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.


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.


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.


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.

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!


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!

 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.

BREAKING NEWS: Mediocre Pizza Parlor ROCKY'S II Is Still Mediocre.

I just want to remind everyone that Rocky's II, a pizza shop I reviewed in September of 2010, is probably still exactly the same as I said it was then. I wouldn't know because I haven't been back there because why would I go back to a place I didn't totally love? But the real question is this: why am I bothering to mention this right now? There are hundreds of mediocre pizzerias that are probably still mediocre, so why am I singling out Rocky's II?

It's because this weird thing happened the other day. I loaded up my email and it was mostly a handful of Slice Harvester comments. This is something I'm slowly growing accustomed to, but not that strange these days. This stack of comments were all Anonymous and were all for Rocky's II. The first one came in at 5:23 am and simply said "LOVE ROCKY'S PIZZA." That is innocuous enough, I guess. Some drunk dude got on the website and looked up his favorite place and felt compelled to let me know how he felt about it.

The next four of them were all posted between 5:42 and 5:46 am and were ostensibly from 4 different people. One of them, a charming story about a man visiting NYC from Lawrence, Kansas and taking his two sons to Rocky's, is word for word identical to a comment from November of last year that was posted on my Rocky's I review! Just now I googled a couple of the shorter comments and found them, word for word, on menupages.

So now I'm asking Rocky's II to cut it out. You want to try and deceive Yelp or whatever, fine. Go for it. Those website are run by robots, not yumans. But Slice Harvester is not run by a robot. Slice Harvester is run by one weird dude. And I do not let shit like this slip by me. My life up to this point has pretty much been the exercise montage from Wet Hot American Summer. Like, basically I have spent the past 29 years getting trained by Elliott Stabler to be tougher than you. I walk the streets at night. I go where eagles dare.

But there's definitely something I appreciate about the chutzpah of a guy posting the same exact verbatim reviews on multiple websites and expecting it will never catch up to him. This one time when I was 13 or 14 my mom drove me to Connecticut to hang out with this friend of mine from summer camp. We got stoned at her house and were just kind of sitting around wondering what to do and she was like, "have you ever been to Stew Leonard's?" and I was like, "huh?" and she was like, "it's this supermarket where they have all these animatronic vegetables and milk cartons and shit that dance around and it is so weird and come on, let's go." And she stole her mom's car and drove us to Stew Leonard's. Maybe she was older than me and had a learner's permit, but we can all agree that this story is cooler if we weren't allowed to drive at all.

When we got there it was so weird, and I was so stoned and such a little adolescent dude and I was wandering around looking at all this singing produce and I saw this package of fudge that looked delicious. And I picked it up, and I began to eat it. My friend and I continued to stroll and I continued to eat the fudge and eventually the fudge was done, and being a young tough, I surreptitiously stashed the package behind some packets of Stoned Wheat Thins which was really funny to me because I was stoned and so were the crackers. Wooooaaaaaahhh.

As we were leaving, a kindly older gentleman in a security uniform stopped us before the door and asked, "don't you kids have something to pay for?" and I was all, "whuh uh us who me no not me you must be thinking of some other kids who need to pay for stuff, we're just here to see the robots." And the guy was like, "listen son, not only do I have you on tape eating a package of fudge, but..." and he pointed down at my chest, and my eyes followed his finger, and there was fudge all over my Toy Dolls t-shirt.

I looked back up at the security guard, panic stricken, but his eyes were kind and he said, "listen son, you got caught. It's okay. I understand. I was young once. Go get the package of fudge and pay for it, and then leave and don't come back. I don't want to call your parents if I don't have to. I'm giving you a break here. Take it." And so I fetched the package and paid for my fudge and left and I've never been back in a Stew Leonard's since.

So Rocky's II Guy, I need to let you know you've got fudge on your shirt. But like the kindly supermarket security guard of my wayward youth, I understand. You're trying to boost your business and you don't really get how the internet works. It's okay. I'm giving you a chance to pay for your fudge and you don't even have to spend any money! I would just like you to apologize for trying to deceive me and my readership. It doesn't even have to be public, you can email it to me if you like. I don't really think that's too much to ask.

Postscript: Since I posted this yesterday two more fake comments showed up on that review, and no contact from Mr. Rocky's II.