Feb 15, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR column #374

“I am not a chilled person.”


“I don’t see you on here” said the lady behind the desk.

“I should be, my reservation is right here” I reply, holding up my phone showing her the screen with my flight itinerary.

“Oh that was yesterday hon…”

My hands got shaky and for a second I went beet red. I fly almost once a year, how the hell could this happened to me; the most organized person this side of chaos?! Dammit!

“… OK then. One ticket on the first plane to San Francisco please.”

“Sure thing. That’ll be $70 for the ticket and $25 for your luggage.”

“Double dammit! … OK…here’s my card.”

Swipes card. “I’m afraid it’s not going through…” Triple dammit!

Thanks goodness my friend Jason had offered me a ride to the airport and was there—he and his working credit card…I hugged Jason for being my savior but what I really wanted to do was punch myself in the face for being an idiot. I bought the ticket, went outside and chain-smoked three cigarettes said my goodbyes and dragged myself to my gate, flustered and swearing obscenities under my breath. I am not a chilled person.

But wait a minute, what the hell am I doing away from MRR anyway? Why am I even outside San Francisco? I never leave; I’m the coord who hasn’t even crossed the Golden Gate Bridge yet (sad but true). I get separation anxiety every time I leave the compound for more than a few hours. (Man, this must be what having kids is like… Glad I’m never having any of those!) To maintain my sanity, I needed to get away for a while, recharge my batteries, then come back and get knee deep into it again. “I’m not looking for escapism, I just want to escape.”

I was originally going to go on tour and help roadie, but that kinda fell through, which is fine really; I looked forward to a week of having nothing to worry about except whether or not I have enough cigarettes in my pocket. So I booked a ticket to NYC, my favourite place in the whole wide world (so far!) Thankfully I have awesome friends and Ermis and Afroula (and their gorgeous cat Eddie) let me stay with them for a few days. Yessss! This was really going to happen!

San Francisco is changing faster than you can say “gentrification,” which means that all the cool things that made SF a colourful, creative, radical city are being whitewashed by yuppies, techies, trust fund students and rich families. That aside, SF is too small for me. When I lived in Athens, a city with a core population of over 3.8 million people, I felt it was too small for me. SF, which has a core population of just under one million people, its metro population just over 4.5…still too small for me. I need some place where I can go up onto a steep hill and look down and see a city that goes as far as the eye can see. I need a metropolis to fit my busting personality, my endless thirst for discovery. SF is truly beautiful, but, if I didn’t have this über-demanding job at MRR, I think I would eventually go mad living in the Bay Area as it is right now. I am not a chilled person.

Friday went like most: On the floor by 10am, a full coffeepot awaiting my consumption, the inbox refreshed, the lists all updated. Then the doorbell rang; once, twice, three times. Then the phone. Then the mail arrived, then a couple shitworkers; then more punk guests to check out the compound. By 8pm I was nowhere near finishing all I had to do before safely being able to exit the building. By 11pm I had finished my emailing, by 1am I was done with editing, and by 3pm I had showered and packed my bags. By 4.30 when the shuttle bus arrived I was wide-awake, ready to finally get on that fucking flight to NYC. I am not a chilled person.

On Saturday Jason picked my up at JFK (he really is the best) and we headed straight for Brooklyn. As we rode over the BQE and talked about Spike Lee movies, I said I wonder where Queens Bridge is. He said he was surprised I even knew that place. I said “I get a lot of my New York references from Beastie Boys songs” and started to rap, “We’re doing fine on the 1 and 9 line. On the L we’re doin’ swell. On the number 10 bus we fight and fuss. Because we’re thorough in the boroughs and that’s a must.” He laughed and pointed towards Manhattan as it slowly rolled past us on the right. Man, I have to move here one day!

Our first stop was to get a traditional cheese slice (yum!), then check in on the felines he was cat-sitting (both adorable). Then we met up with Jason’s friend, Rugrat, who took the bus (!) all the way from Columbus, Ohio (!) to come with us to the show and hang out (punks have no qualms when it comes to traveling for punk, I love it!). Despite already counting about 36 hours without sleep I was feeling surprisingly chipper—dazed and still slightly nauseous from the plane but definitely standing. We headed to the Acheron (which people mispronounce all the time, something I as a Greek find quite entertaining), chatted about the current state of NYC punk, and hung out outside, beneath the graffiti-filled buildings, smoking, laughing, yelling at each other and generally looking like a scruffy bunch of delinquents. The Black and Blue Bowl was happening right around the corner, with bands like Agnostic Front, Biohazard, Madball, 7 Seconds and apparently the next night Discharge too!

I was too out of it and engrossed in conversation to catch the first two bands (though Ajax sounded great from outside) but of course I headed in for EU’s Arse, who were pretty darn incredible! The singer has a temperamento that is magnetic and engaging, as he squeals, screams and wriggles on stage. Sure, maybe the young kids have all the gimmicks and béret-props, but what EU’s Arse were playing in Udine, Italy back in the ‘80s is still what the young kids are playing today. It’s not boring or overplayed, it’s classic and inspiring.

On Sunday I rolled out of bed pretty late for CET, so we just headed to our friend Leda’s house, a punk we all knew from back home in Athens who moved to NYC a few years ago. We rolled cigarettes and played Cards Against Humanity outside in the sun, downing beers, then coffee. At some point I heard a strange, sweet tune wafting through the air. I had heard that tune before, I recognized it from the movies: it was an ice cream truck! (Yes, those things actually exist!) We spoke of the differences between Athens and NYC, and SF and NYC, and SF and Athens, and even though I still have not put my finger on what it is that makes this country so surreal (too many things probably), I was feeling more at ease in NYC, no doubt. Something about the smells in the air, the 24-hour diners and cheeky rats make me feel right at home. I am not a chilled person.

That evening I also met up with a newer writer punk friend, AC. We met by Peter Luger on Broadway, and walked to one of the Art University campuses, where we strolled through the outdoor art exhibits and counted stray cats. The night was starry and mild. We sat under a statue with a yellow balloon tied to it and talked about the joys of writing. I tried to suck the helium from the balloon and recite Bill Hicks in a squeaky voice, but all I managed to do was inhale some random person’s second-hand breath. Oh well. We continued south of Williamsburg and headed towards AC’s warehouse bookstore. It was quite a way down, so I balanced on the back of his bike as we rode past the waterfront, the Manhattan city lights gleaming in the distance, the Brooklyn bridge every bit of majestic you expect it to be. The warehouse is simply huge and reminded me of the kind of place you’d hole up in in the event of a coup d’état, or if the zombie apocalypse finally came. I think the people in charge have the same idea. Rows and rows of household materials, antiques, ornaments, furniture and every other thing you could imagine: from bathtubs, marble sinks, ceiling fans and picture frames, to chandeliers, rocking chairs and coffee pots. And of course, in amongst this paradise of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” was AC’s little bookstand. Four or so bookshelves and one display table; set up looking like the world tiniest bookstore, perfect with its dusty carpeting underfoot, rusty chandeliers for sale up above and the hand-written section signs pinned to the shelves. Lucky for me, I was gifted something special: The Wit and Humor of Oscar Wilde and a night of great conversation.

We had no supplies, so headed out in search of some coffee and beer and slowly walked back through the warm night and empty streets. Back at the warehouse we were greeted by Bagel the cat. We listened to a little transistor radio (the kind that fits in your breast pocket) and priced used books, shared stories and listed books we hadn’t yet read. Around 3am we headed back north, made food and more coffee and listened to the Sun Ra special on WBGO on the little transistor radio. The sun had started to come up and was reflecting off the buildings and through the trees. I got some writing done, as did AC, a compulsory need writers have in order to move on with their often-hectic lives.

Later on we headed to the local library in search of some maps. Alas they had none so we strolled through Prospect Park. As we walked past a junior baseball league match, I heard an ice cream truck’s tune somewhere in the distance yet again. It started to rain, so out the other end we went and ducked into a perfectly scruffy little diner for coffee and donuts and talked zines, punk, MRR and the oddball opportunities life throws you. By that time the clouds had cleared and the sun was out again; setting just as I crossed the bridge on the J train back home. Overground trains are so much cooler than underground trains.

The next day I woke up so hungry I demanded we go to a diner for brunch. When in Rome… naturally we went to Astoria. When the waiter came to refill my coffee I almost squealed with joy—the land of bottomless coffee cups! After brunch we walked into a corner store to buy cigarettes and I found out they make frappe! So, one glyko me gala (sweet with milk) and off we were to Hell Gate, a picturesque arch railway bridge that goes through Astoria, across the East River and into Queens the other end. It was warm and sunny, the park was full, an ice cream truck was serving cones to the kids and the Triborough Bridge loomed in the distance, suspended and impressive.

For all the hype it gets, and all the hipsters who have moved there, you’d expect Williamsburg to have more than three crappy bars. After going in circles for 30 minutes around Lorimer Street, we eventually found somewhere with a garden out back to wet our whiskers. Two drinks were not enough, so Jason and I headed into Alphabet City, found Joe Strummer’s mural on Avenue A and 7th and got cocktails at Niagara. (when they’re well made like those ones, I love me a cocktail, or four.) Through the window we could see Tompkins Square Park, aka (what once was) The Punkest Square in Manhattan. We sat there for a while afterwards and, even if we were the only punks there, it felt great to sit outside and soak up the night. We had one of those deep conversations you often have when forming a new friendship. We laughed at the people and situations that made us grow, worried about the ways in which our lives would be changing over the next year (for vastly different reasons) and for a moment silence fell; the kind that two people can share and actually enjoy. A silent ice-cream truck drove by. I told him how I wanted to move to New York. He told me he’d been thinking about moving to the Bay. “I know it seems that way, but I am not a chilled person. I’m a West Coast person trapped in an East Coast body.” As we headed our separate ways we both recognized our position in our respective presents, and realized that the future isn’t as scary when you have friends to hang out in parks with.

A little earlier he had told me a saying from the ‘80s people had about Alphabet City. Avenue A you’re Alright, Avenue B you’re Brave, Avenue C you’re Crazy, Avenue D you’re Dead. I thought about this as I noticed the street sign above my head said Avenue C and 3rd. After leaving David the punk lawyer’s pad (who owns an original Minor Threat EP, which I got to touch and smell!) I had intended to walk down to the Bowery area to catch a nightcap before catching my train, but had drifted off to the right somewhere by mistake. It was past midnight and I was still in my T-shirt. The rats crawled between the rubbish bins, the kids played basketball in the outdoor courts and the bars and shops were all still open. There were old ladies buying groceries at midnight on a Tuesday! Fantastic! I continued to roam until I stumbled upon a wine bar near my station. Unfortunately the place was almost closing for the night so I chugged my overpriced glass of rose, scribbled down some notes at the bar and bolted. As I walked towards Essex Station I saw some tourists point to a gutter and shriek in mock horror. Yeah, we are all in the gutter, but I am not a chilled person.

