So for the past close to five years I’ve lived back here. In The Valley. The Keiser valley, in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
I was born here, back in 1972, spent my first four years here, and came back every summer throughout my childhood and most of my adolescence. Then I moved back here from Tacoma at the tail end of 1993, stayed here for awhile, wound up doing some time upstate for robbery and assault. Got paroled out to Erie, Pa. Had some other relatives there, but it was just more that it was an easy place to parole to. Shaved some time of my bid going there, and as it turned out I fucking loved Erie.
Stayed there for a couple of years. Dug everything about that city. Perfect size, not too big and impersonal, not small and podunky by along shot. And the people were awesome. Plus, the punk/hardcore scene is incredible.
Wound up the one true love of my life, who I had been together with before prison but had lost touch with, we got back together and married out there. She came out and stayed with me for some time there in Erie, but eventually we decided to come back to The Valley because of familial obligations on both our parts.
Well, we came back. Honestly, though this area will always hold a special place in my heart, it wasn’t as good. At all.
There’s something everyone knows about the Scranton-Wilkes Barre area, and aint no one will have any kind of problem telling a motherfucker. It’s kind of something else altogether. You go to work and hear “nigger jokes” out in the open, and people haven’t the slightest problem slamming homosexuality. It’s the kind of thing around here…it’s like if there was a nuclear war this is where you’d want to live because it wouldn’t happen until fifteen years later.
But that’s not really the thing. It is, but it’s beyond that. The Valley is something altogether different. Maybe I can compare it to the Irish tradition of the “wave on”, where alcoholism is just so ingrained in the culture as to be de riguer. Out here they have the saying that everyone around Scranton is either in A.A. or needs to be in A.A. It’s just accepted that you work, you get shitfaced, and you go to work again the next day ad infinitum.
All my relatives did it, for generations since they got off the boat from Poland and started working in the mines out here. At least the ones who didn’t wind up hooked on pills, coke or heroin.
I remember my uncle taking me to the neighborhood bar when I was like eight years old. I’d belly up and toss back RC’s while the old heads downed shot and a beer after shot and a beer. My aunt was a high ranking ILGWU union official out here, she’d get shitfaced on gin every night while doing the NY Times crossword puzzle after work. My parents were both hard drinkers, and being of the hippie generation, did other things heavily.
A few months back I was trying to book some shows out here for my friends in 13 Scars, and I had to notify them that the level of alcohol consumption out here, should they come this way from Tacoma, was unlike anything they had seen.
I’m not saying it’s entirely bad, or “sick and wrong”, I mean motherfuckers work hard and they drink hard. That’s the way it goes. Whether you’re in Boone county West Virginia or Manhattan, or out in Burbank for fucks sake. But here it’s something else entirely.
The teenage busser girl at work comes in bruised because her boyfriend got fucked up and beat her. A little teenaged girl. Another young woman you work with, her father blew the fucking gas line and half the neighborhood up because of shit that was going on between him and his also drunken wife. And it kills you because the girl is an incredibly talented musician, and you just hope that talent can take her out of this area. You work with other people who are totally incapacitated five out of the six days you work with them due to hangover. regularly.
Your own stepdaughter knows more about booze than you did at 16.
I’m not saying some shit about “demon alcohol” or anything like that. I’m saying, all ya’ll don’t know The Valley. There’s nothing else here. I live in a borough South of Scranton, and within a seven block radius there’s twelve fucking bars. A few weeks ago I was going to photograph my friends band…and I decided to do a bar crawl on the way to the practice house…I couldn’t even make it. I wound up in places on Capouse ave. in Scranton that would make Charles Bukowski shit white. Go to the Melba bar in Scranton, Pa., I fucking dare you, all of you.
And I’m saying, I gotta go. I gotta get the fuck out.
I’m not the strongest motherfucker, not by a a long shot. I’m as easily influenced as anyone, including you, dear reader. I gotta get out of here before I’m just another casualty. I see them all the time. I’m fucking becoming one already.
