A Season of Stuff: where are dragons? and remembrance of Travis

A Season of Stuff is a writing challenge that I will be doing for the length of Spring 2016.  The plan – to pick some object from within my personal possessions each day and write about it – its history, its significance, etc.  Come on in – check out my stuff.

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While digging through my file cabinet last night I came across a hanging file titled “Here.Be.Dragons”.  As some of you know, HBD is the zine that Eric the Red and I started in 1998.  In the first three years we did 8 1/2 issues. In 2005, after a five year hiatus we jammed out an issue #9 (the “punx over 30” issue) and then just last year after another ten year hiatus we finally put out issue 10.  Back in July 2013 I wrote an early blog post here about my struggles with writing and the hopes of ever putting out that issue #10.

There is various evidence scattered throughout my house of the struggle to complete certain projects.  There are several folders on my computer that contain half-started articles for versions of issues #9 and #10 that never were completed.  And in the physical folder that I stumbled upon last night there were a few things, several worth noting here:

  1. Alternate cover for what would be issue #9.  Following up with the concept from issue #8 – an octopus featuring its requisite 8 tentacles, I found this drawing of a 9 tool multi-tool to use for the potential cover.  All laid out and never used.  Classic Q style design. The issue would get pushed back until we were both in our 30’s and we would do the “Punks Over 30” them issue with a great cover by Joe DeFerrari.  We also switched to a half-legal rather than a half-letter size zine.
  2. A submission entitled “Smoked Out” by our friend Travis Fristoe who contributed to about half of the issues of HBD.  This appears to be something that Travis submitted to us back when we were first considering doing issue #9.  It was not included in issues 9 or 10.

    Last year when Eric and I first discussed finally completing issue #10, I tried really hard to reach Travis because I wanted to get a contribution for him.  I knew a couple years earlier he had moved from Gainesville to live outside Philly.  I tried sending a letter to his old Gainesville PO box that I knew he still maintained and tried the various email addresses that I had from him.  No word.  Something felt off.

    About a week after my last attempt to email Travis, I awoke on a Saturday morning and saw a mutual acquaintance post a somewhat cryptic “in memoriam” type post on Facebook.  There really wasn’t anything leading me to know it was about Travis, but somehow I got this feeling.  Later that morning I would get confirmation that it was indeed about Travis.  And a bit later I would find out that he had committed suicide the day before.

    I’m not really sure what else to say here.  Travis was a great friend and inspiration.  His writing was something that I always loved and the fact that he chose our zine as one of the vessels for his thoughts meant a lot.  In these intervening months I find myself frequently visiting and re-visiting his zines and his music (as I so often did before his death) and to stumble upon this little forgotten gem filed away in a cabinet was a real treat.  Not his greatest work ever, but nonetheless a nice reminder of a great friend.

  3. There also was the beginnings of a piece I was writing about Roboto and it started by talking about this quote from a Wilkinsburg resident who once walked by Roboto and asked what it was all about.  They had thought it was some type of “halfway house for white kids.”  I think I took some umbrage with that characterization back then.  What had we accomplished if this is how we are being viewed?

    But I think i’ve mellowed out on that a bit.  I mean, what did it look like – a bunch of fucked up looking kids hanging around.  Aren’t the punks just the fuckups from society trying to find a way through?  So often you hear people say “punk rock saved my life” and that’s great if it did. I’m not sure if Roboto ever did.  I can think of several that it wasn’t able to save.

I have no idea how to wrap up today’s post.

I think this brings me back to my main point – the struggle of trying to finish things up.   I think there’s something to be said for keeping around those remnants of the incomplete.  They can be signs of hope — I will complete this someday — or they might become signs of defeat, of the time wasted.  Punk rock is one of those incomplete projects – we make progress towards addressing injustice and creating a better world, but we also regularly come painfully short of our ideals.  In that push and pull is where many of us struggle with our worth, what have we accomplished, what is possible.

Maybe this is a clumsy mashup of ideas.  I think Travis would instruct me to keep writing, keep searching for that essence, no harm in working through a clumsy mashup of ideas, you’ll find something there to use down the line.

So i’m just going to leave this here now…incomplete and maybe i’ll return to it later.

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