I was still on West Coast time so even though my SF-conditioned body woke up at 8am, it was already 11am in Brooklyn. Afro and I got some coffee and donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts (I know, the worst, but it’s actually kind of the best) and talked about New Yorkers. Have you got anxiety because you live in New York, or do you live in New York because you have anxiety? Most people would coil up at the sight of hundreds, thousands of people walking down Lexington Ave., but I relished in it. I had missed that feeling, of being able to be a nobody, an anybody (a somebody?) as I walked side by side all these complete strangers. There is a sense of destiny in the air, as if something strange and magical can occur. Like spinning tops, people are constantly trying to avoid crashing into each other, lest their precious time is wasted, their important schedule affected. Yet when two of them do collide, just by accident, because of some unlucky series of events, their courses alter, moving into a new, shared dimension that never would have existed otherwise. Social entropy.

David the punk lawyer grew up in Manhattan and spent many of his early years exploring Grand Central Station. So when we met beneath his office at 51st and Lex, it seemed like the appropriate place to get some gelato, coffee and postcards. It’s a massively huge station; a little city beneath the city, with shops and restaurants, news stands and shoe cleaners (yes, those still exist apparently); the terminal area alone expanding for almost one square mile, with 44 platforms serving 67 tracks! Over 20 million people go through it on an annual basis and I was one of them.

Dinnertime was rolling around and I was to meet Ermis in Chinatown for dumplings and teriyaki chicken, which was, of course, delicious. Drinks at the Cakeshop with Stav were up next. (I walked by ABC No Rio but still haven’t managed to catch a show there yet! Ugh! It’s been added to my Next Time list.) I know Ermis because along with another eight or so punks we used to run a tropical wet hole/show basement, called Katarameno Syndromo, in the shittiest part of Athens. I know Stav through a different group of friends (hi Elly!), also from Athens. Ermis and Stav are both Greek artists (comics, painting, sketching, tattoos) who have lived within a few miles of each other in Brooklyn for the past four years or so—but had never met! So when I was there last December I insisted they do! And now we were all hanging out together—don’t you just love how small the world can be sometimes?

Stav and Dana live in Green Point. From their sixth floor apartment I can see the Empire State building. We discuss language, politics and “political correctness.” An electric storm is raging above our heads but their two luscious Persian cats, Gordon and Charlie, snoozed under the table, on the sofa, looking completely cozy and at ease. For once in a long time I could relate. I tucked my working friends into bed and settled into the snug duvets myself. The lightning illuminated the room and I counted the seconds between lightning and thunder; the furthest strike about three miles away (fifteen seconds), the closest right around the corner, a mile down the road (three seconds). I tried to sleep but I could feel my neurons fire up, visualizing them spark with every strike of lightning. I was wide awake and wandering down my own neural pathways, but unable to find Morpheus anywhere. So I smoked another cigarette on the balcony, admiring the skyline, feeling electrified. Around 3.30am I finally retired. I am not a chilled person.

The next day I did a spot of cat-sitting while my friends went to work. I didn’t technically need to, but it was wet and dreary outside, so what better way to spend the day than with cats, drinking coffee, listening to records and writing postcards and letters? It didn’t look like it was going to clear up, so I ventured out anyway, through McCarren Park to meet Santi, who does Hysteria Records (he just put out that wicked D.H.K. EP, reviewed further down in this issue). We went to the tasty vegan diner Lauren from La Misma works at (I missed their Bay Area show, I heard they killed it! Hopefully got an interview coming soon!). Then we went to 538 Johnson St., where a bunch of shows happen, most recently NY’s Alright Fest, and climbed up onto its perfect punk roof, talking about new bands and records, up-coming projects and travels. It was still very cloudy, and that only dispersed the light, so everything had a sepia tone, quite cinematic. (hysteriarecords.bigcartel.com)

“Do you have ADD?” David the punk lawyer asked me as we walked towards Time Square, then back again, in search of some grub, my head darting left and right like a pigeon. Everything excited me. I felt alive in all that craziness. Maybe because I felt less crazy myself.

Stav and I hopped a train to Chambers Station for, weirdly enough, more cat-sitting. I got to see City Hall for the first time, got more stamps from a very drunk kiosk guy, and went up seven floors to an apartment overlooking City Hall Park. A tall and skinny silver skyscraper (World Trade 2.0) towered to the left, the park below, New Jersey in the distance, and looming above it all the most vicious looking cloud—sludgy green/charcoal grey with shards of blue/white lightning shooting out at a scarily close distance. It was sick! (yeah, that film Twister? Love it!) We had to bolt, but fuck if the architecture and urban landscape isn’t crazy: one skyscraper reflecting of another, lights glowing, lines and angles merging, materials mixing; shape and perspective take new form, different dimensions skip out from between the buildings, space feels like its constantly altering, you’re over-stimulated and the city shifts and morphs around with you, almost as if it’s pulling you into its alternate reality, simultaneously pushing you to keep moving forward. I like that forging of energies, the mutability, it keeps me on my toes, it keeps me buzzed. ‘Cause hey, I am not a chilled person.


• The Flex and Violent Opposition show in Oakland was great, lots of people went flying in the pit and their energy was quite different, a nice change of pace, and very cool people too. Also, I went to Don Pyle’s photography exhibition at 1-2-3-4 Go! and of course his work is amazing, with prints from the early Canadian punk scene, plus pictures from Ramones, Blondie and Iggy shows in Canada! He’s great at capturing people in their moments of bliss, ecstasy and exhilaration on stage. (Fell in love with Debbie Harry all over again.) If you haven’t already, check out his interview in MRR #350, July 2012!

  • MRR is doing monthly shows again! Wanna help out? Suggest a band, out-of-towners included? Get in touch at mrrshows@gmail.com. Also, send your demo tape/CD-R for review, or submit your info for the New Blood section! Do you take pictures? Monday Photoblog your best shit on our website! Are you the next Nick Blinko? Submit your art for the artpage! Do you have a record out, or do a label? Send us your vinyl for review. What gets reviewed is then kept in the vast MRR record collection of about 46,000 records—a punk resource and treasure! You can help preserve it by donating on our website at maximumrocknroll.com/donate.

•We are working on an Iberian punk issue! Submit interviews, scene reports, photospreads, oral histories, guest columns, resource lists; we want to know about bands, zines, labels, collectives, show spaces, and anything else you think we should know about!

•You know you’re addicted to caffeine when at 00.10am you’re forcing yourself to not finish that cup of coffee that’s been sitting on your desk all day, so instead you just bury your nose in it and take a big long whiff of it. I am not a chilled person. lydia@maximumrocknroll.com

Feb 6, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #378

Slovenian Punk: A Brief Introduction

From the Maximum Rocknroll blog, October 28th, 2014 by


I have had a great deal of interest in how and why bands form under extreme political environments, and so when we decided to work on a series of special features focusing on bands active under socialism in the former Yugoslavian Republic, it was the perfect opportunity for me to dig deeper, do more research and look into what has already been written about Slovenian punk; and one article in particular was immensely helpful in understanding the historical events which lead up to the explosion of punk in Slovenia and the rest of Yugoslavia. I am not a historian, and surely history is better documented and passed on by those who made it happen, so that is what we  aimed to do, beginning with part one of our ex-Yugo series in MRR #378. The bands featured  have some incredible stories, which will surely make other punks around the world revisit their own ideas and ideals, but I figured a short introduction and some background information might help frame the greater political and social picture a bit better. Knowledge is power and we still have so much to learn.

It was 1948. WWII was over. The leader of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the charismatic bon vivant Tito, had just split from Stalin and the Soviet Union, entering Yugoslavia into the newly formed Non-Aligned Movement. The country’s trade depended heavily on the Soviet Bloc, and with Western politicians “keeping Tito afloat” in hopes of appeasing Yugoslavia into neutrality and weakening the Soviet Bloc, the country plunged into an economic crisis. This was ideal ground for the introduction of a capitalist economy. What followed were two decades of “liberalization” in the ’50s and ’60s (less party involvement in the economic sphere) and a decrease in personal spending due to post-war displeasure, which was in turn met by heavy promotion of consumerism by the party. This lead to an increase in spending, as Slovenian families shrunk to an average of 3.5 members per household. People were buying TVs, record players, washing machines and scooters, many traveling to Trieste, a neighboring Italian city popular for shopping.

An unplanned side effect of this gradual shift towards consumerism meant that, surprise surprise, people pushed aside collectivist social notions for more individualistic consumption-driven ones. As Gregor Tomc says in his enlightening chapter, “A Tale of Two Subcultures, A Comparative Analysis of Hippie and Punk Subcultures in Slovenia” from the book Remembering Utopia: The Culture of Everyday Life in Socialist Yugoslavia, “Nobody seemed to notice how the emphasis of socialism shifted from creating an alternative to capitalism to entering into a competition with it.” This liberal economic change also brought about a rise in unemployment, which the party dealt with by opening the borders (the known Gastarbeiter), meaning lots of young people could travel abroad and be exposed to Western culture and youth styles. The results of this increased familiarity with the West is what helped the radicalization of the youth movement, and the growth of the hippie and punk movements.

During the ’50s the Yugoslav republic viewed jazz with suspicion, and it was even debated amongst top communist officials, saying that its “unhealthy outgrowths […] have nothing in common either with music or with dance” even though “it can—with its modern expressive means—positively influence the mood of the working man, his cheerfulness.” The only two recording studios were state-run and hard to get into without a record deal, which was contingent on a band’s lyrics, which were subject to the “Committee of Trash,” which basically regulated lyrics and made sure they did not oppose the party. This made access to self-expressed ideas and independent cultural media more difficult. For example, Pankrti recorded their first double single in Italy and any band that did release records made in state-owned studios had to “adjust” their lyrics, giving the art of reading between the lines a new meaning in the context of anti-authoritarian lyrics.

92 (aka Grupa 92)

Something to remember, though, is that youth culture in Yugoslavia was developing in a socialist society gradually experiencing the assimilation of capitalism, while still being under the watchful eye of the Party gatekeepers, who were also having to learn how to react to, confine and/or control these new, “decadent” “imported” ideas from the West. This disapproval only made it all the more appealing, of course.