And thus I’m putting on the traveling shoes. My wife and my family and our future depend on this, and all said that’s really our business anyway and not the internets.
But let this shit be said, I am leaving The Valley and going back to Erie. May not be the land of milk and honey exactly, but it’s not this. It’s not somewhere I woke up every day looking up from the hole I’d been digging myself deeper in.
Well, Saturday morning I’ll be getting on the bus for a nine hour ride back to Erie. I lived there before, from 06 to 08. Started blogging while I was living there even, not this blog but my olde ones. Hell, it was there I even bought my first computer.
So I’m going back. All this here hasn’t exactly been a failure or anything. It’s just I need to do this. Just like I needed to scrap those old blogs. Sometimes you just need a change. Sometimes a do-over even. Reset, reboot. Put yourself in some challenge action.
I do have exact reasons. Exact enough I suppose. But the truth really is I just should have stayed there anyway.
So Saturday I board the Dirty Dog and I get to pump another quarter in the slot and hit start afresh.
Wish my dumb ass luck or something.
The other day I got a package. It was from Jerry A. of Poison Idea. I’d asked him if he still had any of the new P.I. t-shirts for sale and he just sent two of them. Just, like sent the fuckers. On general punk rock principals or something. Never said nothing about where I should send the money. Just basically hooked a motherfucker up.
I’ve written previously about Poison Idea being pretty much my all time favorite hardcore band since I first got into their music in the mid 80′s. So I’m not going to go into my Pig Champion encounter story or how seeing them with The Accused in Tacoma back in 87 left a huge impact on my conception of how fucking burly and outright talented a hardcore punk band could be, while yet entirely knuckled on alcohol and Cthulhu knows what else. I urge you to tool around my archives and read the original posts.
But, like tonight I was writing Jerry and packaging up some beer money, local punk music, my ‘zine and some other assorted items to send out to his P.O. box in Portland…and I realized, I just turned 41 this month-and I’m still into hardcore as much as ever.
Its a good feeling. Given, I’ve never been a serious scenester or anything. I’ve played in a bunch of bands and all, I still fuck around in that department for fun, and I’ve dicked about with my current ‘zine for quite awhile (though I took a bit between my last issue and the previous one to that cause I got into bloggery)…but I’ve never tried to front like I’m some kind of motherfucker because of it. I mean, sure, yeah I’ve put time in earning “punk rock points” or whatever dumb shit but that means dick all.
I’m still just someone who gets all fired the fuck up when one of his longest time hardcore xxxpunk heroes sends him some t-shirts in a hand addressed recycled syringe box.
Thats what punk is all about. Obviously the rock star bullshit will never come into play in a scene where we’re all each others biggest fans. You tell me what’s more important. A connection with people or just admiration of some “idol” or spectator performance.
Fuck the dumbest shit. Guys like Jerry A., bands like Poison Idea, 13 Scars, Grave Division, my brothers in Lugosis Morphine, The Mutations and my own band now The Scranton Scumfuc All Stars…shit like that
Just brings to the forefront why punk still rules.
So ok, dig it. For some time I was totally anti-smartphone. I had a real simple phone. It wasn’t even a flip kind. Fucken thing made phonecalls and did alphanumeric texting and web browsed agonizingly slow and that was it. Used that fucker for years. People made fun of me, but I proudly boasted that I didn’t need anything more. Eventhough deep down I kinda wanted something that did more.
But then, one night I decided to get an Android. It was always one of those things where I secretly wanted one. But maybe not for obvious reasons I guess. I’ve used Linux since ’07 and am a total fanboy in that department…and I heard that Android was built of of Linux, so I kind of totally wanted one to fuck around with.
