Monday, February 27, 2012

A FORMER LIFE

About a month and a half ago, my friend Blake came up to me and asked if I'd play guitar for his old band, Aftermath of a Trainwreck, for one show down in Phoenix. A guy that had helped out Aftermath (and Cool Your Jets and Cherem for that matter) a lot in the past, when we were touring quite a bit that is, was having his 30th birthday party and getting some of his favorite local bands to play and asked Aftermath to come down.

I'd played bass in Aftermath before, but that was back in 2005 when we went on an ill-fated two week trek up through the Northwest and down to Phoenix. Beyond that, they broke up in late 2006, resurfaced as XVictimsX for a bit in 2007/2008 and have been playing sporadic reunion shows ever since.

I don't have much love for hardcore anymore. I think it was great when I was younger and I loved it with all my heart, but having put everything I had into booking shows, finding venues, going to band practice and basically never getting anything in return beyond people upset that I wasn't doing more kind of soured me on the whole thing. Then when Dan Fletcher moved to NYC in 2009, I kind of gave up all together. I still had a band, Collapse, but that was mainly me and four other friends just having fun playing music. We never cared about shows, recordings or tour. We just wanted to hang out and play songs. But even that ran its course and once we were back from Peru, we never did it again.

Needless to say, I wasn't terribly excited at the prospect of an Aftermath show. But, I figured that it would be kind of fun to hang out with all the friends I don't see very much anymore and make a little vacation out of it. After all, Phoenix in February is way nicer than Salt Lake in February, so I was on board.

Originally, the plan was to leave Thursday, spend the night in Vegas, head to Phoenix on Friday, hang out, play on Saturday, drive back to Vegas after and drive the rest of the way home on Sunday. Sounded good to me. But then things started to change. Tyler couldn't get work off on Friday, so we couldn't leave until late that night and Richard had to be back to drive to Wyoming for work on Sunday afternoon. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Things eventually changed again and we ended up leaving around 2 o'clock on Friday afternoon and spending the night in Vegas. We drove the rest of the way to Phoenix on Saturday and left for Salt Lake ten minutes after the show ended. I was gone for almost exactly 48 hours and nearly 30 of them were on the back bench of a 15 passenger van.

Ultimately, I think it was kind of a waste of time but there were a few bright spots here and there. The brightest was probably Green Vegetarian Restaurant in Phoenix. It was awesome. It may have been better than it really was because it was the first and only actual food I ate the entire time I was gone. I was the only vegan (no one else was even vegetarian) in the van and outnumbered 11-1 and the only places everyone else wanted to eat was fast food chains that we don't have in Utah.

The plus side was that I got to hang out with some people that I never get to see anymore, but that was about it.

It's hard to believe that I used to love doing that kind of thing as much as I did. It was fun while it lasted.

Rest of the pictures are after the jump. Check them out. Most of these I took, but a few were stolen from the Instagram feeds of @assholegonerogue, @xgenocidex, @sleepyxpanda, and @drewdavenport. Follow them. It's what they're there for.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

WOLVES & MARTYRS: THE ORIGIN OF VALENTINE'S DAY


Let's talk a little about Valentine's Day. If you want to get all comic book-y, we can call this kind of a "Year One" type story.

Shall we?

In 3rd or 4th century BC, The Parentalia and Feralia Festivals of Purification were celebrated from February 13-18 to coincide with the Fertility Festival. The latter was a ritual not unlike the "Casual Encounters" section of CraigsList. All of the willing females would enter their names into a box and one by one, eligible men would step up for their turn. With a name in hand, the two would go off and what happened next was reffered to as a "rite of passage." Use your imagination for that one.

Before that began however, there was the LUPERCALIA (from the Latin lupus meaning "wolf"). During this day, priests—known as Luperci—from two colleges (Quintillii and Fabii) would meet at the Cave of Lupercal in the Palatine Hill, where a she-wolf was said to have nursed Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome. There, Vestal Virgins would offer holy salt cakes and the priests would sacrifice a dog and a goat, smearing the animal blood onto the foreheads of youths of noble birth. Clad only in a goatskin thong, those same youths would later lead a band of revelers known as the luperci in the performance of such antics as whipping fields of crops and bystanders with a goatskin strip (known as the februa). Women gently lashed in such a fashion were thought to become fertile—even those known to be barren. The act of such lashings or whippings was known as februatio. Both this word and the word februa come from the Latin meaning "to purify." The naming of the month, February, is believed to have originated from these meanings.

Basically, February means "to purify by beating with a goatskin strip."

No flowers or candy hearts yet.

When Christianity was eventually formed, it was attempted to replace the rituals with something a little bit more uplifting. Pope Gelasius outlawed the Lupercian Festival, but kept the name drawing part—just slightly tweaked. Instead of available women, the names of Saints were written on the papers and it was believed that the recipient (boys and girls participated in the drawing) would emulate the life of whichever Saint was chosen. This new system, while much more noble, was a lot less fun. Eventually, it was abandoned and the old "rite of passage" returned.

Those are the ones you don't hear too much about. This one however, is the most widely known part of the origin.

In Rome, 270 AD, Claudius II passed an edict that abolished marriage. He felt that married men made poor soldiers because they were loath to leave their loves ones for battle. The emperor craved a strong army far more than he cared about popularity and banned the act of marriage all together.

Valentine, a bishop of Interamna, disagreed with the Emperor and invited young lovers to come to him in secret to be joined in the sacrament of matrimony. Claudius soon learned of this "friend of lovers" and had the bishop brought to the palace. The Emperor, impressed with the young priest's dignity and conviction, attempted to convert him to the Roman gods to save him from otherwise certain execution. Valentine refused to renounce Christianity and imprudently attempted to convert the Emperor. It didn't work and he was sentenced to death. While Valentine was in prison awaiting execution, he fell in love with the blind daughter of the jailer, Asterius. Through his unswerving faith, he miraculously restored her sight. He signed a farewell message to her "From Your Valentine."

Soon after, on February 14th (or so history claims) Valentine was clubbed, stoned and then beheaded.

To recap, in case you got bored: Valentine's Day is essentially the celebration of blood, sacrifice, random sex, wolves and martyrs.

I want a card with that on it.

(*Note - I wrote this after reading a few different histories relating to Valentine's Day on the Internet. Warren Ellis is responsible for me looking further into it. He has some cards and such available on his site if you're interested. Also, it's entirely possible that none of this is true or historically accurate at all. But it's far more entertaining.)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

SLIP IT IN

Black Flag has long been one of my favorite bands and this super DIY music video from 1984 only adds to the list of reasons I love them.