So I don't know if you know this but I started writing an MRR column about 5 months ago and I'm pretty sure it's been long enough that I can start putting them up online. Here's the first one which I wrote in January, but which ran in February.
YO WHAT’S GOOD MRR?! Welcome to my first ever column. My name is Colin Atrophy. I’ll have just turned 32 when you’re reading this. Sun in Aquarius, Virgo Rising, Scorpio Moon, Venus in Pisces. I live in Queens, NY with three cats and a bunch of intergenerational succulents and I’ve been a waiter at the same diner for the past 7 years. As I write this column I’m procrastinating making a tape for this person I have a crush on which I was doing to procrastinate finishing my radio show for this month. This is a triple procrastination. I often feel like an expert at not finishing shit. ANYWAY, here’s my Best of 2014 list:
1. Getting my ear pierced.
On my 31st Birthday me and Salvatore, my best friend since I was 16, went to the Queens Center Mall and got our ears pierced at the Just Pierce It! kiosk by a gothic teenager who had a giant infected piercing in her ear. We figured probably no one in their right mind would let her pierce their ear and it was our duty as punks to support the underdog.
A few days later my lobe swole up so big it looked like a tiny plum stuck to my head. One evening in the shower I decided to try to loosen the earing to get some of the pressure off. I got out of the shower and stood in front of my filthy mirror, slowly unscrewing the back of the mall stud. As it came undone I lost control and the earring flew out of my ear. I caught the front but the back went careening down the drain of my sink. No problem, I’ve seen Degrassi, you just stick a pencil eraser through the pin to hold it on.
I stood in the mirror and attempted to force the front of the earring back through my swollen lobe. I could get it through the front of the hole, but then it would just kind of scrape around in the flesh cavity within, unable to find the exit, like when you’re trying to stick a pin back into your leather jacket and you can’t find the puncture on the second layer of fabric. I stood for about a minute scraping the pointy part of the earring against the inside of my ear before I became cognizant of what was happening and puked right down my pathetic, naked body. As I was ralphing up my Breakfast for Dinner Toaster Strudel, the earring slipped out of my hands and fell down the drain. That’s when I started crying, just blubbering like a little baby. I was looking at myself in the mirror—naked, covered in puke, earlobe swollen and purple—and I started mumbling, “what were you thinking getting your ear pierced?! You’re not cool enough to have an earring. You’re thirty fucking one years old! Get it together you LOSER!”
The next day, like a chump, I paid a Diminutive Urban Woodsman in a fancy Manhattan tattoo shop $30 to re-pierce my ear. I asked him what had gone wrong. “Hwell, “ he began in his affected drawl, “When you get a piercing your body sees it as a foreign intruder and tries to force it out. It’s a battle of wills between your body and your mind to see whether the earring stays. Seems like your body won.” Damn, gurl. Why you gotta be so rude?
But the second earring stuck and now I have a lil danglin dagger hanging there so when I wear my leather jacket I look like Your Friend’s Cool Step Dad, and that’s pretty alright. Furthermore, I think that moment of solitary humiliation—naked, crying, covered in puke, berating my own reflection—followed by the social humiliation at the hands of the Tiny Woodsman, was very important in keeping me humble this year and keeping things in perspective.
2. Finishing a book.
3-ish years ago I started writing a book for a huge publisher (which I won’t mention here because this is about punk stuff) because they liked my fanzine, Slice Harvester, which was about eating a plain slice at every pizza parlor in Manhattan. For all you dipshits from elsewhere, “a plain slice” is what small town yokels call “cheese pizza.”
I had just quit drinking FOR REAL for the first time after spending the decade from 18-28 largely blacked out, or so hung over I couldn’t really get out of bed without puking, and I still approached the world with trepidation. I was really scared about taking on such a seemingly monumental task and I was terrified that I’d never get it done and that I’d just end up owing these people my advance back and I’d bring shame upon my family and friends and everyone would hate me forever because I just squander opportunities like a jerk. But guess what? I finished it in the beginning of November! Donezo forever.
Not to beleaguer the point, but remember how I mentioned in the intro paragraph that I often feel like an expert at not finishing things? I’m starting to think maybe that’s an outdated perception of myself and I’m actually becoming someone who gets stuff done. Like, I was talking to my old friend Mya, who has been a super important presence in my life for the fifteen years I’ve known her and also happens to be a very powerful witch, and I was like, “who would have guessed that a loser like me would finish a whole book? I never finish anything”
And she was like, “Well you finished eating all that pizza. And you finished drinking; that’s two very big things.”
