and the other one is even TWICE THE SIZE OF THE FIRST ONE.  So even if you walk in and only see the lesser cat, you'd still say "that's a huge fat cat, I'm glad I came in and saw him," but if you were lucky enough to see the bigger one you'd be taken aback at the size of that fat fuck.  It's a tourist attraction that I ALWAYS take visiting friends to see if they are in NYC. 

3) 2 Bros Pizza on St. Mark's Place - I'm really glad that we're on the same page with this one, I am a big fan of this $1 slice although I know you are often against the $1 slice phenomenon, this place has a really good slice for a buck and I was worried you were not going to see it that way when you finally arrived there.  I actually eat more of this $1 slice than any other pizza nowadays - I get at least one of these slices EVERY time I walk up St. Mark's Place - you can't afford NOT to!  BUT your review left out an important factor - there are actually TWO 2 Bros Pizza places here on St Mark's Place, and they are easy to confuse with each other because they are right next door to each other.  It's very strange, I know, but it's an important distinction.  They have different storefronts, different interiors, different employees, and most importantly different ovens - it is literally two different places, and should be judged separately.  In my experience, the one which is further west is way better than the other one.  You wouldn't think this could be the case, but it is.  Every time I recommend that people eat the $1 slice on St. Mark's Place I have to be very careful to specify they only eat from the 2 Bros which is two steps further west.  You need to go back and review which ever one it was that you missed, and specify which is which.

That's all for now!  keep up the great work!
Jeffrey

 Isn't that wonderfully thorough? Jeff is on tour in Europe right now or I would post about upcoming shows or something. If you ever get a chance to see him play, do it! The dude is a genius and a gem.

Some New York Moments.

Hey y'all. Sorry I been MIA from the blog, but I didn't really have anything substantial to say, so I figured why say anything? I am still pretty active on my facebook and twitter if you can't get enough of me in your life, but really, who needs overkill?

Part of why I've been so absent is that I'm writing a book! I don't know why I never announced that publicly. Maybe I did and I just can't remember because I haven't updated in so long. Regardless, I'd like to keep this blog alive, so I think I'm gonna try and write at least one decent update a month! Not necessarily about pizza, but hopefully a little about pizza. This month will be the former.

Part of why I'm posting is that I was in the Wall Street Journal yesterday! I always like being in that paper because my dad hates it. Even though I pretty much agree with all of his criticisms, it will always be cool to piss off your dad. Take that old man! (jk dude ily).

They called me for an article about "the disappearance of the pizzeria" or something. The thesis of the article is that the traditional pizza place is being supplanted by dollar slice joints. I told the really nice reporter who called me for a quote that this phenomenon was only happening in the shittier parts of Manhattan that are already basically barren cultural wastelands and that actual neighborhoods still have neighborhood pizzerias! Big up Pizza Palace, big up Carmine's Original, big up New Park Pizza.

Speaking of Manhattan turning into total garbage, I was coming over the Williamsburg Bridge onto Delancey the other night and noticed that new 7-11 lit up on the corner of Stanton, with the AT&T store lit up right next to it, and I for real almost started crying because Delancey Street was never the coolest place on Earth or anything, but it didn't have weird mall stores on it and New York in general wasn't so willing to cater to corporate presence. Like, that 7-11 used to be a bodega that was basically the same as a 7-11, except it was unique and not a replica of a million places identical places all over the world. It was a generic bodega, but it was our generic bodega. I'm sure the AT&T store used to be one of those sketchy cellphone/beeper places too, and it is like, possibly more useful as an AT&T store but FUCK THAT anyway. RIP my youth. He was so young.

And now I'm just gonna post an edited version of an email I wrote a friend in LA. He doesn't look at the internet anyway, so there's no reason to worry about him finding out I was workshopping material for my blog in my letter to him! This is one of the many incidental plus sides to old punks hating the internet.
Aaron-

I have two (maybe it's actually two and a half) wonderful New York moments for you:

Tina's lease is about to be up, but she's been working like 500 hours a day at ______ and doesn't have time to look at apartments. Yesterday, I took a tiny bit of time out of my day to see a couple of places for her that were walking distance from my house. The first was on _____ and _____ in this wonderful-looking old tenement building. I was supposed to meet the broker at 1:15, but walked over a little early to just check out the block and feel the ~vibes~ or whatever. When I got to the building there were two tattooed white women (not punx) outside smoking and I was like, "hey do you guys live here?"
And the one of them was like, "We're trying to."
"You're waiting for the broker to see the apartment, too? The $1800 two bedroom?"
"Yep."

Okay so these people were now potential enemy combatants or whatever, but I was cordial. They were complaining to each other a bunch very vocally about the broker being a few minutes late, which didn't seem like such a big deal to me. They seemed like generally sour people.