Plus, you know, I have this thing with beefing Apple users cause..well, cause basically every single one I have ever met thinks they’re “1337″ since they bought an overpriced piece of trendy lifestyle brand technology. Seriously. I even witnessed an Apple user in one breath talk about being elite because he used a mini mac…but had no idea how to manually copy and paste a file from an automounted SD card. The dumbfuckered down bog standard Apple importation software wasn’t doing it, and I had to show him. How to copy and paste a file off an external card. I shit you not, kids. It’s true.
But that’s not all. That’s not the whole reason you’ll never see me using an Apple product, not the entire reason I think owning an iphone amounts to the level of imagined sophistication inherent in having to sport designer jeans in the 80′s. There’s really a lot of reasons. But I think a guy waay fucking smarter than me, and probably you too (he helped invent fucking emacs for fucks sake) sums up some of the glaring points.
At any rate, enough of the Apple bonking..
So I got a cheap Android phone. Real cheap. Paid like 65 bucks for it. Went with the same contractless carrier. All said it only costs me 55 bucks a month to do as much of whatever the fuck I want with the phone as I feel like.
Turned out I was pretty amazed at all the cool shit I can do. Fucking thing even uses a file system pretty much just like my desktop Linux box and I snatched up a file manager not all too extremely different from my native Krusader file manager. Fuck, I even got a goddam terminal emulator for the damn thing.
But then, you know…I had it for a couple of days and I found out I could root it and gain balls out superuser (administrator, for you Windows peops) privileges and have all types of bitchen benefits. But, well, I mean…like I said I’ve been running Linux for some time and the fuck if I’m going to own a device and not have root access to the OS when I want it.
Look, believe me-I aint no fucken hacker, nor do I front like one. I barely know my way around the bash shell, I cant code, and though I can do some shit with my computer it’s all fairly easy and simple stuff only the most dunderheaded noob would have real trouble with. Given, the bar is set pretty fucking low for average users nowaday, but I still consider myself one.
Still. I found out I could root my phone, and I got all excited. Kind of the same way I got all excited about trying Slackware Linux-precisely due to it being notoriously involved when it came to install and configuration.
Well, as it turned out rooting my Android was was far easier and more pain free than doing a Slackware config. I don’t know if easy as fuck is the precisely correct term but it’s the first one that comes to mind when describing my experience with rooting. Of course, it wasn’t entirely hitch free but when in doubt just pull off a hard restart and shit tends to turn out cuter than a Chinese baby. And it did.
Certainly I could have bricked my device I suppose. But, fuck. The thing only cost me sixty bucks. I’m far from rich, but if I would have fucked it up I would have just turned around and gotten another one.
So, I’m all kinda stoked now. I don’t really feel like I achieved some real shit, because it was so easy-but I do feel better because I now have full access and control over the device I fucking paid for. I can strip out all the annoying bloatware my carrier shackled onto the phone, I can tether my desktop or my wife’s tablet or laptop to it and use the phone for a wi-fi trough…I can fuck about with custom build ROMs and Kernels…I can do all sorts of fun shit-even if by rooting I just totally borked my warantee and maybe violated some fine print in my carriers TOS.
Fuckit though. It’s my fucking phone. I paid for it, I can do what the fuck I want with it.
That sums up the attitude I have towards any device and a big fucking reason why I started running Linux in the first place. You buy some shit, (or like with most varieties of Linux and Free and Open Source software it’s shared with you) then you’re the one who decides it’s use and if you want to modify that shit. Not some company trying to bilk you by turning your property into some additional facet of their service. I pay my carrier for phone callage, SMS and internets. Beyond that they get the bozak. Actually I could probably find some way to rig my gear that I could get all that shit for free anyway. I heard some years ago people were doing it via some type of D.I.Y. cellular setup out in the bay area. Surely I could pull it off via wi fi hotspots to some extent..but it’d be just way more fun to outright piggyback local cell towers via spoofing a BSID or some crazy shit if it’s even possible. I dunno. I suppose thats a topic for research on my part and no doubt involves at least dubious legality so I’d better shut the fuck up about it.