It is hard to imagine a life split in two the way it was for Yugoslavians: on the one hand a public life appropriate for state controlled activities (class-integrated neighborhoods, party-controlled school system, state-run cultural industry) and on the other a private, “spontaneous” life not structured by or around the official state norm (playing in rock bands, joining a commune, or being active in political youth groups). The hippie subculture was an important part of youth culture in 1970s Slovenia, as was the subpolitical student movement, which in some cases resulted in students being more radicalized that the party elite, as expressed in a popular student slogan of the time, “Communism against ‘communism.’” Western student movements were influential in this radicalization, leading Ljubljana University students to protest against dorm rent increases, the Vietnam War, Nixon’s Yugoslav visit, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, lack of Slovenian minority rights in Italy, and more.

The student youth party was instrumental in the growth and dissemination of youth culture, and so when in the mid-’70s the state forced it to merge with the Alliance of Socialist Youth of Slovenia (ASYS), it left a sort of void which neither the hippie culture (which bored suburban youth) nor the socialist realism movement (the dominant one until then, a mix of traditional working class culture, Soviet block art and Western “progressive” ideas) seemed capable of filling. This was the ideal time for the party to strengthen its influence and, of course, for something new to flourish in the wake of its reaction. Over the next couple of years the punk movement grew tremendously, with more bands surfacing in Ljubljana and all around Slovenia—bands like Pankrti (Bastards), Lublanska Psi (Ljubljana Dogs), Grupa 92 (Group 92), Berlinski Zid (Berlin Wall), KuZle (Bitches), UBR (Uporniki Bez Razloga [Rebels Without a Cause]), III Kategorija (Third Category)—and this just in Slovenia, not to mention the rest of the Yugoslav federation.

One of the things about punk, not only in Slovenia but anywhere where punk has flourished, is that its characteristics are not that of a subculture stemming from the mainstream. Instead, punk springs as a reaction, a counterculture. Of course this meant that, even if the societal background in Slovenia was not necessarily adverse to youth cultures (as Slovenia was one of the most developed states in the Yugoslav federation) the system, which was losing control over media during the ’70s and ’80s thanks to new media technologies, viewed them with suspicion, even confusion. So, once the party finally declared its disapproval of punk, this opened the way for increased suppression from the state police. A number of incidents occurred, but perhaps the most well-known was the “Nazi punk affair,” when a populist newspaper wrongfully assumed three Ljubljana punks, who were sporting “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” pins with swastikas crossed out, to be members of the Nazi party. This resulted in their arrest under the charges of secretly trying to start their own IV Reich(!). It was clear that punk was no longer considered to be just a symbolic threat.

The student movement, despite having merged with the Alliance of Socialist Youth of Slovenia (ASYS), was still a major contributing factor to the evolution of punk. The elderly party elite figured it no longer played a leading role in the political landscape and dialogue, since it was now under party regulation. However, they underestimated the student movement power and, with the help of people like P. Mlakar (a poet, philosopher, artist, book editor and more), Igor Vidmar (a radio DJ, concert promoter, political activist and more) and other members of the student movement, they supported punk by playing punk bands on the radio, promoting their shows, publishing their comics and recording their records. If Marcuse’s “repressive tolerance” is where capitalism and totalitarianism meet, then Slovene punks were having to balance the thin line between the two, stemming from the former and growing into the later. Such a system clash is ideal for the eruption of youth movements, especially one as vivid and forceful as punk. Much like when two tectonic plates collide and mountains are formed, Slovenian punk rose, growing past the police interrogations, the arrests, the censorship, even Tito’s death. It would not be wrong to say that the punk movement in Yugoslavia helped society further open up to the concept of revolution, and this is perhaps where its strongest appeal lies: in the manifestation that, yes, punk can be more than just music, concerts and records; that, in fact, punk was and can still be a powerful force of social change. In his introduction to an interview with Serbia’s Pekinska Patka for MRR in 2010, Spencer Rangitsch says that they “didn’t just ‘push the envelope’ of what was deemed socially and politically acceptable, they also broke boundaries in radical ways which helped create new spaces and possibilities for a youth subculture to thrive.”And that sounds pretty fucking punk to me.

These is much to be said about this unique time and place, and my short introduction is by no means a comprehensive deposition of all the facts—one could fill books and books and still have more to say. This was, however, the most relevant information I found, in large thanks to the aforementioned paper by Gregor Tomc. There is probably less written about punk in Yugoslavia during the Yugoslav wars that followed Tito’s death, but that is not to say that it did not exist. The idea behind this Ex-Yugo Special is to learn more about how and why punk erupted in Yugoslavia under socialism, and to shed more light onto how punk survives during and after wartime. Hopefully in the process we can broaden our horizon of punk history, helping us better frame our own perceptions of it. One of the most important characteristics of punk, for me, is the realization that, since we chose to create, and thus define the culture we engage in and the life we lead, then it is also up to us to preserve and document it. I am honoured to be able to offer these pages to some of the unsung progressives of the first wave of punk, and in doing so express my admiration for their contributions to it. Ladies and germs, Slovenia.


I have put together a shortlist of some of my favourite Slovenian punk songs. Not a comprehensive list by any stretch, as there are many bands missing, but here you go anyway. In no particular order:

O! Kult “Za Ljudi” from their Mladi Imajo Moc EP, which translates to “For the People,” declaring, “Freedom is a scam!” You can read more about O! Kult here.

Quod Massacre “V Očeh” from their Kje Je Odgovor! LP. The title means “In the Eyes” a track that stuck with me the second I heard it, and which is a prime example of how, even if one cannot understand the lyrics, the music speaks volumes.

KuZle “Vahid” from their Archived LP, which talks about a Serb boy being in love with a Slovenian girl, but her father disapproving of the relationship. “Vahid, Vahid where are you going, you know you cannot go there / Vahid, Vahid go home, forget about her address” is the moving translation I get online for the lyrics.

Indust-Bag “Ti Si Stroj” from their Zavrzena Mladost LP; the song title translates to “you are a machine,” while their record title means rejected youth.

Grupa 92 “Od Šestih do Dveh” from their Od Šestih do Dveh/Tujci 45, this song is called “6 to 2” and the lyrics talk about the monotony of the work schedule.

UBR “UBR” from their split with Croatian band Patareni. A “no future” manifesto for rebels without a cause, clocking in at exactly one minute. UBR were definitely heavier than most of their peers, breaking through into hardcore.

TožibabeDejuže” from their EP of the same name. They were the only known all-girl hardcore punk band in Slovenia at that time and this track is a phenomenal, unrepeatable classic. Trailblazers and an inspiration for womyn everywhere.

Šund “Komisija za Šund” from the epic Lepo Je… compilation. “Lepo Je…” in Slovenian means “It Is Nice…” and the subtitle to this comp is “…V Naši Domovini Biti Mlad” (“…In Our Country to Be Young”) epitomizing the irony felt by punks under the socialist regime.

III. Kategorija “Agresor” Heavier than their peers, Third Category forged a hardcore sound on the way to being metal (check out those solos!) and in some cases even noise not music before that was a thing. This band has also recently been re-released, and this song appeared on the seminal compilation Hard-Core Ljubljana.

Bonus from Serbia:

Pekinska Patka “Bila Je Tako Lijepa” from the Bila Je Tako Lijepa/Buba – Rumba 45. This song made popular by in 1965 in Yugoslavia by chanson singer Dragan Stojnic. The original, called “Elle Etait Si Jolie,” was written in French by crooner Alain Barrière as the French entry for the 1963 Eurovision music contest. Splendidly better performed by punks, for sure.

Stay tuned for Part II of our special feature on Ex-Yugoslavian punk: Croatia.

Jan 28, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #379

Many things trouble me before I go to bed, and many more every morning when I wake up; but the one thought that has stuck with me the most this whole year is sustainability: the ability to maintain what we have at the quality we want. Coordinating MRR means being mentally fit and physically healthy to manage it all. Bad eating habits, not enough sleep, at least one day a week away from the compound—all these things are crucial to our ability to run this massively amazing and important institution. Putting out and collecting records means we still have resources at our disposal that we can use. Oil and paper: what happens to a punk scene when the communication, music, zines and interactions are all online? Taking it a step further, beyond the pragmatic environmental sustainability we should be working towards:

Certain things happened this month that kept bringing me back to this this notion.

I recently signed up for a staffing agency that recruited me to work at “the largest software conference on the planet.” The first gig was a three-day bag stuffing job for none other than that giant, horrid convention that takes over the city once a year, called Dremforce. Basically a production line job. We had to show up all in black. The information packet sent to us actually said, “The client requests NO expressions of individuality; jewelry, scarves, etc.” To sidetrack briefly: I looked into the role of a uniform, or at least uniformity, among workers a bit, and the read was quite distressing. Even workplace psychology, which can be used towards improving workplace conditions for the workers’ benefit, is employed by corporations to figure out how to get the most out of their workers for the company’s benefit. Increased productivity = increased profit. Increased illusion of happiness and safety = more chances of compliance + less chances of a revolt. Sustainable slavery. Our first job was to stuff a fancy backpack with a fancy water bottle, pen and promo pack of thirteen flyers, in order of promotional support of course, all stamped with the Dreamforce logo, of course. We broke up into smaller production groups and over the course of 22 hours made over 26,000 of those wretched things. Just the thought of how much money DF spent to make just this component of their conference was mind-boggling. The silky, baby-blue lining on the inside of the backpack said “I [picture of a cloud] SF.” “I Cloud SF!” for fuck’s sake! I wanted puke! I wanted to get onto the table they had us stand at and scream out to everyone, “We’re all idiots! This is not how it’s supposed to be!” … but of course I didn’t. Instead I worked in angry silence, mentally taking notes on the whole thing, wondering about all the other workers, what their story was and how we all ended up in this giant warehouse by the water at 7am, assembling bags for the Children of the Cloud. The next ten days were spent registering people in and monitoring rooms (glorified way of saying “smile, scan badge, say thank you.”) Every one of those days I had the same sour taste of irony in the back of my mouth: not only could we not find a job in this booming, highly competitive city, but when we did, it was working for the enemy: the conference that teaches the corporate world how to utilize new technologies to maximize their profits. It sounded like a marriage from hell; the techies teaching the money-makers how to make more money! Sustainable productivity.