The broker finally showed up and unlocked the door to the building. Right after he walked in, this older abuela was coming out of the building with a rickety laundry cart full of clothes and detergent bottles. One of the wheels was wobbly and she was having a really hard time getting it out the door and down the stoop. The two women who were at the apartment when I got there pushed past her to follow the broker. I slowed down all "esta bien?" and helped her get the cart down the damn stairs and then walked a little faster to catch up to the broker and the two ladies. The one lady turned to me as we were heading up the stairs and was like, "you're not from New York are you?" and I was like, "No, YOU'RE not from New York."
In all previous tellings of this story I've just let it end at my snappy comeback, because it makes for good narrative, but here's the truth: she was from Long Island, which is about as "from New York" as I am! I sure felt stupid. I think even if it had "worked" and she had been from like, Delaware or something, I would've felt like a jerk for making her feel bad, even if she was a clearly not a nice person. But then again, I overthink and overanalyze everything. Why'd I have to go and make things so complicated?

The apartment was a bust, by the way. Too small.

Fast forward a few hours, I have spent some time writing, made some food, had a coffee with Caroline in a park, etc. I had an 8pm appointment to see another possible place, this one on _____ and _____. I biked over there and met the Chassidic broker, who walked me over to a dilapidated building where there were a bunch of older Boricua dudes building a basketball hoop, laughing and joking with each other really loud. We navigated through this fun, boisterous assemblage and into the building, where he showed me an apartment that I think may have had punks living in it. I saw an H2O record and a Latterman poster. May have spotted a back patch. As we were leaving the Chassid dude sniffed in the hallway and turned to me, "is this drugs I smell?"
I hadn't noticed it, but it smelled like weed. I didn't wanna blow up anyone's spot, so I just shrugged my shoulders, looked confused and said, "maybe it's a cigar?"

I headed home, thought about leaving my bike outside, but it was cloudy so I decided to take it upstairs. I leaned it up against the laundromat and sat on the stoop to smoke and call Tina to tell her about the apartment. As I was talking to her, my friend Ronda walked up with her granddaughter Noonie. I got off the phone with Tina and went to the bodega with Ronda, bought Noonie an ice cream sandwich, and walked them home. I walked back to my apartment, went upstairs, wrote some more, fucked around on the internet, ate a brownie, pet my cats. At like, 1am I was sitting at my table smoking a cigarette and watching youtube videos of this guy Eddie Pepitone doing standup (he is very funny, by the way), when I thought to myself, "where is my bi... OH SHIT." And I knew it was gone, and I ran downstairs to just see that it was gone and hate myself for being an idiot.

I put my shoes on and ran down my steps and sure enough, there was no bike there for me. I stood for a minute in the foyer processing my grief, wondering if I could ask Cory to give me back the bike I had given him two years ago because I now didn't have a bike, when my neighbor's kid came in walking his dad's pitbull. He is like, 18 or 19 and one of those super cute fixed gear emo teens. He has like, big cursive words tattoos all over his forearms and a lip ring and rides a track bike that really matches itself and his sneakers and the plugs in his ears. I gave him our regular nod, asked how he was doing.
"I just came from the hospital. My girl had a baby today! I have a daughter!"
I told him mazel tov, or whatever, the usual platitudes, though they were genuine! I am psyched for this kid. 
We were walking up the stairs and he was like, "oh yeah, do you still have that same pink bike?" I shook my head yes. "Cuz before I went to the hospital I saw a couple of crack heads looking at it so I brought it upstairs. You should probably lock it up next time. Can you come get it out of my living room?"

Anyway, things are good here. Hope they're good there!

love, Colin
That's that! The moral is twofold. First, don't bother trying to "put people in their place." It's stupid and you'll probably end up feeling like a dick. Second, be friendly to your neighbors! It feels really good, and also they will be friendly back to you. Unless Phil Chapman is your neighbor, then you should trip him on the stairs.

Slice Harvester in the ART WORLD?! + New Fanzine next week!


WAAAADDUUUUUUP?!

Hey guys. There are some Slice Harvester related events coming up starting next week and running well into September that all New Yorkers should check out or be doomed to an Eternity of Poserdom.

First and foremost, BABYHARVESTER! This is my long-in-the-works collaboration with the Baby Castles dudes, finally coming to fruition. Basically, we are installing a pizzeria, which I think is called DUKE REUBEN'S PIZZA KINGDOM, into on of the exhibition spaces at Clocktower Gallery and it is gonna be BANANAS. There will be pizza (kindly provided by Pizza Suprema), video games, art by Yusuke Okada, a bunch of total weirdos, and I will be debuting the new (and FINAL?!) issue of Slice Harvester Quarterly!!!!



We will be having a soft opening on November 28th, a REAL OPENING on December 4th, and another event on December 11th. If you want to go to any of these, emaievents@artonair.org to RSVP as space is limited since the gallery is housed in a federal building. We have pretty much infinite capacity on the 28th, gotta cap it at 120 people on the 4th which is basically infinite, and then the 11th we can probably only invite the first 30 or 40 people to RSVP. What that means is twofold: 1. RSVP ASAP! 2. If the night you wanna go to gets full (I doubt it will), you can always go a different night.

These particular nights are the times when the pizzeria will OPEN and serving pizza and also the times when zines will be for sale in the space. Otherwise, you can just go look at how weird it is any weekday from 12-5pm when Clocktower is open. We just won't be there to weird you out.

It behooves me to mention that this installation would not have been possible without the generous support of the Warhol Foundation and Build It Green NYC. Seriously, thanks guys!

