You know something? This scene, the one weíre lucky, heck, smart enough to be in, well, itís just great. Itís not just the music Ė and this goes without saying Ė which is the best that has ever and will ever be produced (and will live beyond all measurable time) but itís more then that. So much more! (!) Itís the friendship. The companionship. You me, that guy over there, weíre all comrades in arms, cohorts, co conspirators. Maybe Iím just a starry eyed idealist, an old fashioned romantic, and my aw-shucks sincerity might be off putting in this gruesome age of irony and detachment, but Iím not afraid to be sincere. Truthful. Genuine. The thing is, what is so great about this scene, where we are all brothers (and sisters!!!), joined by cheap beer and loud guitars, is one thing: the love. Yeah, you can laugh at my cornpone wisdom, and dismiss my most true thoughts - expelled from the depths of my soul - with a chuckle, but all I can do is say what I feel. And what I feel, is love. I do what I can for the scene. You know? I participate. I do what I can. You need help lugging your obscenely heavy amp up three flights of stairs for a practice? Iím there with bells on. You and your five unshowered, arrogant friends need a place to stay? Thereís a place on my couch for you. In fact, I will sleep in the hallway while you take my Sealy. You need a shoulder to cry on? Let my dust of some of the dryer lint off my sweater and itís all yours, Buster. Iíll help book a show, sell your merch, write an article about you in the local rag, plaster the town with flyers, post something on every single board on the internet, campaign disinterested record companies on your behalf, take your photos, painstakingly draw artwork and if you want me to, Iíll even massage your feet, because I know you would do the same for me at the drop of a hat. You need a manager? I would do a great job! I know, I couldnít manage a goddamned yogurt stand and a band at this level having a manager is so fucking stupid if you think about it for too long you turn retarded, but Iíll do it anyway! Just Ďcause of the love, swelling my heart like a novelty sponge in the shape of a dinosaur! You know, I just love this scene so much that I cry. Tears of happiness donít sting! Iím crying right now. Tears are shooting out my ducts with such force Iím afraid my ocular cavities will need realignment at the hands of a qualified surgeon. The tears of happiness are in fact, bittersweet, as I cannot help but be sad about the fact that one day, it will all end. Something this lovely, this delicate, like a flower made out of snowflakes inside a blasting furnace, it canít last forever. But I will do my best to try and make it.

Attitudes like that make me want to dig up your motherís corpses and shit on it. I didnít wake up in a particularly bloodthirsty mood today. In fact, I was in a good mood. Iíve got The Fall Peel Sessions waiting for me at home, a nice tall cold tumbler of Dr. Pepper, and not a lot of work to do. Sitting at my computer at work, trying to think of a column, the day before the deadline, I couldnít for the life of my think of a subjectÖ Then I started thinking about, yíknow THE SCENE as such, and steadily, inexorably, I could feel my body tensing up, my teeth gritting, and my asshole clenching.

The other day I went to sell some records. I pulled out one that I had forgotten about, a group who is practically (and thankfully) forgotten today. Remember [NAME OF BAND CENSORED]? [NAME OF LABEL CENSORED] band? They were punkers playing the blues when it was still kind of a novelty. They wrote really pompous, condescending liner notes that told the haircut brigade buying their shitty singles that they wouldnít know a thing about blues music if it came up and bit them in their asses. That may very well be true, and many of the people buying their records probably went and later formed their own painfully sincere whiteboy blues acts later, like a horrible perversion of the oft quoted maxim regarding the Velvet Underground. [CENSORED] purported to be soulful messengers of the blues sprit, here to educate and enlighten. Iím amazed they never had a record called Ď[CENSORED] PLAYS THE SONGS OF THE AMERICAN NEGROí. Yeah, they sucked alright.

But one of the messages on the record was a question: WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO PARTICPATE?

Yeah, sure, a scene has its benefits. A band can have something resembling an audience (even by the terribly oversold standards of this crowd) when they come from out of town. They can get some help, the proverbial shoulder to cry on, and maybe make some friends. Touring is a tough racket, having a network of potential buddies and an ease of tapping into it gives folks who fall within a certain set of musical and social parameters a leg up in an oversaturated marketplace and generally indifferent record buying/show going populace.

Who gives a shit? Tell me: what is so goddamned great about groups? Hand holding, mutual admiration societies that are just an extension of the same mentality that leads to frat houses and clubhouses? Step right up! Seek the approval of your peers! Groups discourage innovation, reward the herd mentality, and offer a comfortable home for conformist instincts. What makes your group so goddamned different?

What am I doing to participate? Well, I have a blog, a column, I spend a big slice of my meager paycheck buying records, I occasionally pen a record review, and I even wrote some liner notes. But slogans like ďWHAT ARE YOU DOING TO PARTICIPATE?Ē do what dozens of insults and reams of hate mail have failed to do, make me ashamed of being involved, even in a minor and usually derogatory capacity.

- Phil Honululu, Letters Have No Arms