But yeah, go out and root yer droid. Mad chuckles and at least a minor “FUCK YEAH!” will ensue.
So, ok. As anyone who is really close with me in meatspace, and many others out here in cyberia, knows…I’ve done some fucked up shit in my life. I spent eight years in the penitentiary, and it wasn’t for being a fucking kind and caring individual. I tried to open up a guys face with a carpet cutter during a botched stick up for prescription drugs back in ’98. And I’ve done all sorts of other horrible shit. Hurt a fair amount of people, including people I was close to, and not all the time in open combat or in self defense.
There comes a time…and I know we all want to live in the kindest, softest world possible-but there comes a time when you just realize that people act violently and do fucked up shit, and always have. It’s maybe fashionable to abstract it as some kind of conditioning, as some kind of social construct type thing that can be blamed on the modern concept of gendered selfhood, or video games, or whatever style of music the theorist doesn’t like. Or, of course it can still be blamed on movies and dirty pictures if you like. Even better, there’s the “cycle of violence” theory that is widely accepted as biblical truth. Someone has fucked up shit happen to them, they’re going to then do fucked up shit. Somehow that has reached the stage of popular acceptance to such a level as to be sacrosanct.
Well. It’s bullshit.
You can go and deconstruct linguistically the semiotic roots of oppression and violence in social conciousness all you fucking want. You can get all dialectic and shit about whatever to distance your own notion of self from someone who would beat shit down the leg of someone else for absolutely no good reason.
But the fact is, anyone is capable of anything given the circumstances.
Violence, really is the violation of what could be termed as consensus reality. Obviously, people do horrible shit in response to some kind of horrifying situation-whether that be dictated by internal stimuli or not, it stems from circumstance. When reality isn’t jibing, that sort of thing is a resort. Obviously it’s not the first resort-otherwise our species wouldn’t have made it out of the trees before killing itself off aeons ago.
And look, I can fucking say this cause I’ve shared living quarters with murderers. I’ve hung out with people who have butchered their spouses and strangers. I know goddam good and well that you, yes fucking you, are capable of the same. In fact, I also know goddam good and well you’ve thought of doing horrible fucking things to other people. Don’t front. Whatever restrains you from killing the fuckwit in line ahead of you at the bank taking so much time, maybe wouldn’t be enough on a different day.
People often use as an argument against anarchy that everyone would do what they want and it would be a war of each against all-that motherfuckers would just go full on bloodthirsty and eat children and shit. Fact is, it’s the reigning social order that creates the circumstances that leave violence as some kind of “quick fix” option for people. You can enact all the anti-wifebeating laws you fucking want, you can legislate the fuck out of hate crimes, you can get tough as fuck on violent crime-but it doesn’t change anything at he root. It doesn’t give solace to the alienation and misery that stems from motherfuckers having their years murdered through work and living in the rat race even as a bystander-leading to all sorts of fucked up circumstances that grow out of the, implicitly or explicitly, abuse of substances…which, as everyone knows often leads to individuals doing all sorts of fucked up shit.
However, it’s not a kind of thing…and this is where I make exception to the “cycle of violence” theory…it’s not the kind of thing to where circumstances entirely, like 100 per fucking cent dictate everything. Believe me, I’ve known more people who’ve had terrible fucking stuff done to them and not done terrible fucking stuff, than not. I myself have suffered some horrid abuses as a kid and not carried out shit like that on others. I truly believe that the common perception of people who suffer abuse and mistreatment as potential abusers is flat out fucking nonsense. You cannot quantify suffering. Everyone has horrid shit happen to them. Not everyone visits the same on other people. In fact, most people don’t.
This even can be extended to individuals who have done really bad shit. I celled up with a lot of different folks in the joint. The most mellow, and benign were murderers. Everybody knows, everybody at some deep level feels a regard for life. You can say what you want and get hysterical about serial killers and other bogeymen the television tells you are coming to get you-but I fucking know from having spent time with people who have killed people in cold blood…they know they fucked up.