In other news, visual artist Maggie Lee, an old acquaintance of mine from the zine fests of yesteryear, has decided to include issue #1 of SHQ in her installation at the New Museum for She's Crafty. She also included an embarrassing old zine that I made almost 10 years ago. I won't say what it's called but I'm sure if you go you can find it if you look hard enough! It's only up this Friday-Sunday, so make sure you get there and learn about my shameful past.

And finally in ART NEWS, favorite friend to Slice Harvester CAROLINE PAQUITA has a new calendar out from her printhouse PEGACORN PRESS. It is really beautiful and each one is handmade and everyone should have one or else. Buy them for everyone you know and they will like you better than they did before you gave them an awesome gift.

Did I mention my zine? I guess only in passing. Well, Slice Harvester Quarterly #7 is off the presses, riddled with typos as usual. Most notably, the masthead on the first page says it's issue #6. OOPS! Anyway, they will be available for sale on the 28th and the 4th at Clocktower, and then in the usual places after that. It'll probably take me a month before I update the merch page to include them, but ce la vie!

OKAY BYE SEE YOU NEXT WEDNESDAY.

7. Must Yearn

My dad's best friend Eddie died last week. He fell off his bicycle and hit his head. It happened out of nowhere. He was pretty much my dad's last old friend. Tonse, his best friend from High School, whose real name was Anthony, died in 2009. His kid brother, my uncle Scott, died in 2006. My dad's only 60. He should still have a lot of living friends and I am really sad for him that the people he loves keep dying so young.

For years anytime he does something sweet or especially funny, he'll jokingly chide my sister or me, "make sure that goes in the eulogy." It's dark comedy, and it's definitely funny in a very New York way. Let's defang the things we're scared of by embracing them and laughing at them. But with all the death that seems to be hovering around him, something's different. I can't tell if the joke has become more urgent or less funny. Maybe both.

I had last seen Eddie at the shiva call for my Grandfather this summer. I didn't talk to him much, but I was happy to see him smiling and looking well, and I was touched that he had come out to see my father, having assumed they had lost touch, just because hadn't seen Eddie in years. Chalk it up to the myopic selfishness of youth, I guess. But at Eddie's memorial service, my sister reminded me that Eddie and my dad used to talk on the phone for hours when we were teenagers. And they used to IM together! Think about that, my dad IMing with someone. I guess I just didn't understand until recently that sometimes you reach a point in your life where you prioritize stuff besides hanging out. It makes the hanging out better because it's a more precious commodity.

At the memorial my dad gave this beautiful speech. We joke sometimes, in my family, that if we were back in the old Jewish Europe of Shalom Aleichem, he could've eked out a meager living as an itinerant eulogist. The guy is not the most eloquent in his day to day. Not that he's especially inarticulate, but he's known to make up or misuse words with some frequency. But put him in front of a casket, and this motherfucker can SPEAK.

During his eulogy for Eddie, who he had met in college, he rattled off this stream of consciousness list of things his friend had introduced him to.

...drinking beer, Dylan Thomas, the White Horse Tavern, riding a bicycle, running, The New Yorker, The history of New York, the love of THINGS, Tacos, Taj Mahal, Sonny Rollins..

I paraphrased that. I don't remember exactly what he said. But listening to it I couldn't stop thinking about my friend Jamie Ewing. It would've been hard not to, anyway. I was wearing his old shoes to the funeral.

Today is the four year anniversary of Jamie’s death. He died the night Barack Obama was elected, and I’m still mad at him for it. The nerve of that kid. And in the four years since we lost Jamie, I've lost a handful of other friends and acquaintances. Flipping through my box of 7"es is like walking through a graveyard where only people I know are buried. To my friends and my friends' friends: PLEASE stop dying.

The week before Jamie died, I had been listening to his old band's record Stray Dog Town almost every night as I closed the diner. Every night I would close up the place and think about calling him to let him know how much I loved that fucking record, how brilliant I thought he was, see if he wanted to get a beer. And every night that week I went to the bar and started drinking a decided to call Jamie tomorrow. And every tomorrow was the same.

And I regret that, obviously. But instead of fixating on what a dipshit I am or whatever, I make up for it. Every year, just after midnight on November 5th, I call or text a few people I care about who I know may also be feeling that same sense of loss. I do it just as much for myself as I do it for them, maybe moreso.

This is how I ended up texting with Aaron until 1:30 in the morning last night. Among other things, I told him that most of my motivation to Do Stuff is to assuage this lingering sense of guilt I feel for still being alive. After Jamie died I pretty much lost it for a little while, and I think I've almost finished picking up the pieces and reassembling myself.

But everything I've done since I woke up the morning of November 5th, 2008, way earlier than I was accustomed, to a phone call from Kevin Morby, crying at the hospital, has been informed by Jamie's life and Jamie's death.

I always felt slightly competitive with Jamie, though I don't know if he felt it too. It was amicable! But every time he would seek me out to make sure I got a copy of some awesome new record he had put out, or show me a drawing he had made, in my head I'd be saying, "so you think you're better than me, huh?" And it would drive me to try and finally get a zine out, or to try and push whatever shitty band I was in to record or play a show or write a new song.

And now, that he's gone, everything I do is to try and measure up to how much awesome shit I think he would've been doing by now. It's so that if he were to drop into the diner to give me a tape or show up at my house with a 7", I'd have something cool to give him in return.

