Apologies for not getting back to you. Things are just crazy here, what with getting the new issue done, preparing for the AP Fall Tour, editing 157,000 words off the last installment of the AP oral history and gearing up for the New York stand of our 25th anniversary art show. These days, being busy is good and having something to show at the end of it is pretty grand.
You know what else is pretty cool? Fall, because everything seemingly great about life occurs then. A lack of uncomfortable, annoying humidity—at least here in Cle. Pumpkin spice anything (pie, cookies, upside-down cake, ice cream, beer). Road trips to see friends and/or bands. And naturally, let us not forget record releases, from My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days to the Big Pink’s Tapes mix to the super-deluxe reissue of Weezer’s almighty Pinkerton. (Actually, I scrubbed all the Weezer out of my iPod a few weeks ago, but that’s a personal decision.) I have learned that this is the time of year I fall in love with something every day.
Now I don’t care if you think MCR are crap, Weezer are old and pumpkin makes you break out in a rash that makes shingles look like mosquito bites. That’s not my point here. I want you to recognize that no matter how crappy any of your days can be or how stupid people can act, there is always something worth living for. I don’t care if it’s something as inane as a television show, as cookie-cutter as your town’s only pop-punk and/or hardcore band, or as personal as the really ugly dog you got from a shelter two years ago, whose eyes loyally focus on your every movement.
I was swapping emails with a classical-music enthusiast friend of mine a few days ago, shortly after the suicide of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who decided to end his life after some video footage of him getting intimate with another man made it onto the internet, thanks to some oh-so-clever students. “I’m watching the clip of him performing in public on the news,” my buddy wrote about the violinist. “He plays well, but I’ve seen more fire in tweener prodigies. I get the feeling that if he would’ve translated that inner sadness into some rage, his playing would have more dynamics. More importantly though, he’d still be alive.”
Plenty has been said/written/reported about the rash of suicides of gay, lesbian and transgendered people, and rightfully so. (While I admit to obsessing too much over Christina Hendricks, I’ve been given ”honorary gay” status by some of the dudes here in the AP Skyscraper, simply because I know all the lyrics to Dead Or Alive’s Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know album.) But sexuality isn’t the exclusive hate-trigger: Approximately 35 minutes east of my desk, four teens in Mentor, Ohio, killed themselves as a result of constant bullying. Two of the deaths were related to the victims’ sexuality. The others were a girl who had physical and learning disabilities and another whose only “fault” was being Croatian. As I type this, I am conflicted between extreme sadness and steel-melting rage.
Now if you’re being bullied or abused by anybody, listen to me. I’m not going to get all Deepak Choperatic on you; I’m old, weathered and I laugh out loud when given shit by faceless whistle-dicks on Tumblr and pop stars with more Twitter followers than SoundScan numbers. Take this for what it’s worth: The only way you are going to rise up out of your situation is if you stay angry. Now I’m not advocating violence against your perpetrators. (It turns out that those alleged “victims” who initiated the Columbine high school tragedy were Type A hyper-self-aggrandizing pricks.) Besides, if my personal experience serves me, there’s a good chance that your bullies’ parents either own half the town you live in or they’re redneck huckleberries who think acquiring attorneys for lawsuits is easier than developing a skill set. I’m telling you, living is the best revenge. You are on the planet, so you might as well soak up—or create—some joy somewhere. You have a responsibility to yourself to make your own mark. If a decidedly non-posh kid from Western Pennsylvania can end up behind the editor’s desk at an internationally distributed music mag, you can find your station in life. Nobody owes you anything (apologies to your suffocating parents and the members of Crass), but like the links I’ve provided above attest, there are plenty of emotional fascists who are ready to steal your dignity. Do not let these people win. Ever.
Now get pissed and get going. And go eat pumpkin pie with people who love you. Save me a slice.