In closing, I don’t really know that I’ve gotten anywhere. My initial point was to be that a questioning of violence, gender violence or whatever, cannot really go anywhere without questioning the structures within with it occurs. You can’t simply be like, “Oh, we have to look at sports culture or pornography or internet media and regulate everything via the State.” When it’s the very fabric of social reality we’ve constructed that says it’s understandable for someone to be exploited via the wage system, get all fuckered up on alcohol or other drugs…and then haul off whallop someone, or rob them for dope money, as a side effect of everyday fucking life for the working class.
And I guess I may be abstracting it myself. Fact is, like I said, I’ve done some terrible stuff. I don’t blame it on anything. I just know I can do different, like I’ve done. Anyone can. But I also know it’s a fucked up world, and I believe human beings are far better than the circumstances they find themselves mired in sometimes. I just think we could do better than to keep this fucking machine creating the situations that leave violence as a resort for people.
Don’t even get me started on Slayer. The only speed metal band a self respecting punk could go apeshit over. I was thirteen years old when I heard their Hell Awaits album in ’85 and it changed all types of shit for me. Paved the way for my collision with hardcore a few months later. Totally blew my conception of metal out of the frame. They invented shit. Took shit to a whole new level. Fuck “crossover”, fuck Metallica and Anthrax and everyone else. Weak by comparison. Slayer was always just Slayer. Always will be. Their approach to metal can only be described as iconic. The is no other like them. Never will be. If you doubt it, you aint about shit. Go home posuer. Slayer fucking rules.
And there will never be another Jeff Hannman. Slayers longtime guitarist and songwriter died earlier today. Went to meet his Dark Lord, or otherwise. Jeff introduced Kerry King to punk early on and thusly Slayers hyper aggressive sound melding the sheer musicianship of heavy metal with the power of early hardcore took shape. As musicians go, his contribution to everything metal and and a great deal of cross pollinated hardcore is immense. Without Hanneman, there would be far less of our favorite sounds. His skill was unparalleled as thrash guitarists go, like I said-Slayer invented shit.
Wherever you are Jeff, maybe where light goes when you turn off the switch, maybe somewhere else…may your strings never break, and may your sonic assault never be forgotten.
I made this back in Jan. but it sat on the tubez until I “activated” it tonight. I didn’t have my channel shit set up for long videos, so I just figured they weren’t going to let me publish it cause it’s pretty lengthy. So I upped it and it just sat there for months until I finally got the verification shit squared away. I watched it, and didn’t even really want to do anything with it…and then I thought I’d make it private or unlist it. But finally I was just like fuckit. My original intent was to make it public so that’s what I did.
I’m not terribly happy with it. It’s just me talking about crazy shit that happened when I was really into heroin. It’s probably not that interesting, but all the same it was supposed to be my big “spoken word” thing. Back, you know, last winter when I was more into writing stupid books and stuff. Now I’m more into my stupid ‘zine again.
Anyway, I hope at least I told a gnarly story.
The Scranton Scumfuc all-Stars, playing your favorite party anthem.
D.F. Lazarus, Tim Dysgust-vox
Unseen Pat-xtra git
The Usual Suspect-bass
This is how we make the punk rocks ’round these parts. You take some olde friends, some newer friends, all of whom have been at it for years and years. Add Yuengling and Kraken. Give the wife a camera. Commence to playng Louie, Fucking Louie.
Fuck Portland. Fuck Brooklyn. Fuck everywhere but where you’re at making a racket with your best friends on the goddam planet. All these motherfuckers want to pontificate about what punk is, or was ever, “about”-this is it. Plain and simple. You’re in a town noone has ever heard of jamming with your buddies and you’ll never be a rich and famous rock star but you just do it.
Welcome to Scranton. Come here and hang out with us. We’ll tip some and play some music together.