So thanks for that, Jimbo. I still miss you every day.

Some thoughts on sub/counter-culture and its absorption by and place within the capitalist death machine.

Hi guys! Slice Harvester here. Long time no see. I've got a lot of stuff in the works, but I'll mention that in future posts. Right now I want to talk about the capitalist vampires that are sucking our world dry!

The other day I was over at my girlfriend's house when the Verizon guy, a kind older dude, was over fixing the internet. We were making smalltalk with him, and by way of conversation, Tina asked how he thought the strike had gone. He said he was disappointed that his fellow workers hadn't held out longer, because he felt like the concessions made by Verizon were minimal and that the strike had been for nothing. We offered our condolences, but he was resigned. "We had to go on strike just to stop them from rolling back the advances the last strikers made. There's never any progress anymore, we're just fighting off this seemingly endless worsening of everything. It seems like everyone's too tired to actually fight for anything anymore. When I was young, we had so much to fight for, so much we believed in. Four years ago, there were people your age everywhere going door to door for Obama. He may not be the answer to all of our problems, but I saw that and I thought to myself, 'at least these kids are out in the street DOING SOMETHING.' This year, no one seems to care. Everyone seems willing to just take whatever is handed to them. No one is willing to fight. What do you believe in? What are you willing to fight for? "

I explained that there was plenty I was willing to fight for, but that I was maybe an odd case compared to many of my peers. Tina speculated that maybe people have been conditioned to believe that they don't have the power to initiate actual change in the world. And I didn't want to agree, but then I got an email yesterday that forced all my illusions to crash down around me like ill-stacked pizza boxes and I knew that she was right.



The email was from some weird corporate entity called Superfly Presents ("the producers of Bonnaroo"), the people who put together that failed indie-rock and food festival in Prospect Park this summer. Their "manager of content & social media" wanted my input because they are planning on making a zine! How exciting! I love it when people want to make a zine! There should always be more zines!

So, now that we're duly excited at the prospect of there being a new zine in the world (and they want my input? How flattering!) let's see what Superfly Presents have in mind for it:
Handmade. Artful. DIY. These words define the spirit that a zine can convey. While the value of a memorable concert or meal lies in a tangible experience, translating that experience into media is often difficult. Utilizing the grittier, mixed-media format of a zine, GoogaMooga will present the many crossover points shared by food and music.

The zine will define a clear GoogaMooga editorial voice - the consistent thread between festival programming and what exists beyond the physical event. Its “hip”, “edgy” and “punk rock” aesthetic will position GoogaMooga as a trusted tastemaker, building a deeper relationship with its target audience. While humor and a celebratory tone will be used throughout, the zine will also present the brand as having in-depth knowledge of its subject matter.
Oh cool!! Thanks guys! Here's the thing about zines: there are very few rules, but one of them is that they have to be made by actual humans. A brand can't make a zine! While a zine might by hip, edgy or punk rock, a zine is never "hip", "edgy" or "punk rock" ! Zines don't "present crossover points" !!  What is a crossover point anyway? This thing they are making might be a magazine, it might be a brochure or a pamphlet, but it is not a zine and by it's very nature it can't ever be a zine.

So I wrote them back an email and told them all this, reiterating that this thing they are making is not a zine throughout my epistle. And here's the thing: they are going to make this atrocity and call it a zine anyway! And then some people are going to think that this is what a zine is! And then another beautiful thing will be gone from the world. Another thing that used to be the genuine cultural output of True Weirdos and Losers will be diluted and subsumed by the free market and then sold back to us, or given away for free to us as a tool to eventually sell us other stuff. It's really gross and insidious and it makes my head and heart hurt and it makes me wanna puke up my breakfast bagel all over my own lap!

And the thing is, the creation of these fake diversions that actually just help to indoctrinate us further into the Death Machine is an integral part of maintaining the structures of power and keeping people from making anything for themselves. Why make stuff when you can just buy stuff, right? Why create change (and never dare to DEMAND change) when you can just passively absorb everything going on in the world around you?

I have to go to work, but I will flesh this out further if need be. Mostly, we're just repeating tons of stuff everyone already knows: corporations are bad and they try to trick you and don't fall for it! Make stuff for yourself because it's cooler and it feels better to do it like that! Get out of the house! Start a band! Draw a picture! Make a sandwich!

Okay, bye.

48 Hours of Fear. (I'm doing a reading!)

I'll be reading from the last issue of Slice Harvester at this thing my friend Dave is having at his book table this weekend. I wish I wasn't working the weekend and could stay for all of it. Seems fucking wild.

Necessary details are as follows: I will be reading some time between 7-9 pm this Friday on the corner of Bogart and Seigel, right outside the Morgan L. Prior to that, there will be free pizza care of my friends at Pizza Suprema! Afterwards there will be my friend Dave doing a standup act. There is also stuff going on the rest of the weekend and it all seems incredibly cool and I would be attending all of it if I wasn't gonna be working at the diner like a dog.

Click image to enlarge.


Goodnight, Sam. Sleep well.



rain or hail
sam done
the best he kin
till they digged his hole


:sam was a man

stout as a bridge
rugged as a bear
slickern a weazel
how be you

(sun or snow)

gone into what
like all them kings
you read about
and on him sings

a whippoorwill;

heart was big
as the world aint square
with room for the devil
and his angels too

yes,sir

what may be better
or what may be worse
and what may be clover
clover clover

(nobody'll know)

sam was a man
grinned his grin
done his chores
laid him down.