And it’s like, maybe this image I have of myself as someone who starts stuff but doesn’t get it done isn’t just a holdover from when I was like that but it’s also a pernicious tool of the capitalist hetero-patriarchy trying to keep me from taking responsibility for myself because “I’m just like that,” or whatever. Does that even make sense? Like, if not finishing stuff is an innate and fundamental part of who I am then when someone asked me to do something and I let them down it’s not my fault, it’s their fault for asking me in the first place! You see how this is problematic and definitely worth interrogating? So I guess what I’m saying is that from now on I’m a person who finishes shit and if I don’t I’ll take the blame.
3. Some Records, I guess.
A lot of the time that I spent working on my book was also time that I spent hermitting—withdrawn from the society of my friends for the sake of my writing, but also because I was struggling with getting strong enough in my not drinking to start partying again without drinking while I do it. Like, last night I went to Cory and Carolina’s house and I drank 4 bottles of Pelligrino and I won like, twenty-five bucks playing dice and a few times I said a joke that made everyone in the room laugh. These are small victories but they’re victories nonetheless. ANYWAY, towards the end of the year I started paying attention to bands and going to shows again for the first time since like 2011 and now I wanna tell you about the stuff I like. WARNING: I’m still learning how to write about music without sounding like a corndog.
Nandas Demo tape: Nandas are the only punk band in Brooklyn and I’m not just saying that because Dave the guitar player watches my cats whenever I leave town. The songs are dark and swirling, but not in a Goth Is In way. It’s more likely due to the fact that these people are truly fucked up freaks and this is the noise they make when they get together. I can’t remember if there was ever a Sandman storyline where they travel to some bleak, burned out, urban wasteland and meet a punk band, but if there was, that band sounds like Nandas. (Addendum: I just got home from the Orden Mundial gig at the Acheron and I’m pleased to report that there’s a second punk band in Brooklyn and they’re called Mommy. In case you were wondering, Brooklyn also has two hardcore bands—In School and Ivy—leaving the borough with a whopping four bands total.)
Priests Bodies and Control and Money and Power LP: this record fucking rips and this whole band is my new best friend. Daniele is such a powerhouse of a drummer and also describes films and art with such an earnest excitement and engagement that you get excited about them too, even if it’s stuff you had previously felt arbitrarily judgmental about. Taylor’s kinetic, danceable bass parts are maybe the most fundamental part of the Priests Sound as far as I’m concerned, not to mention they have the most guileless Brooding Hunk From A Teen Sitcom aesthetic of anyone I’ve ever met. Gideon’s guitar playing is so dexterous and lithe I’m not sure if Jaguar is his given name or a punk name he earned from shredding like a jungle cat, and when he’s on stage he moves like a backup dancer from one of the gang scenes in West Side Story. Katie is one of the most captivating singers I’ve ever seen, hands down, and the refrain to the second song on this LP (“you put your fingers in other people’s mouth’s all day, don’t you doctor?”) is my favorite single sentence anyone wrote this year, and though she’d be quick to tell you she was ripping off someone or another, I still say give credit where credit’s due. Long and short of it is: get this record.
Good Throb Fuck Off LP: OH MAN. This fucking record is definitely tied with Priests for the best record I’ve heard in like a hundred years and is equally responsible for getting me out of the house again. I kept comparing it to Huggy Bear because I’m not good at music talk and there’s these sick staccato guitars and a lady screaming at me in a British accent, but then I played it for Buddha when he was in town last week and he was like, “Woah, Colin, this sounds like The Dicks.” And all of a sudden I found myself paying attention to the guitars in a way I hadn’t before, and listen: he was right. The official Eat Pray Shlub Stance on Good Throb is that Good Throb Fucking Rule. If you don’t like this band you aren’t punk.
4. Okay, Bye!
Aaaaaaand, I think that’s it for this column! I’m typing out this sign off as I listen back to that crush mixtape to make sure I did it right. First track is Frank O’Hara reading “Having A Coke With You” and the second track is Lil’ Kim “Crush on You (Remix).” You think this person is gonna get the hint?
Thanks to Grace for asking me to write this. Peace to Imogen, Bryony and Greg Harvester because that’s my homegirls on staff here. I been reading MRR for more than half my life and I’m stoked to be a part of this weird world.
Yusuke Okada from the band Suspicious Beasts drew my column header. Look at his art at yusuke1234.tumblr.com. And if you wanna write me a letter hit me at: Colin Atrophy / 442-D Lorimer St #230 / Brooklyn, NY 11206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wanna hear my radio show or read my old pizza reviews, they’re all up at sliceharvester.com. And that’s it! No cops, no creeps, peace in the pizzeria.