Sure, a lot of smaller companies, unions, hotels, vendors and other service providers probably made good bucks printing all their glossy, full-color materials, setting up their booths (about six grand just for the space), putting down all those wires, housing all their attendees, making all those meals. But there was still that gross feeling of separation and inequality: either you were one of them, one of the 135,000 attendees, working for some multi-national company (though, according to DF statistics, 7,000 of them were non-profit), or you were serving them; stuffing their freebie bags, serving them food, cleaning up their rubbish, bussing them around, or simply holding up a stupid sign with information for them to read. I haven’t always enjoyed working—because come on, let’s be real, humanity is so scientifically and technologically advanced that we really should have been automated out of the industrial revolution and past the information age into the revolution of consciousness ages ago. The machines take over labour, resources and riches are equally distributed, and humans are allowed to live up to their full existential potential because we have connected to the higher powers of the universe that do not require money or status to be attained and which enrich us more than… “Oh I’m sorry, wrong meeting.” We’re not worthy of enlightenment anyway, why waste my breath?—I do however find great value in the ability to discover, develop and apply one’s skills and oneself to a healthy, productive, creative environment. That said, doing this job was probably the easiest one I’ve ever had, yet still, I was morally opposed… but of course I did the job. I was, and still am, super broke, so I can’t afford to get fired or quit. Unsustainable ethics.

On the last day of the DF convention I decided to stick around for a bit and hear what some of the 1,450 speakers spread out across 18 venues had to say. (Previous days included Al Gore (geez!), Hillary Rodham Clinton (uuuh…), Neil Young (I guess he’s been converted) and Will.i.am (pffff, I know, right?) I listened to Arianna Huffington with her proudly thick Greek accent talk about power, success, burnout and happiness. “Success and power are like a two-legged stool. Eventually you will fall off.” Then she spoke with Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now, about the importance of rest, centering one’s self and getting down time. Tolle talks of the “I am” state of just being—being in the present because you can never not be in the present—and how we lose touch with the real world when we are constantly trying to live in the future. She sits on the floor, cross-legged and goes through her five-minute centering routine, making the audience follow suit, mentioning how many corporations now offer yoga sessions and sleep rooms to their employees. Even God, on the seventh day, took a day to rest. I kid you not, she referenced that! Sustainable dominance.

I deduced that education—nay, learning is one of the most direct and integral ways we can achieve sustainability. Within the punk world, where expertise is not a prerequisite to getting things done, knowledge is a powerful tool. Learning from one another, learning how to do it ourselves, is a key part of our culture. If we can acquire knowledge, we can apply it, which is a great step towards taking change of our own lives.


What a year it has been! A year of first and lasts, I am happy 2014 will soon be over! One of my first, was back in May, when for the first time in my life, I missed a flight; from NYC to SF, going in the red by about $600. I got back home to a practically empty bank account. I had also just been forced to resign from my lovely bookstore job—as they would not give me time off (three days!) and neither could I find someone to cover my shifts—so I was broke and unemployed. Then in June and July I was running the magazine, at least everything but distro, pretty much alone, which meant I was now unemployable. Throughout those solo months I did, however, have trusted shitworkers Kyle, Layla and Chris help me out immensely, and so I want to formally extend my thanks to them for all their support! And of course to my partner Mike, who has put up with every bad morning and moody night. Then, thankfully, in August our new content coord, Grace, arrived, and we threw ourselves into training. September found me still jobless and in debt, but very much enjoying our special Ex-Yugo/Slovenia issue. By the time October rolled around, and given that we work on multiple timelines here, one of them being a two-months-in-the-future timeline, I realized Christmas holidays were right around the corner. I haven’t been back home since I got here in April 2012, and tickets to Greece are not cheap, but I went ahead and booked tickets to visit my family and friends in Athens anyway. Sometimes you’ve just gotta do what you gotta do, and you figure out the details later. So, here I am, one day after sending the magazine to print wondering what will come hurtling our way next. Taxes are due at the end of the year, the Crudos Discography 2xLP will be back from the pressing plant by that time, I am stepping down by March (could you be the next über-organized content coord?!)… Yes, dear readers, the time has come (yet again) for me to try and figure out my exit plan. I will be leaving MRR in the 2015. I were to stick around until all of MRR’s problems were solved, I would never leave. And while dedicating the rest of my life to this magazine may not sound like a bad idea, it is not sustainable for one person to do for years on end. Burnout is a lose-lose for everybody. So, we have been working on ideas that can help keep MRR in business not for one or two more years, but for one or two more decades. Part of the reason we still exist is our readership basis: without you guys this wouldn’t be possible. And even though our print run has dropped since the glory days of the ’90s, even sometimes I wonder if young punks even know what MRR is and who are we doing all this for anyway, I know what we have to keep going, with tooth and nail, until we no longer have reason to exists, because that is the right thing to do. Because people depend on us to be the living proof of a system that can persevere and overcome. Because no one else is going to ensure punk is a sustainable alternative. So, unlike, say, solar energy, an exceptional example of sustainable energy, DIY punk is a bad business model for capitalism, it doesn’t make anyone any money. So the question is: how do me move towards making punk sustainable; for ourselves, our communities, and for future punks? It’s up to all of us to answer that question, because if we don’t, the only people we will be letting down is ourselves.

Jan 18, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #377

Last month I shared with you some bands and songs I discovered and liked from older synth and coldwave bands from Europe. One of them was Grauzone, which I wrote in the magazine were from Germany. This is wrong. Pablo from Balkongpønker Vinilers emailed me the other day about it and I thank him for his correction (and for actually reading my column, he should get a prize for being my tenth reader!). Grauzone were in fact from Bern, which is in Switzerland and, as he said, “Switzerland doesn’t have too many record releases and it would be sad to give it to the Germans, especially since ‘Eisbær’ is a great song!” And it’s true; it is an amazing song, with catchy, jerky riffs, icy synths and lyrics proclaiming, “I want to be a polar bear in the cold polar, then I would have to cry no more, everything would be clear. Polar bears must never cry.” Their other material is equally bleak and hypnotic, with lots of ambiance and industrial-styled bleeps and breaks creeping and swooshing in and out of the rhythms and vocals. Fantastic stuff! What Pablo also mentioned that I didn’t know is that members of Grauzone were also in the Glueams, a band I really like and discovered from the comp all young girls should listen to, called My Girlfriend Was A Punk. I played their track off it, “365,” on MRR radio recently, when loyal shitworker Kat and I finally got round to recording that all-ladies radio show we had talked about for so long, along with new coord Grace Ambrose, who moved here exactly one month ago to help coordinate the magazine and be my partner in punk rock crime. It was both a fun time and an interesting lesson, learning about new lady punk bands from two ladies who have contributed much to their scenes. The radio show will be airing soon, though we realized it wasn’t in the end a strictly all-ladies radio show, so don’t cry out in anger when you hear the Glueams on my set. It was hard enough for me to think of all-lady bands as it is. Which brings me to my second point.

When people ask me in amazement, “Greece is part of the European Union?” (has been since 1981) I realize how little they probably know of where I come from, and hence what my background says about who I am as a person and why. [Let me just say here that if anyone is going to assume shit about you without investing even a minute of their time to get to know you as a person, then I don’t think you need to care about what someone like that thinks of you anyway.] Among ourselves, us Greeks joke that Greece is a “third world country” and, the horrible truth is, in some aspects it really is. Among themselves, I notice Americans joke that the US is “the greatest country in the world,” and, while I can see how in some aspects they would think it is, the real truth is that it isn’t. Sorry. However, it is undeniable that when looking at punk pioneering, feminist activism, queer rights and justice, personal politics and freedoms, they’ve come pretty far, in some case further than the rest. I doubt most punks I’ve met here in the US know what growing up in Greece during the early ’90s might have been like, and why would they? I may know for a fact that a large portion of Greek punks, whether during the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s or still, look west for punk inspiration, but I don’t really know how many American punks might have grown up looking east for it. And while I also know for a fact that a lot of Greek punks recognize that other places and scenes exist and are vastly different to theirs (sometimes even assuming they are better just because they are further west, grass is always greener and whatnot), I can’t say I’ve met too many US punks who actually realize that yes, not everywhere is like the US of A.

I grew up in the middle of nowhere, about 20 minutes (by car) from anywhere or anything, so I developed very few childhood friendships that lasted, and instead learned to very much enjoy my time alone, or spent with my twin sister making mixed tapes off the radio, our second best friend. By the time I was thirteen I felt I had absolutely nothing in common with my peers. I cut my hair really, really short, always wore black and tried my best to never look weak or vulnerable. For some reason I ended up hanging out with boys more than girls. At some shows I could count the girls in the room on one hand. If you wanted to be taken seriously by dimwit hardcore dudes, you had to be tough and take their punches. That said, the amount of times I’ve been invited to give some hardcore dude a blow job are more than I care to remember. I only wish I had realized back then the power I actually had in my hands every time they begged for it. By the time I turned twenty-two I realized I had hardly any female friends who were also punks. While I couldn’t necessarily miss being around women, because I just didn’t really know any other way, I also didn’t really know how to be a punk and a woman at the same time either. I didn’t know what was expected of me, or what I should expect of myself even, so it was really hard to talk or preach about women in hardcore when I barely knew how to be one myself. All of this led to a weird relationship with how I (more as a weirdo and less as a woman) perceived myself within that context. As a teenager I used to be a lot more vocal about what I think and believe. Then as I crossed into adulthood and felt the impact of those beliefs and choices. I was either shunned for differing from the pack, put in my place for being ill-informed, or simply laughed at for being different.

Whenever I new people, especially here in SF where people truly do come from all over and from all walks of life, I try to remember what it feels like to be looked at like an alien idiot. Ignorance is a tricky thing. On the one hand it can range from being simply annoying, to downright dangerous. Yet I find that to condemn it, sometimes, is to pass up a chance for enlightenment. Treating ignorance with horror, disgust or surprise can sometimes make others feel pissed off and defensive, or worthless and demeaned, depending on how much they value themselves and your opinion. To make a young girl feel bad about not yet getting into feminism seems to me to be the opposite of what a feminist should be doing. In the same way, when older punks mock younger punks and think they are superior just because they were pushed out a vagina before them, well, then they’re doing a disservice to both younger punks and punk at large. Questioning a guest from abroad as to why they are not familiar with certain local customs or cultural elements, and to make them feel uncomfortable about it at that, is quite ignorant and assuming in return. It ends up coming off as self-righteous. Then again it is a common mistake to expect more from punks.

The point I’m trying to get at is that certain attitudes are not very helpful or encouraging, especially when one is younger and more impressionable. The reasons why one has or hasn’t done what you’ve done, or what you expected them to do, may be unknown to you and your perhaps limited or skewed perception of the world. Not all punks have had the opportunity to develop their personal politics and unique snowflake identities the way many western punks have. I may not have considered myself an outspoken feminist in the mainly dude-dominated hardcore scene I grew up in, but just showing up, being there, week after week, show after show, and not taking shit from any of them, my opinions, passion and rage uncurbed, was a small victory in my teenage head. So it really bugs me when more fortunate punks forget that some punks, no matter their age, are still fighting for their ability to even consider identifying as feminist, queer, antiracist, even punk, whether that’s on the streets, in their punk scenes or within themselves. Check yourself for Privilege Blinkers, whatever the subject matter.