Sleep well

-e e cummings

Burn a candle tonight for Sam Hagendorf, 1923-2012.
Get some rest, big man.

I'll be reading at Death Panel #10!

Colin Atrophy (Cupcake Punk, Slice Harvester)
Jarrod Shannahan (Boston Hardocre, Death Panel Press)
Lexi Lampel (Killed By Death, Maximum Wok n Roll)
Marta Lapczynski (Pop Punk, Fat Heart Distro)
Mike ChickenMan (Street Punk, spoken word)

Hosted by A.M. Gittlitz (Anarchopunk, The New Inquiry)

This month's edition of Death Panel Press will be a celebration of the punk literary tradition, even more so than usual. From the late beat prose of Johnny Thunders and Richard Hell, to the nihilistic poems of Lydia Lunch, Exene Valdez, and Henry Rollins, to the fanzine culture of Cometbus and Doris, punk is as good on paper as vinyl, and that's why we're proud to showcase 5 contemporary punk writers: Zinesters Colin Atrophy and Marta Lapczynski, performance art weirdos Jarrod Shannahan and Mike Chickenman, and essayist Lexi Lampel.

Tuesday, June 12th, 8:00 PM
Cage Gallery, 83 Hester St.
Free, cheap drinks for sale to benefit radical shit (please no BYOB)
 This should be fun. I haven't done a reading in a while and I'm pretty excited!

MORE INTERVIEWS: this time it's ME in MRR!

So! A few months ago my friend Aaron interviewed me for MRR and they published it! This was a real deal realization of many childhood dreams on many levels. For one thing, I grew up reading MRR and always daydreamed about doing something worth being featured in the pages. I kind of lost touch with the magazine for a few years in my 20s, but in the past couple, mostly due to the editorial decisions of the recent coordinators, MRR really speaks to me again and I am doubly proud to be worthy of inclusion in this particular iteration. Anyway, I'll save the mushy gushy talk for later. You can buy the actual issue here. It also features a great interview with my friends Neon Piss. Their drummer Greg Harvester is the guy who's zine this whole website is named after so there's something weirdly appropriate about us both being included in the same issue.

Slice Harvester 
Interview by Aaron Cometbus

You can tell this is the East Coast and not Berkeley because you can have a tape recorder out in a public place without everybody freaking out on you.


COINTELPRO?

Yeah, totally. Let’s start with where we are and who we are.


I’m Colin “the Slice Harvester” Hagendorf. We’re at Ben’s Best Delicatessen, in Rego Park Queens, my favorite delicatessen in all of New York City, eating some knishes and pastrami sandwiches, drinking some coffee, and talking about a zine about pizza.


First of all, where are you from?


I’m from New Rochelle, NY, a suburb of New York City five or ten miles north of the Bronx. Or to quote the semi-famous conscious rap group, Brand Nubian, “straight outta Now Rule.” I grew up in the New York punk scene, I guess. I came to the city every weekend...

Which New York punk scene? 
Oh! The New York street punk scene of the late 90s and the New York peace punk scene of the late 90s. There was a nice juxtaposition of going to see Blanks 77 at Coney Island High on a Saturday night, having just seen Anti-Product at ABC No Rio that afternoon.
I grew up in the suburbs. My parents are both from the boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens. Neither one of them would say they were from New York City because to them, growing up in the outer boroughs in the 60s and 70s, “The City” was just Manhattan. My grandmother was still living in Queens until she passed away a few years ago, which is why we’re at Ben’s Best. My mother and I used to take her out to eat here all the time.
And when did you start doing fanzines? 
When I was fourteen years old, I did a zine called Atrophy Zine. It was like any one of those goofy scene report/”funny article” zines that I think many adolescents in the mid-to-late 90s put together, at least around where I was.

I mostly felt this intense and urgent impulse to contribute something to the scene. I wasn’t quite sure what “the scene” was yet, but I knew that I needed to be part of it, and that it couldn’t be as just a spectator or a consumer. In order to be a valid and viable part of this community that I had found, but didn’t feel a part of, I had to contribute something. I didn’t think I could be in a band for some reason, so I started doing zines.


I talk to friends of mine about their early fanzines, and they’re like, “You still have the first issue of Life Is Trying? I only made thirty copies of that.” The first issue of Atrophy Zine, I made two hundred copies right off the bat and I tried to sell them to people outside of the A&P in New Rochelle. No one wanted them.

You were always a little more ambitious than your peers.


And a little less...

A little less shy.

Yeah. It wasn’t ambition necessarily. I feel like doing the zine at all was the ambition, but once it was done I felt like, “Well now everybody has this obligation to read this thing that I made.”

Is Slice Harvester so different than a magazine of scene reports and funny articles?


No, not really. The thing is, I’m not a very capable record reviewer, I’m not a very capable reviewer of shows, but I tried to do both of those things, because I thought, “this is what goes in a zine.” Eventually I aspired to have some columns. I solicited advertisements from whoever, and I thought that’s what a zine was supposed to be.

