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.

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 ", 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.

Still not talking about pizza!

Who cares? I was never really talking about pizza in the first place, that was just how I tricked all of you into caring what I had to say about other stuff, like Wyclef and making music. Today I want to address all the straight men in the audience. To my other readers, read this over and see if it's worth passing on to a straight man in your life. I am not trying to exclude any of you, but I think we need to have a collective "Dude, seriously."

Recently my father and I went to go see his father and take him to a doctor's appointment, take him out out to lunch, get him some groceries, etc. (Status report: the old man is doing just fine.) We went to Whole Foods to buy him some cheese blintzes and ruggelah, and in the car driving over to his house, my dad said, "if I was a single guy I would go to Whole Foods to meet women."
"And why is that?"
"Didn't you notice," he said, "the place was full of single women. Well, maybe not single women, but it was full of women. Some of them had to be single." I hadn't noticed.
"Okay, so, how would you go about meeting these single women, or determining if they're single?" I was only half involved in the conversation because I was reading a NY Times article on my phone.
He shrugged. "I dunno... I would bump carts by accidentally or something." As you can tell, it's been a long time since my dad's been single.
"Don't you think they'd see right through that?" I asked.
"Sure, but if they were interested they'd see through it and know that I was interested and if not they would go about their day and I would go about mine and nothing would really be that different."
 "You don't think or care that they might be annoyed by the intrusion?"
"What are you supposed to do, never talk to a stranger because they might be annoyed by the intrusion? I am intruded upon 500 times a day, it happens. We live in a world with other people. Sometimes we have to interact with them."
And so on.

I don't recall exactly how it happened, but somehow we got onto the subject of winking. More specifically whether or not it is inappropriate for a man who is shopping at Whole Foods to wink at a woman he has never met who is shopping at Whole Foods. I posited that yes, it is categorically inappropriate. My father was outraged. "So you're saying that winking at a woman is an aggressive, inappropriate act? You're over-reacting. You're so concerned about fighting sexism that you see it in places where it isn't even there. Winking is benign and if you put it on the same category as saying 'hey baby, nice gams' and whistling like a Looney Tunes wolf, it diminishes the seriousness of those acts by comparing them to something relatively innocuous."
"Look," I began, at this point my phone was away and I was totally paying attention, "I just don't think it's innocuous. Everything has a context, and your hypothetical wink at Whole Foods falls squarely into a continuum of shitty behavior perpetrated by men towards women from the time they reach puberty. It may not be the same thing but it is all interrelated."
"That's ridiculous and you're inventing context that isn't there. A wink is just a wink."
"I just disagree with you there. And I might as well tell you now, you're never going to convince me. I don't think you are a bad person or have any malicious intent, and I appreciate that this conversation is all hypothetical and we're not discussing the fact that you DID wink at a woman in Whole Foods because I don't think you would do that. But the fact of the matter is, I have had conversations with many of the women in my life about being winked at and I know how they feel about it, so no matter how compelling an argument you craft in defense of men's Right to Wink, I am not going to be swayed because it is just conjecture by a man and is meaningless compared to the shared experience and testimony of the countless women I have talked to about this." I should note that I've been paraphrasing this whole time and I most assuredly was NOT that articulate in real life. Luckily, I'm the one recounting the discussion.
"That is crazy." He was shaking his head. "So you're saying that men aren't allowed to have opinions?"
"Of course not! I'm just saying that in this instance we're discussing something that affects women more than men and I'm going to side with the opinion of the people that are affected over someone on the outside conjecturing. Look, I know this isn't an issue because you don't actually go around winking at ladies, but have you ever had a discussion with any women in your life about how they feel when men wink at them?"
He shook his head no. I dialed my mom on speakerphone.