  • Where does dumb meet conceptual and where does performance cross-section with gimmick? Do you have zero artwork and information on your tape because you wanted it that way or are you just lazy? Do you take your punk seriously or is your punk anything but serious? Also, what’s in the water Down Under? And why the fuck are punks recreationally huffing glue? Maybe technology has made DIY easier, but has it also made it any better? Why do we medicate ourselves to deal with how fucked up society is instead of changing society to be less fucked up?
  • Catholic and white are out (thankfully), sax, electronic music and flesh are in (finally). Raw has been replaced by post, and synth is no longer a dirty word (never was in my book). I’m rediscovering French pop and electro pop, getting into Indian and Swedish jazz, Turkish psychedelica, and Rodriguez.
  • I told you last month that I got to see Big Zit and Ooze, but what I didn’t tell you is that after the show we all got pizza and came back to the compound and recorded an interview—or so we thought! The file didn’t save so we did it all over again! Good sports all around. A young bunch of punks who don’t follow trends or care what any of us think of them really, they just like to get weird and noisy, and effortlessly so—and that’s fine with me. Check out Cool Bands 2 in the Demo section further down.
  • We had a crazy first couple August weeks here at the compound, what with Grace’s arrival, radio shows, interviews, bands coming through, etc. I wanted to give a shout out to Tercer Mundo (still kicking myself for thinking they would actually play last on an eight-band bill and getting there just as they had finished!) Some people really just rekindle your love for punk, and Tercer Mundo most definitely did that for me this month. After saying our goodbyes and getting into the van back to SF (thanks, Robert!) I felt rather low. I had just missed a show by one of the best bands in punk right now, they were all lovely people and I was heading back to SF to do what exactly? There are moments when my levels of self-esteem plummet and my self-loathing rockets. The whole ride home I thought about how little I felt I had contributed to punk, how much more I still want to explore and learn, and how sometimes no matter how much you do, it always feels like it’s never enough. Because the hunger never dies. Thank fucking hell.
  • Una Béstia Incontrolable played a simply orgasmic show in SF, and another really great show in Oakland. It was weird to see people not knowing how to responde to their music. There wasn’t really moshing (which was fine by me) and there wasn’t much dancing or pogoing either; people were barely bopping their heads—I couldn’t understand it! Here’s this band playing simple yet organically formed music with such passion and energy it taps into your primal self, and you’re sitting there with your arms folded? It was a high I hadn’t felt in a long time and they do deserve all the recognition they’re getting. Be(a)st boys!
  • Phil from Shogun Records in Bouvancourt and his lovely wife and two daughters also visited the compound, and we shared beer and dug through records in the archive. We went to the park with dark/post/synth punks Kuudes Silmä and Maailmanloppu from Finland and their Texan driver Larry, who apparently decided to give back to punk by allowing touring bands to use his backline and van for tours. Rad! Check out his label Bad Hair Life! Shared smokes and practiced my German with melodic punkers Blank Pages when they recorded a radio show with Matt, and I even got in free to a Fucked Up show across the street from the house (thanks Ben!). I could have seen Boris there the night after, but opted for the KGB tour. I saw Koward and Green Beret at the World Rage Center in Oakland, and they were great, but it was just too crowded and the sound too…something for me to really get much. Their Hemlock show however meant I got to see and hear them up front and all bands that night were great. I preferred Koward a bit more, but hey, where I’m from this kind of hardcore is rare to come by, so I was stoked either way. Sterile Mind and Busted Outlook are two new Bay Area bands you should check out, they both have tapes out, get ’em!
  • You may have noticed (though probably not) that I changed my name. In fact, I reverted back to my real surname. (Though what is in a name? I by any other name would smoke and swear as much.) In Greece the ending –poulos, or –poulou for women, means child of. And I guess Thanasis was the head of my clan a few generations ago. It’s a long ass name and when I first started at the magazine as coordinator I switched to my mother’s maiden name, which was still passed on from her father, it was shorter and much easier to pronounce and spell. It’s been long overdue, but I realized I shouldn’t have changed it just to make it easier on others. Fuck it, I have a long ass Greek name. Deal with it. Love,

—Lydia Christina Athanasopoulou


Jan 8, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #380

Intergenerational disparity

“What are you going to do after you leave Maximum?” people ask as soon as they find out I am planning to step down from coordinator in the New Year. I always hesitate to reply, because I don’t really know the answer. “Oh, I don’t know…” I trail off. “Work, save up some money… find somewhere to live that doesn’t cost an arm and a limb.” But really, I know these ideas are nothing more than temporary answers to the greater question at hand: “What are you going to do the rest of your life?” This is funny question to me, because it hasn’t been one asked of young people for all that long. Existential drifting aside, I feel lucky to even have an option.

I recently came across an article about Millennials. It said there are typically five stages of “entering adulthood.” Graduating high school, leaving your parents’ house, establishing financial independence, getting married or finding a significant other, and having children. It said that, in 1960, 77% of women and 65% of men had ticked all five of those items off their To Do list by the time they were 30 years old. This sounds about right and, one might add, what has been considered for many decades to be “normal.” In the year 2000, fewer than half and one-third of men has checked those five items off their list by age of 30. That got me to thinking: what do young punks want out of life? What do I want out of life?

Punks have always been a unique but never truly detached segment of the broader society. We may be its rejects, mutants, parasites or saboteurs, we are still, however unwillingly, connected to it in some way. The kids getting into punk today view the world quite differently to John Lydon (and thank fucking god for that because that guy’s a joke). I would love to know how Generation Z perceives the world. It’s a confusing, messed up place.

I think of my granddad’s generation, the Silents, born and raised during the Great Depression and WWII. I think of the generation before that, the so-called Greatest Generation, who fought in WWI; the common mores they nobly upheld and the institutions they so loyal supported: their country and flag, their religion, the army and state. Their belief in the “sanctity of marriage” and going to church on Sundays. The gender dynamics and class roles. Education was for the few and the arts still a novelty of the elite. Those were the days when kids were to be seen and not heard, and you basically entered adulthood in your late teens. No gap-year to discover yourself. You worked hard, you made an honest living, you found a spouse, you had kids, and you died in a rocking chair. The end.

I think back to my parents’ generation, the baby Boomers. I remember reading from my mum’s WWI and WWII war poetry and history books; the triumphs and tragedies of a generation written up as lessons to be learned in university classrooms in a “free world” they help rebuilt. For the Baby Boomers, perhaps in the US more so than in Europe, everything was promoted as possible, as long as you worked long and hard enough for it: the pursuit of education and career opportunities, a neat and happy life, a positive outlook on the future. “Pull your socks up old chap, you can do it!” These wholesome notions shattered and the deep-rooted foundations upholding them shook as the ’60s and ’70s brought on a period of more war, assassinations, rioting, the brewing Cold War, etc. etc., protest songs flooding the airwaves, blood flooding the streets. An extended, decentralized WWIII. Innocence may have been lost and faith corrupted, but I think there was still a sense of wanting to change the world. After all, what did the flower kids, activists and rebels really want? Peace, equality, and freedom.

In my adolescence, two of my favourite books were Bret Easton Ellis’ Glamorama and Douglas Coupland’s Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, and, even though I’m not a Gen X’er, I remember relating to the characters’ feelings of disconnect and mistrust. The loss of self in a world of identities, the re-evaluation of social norms as people are pushed to the edge or discarded altogether, as they realized that humans are disposable, less than zero, and so was culture; remaining intoxicated to avoid the comedown. Whether disenchanted and nihilistic or pro-active and positive, Gen X’ers felt detached from what sounds like a polarizing no-holds-barred world. I mean, society was offering them everything new and improved on the one hand, and on the other it was setting up boundaries left and right. The Walkman! MTV! Fitness! Emerging markets! Fast money! Globalization! Counteracted by AIDS, “the war on drugs,” Valium, single parents, disposable relationships, self-committed hedonists, shoulder pads and mall pop. The latchkey kids who didn’t reject it all (punks!) wanted it all! And they wanted it immediately, maybe because they lacked other things in their lives they felt would enrich them, a large portion growing up in divorced or otherwise “broken” homes, the marketing machine now mechanized and going digital.

When explaining the differences between the Baby Boomers and the Generation X, the 1971-born Irish comedian Dylan Moral, a Gen X’r, put it this way: “My parent’s generation, the Baby Boomers, the post-war people, they had everything; they had it right, you know? Because they came to sexual maturity in the ’60s and the government said, ‘Well, what do you want now?’ ‘Oh, I dunno, how about the pill? Can we get the pill?’ They said, ‘Sure, there you go. What else is going on?’ ‘Well, some music?’ ‘Fine, here’s the Beatles; the Stones coming in later this evening. There’s the Velvet Underground, Jannis Joplin is just out to lunch, so if you want something to do between now and then I’d grow my hair and fornicate if I were you. If things get slow you could always paint your houses brown and orange and discover the avocado.’ And then when it was my generation’s turn, when it was our goal to come to sexual maturity, you know, ‘what’s going on, what do we do now?’… ‘Don’t fuck anybody or you die!! Never mind, here comes MC Hammer!’ “

As the ’90s inched closer to the new millennium, technology boomed, capitalism boomed, youth culture boomed, kids grew older faster (and continue to do so). The Millennials (that’s us born roughly between 1981 and 2000) saw the world as it transitioned further away from analog and into to digital, from old world order to new world order, from group politics and challenging conventions to identity politics and start-up novelties. We were moving through the last decade of the millennium (not just another century yo!) and that changed how people viewed the world. 2000 was no longer a year from a sci-fi movie.

The first half of the new millennium found many of us entering adulthood, questions popping up. What are you going to study? What do you want to do after you graduate? Are you going to get a Masters Degree? England or America? Corporate career or freelancer? My gosh, I have options! A futuristic, optimistic outlook on the world and all the amazing things young people could achieve. It’s 1999 all over again! Then came the big bang of financial meltdowns in 2007 and the rug was pulled out from under everyone’s feet like a mean joke.