But all of the response to the zine... it wasn’t like, “Oh that was a very insightful review you had of the Death Penis 7”...” 
(Laughs)

That was a real 7”! I’ve been looking for it. They had a song called "Smurf Up My Butt." They mailed me three copies. I gave two of them away and lost the third. If anyone wants to mail me a copy I’ll name my next pet after you.

Anyway, people weren’t like, “Oh I really felt like I was sitting in my house listening to Death Penis when I read that stunning review.” All that resonated with people was, “I like how in that Fishbone show review, you didn’t talk about Fishbone for more than a few sentences, but you did talk about your friend Juan smashing the toilet at CBGB's with a sledge hammer because he was mad you got kicked out of the show for drinking.” And that was really what I felt compelled to write about, anyway.


Similarly, I’ve got this pizza project, where I’ve eaten at and reviewed almost every pizzeria on the island of Manhattan, but what’s really resonated with people, what people have really responded to has been, “oh me and my friend Aaron are going to eat this pizza and here’s a little anecdote about him.” Or “here’s a story about my friend Caroline...” That’s what people tend to like, but also what I’ve gotten the most out of writing. More so than, “this pizza tastes like sucking God’s dick” or whatever I say about pizza.


To back it up for a second, explain to the readers what Slice Harvester is, what your mission is, why you took it on and how you possibly came to live to regret that decision.
 
Slice Harvester is this project in which I decided to eat a slice of pizza, initially at every pizza parlor in all five boroughs of New York City, and about halfway through Manhattan, a year and a half into it, I decided I would just end it at Manhattan.

When I was first starting, my friend Milo, my best friend since I was thirteen, said to me, “Well how long do you think it’ll take to eat all this pizza?” and I said, “I dunno, about seven years.” We were double riding a bike down a rainy hill and almost careened into traffic and he screamed, “YOU COULD BECOME A DOCTOR IN THAT AMOUNT OF TIME!!” and I said, “Yeah but I don’t wanna be a doctor, I wanna eat all this pizza.”


Was it always planned to be a fanzine?
 
Absolutely.

Had you stopped doing fanzines for a while? Was it a way of returning to fanzines?
 
That was probably the biggest motivation for doing this project. That I’d have something fun to make a worthwhile zine out of. I first did zines as a very happy-go-lucky and idealistic young guy, and I loved it, and it was so fun, but after a while I started to say, “What’s the point of this? What am I offering people? Why am I spending all this time and energy photocopying my diary, essentially? I don’t even care about this, why should anybody else?”

And I’m not saying people shouldn’t publish fanzines. I think people should photocopy their diary, ad infinitum, forever. I just felt like I needed to up the stakes a little bit. I felt like I had done these kind of formless zines for a long time, and that was no longer compelling to me. So through Slice Harvester I created this more rigid form to fit into so that I could become reinvigorated and interested in the medium and in writing in general.

I don’t know if you’ve figured out after two and a half years what the point of all of this was, if the point is pizza, if the point is New York, trying to uphold the things you love about it, defend the things you feel are under attack, or if you’re trying to capture the spirit of the times...

For me, it’s kind of like a Ethics of Ambiguity thing, that Simone De Beauvoir book where she’s building on the Myth of Sisyphus. There is no point, really. But the fact that I can take this thing that ultimately doesn’t serve any incredibly magnificent purpose and instill it with this meaning that I’ve ascribed to it and say, “this is important to me and I’m gonna do it like it’s important and I’m gonna treat it like it’s important.”


I think I fell into a kind of gross nihilism in my mid-20s where I was like, “Nothing is really that meaningful, the things that I’ve invested all my time and energy in seem to be falling apart around me, people I know seem to be dying in droves, how do I keep getting up in the morning?”


And I had to trick myself for a while and say, “Okay pizza! This pizza project. That’s why I get up in the morning.” Selfishly, what this did for me was, it reminded me why it’s worth it to be alive. And I know that might sound lofty for a fanzine, but it really was this incredibly meaningful thing for me.


It seems like it was meaningful partly because it resonated with other people, that other people found it exciting, so it was not just some self-imposed, obsessive-compulsive plan.


Yeah, you’re right. That was also necessary for me to feel good about the project, that it would be successful in some arbitrary way. But successful in MY arbitrary way. I looked at my analytics and 250,000 people have seen my website. Okay, that’s really cool, but like, Tobi Vail told me she liked my fanzine. That’s the success that I was looking for. The other stuff was kind of incidental. I appreciate it and I don’t want to sound ungrateful that all these people have responded to this thing I’ve done, but that’s not the success I was trying to achieve.
What’s important to me is that I did achieve that kind of success that I was trying for. People I’ve admired since I was a teenager have said to me, “Hey, nice job.”

Plus you have the framed review on the wall at Pizza Suprema.
 
And at Carmine’s Original! I made a list of goals when I was fifteen that was totally ridiculous. I wanted to have my childhood home turned into a historic landmark, I wanted to be on a stamp before I died, I wanted to have a way to cook eggs named after me, and I wanted to have my picture be one of those ubiquitous framed pictures on the wall at pizzerias. Like Giuliani or Steven Seagal. Rudy Giuliani, Steven Seagal, Colin Hagendorf.