Ring ring ring ring ring "Hello?"
"Hey Ma, I got a a hypothetical situation for you. You're in a Whole Foods shopping for groceries..."
"What am I doing in a Whole Foods, I hate Whole Foods!"
"Ma, come on, lemme finish. You're in a Whole Foods shopping for groceries and you're walking down an aisle and a guy you've never seen before is walking the other way down the aisle and as you pass by he winks at you. How does that make you feel?"
"I would shout 'FUCK YOU!' at the guy" she said, without missing a beat. "I would yell, 'WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE WINKING AT?'"
I looked over and my dad was chuckling. I asked my mom, "Why?"
And she said, "Because a wink is too intimate a gesture to share with a stranger and the implications of a stranger winking at me in a Whole Foods are totally pervy. You wink at your friends. You wink when you're sharing a confidence, when you're both in on a secret. It's just not appropriate to wink at a stranger."

I texted my kid sister the same question. I said, "if you are in a Whole Foods and a man you don't know winks at you, how does that make you feel?"
"Gross," she wrote back almost immediately, followed a few moments later by, "and disgusting."
I showed the texts to my dad and he said, "well I guess I have to reconsider."

The point of all this is not that my dad is some skeezy jerkoff. He's a really nice and respectful guy and I think I got a lot of pretty awesome traits from him. But he is a Male Dude who was raised in America and he had a Male Dude for a father and his brother was a Male Dude and all his friends growing up were other Male Dudes and they were predominantly, maybe almost entirely Straight Male Dudes and they weren't scumbags or anything any more or any less than all Male Dudes in the world are trained to be scumbags from like, the second they hit puberty, a process which is possibly equally (but definitely differently) traumatic to being sexually objectified from the moment one hits puberty, although we'll never really know conclusively since part of that training is to cut ourselves off from our emotions and NEVER EVER EVER NEVER NERVER admit that anything could possibly be traumatizing to us.

The night before going to visit my grandfather I spent the night at my folks' house and I was sitting around eating defrosted pizza and watching cable on their TV at like, 2am, and I saw this show on MTV called "Guy Code" or something which was like, all these shitty comedians talking about why it is imperative that men fuck all the women. Here are some real quotes. I wish I could attribute them to the actual dudes that said them and then we could all get together and crush their nuts with a big piece of wood like Charlotte Gainsbourg does to Willem Defoe in Anti-Christ. (For all the defensive babies out there, I am joking around and I don't actually advocate crushing men's nutsacks because they say idiot shit.) This is on the subject of having friendships with women:
"The only time I'll keep a girl as a friend is if she has a lot of hot friends for me to hook up with."
"You're giving her all the things she's used to giving sex to get, so what the fuck is she gonna fuck you for?"
This is fucked, right? This is on MTV, which is like, the channel that is supposed to be for teenagers. I don't think MTV is actually teaching kids anything substantial or is to blame for shitty Dude Behavior, but I do think that it is certainly reflective of where we are at as a culture, and if nothing else, serves to reinforce shithead belief systems that are learned and taught everywhere else in the culture.

But the point is this: it is really easy for those of us who identify as Male Dudes to sit around and conjecture all day long about what it's like to be a lady and what behavior is appropriate and what behavior isn't but the only way to really figure that out is to just talk to women we know. And that part is easy, but here is the hard part: listen to what they have to say non-judgmentally and internalize it and think about it. Ask your moms and sisters how they feel. Ask your girlfriends or friends, because despite what "the Guy Code" says, I'm am pretty sure most straight dudes still have at least one female friend. And then do some research on your own. The internet is huge! Read a few things on Shakesville or Tiger Beatdown. And when you feel attacked or defensive, instead of getting your back up, take a step back and thinking about what it is you are feeling attacked by? What is it you are defending? Is winking at ladies an integral part of your personality, a kernel of truth at the very core of your being, that you could never give up? Is it your right to continue to be unaware of the weight of the patriarchy on the women in your life and the ways that you are complicit? Just be thoughtful and be open-minded. These are hard things to do, and the ladies in your life may not want to hold your hand all the time, but if you are actually a caring person and you actually want to know, you can educate yourself and these things and people will be willing to talk to you.

And now I have to go because I'm going to be late for work.