By the time many of us were out of college the job market was shrinking and however many college degrees we accumulated, a secure job was not guaranteed. Our older siblings, now in their late twenties/early thirties, were having difficulty finding a job, so how were we going to do it? Our parents, many of them not yet at retirement age, were being laid off or their salaries slashed, so how were we going to make ends meet? Our grandparents, “who worked hard to give their kids and grandkids everything because they had nothing,” were seeing their pensions cut or diminished to an unfair pittance. My peers back home, the “Generation of €700” may not have had Great One battles, junta curfews and Cold War surveillance, but they aren’t exactly swimming in opportunities and life now seems more controlled than ever before—even if people have, on paper at least, more freedoms and right than ever before. My generation in Greece has never even dreamed of a pension—they think the system will be FUBAR to the point where pensions aren’t even a social benefit anymore, they’ll be privatized. Most of us can barely find jobs that pay enough (let alone make us happy) for us to get by each month, how are we expected to sustain a pension plan? So young people become. They go abroad and get more degrees, or take up jobs in other, better off counties.

Whereas in the past the “meaning” and “purpose” of life were more often than not handed down to you by family, religion and societal structures, and a small elite had the advantage of an individual identity and history, now we are faced with a new reality. In an increasingly consumer-driven world, where there is no consistent ethical framework, (rise of the individual, ethical egoism, corporations with rights, privatized prisons, the list goes on) it is becoming increasingly easier to define yourself not by your morals, but by the brands you buy (“I drink fair trade coffee”). Mass literacy, the ability to be a “civic-critic,” the wider but shallower assimilation of knowledge, the constantly changing narrative, the rapid speed and boundless nature of communication, the assumption that evolution is synonymous with technological expansion—all these things have altered our psychic metabolism and our collective thyroid is going berserk; hypo, hyper, hypo, hyper. The ugliness of recent history, the commercially-motivated noise, the endless chatter and little time for reflection might justify why we have stepped away from long-term perspectives and narrowed our thoughts so they are shrunk down to one single thing, closer to home: ourselves.

As I look at each generation, I keep going back to what kind of impact these changes are having on society. I may not know exactly what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, even though I have a couple good ideas, but what I think about more is what do all my peers want to be doing with the rest of their lives? What is important to them? How do they define a “fulfilled life,” and what are they willing to do to achieve that? Do they have commonly held values, and if so, what are they? What do our modern societies value and what do we discard, and why? If young punks today could change one thing about the world in this New Year, what would it be?

Send me your thoughts at lydia@maximumrocknroll.com

Jan 3, 2015 - Open Mic    No Comments

Jan. 5th 2015 • Maximum Rocknroll & Mountza: An zine event @ Αρχείο 71

I have been invited to chat with the Mountza Fanzine team about the historical role of zines in the punk scene and their new role in the digital age. Below is the info from the fanzinesnet.gr website, who were kind enough to organize this event.

Τα μουσικά zines αποτελούσαν για πολλά χρόνια το σημαντικότερο μέσω επικοινωνίας της underground μουσικής σκηνής, λειτουργώντας ταυτόχρονα κι ως βασικός συνδετικός της κρίκος.  Ο ρόλος αυτός των φανζίν, καθώς και ο προοπτικές τους στην ψηφιακή εποχή θα είναι στο επίκεντρο της συζήτησης  που θα πραγματοποιηθεί τη Δευτέρα 5/1 στις 18.30 στο Αρχείο71, με τη συμμετοχή της κοορντινέιτορ του Maximum Rocknroll και των εκδοτών της Μούντζας.

Το Maximum Rocknroll εκδίδεται ανελλιπώς από 1982 στο San Fransisco και έχει συμβάλλει στη δημιουργία μιας πραγματικά παγκόσμιας πανκ κοινότητας, καλύπτοντας τις εξελίξεις σε κάθε γωνιά του κόσμου που υπάρχει πανκ σκηνή. Η Mountza εκδίδεται άτακτα στην Αθήνα από  το 2007, φιλοξενώντας σε κάθε τεύχος εξαιρετικά άρθρα και συνεντεύξεις που αποτυπώνουν το πνεύμα και τα τεκταινόμενα της σκηνής.

Πριν τη συζήτηση, θα πραγματοποιηθεί η προβολή της ταινίας μικρού μήκους Fanzini Sa Marsa (Fanzines από τον Άρη) του Siniša Dugonjić. Η ταινία προβάλλει την πορεία της φανζίν σκηνής στη Σερβία, εν μέσω αλλαγών των πολιτικών καθεστώτων και του πολέμου. Η ταινία θα προβληθεί με ελληνικούς υπότιτλους.

Το Αρχείο71 είναι ένα αυτομορφωτικό εγχείρημα και λειτουργεί από το 2011 στη συμβολή των οδών Ζωσιμάδων και Καλλιδρομίου στα Εξάρχεια. Στεγάζει βιβλιοθήκη, κινηματικό και οπτικοκοακουστικό αρχείο, ενώ δραστηριοποιείται και με τις ομώνυμες εκδόσεις. Την ημέρα της εκδήλωσης θα υπάρχει πάγκος με τα έντυπα και βιβλία που διανέμει το Αρχείο71, καθώς και πάγκος με τις διανομές της Μούντζας.


Dec 31, 2014 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #376

Dammi droga, mi permetta di ballare

I’m staring outside the open window, pretending the distant hum of traffic is the sound of waves crashing at the shore. I have so many things swimming around in my mind, it’s hard to target just one thought and execute it. All I can think of is time and the catastrophes/surprises it expels our way.

I’m having trouble writing because as soon as I type it up it feels worthless. There are real, horrible things going on in the world right now, and I feel stuck and motionless. I am surrounded by punk and punks, yet I feel so far removed from it all. I find my interactions with people to be puzzling; they all seem to have so little to say about everything; or too much to say about nothing. I feel like my thoughts are still racing but my ability to articulate them is impaired. My mind feels stunted, and time for reflection is a luxury.

I’ve been on a month-long rollercoaster of highs and lows. Manic frustration followed by forced positivity, though evidently waning in the shadow of realism. I drink to remember the dead, but more so to forget the living, the wretched living. I attempt to wash down the lump in my throat and push aside all the dumb shit that gets in the way of the real issues at hand. I pull at my hair nervously; dreaming at night that chunks of it is falling out. Distractions and destruction pile around me like bricks. I don’t want to be resentful or cynical but I’m having a hard time finding the silver lining.

Human interaction becomes limited, if not outright avoided. Everyone seems too preoccupied posting their lives online to actually live them. Even punk settings start to seem trite. Shows blur into one another, people become dark figures in the night, their eyes darting, their tongues tied; some invisible force standing between them and everybody else. All alone together. A bunch of unloved rejects incapable of loving each other. No one ever picks up the phone anymore—”just text me”—and we share likes instead of time together.

So I smoke and drink to keep my hands busy. The awkwardness seems contagious. Sometimes they look at me like I’m crazy. My insides are ablaze but my thoughts are flat. I try to make a connection but get nowhere. Is it me? Fuck it, I’ll stay silent. Even when I do talk I feel like I’m a strain on their attention span. Too serious to be fun. The needle popping their instalife bubble. Do they even realize how guarded we all are? How do you escape something you cannot see?

Then the surge of isolation recedes and I push myself out into the world again. Sitting in the back seat of the car, slouched beneath the window, the breeze outside hot, hills of gold rolling by. The river is warm and the beer is cold. It feels good to swim for the first time in two years; I think I’d dry up and die if I lived too far from water. Perhaps that’s why I drink so much. Either way, the calming effect of nature and day drinking only lasts a few hours and by the time my front door reappears in sight, I’m longing to be taken anywhere but home.

I escape to more shows, drink more beer and vodka, smoke more cigarettes and weed. I work eleven hours a day. I quit my other job to keep up with running the mag alone. I eat less and sleep less, and still stress about MRR 85% of the time. I went to a show and told myself I wasn’t to talk about MRR all night. I was surprised at how hard it was and how little I shared with people aside for punk—and even then, that often meant nothing…

The house show is by the freeway and everyone is huddling under the trees for some precious shade. It’s been unusually hot for the Bay and people are getting crazy. Once the show starts the pit erupts. People go flying from the windowsills, jumping on couches, sweating like pigs and stinking like rats. Everyone seemed to be high on something, even if that was just pure pit adrenaline. I pogoed so high I hit my head on the ceiling and despite being pushed into a corner, I managed to keep from suffocating—or kicking someone real hard in the butt.

I’m in the back yard of some shitty punk bar in Oakland. The second I walk in I regret the idea but it was too late to go back—I bought the ticket, I’ll take the blasted ride. Shitty beer and tater-tots litter every table. People are clad in their punkest attire, lots of heavy make-up, big hair and biker boots. Everyone looking at everyone else to see if they are looking back at them. It’s sad to think that the epitome of some people’s existence is a Saturday night at some dank punk bar.

This country is so fucking vast and expands for-fucking-ever yet I feel more restricted in this drab back garden than anywhere else before. I find a spot mid air and manage to extract myself from the crowd, a moment of dismal clarity followed by a sudden landing. Two girls cackle next to me on the pick-nick table, laughing at stupid jokes their friend is telling them. Their faces distort and their bellies heave as their fake laughter stamps out all other sound.

I’m paranoid and tripping. Or am I? I yank myself up in horror and go inside to check out the bands. Five minutes in a wave of cold sweat takes me over. I turn to find the exit, my eyes wide open, but everything has already turned grey. I stumble towards the direction of the door, nothing but the thickest black clouding my vision, my eyes still open. I get hot and cold flashes and drop to the pavement, my forehead sweating but the rest of me shivering uncontrollably. Now I hate myself as well as everyone else.

The subway lights flash past me rapidly in the tunnel, their reflection on the window next to me increasing my visual blight. Life seems violent, movements abrupt. Everyone has sadness in their eyes, some of them regret and fear. The drunk on the train has taken off his shoes. Voices thunder and whisper in my head. I feel like I’m being viciously shaken by the shoulders to wake up, but I can’t—because I’m already awake: American nightmare.


  1. Shows have been insane this month! I got to see Gag, Blazing Eye, Gas Rag, Glue, Nudes, Savageheads, and Meathead, (all of them slayed by the way) but didn’t survive Eli’s to get to see Hank Wood and the Hammerheads. Coming up in August is Tercer Mundo from Mexico, Kuudes Silmä and Maailmanloppu from Finland (check out the interview/tour dates further down these pages) and Una Bèstia Incontrolable from Spain (check out their interview in the previous issue). Also Green Beret and Koward will be touring through, plus CCR Headcleaner and Big Black Cloud are playing the MRR and Thrillhouse Presents show.
  2. I have been listening to loads of Old Continent ‘80s coldwave and I’m amazed at the amounts of it out there! These are just a handful of bands you should check out if you like bleak, stony beats, new wave experimentation and dark synth punk to accompany you on your lonely nights of self-pity and you endless days of disappointment and despair.