The reason bands give for signing to a major label is that they’re somehow going to reach “the everyman,” the other people that aren’t punks. But Slice Harvester, without discussing punk explicitly, you’re using a punk format, punk economics--it’s cheap and looks cool and crappy and friendly--but it also works for other people and they respond to it. Obviously they’re also responding to the blog and the press you get, but I think without that fanzine no one would’ve cared quite the same way. And part of the obsessive fan “we don’t give a fuck” attitude definitely came from what you grew up with. It’s like, an actual successful crossover endeavor, without compromise.

I don’t feel like I’ve compromised at all. At one point Vice magazine expressed interest in syndicating Slice Harvester. And they were gonna pay me. That’s dangling a pretty big carrot in front of my face, but I didn’t have to think too hard to say no. The idea of having what I’m doing underneath this... I don’t care if it had been the New Yorker or Mother Jones or something not vile, I don’t think I would’ve felt comfortable handing over any of the reins of this project.


You were a little cagey when I was trying to hone in on what the point of Slice Harvester might be, so we won’t look at exactly what the point is. But it does seem to me that with the pizzerias, part of it is aesthetics, but part of it is also ethics. You know, with each one you’re talking about the way the pizza tastes, but it seems, particularly with pizzerias, that it’s about the legitimacy, the genuineness of it. And I think that’s why people are so proud if you like their pizza. Bodegas don’t care if they’re “legitimate bodegas.”

Yeah, there’s no need for authenticity with a bodega. I think something that a lot of New York cultures share with punk as a culture is this real intense valorization of authenticity as being incredibly important. One of the places I include in my top five list, whenever I’m asked, is this place Pizza Palace on Dykeman Ave in Inwood. And it’s not anywhere near one of the five best slices of pizza I’ve had, but that pizzeria is the Perfect Pizzeria. The actual space itself, the role it seems to play in the neighborhood. Everything about it is so incredibly ideal. And the thing that pizzerias have in common with fanzines is that the pizzerias that create a successful result are usually the product of one obsessive person.

Did you get any threats from bad reviews?
 
I haven’t yet. Honestly, that’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to do pizza in Brooklyn. There’s two pizza shops in my neighborhood where they would know who I was. One of them, they serve a great slice, but the guy is a creep to women and he’s a racist and I don’t eat pizza there anymore even though it’s the best pizza in my neighborhood because the guy is such a shithead and I don’t want to give him money. He’s also definitely "connected" and a terrifying man. I couldn’t in good conscience write a review of that place and not mention those things, but I also was scared to. The other place right by my house, they serve a terrible slice, and it’s full of cops all the time, and it’s awful, and I was afraid to review that slice badly because it’s down the street from where I live. I was honestly scared I’d get beat up by the mob or the cops.

Which leads to the Brooklyn vs. Manhattan debate. Not that we need to make any overarching judgment, but is pizza more historically a Brooklyn thing?
 
What do I know from historically?

Is it even American? Did you wrestle with how much pizza as we know it is a New York creation?
 
Well, pizza as I know it is entirely a New York creation. They wrote this article about me in the Daily News when I first started, and it got translated into Italian and published in a couple of Italian newspapers. And for a week I got a dozen emails in broken English or in Italian every day, from angry Sicilians and Neapolitans. “How dare you even call this crap in New York pizza? If you wanna know about pizza you should come to Italy where the pizza is real pizza.” A New York slice is distinctly a different food.

It seemed like earlier on in the magazine you were more on your own, then you started to include more friends, family, visiting friends, and touring bands. There started to be a side story or subtext that was about your community, how you knew all these different people. I don’t know if that was just because you were so busy eating pizza, it was the only time you’d ever see your friends, or if it was an excuse to include and showcase them.

From the very beginning Slice Harvester was supposed to be about camaraderie and companionship. The first time I went out eating pizza, I was supposed to meet Sweet Tooth. But Tooth lost his glasses at Rockaway Beach and then there was a fire in the train tunnel, all these awful things happened and he ended up not finding me until the second to last slice. So if at the beginning it seemed solitary, that was by accident. I actually only deliberately went out eating pizza alone once. I only ate at eight or nine of the almost four hundred by myself.



I think part of it was that I had started trying to quit drinking about halfway through the project. One of the really hard parts was learning how to socialize and spend time with my friends without booze. Forget going to a show! You know, Snuggle comes to town and I take Robert to a cool pier and we drink 40s. That’s how you hang out with your friends. At this point I wasn’t trying to quit drinking forever, but I did feel like all of my social interactions were intertwined with drinking and I wanted to create some space between the two, so that there could be an option for me to live without drinking if I wanted to.
And Slice Harvester, I had already started it, and it turned into this thing where it was like... touring friends would come to town, and I wouldn’t want to go to their show because I didn’t want to drink. I was afraid to be at a show and not drink, but I still wanted to see them. So I invited them to come eat pizza with me. It was really about crafting these ways of interacting and hanging out without booze.

What about missed opportunities of people you wanted to eat pizza with?
 
Some people I didn’t even try for. Like, I wanted to get Ed Sanders or Tuli from the Fugs to come eat pizza with me, and I didn’t even try for it, and that was so stupid. There’s this lineage of weird, politically engaged, Jewish male artists who I feel like I’ve taken up the mantle of. Like, maybe it starts with Lenny Bruce, travels to the Fugs, crosses the country and lands on you in the Bay. I do feel like there’s this history that I’m trying to uphold and I don’t even know if it’s real.