So, many, many years ago I played bass in this one band out here and we had a lot of fun. Played some shows, recorded some stuff. Good times. But then I got all back into bad stuff and wound up in the penitentiary. That was a drag.
My friends kept playing music, and just recently I got to hang out with my camera at a practice session. It was cool. The guys they’re jamming with now are pretty great dudes and they sound fucking killer.
I’ve been working on doing up some of the photos in GIMP, and upping some video footage to the tubes to share here. I work and stuff, so it’s taken awhile, but here it is. My evening with Lugosis Morphine.
Deric and Slug are to Scranton what Jerry A. and Tom Pig (RIP) are to Portland. They’ve been doing this shit forever. Like closing in on thirty years making punk rock in this city. I moved out here at the tail end of ’93 and we started Bela’s Fix in ’96, but they had already had a band called Three Days Dead that had been around for awhile. After I went away they had a different bass player for a little while then stopped and regrouped as Lugosis Morphine in the early aughts. There’s been a number of people play with them, but it’s really always been the Deric and Slug show in whichever incarnation. And I mean that in the best sense-the guys are some of my closest friends and I fucking admire the shit out of their output over the years (even if I am sort of partial to the stuff I did with them especially.)
Actually, because…well, cause in the final analysis, this is my fucking blog-I’m going to kick this shit off with a song we did in ’96 when I was playing bass with them. The music I even wrote to this one, though Slug made it even better and these are some of my all time favorite of Derics lyrics. Oh, and we had a drumber, Kent. He was actually really fuckin good. Seriously good, and worshipped Neal Peart as all kick ass drummers do. He lives in Florida now, has a wife and kids like me. All of us are kind of olde and shit now I guess. But this one was recorded when I was like 24, and Slug had to scam his way into playing bars with us using his library card for I.D.
This is some newer stuff they did a few years back as Lugosis Morphine. The line up has changed since, as you’ll see when I post the clips from last Thursday. But this song is just fucking killer.
And here’s them playing it last Thursday-personally, though I already love the song, this to me is a superior version. Simply because it’s live and gnarly as fuck-the way punk is supposed to be listened to. Plus, by the time they tore into this one there was beer and a round of fine fucking White Russians courtesy of Lugosis rhythm guitar and Mutations front man, Pat. Which made everything that much better. And if I’m being too subjective here, fuck you. Like I said, this is my perblog and these are my friends. You want some hip commercial viral hype buzz promotion type shit or “music critic” rap gfy on your way to Pitchfork. This is fucking punk rock from the hinterlands of NE Pennslyvania, this aint fucking Brooklyn.
This one is an old song we used to do with Belas Fix and recorded on our demo back then. I’m not going to post that version for “comparison” or any dumb shit like that, but the bassline was rather different and more of a walking style than Tim, their current bassist plays on it.
And lastly in the video department, this one I played on. It was the first time in about seven years I even picked up a bass, and even longer since I played with a band. The strap broke seconds into the song so I had to sit my ass down to finish playing it. This was towards the end of the evening, and everyone except Slug was pretty well sotted. I did three songs with them, but only this one got caught on video by the drummer from the Mutations. It’s an old G.G. Allin song, obvious, the other two I did with them were old Belas numbers but dude holding my camera had to cut out. Monday me and Dee are going up to Pat’s again, so if I play with them she’ll be able to film it.
And now, the stills.
All these were taken with my Canon T1i, which I’m still figuring out how to use, and were edited in GIMP with some easy peasy adjustments and scripts. The black and whites I mainly just darkened and punched up the contrast then ran them through an Ilford Delta 400/3200 film simulaton script or through a simple pinhole filter. Call me “filter hippie” or whatever, or bemoan my non use of eyepopping HDR…but I fucked around with these all kinds of ways this past week and I just feel the way they finally got done captures the essence of that night, and how I feel about my friends as well as their decades long contribution to the scene here. Again, it’s subjective, so deal with it.