From France: Opéra de Nuit (new wave post-pop with ethereal femme vocals); Ruth (they have only one album, the 1985 Polaroïd/Roman/Photo, with bleeps, horns, keyboards, flutes and more); Mary Blööt (quirky and dancey, remember that song “Pretty Day” with the metronome computer bleeping intro, also in that 1982 song “Da Da Da” by German weirdos Trio?). The song “Dernière Nuit” by Message has an intro that just makes me melt. End of Data formed in 1983 and theyr LP Sahrah isrhythmic, with lots of Cure guitar picking and Bowie-esque vocals. Guerre Froide (1980-81) sing in French, German and English and have gruff chords with a drum machine to back up the über-minimal synth notes; apparently they still release music. Martin Dupon were short-lived (1981-1988) but their first single (Your Passion/Lost and Late) is a delicate other-worldly tune with a mix of female humming, male moaning, lots of synth bleeps, drum machine snaps and even a clarinet!

From Belgium: Satin Wall (1981) sound like nihilist poetry set to a minimal guitar and a spooky melodica, Gainsborough-esque but punk and edgy. There is also a neat comp I am trying to get my hands on, called B9: Belgian Cold Wave 1979-1983, which should be stellar! Includes Siglo XX, who sound Joy Division-ish, or like something Total Control might have got inspiration from, and the Neon Judgement, who border into pure dance beats with post-punk guitars, wheezing synths and yelled desperate vocals.

From Switzerland: Grauzone, sing how polar bears should never cry and the vocals on “Eisbær” are dramatically drab, the guitars a mix of Talking Heads oddities and post-punk soaring melody, a composition of stripped down genius. The cover Pol Pot did of that song is also very good.

From Russia: Notchnoi Prospect formed in 1985, and seemed to have evolved into different genres with time, but I’ve been blasting their 1988 record Acids. Durnoe Vliyanie released Nepodviznost in 1988 and has a sort of Joy Division deepness to the vocals, while still retaining a new wave character to the tunes. Agata Kristi’s “Kankan” from 1989 is a spooky track with scary female vocals and poppy synths and buzzy guitars.

From Greece: Χωρίς Περιδέραιο (Without Pendant) were around in the ‘80s and play synth punk with slightly absurd twists and have only two records; a single Άνωση/Το Χρώμα και το Σχήμα (Elevation/The Colour and Shape, 1983) and a LP, Χορός για Μουσική (Dance for Music, 1985). Eirkti Records just reissued the 45, and they also played a live show too apparently.

ΟΔΟΣ 55 (Odos 55), from Athens are a new band and have a LP out (also on Eirkti Records) that is simply the perfect soundtrack to your midnight walks through empty streets and derelict buildings. “Αττική Βικτώρια” (“Attiki Victoria”) takes you through the city’s underground transit ducts and passageways, a recurring beat set to the motion of a train heading for a dead end. “Για Πάντα” (“Gia Pada”) is a manifesto of repetitive negation. “I don’t want a house. I don’t want a job. I don’t want a god. I don’t want tomorrow. I don’t want war. I don’t want peace. I don’t want colour. I don’t want history. Without meaning, without hope. I don’t want time, I don’t want money. I don’t want the present, I don’t want the future. The only thing I want, the only thing I want, is to live forever. In another dream, in another moment, to hide there. The only thing I want is to live forever.”

More next month! lydia@maximumrocknroll.com

Oct 1, 2014 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR column #375

mrr_374_cvrThe BBQ place on the corner of Divis and Grove used to be called Pitts. It was a dinky old place, and was potentially a cover up for dirtier business, but made great barbeque and had been around for years. Now, instead, we have a new BBQ place, that have no smoke coming from their chimney, with pic-nick tables and chairs occupying half the parking lot, the other half of which belongs to one of the few weed dispensaries left in the city. Across from that now, instead of the plant store that used to be there, is a bougie restaurant, (apparently with a great mescal catalogue, but who gives a shit about that!) which has adjacent to it a big ass garage, which, in true gentrification style, has also been turned into a day-time eating and drinking establishment. So. You have rich ass white people eating in a parking lot expensive ass meat, across from a place where more rich ass white people sit in an open garage drinking expensive ass cocktails as they watch the World Cup. On Sundays there is farmer’s market, where all these people flock to, to buy $8 juices and $2 peaches. Up the road, a giant Victorian house built in 1900, which once used to house a church was recently purchased by real estate developers for $1.4 million, 40% over the asking price. Meanwhile, rent is rising to astronomical prices around the whole city (average rent right now is over $2,900!), and typically cheaper neighbourhoods such as the Mission, Dogpatch, Excelsior are rapidly filling up with middle-income tenants, who still basically earn more than you or I could make in a decade. And, much like Brooklyn being the cheaper solution to Manhattan-workers, Oakland is now also being overrun by techie yuppies. So not only did they push people out of SF, they are spreading like a disease, pushing people out of Oakland too. Soon the whole Bay will be theirs and that whack-job who wants Silicon Valley to be its own independent state, might just get his wish. But who gives a shit?

In a similar act of absurdity, whole favelas in Brazil have been demolished to make way for new stadiums and sporting grounds in light of the current FIFA Soccer World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. I know how that is. Greece hosted the 2004 Olympics, and it’s all just one giant embezzlement scheme to put money into the pockets of the few, covering it up as “public benefit works,” lying to our faces. Of course a chunk of those facilities has been left to rot, empty and rusting. Meanwhile, the amount of people who can’t afford housing anymore in Greece is rising. Empty buildings, people without a home—the state can put two and two together, they just don’t give a shit. These blood-sucking fucks have spent millions on the World Cup, because they know that when you don’t have clean water, electricity or even a place to sleep, having a 46,000-capacity soccer stadium is exactly what the people need! They sent boats down the friggin’ Amazon to get the material to a town you can’t even get to by land (that doesn’t even have its own soccer team!) to make a stadium just for this FIFA-extravaganza sporting fiasco. The definition of deliberate futility. Capitalist expansion in all its glory. But of course we are all posers and still watch the games on TV, instead of massively boycotting FIFA and its evil government-backed corporate-ass-licking scum. But hey, it’s just good ol’ sporting fun, right, who gives a shit?

So, it’s print week, we’re putting together the whole magazine, I’m finishing up my late reviews, people are working on layouts and Diana hands me a letter. It’s from USPS. To send out the magazine to our international distributors, we use ISAL, which is the International Surface Air Lift service. We have drive to the airport each month, go through security check and into multiple offices, fill out all this paperwork each month, and it’s generally a pain in the arse, as most things National Security are. So, each country we ship to has a different code. Apparently we’d not been using the right codes, something we were unaware of, since 2011. This lead to a financial discrepancy which they decided only now, three years later, to notify us of. And they demand we send a check for the financial deficiency in 30 days! I know USPS is struggling financially, and maybe they’re debt-collecting left, right and centre, but if they are auditing little corporations like MRR that just manages to break even each year, then they must be in real trouble.

The second of the Three Strikes of Unluck (they always come in threes, hear you me) was when we got a hand-delivered notice last night stating that our rent was going up by $415 per month, effective August 1st. This will total our rent to $5,660 per month. (gasp if you will) Add to this our print bill, which approximates to $3,800 – $4,000 per month, our electricity, gas, water, phone/internet and waste disposal bills (roughly $450 a month), plus ~$400 or so every couple months for packaging materials and office supplies, (mailers, boxes, packaging tape, printing paper), the monthly staples of toilet paper and shitworker coffee (because dozens of punks come through here every week), plus quarterly or yearly registered costs, like our PO box, our postage meter, our resellers permit, and last but not least, our yearly taxes.

If you can’t be bothered to do the math, that’s over 10K a month in combined expenses, which we have to hustle day and night to cover. MRR has no rainy day fund. Not because no one ever thought of it, but because there is barely any revenue left at the end of the month to put aside. If we do make some extra cash, it either goes straight back to the people who have generously loaned MRR money over the years, or it goes on funding other projects to help MRR stay financial afloat, such as the Los Crudos discography we are going to work on. Savings Account has been set up because the prospect of having to move is no longer just a scary item on our “to look into” list, it’s a scary reality we now wake up to every morning. Much like the trash compactor in Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope, we feel like the walls are closing in on us—fast. So, I’m waiting to see what the Third Strike will be and preparing for the worst.


Moving on to another item on list of Shit that Pissed Me Off This Month, I want to discuss something that preoccupies some punks but maybe not enough of them: sensationalizing / misappropriating fascism.

First let’s get those little definitions out of the way. Sensationalize: verb; to present information in a way that is intended to provoke public interest and excitement, to increase viewership or popularity at the expense of accuracy. Misappropriate: verb; to dishonesty or unfairly take for one’s own use.

How these two concepts merge? I’ll tell you. When a magazine sells Totenkopf (skull) buttons and T-shirts with swastikas, or a band uses the Celtic cross in its logo or the Odin Rune (or Norse Rune) in its poster, this is sensationalizing swastikas, it’s misappropriating Totenköpfe. In their effort to be “edge” and “shock” the squares, they are also demeaning the horrors that millions of people suffered from the monsters using these same symbols.

For some fortunate enough to have never directly experienced the results of fascism, Nazis have taken on this illusory mythical dimension, distorted by underground culture (pop fiction, grindhouse movies, punk, gangs, hooligans) the passage of time and the collective ability to ignore and eventually forget… Unless someone pops that bubble for ya. Running from neo-Nazi worms and neo-Nazi cops three years ago during the massive annual anti-fascist march in downtown Athens will do that to you. Perhaps to those removed enough fascism is something “exotic” or “cult,” like the Yakuza, or the Hells Angels. The difference is that if you came across these groups and you were sporting their colours and couldn’t back your shit up, you’d probably get a fractured scull rrreal fuckin’ fast! Punks may not fight you but they sure as hell won’t fight for you.

Given the general rise in extreme right parties around Europe, and the rise of “dumb punk” it’s no surprise really that the spineless worm ideology might crawl its way into certain punk heads. In so many punk scenes it is such a given that fascist sympathizers or neo-Nazi supporters are absolutely not tolerated, that it almost seems absurd that in the year 2014 we’d have to point out why fascism is a deep rooted problem. This is not to say that white power flirting skins and meatheads don’t exist in some scenes, just that not all of them manage to infiltrate it, let alone coexist without being questioned. So, when I see bands that use these fascist symbols actually be a part of an established punk scene and get away with it, I think “How the hell did that get past so many punks? Don’t they have something to say about this? Don’t they care? Do they even know?” After all, knowledge is power.