Oh, it’s real.


So yeah, getting Ed Sanders to eat pizza with me would’ve been a real coup.

I told you I ran into him at B&H?

No, that’s awesome. I just recently wrote him a letter asking him to be my friend. “I said, hey Ed Sanders, my name is Colin. I’d really like you to be my friend. You don’t have to do anything, but it would be nice if from now on instead of saying ‘Ed Sanders from the Fugs’ I could say ‘my friend Ed Sanders from the Fugs’ and I’d like your permission to do that.”

I know you tried to get Samuel Delany...
 
Yeah! Sam Delany! He is probably the preeminent historian of cruising culture in New York City and also my favorite science fiction writer. He wrote this incredible two-part essay, Times Square Red/Times Square Blue. He grew up in an African American community in the Bronx, and he hung out in the West Village in the 60s during the burgeoning folk scene, and so he was privy to a lot of different demographics and cultural institutions. And in the essay he says the most genuine and guileless interracial and cross-class contact he ever saw in New York City was cruising in the porno theaters. He said downtown he was always acutely aware of his blackness, in the Bronx he was hyper-cognizant of his queerness, but in the theaters he didn’t have to think about either.

I feel like to a lesser extent a good pizzeria serves the same social function, it’s the great leveller. That’s why Palace Pizza is so good. Because you walk in there, and it doesn’t matter if you just slamdunked the Henderson Account or if you just got off work shoveling shit for the Department of Sanitation, you’re just sitting down to get a slice of pizza and the pizza man is gonna be kind of a dick to you. Unless you’re me, in which case you get treated like a king.


But Sam Delaney, I really wanted to get him to come eat pizza in Times Square with me. It never worked out, though not for lack of trying on my part.

Just to go back to the idea of having guests along with you, whether they were the experts you would’ve wished or the touring band from nowhere. In the reviews the sense of friendship is palpable, but often there’s a wariness or a realization that they don’t really know what they’re talking about when it comes to pizza.

Part of what was fun for me in doing this was making up fake controversies and regional stereotypes. So like, coincidentally the first five times I went to eat pizza with people from Florida, it was pouring rain. Something was weird about that, so their opinions about pizza became suspect. And I had a similar thing with the Bay Area and people from California in general, I would pretend that the way those people thought about pizza was just inherently wrong. I would make these little jabs that were like, “okay, Nate Stark says that this pizza was delicious but he’s from the Bay so what would he know?” But honestly, Nate worked in pizzerias as a teenager so he probably knows more about pizza than I do.

But it was nice to create these little fake beefs. I grew up listening to hip hop in New York in the 90s, and rap beefs were part of the fun, like in professional wrestling. When we were teenagers me and my friend Ella had a zine beef. These not-so-serious conflicts that are more theatrical than anything else, I think they really help move the story along. 


One thing I wanna talk about too is that, growing up playing in punk bands, I was also really into the whole Rawkus Records underground rap scene that was developing in New York in the late 90s. Doing rap stuff as well as punk stuff was very galvanizing to me as a young dude. I felt this intense jealousy that the creation of a hip hop album or song was more... Well, a band is this cohesive unit. But with a rap crew, it’s these individuals who come together. They all have their solo albums and they’re all on each other’s solo albums and I always wished there was some way I could like, do a posse track. I always wanted to have all my friends be on my album or whatever. It doesn’t work so well in the punk band format. Rancid tried to do that a lot and NYHC bands tried to do that, but it doesn’t work. Having Tim Armstrong sing half a verse on an Agnostic Front song is stupid.

But doing this zine was kind of a long form posse cut where I was like, “now I’m gonna get Ben Trogdon to come do a verse, now I’m gonna get my girl Christina, Ella is gonna show up, Kever is gonna ride up on his bike.” And I could talk about all my friends who I was proud of, and I could talk about all the cool things they were doing, in a way that felt seamless in terms of the overall narrative of one guy eating pizza. It wasn’t ham-fisted. It was part of the story.

So you’ve gone to every place, you’ve covered Manhattan, the fanzine in the form its been is starting to wind down, and you’re starting to look towards doing a book, but it’s not going to be a collection of just the reviews?

I’m hoping for a kind of cross between Rats by Robert Sullivan and How To Talk Dirty And Influence People, Lenny Bruce’s memoir. I hesitate to talk about whatever book I’m gonna write as a memoir, I think of it as more of a long-form fanzine, but I want to make a cohesive document come out of this project besides just the reviews. There are insights that I began to touch on in writing some of these reviews that could stand to be elaborated upon, and I’m gonna take the book as an opportunity to stretch some of that out and have room for some of the stuff that I always wanted to talk about but maybe held myself back for the sake of brevity.

And the fanzine’s are available.... 

For $3 well concealed cash to Slice Harvester / 442-D Lorimer St #230 / Brooklyn NY 11206. I have five issues out now and at least two more forthcoming, so if you don’t specify I’ll just send the most recent one. You can also buy them on sliceharvester.com, the website.

Where you can look at the blog if you’re so inclined. 

If you’re a poser and you use the internet.