I won’t claim to know how it is elsewhere, but in Greece punk and politics go hand in hand, so there is absolutely no way a band that flirts with fascist, white power or neo-Nazi notions would be given space or the time of day. What is most likely is they’d get their ass handed to them on a souvlaki stick.

But hey, it’s just punk rock music, who gives a shit, right?


Sep 26, 2014 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #373

mrr_373_smHoly shit where has the month gone? Today is already Sunday the 27th of April. That’s exactly two years since I arrived at SFO airport, ready to start my journey as the new MRR coordinator. I can’t believe it’s already been than long, yet it still feels like yesterday I was gapping at the green-taped record collection and smoking my fist cigarette in the Tim Yo courtyard, truly buzzed and on high from everything.

Running MRR is a crazy, amazing experience, yet I think if we were to tell most punks what the actual job is, they would run away in terror. Or laugh at us for being lunatics! “Not get paid? Work over 48 hours a week? Ha!” For real though, it is the most demanding yet most rewarding job I have ever done. It’s thankless, intensely stressful and requires a pretty strong character that can roll with the punches, take things with a pinch of salt when necessary, offer support and solutions, deal with every kind of punk imaginable (don’t waste time on the haters), and also be an emotional and psychological rock to handle it all without jeopardizing the magazine, its financial or ethical integrity, or any of the 200+ shitworkers involved. And there is also that small thing of remembering to give yourself some time and space to consider things with a clear head and gain some always-helpful perspective. When pulled from all sides, every so often you need to centre yourself enough to remember what balanced feels like.

What won’t kill you will only make you stronger says the cliché (for a reason I suppose) and even though I hate making mistakes, and often in my efforts to avoid them end up making even larger ones, I am always willing to learn from them and admit that I might have been wrong. Almost everything goes through the three coords, and we are always working extra hard to keep up—we are basically on overdrive almost all of the time, just by nature of the job, due the sheer volume of things we must do and take care of on a monthly basis. Add to this the weekly crises and unforeseen dramas that inevitably veer their heads just at the wrong time.

Juggling all of it is our job but we’ve gotta have a break sometimes, even if only to regroup and continue kicking ass the other 363 days of the year. The only two sort of “holidays” we do at MRR are Punxgiving and the 4th of July barbeque—and again, not because we celebrate the events that happened on those days (far from it), but more so because everything is closed, (our printer and vendors included), a lot of our shitworkers are away and hell, kicking back with friends and fellow shitworkers to have some beer and hot-dogs is necessary sometimes—all work and no play make coords a grumpy bunch. So we decided to add one more day to the MRR holiday calendar: 420. Which was, coincidentally this year, also Easter day. Which was, coincidentally this year, the same day for both Western Christian churches and Easter Orthodox churches. (Having been raised in Greece, a traditionally Orthodox country, but with half of my family being from England, and loosely raised C of E, I’ve always been aware of both dates as they often determined possible time off/visits to or from the UK.) It seemed everyone was on holiday for some reason or another, but while for MRR it had nothing to do with religion (or weed really) the events in our city seemed to slow down our operations enough to make it pointless to resist—it’s basically hoards and hoards of people out in the streets smoking pot and acting weird, so making a trip to or from the compound seem like a scene out of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, only you are the only one not on drugs and you’re in a bus or train, or stuck in traffic, or swerving through rowdy drunk and high people on your bike.

This month there was also an insane amount of shows! I saw Destruction Unit (who were just massively great) and CCR Headcleaner (who were different live to what I expected them to be, but still not as good as I’d hoped), then a week after that I missed OM (who now have the very creative drummer from Grails, and a citar apparently) and on actual 420, Godlfesh were also in town! I had helped with a couple of Justin Broderick’s shows in Athens when he toured with Jesu, but have yet to check Godflesh off my list. That same weekend was Tankcrimes Records’ Brainsqueeze Festival, with bands such as Negative Approach, Municipal Waste, Fucked Up, Conquest for Death, Cannabis Corpse, Bat, Final Conflict and much more. I went the first day and gotta say, I think Iron Reagan stole the show: snotty thrash punk, songs that were short, fast and loud, with guitars that slay and a singer who seems a bit insane. Good stuff and congrats to Scotty for doing such a good job.

I will leave you with a thought from Distort #43. While interviewing Puce Mary, Daniel writes, “I spend a lot of my time writing, for which solitude is necessary, but the result is that often the writing is an expression of sickness, as often the impulse to be alone is the impulse to not infect anyone.” That’s a keen observation, one I can relate to on some level, and like Puce Mary says, I find it’s more about me not get infected by others, rather than the other way around; as if any outside influence might affect the intensity or intention of my thoughts. So often a creative state of mind is achieved in isolation, perhaps because it finds the maker naked and vulnerable; like an animal licking its wounds, or a sinner expelling their daemons, or a sexually aroused beast letting their imagination run wild. Over-obsessing, self-debasing; analyzing, scrutinizing. It feels like a ritual I don’t want others to be a part of because it’s clumsy, dirty and even embarrassing, both dizzily engrossing and agonizingly soul draining. When it comes to the writing process, I find that what you are writing about is almost irrelevant to finding that zen space where you can focus and channel your thoughts the way you want. I don’t have time for much writing anymore, but I do like to read about how others manage their own creative process. It’s a fascinating subject.

Jul 18, 2014 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #371

mrr_371_smI feel like I do one of these updates every few months, but when you’re coordinating this thing time goes by so fucking fast! We’re thinking two months in advance, working on three to four different parallel timelines, sitting alongside 30 years of punk history, an archive of 45,000 records, helped by a group of 150+ shitworkers dotted across the planet! Sitting in the coord seat is one of the most exhilarating experiences and I feel extremely lucky and honoured to be doing this! (It can also be exceptionally aggravating at times, and I know I’ve almost suffered three heart attacks in front of that screen, but whatever, all in a day’s work as über-human. Do it all smoking a cigarette on one leg while scratching my arse. (I know, my modesty kills me too.)

MRR isn’t just a magazine. It’s not just a radio show or a website. I know some people who live online in the virtual world, and thus think they are authorities on everything think MRR is run by a bunch of political hyenas (which is, in part, true) and funded by leprechaun gold (which I assure you were are not), but it’s not just that. We are all part of a living, throbbing organism; a diverse circus of freaks and geeks, all excited and inspired enough by this institution to donate our time and effort, to keep it going, to help it thrive. Some things are bigger than us and I respect that.

From the moment we start the cycle, every single thing that comes through our door or inbox is handled by us and we have people helping on all levels. From unloading the pallet every month with the new issue and stuffing your issue into an envelope, filling out the online orders or picking up the mail from the post office and processing everything; scanning, proofing, editing images and text, doing layouts; producing radio shows, doing reviews; conducting interviews, transcribing audio files, translating content for the website; designing house ads, submitting to the Monday Photo Blog; green taping and filing records…and this is only in regards to who around right now. Add to that the thousands (if my calculations are right) that have been involved in one way or another before this period in time, and you have yourself something seriously massive.

The amount of transactions between the readers and us is also crazy! Be it a T-shirt order from France or a sub renewal from Philly; an email about an ad for a West Coast tour or a tour report guest column; a new volunteer, a returning reviewer; a new distributor in Australia, a layout person in Barcelona or a photographer in Jakarta; an interview from Slovenia or a scene report from your town! The readers are the contributors—that’s the magic of this magazine, that’s why it keeps going, because people want and can be a part of it. Without the readers this magazine would be like many others: done. But MRR can never be done. So long as there are people with something to say, the integrity to back it up and the brains to get it done, MRR will always exists. (Oh, an unhealthy relationship with coffee also helps).

In any given day I am whooshed through different regions and time zones, just by sitting at our computer. I can feel the scale with which we are working, the outreach and connectivity, and it’s truly the reason I wanted to be coord in the first place. I have felt this connectivity before and it’s like a surge of adrenaline straight to your heart. It makes all the stiff hours in front of a computer worth it. It makes all the angry letters, rude emails and ignorant comments disappear. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again for those of you who live elsewhere to this reality we inhabit called the here and now: everyone here works really hard. USPS is not our ally; unfortunately, neither are foreign customs or the skyrocketing rent prices of San Francisco. Every month is a struggle to make it work; and not for lack of organization or effort, oh no! The operations in place toady are based on a collective experience of about a century or so—if you add up past coordinators’ experiences into one pool of knowledge and advice, I mean—and we are constantly trying to improve. SO have patience with us dear reader. And if you disagree with what we do, make your own zine.

If you read Ray’s column, you’ll already know that MRR is doing shows yet again! Yes! It’s official and we’re stoked! MRR alongside Thrillhouse Records will be doing shows, every second Wednesday of the month, at the Knockout on Mission Street. We’re got a crüe of about six people who are helping us book them, and we’re aiming to be able to include local as well as touring bands!

Speaking of shows. San Francisco is definitely not the easiest place to book all-ages shows, as some of you may already know or have experienced. Most of the shows are (or rather oftentimes have to be) bar shows, or one-off house shows, or…wait, I think those are the only two options in SF right now. Ties with Submission are no longer there, Thrillhouse is taking a break and the Fortress just closed down. But hope springs eternal and action speaks volumes.

About three years ago it must be now, two MRR shitworkers set out on a mission. They knew it would be tough, they knew it would take ages, they knew it might not even work, but, in true DIY punk fashion, they tried it anyway. They went through every step of the tedious process and red tape to start their own non-profit. They did all the research, filed all the paperwork, badgered the city to follow up on it, and sent in more paperwork. Ample patience and determination were required; the whole process took fucking months! Then, they waited. And waited some more. But one day, a few months ago, they got a letter in the mail. The SF All Ages Art & Music Project (AAAMP) had been approved! One of the punks behind this project mentioned to me that the name sounds a bit lame, but I beg to differ. An amp is not only an integral part of any punk rock show, but the word amplify also means to intensify, to augment, and by doing this project they are literally and metaphorically helping amplify the SF punk scene. In actuality, reason the acronym is such is because, not only did it sound legit and it helped them go trough non-profit paperwork without much question, but it also allowed them to fly under the radar with city permit processing: getting approved for an art gallery that hosts musical events is obviously less threatening than what punk is actually all about.

In addition to that, AAAMP is also our new fiscal sponsor! That means y’all can still make tax-deductible donations (which would support projects like the crazy record and zine archive we maintain) plus it also allowed for us to kick our old sponsor for mishandling our account (and that’s a diplomatic understatement).

Lastly, the new comp is almost completely sold out. Get it while you can and fret not: more exciting things are on the horizon! Join us!