What was going on during Wingnut Dishwasher Union? Tell me what you feel necessary!
1) Wingnut Dishwashers Union was a project that reflected a
developing sense that drug and alcohol abuse were seriously affecting my life
in negative ways. The nihilism and self-destruction that I pursued in
my earlier life were killing me, and making it impossible to develop
a life of joy, freedom, or connection to the people I loved. A lot of
the songs have to do with thinking about responsibility as a component
of freedom. I was also discovering that I was unable to stop or
moderate my drug use, even when I wanted to. I became heroin dependent
during the time I was writing Wingnut Dishwashers Union songs. Correspondingly, my sense of despair and hopelessness deepened as I
slid into escalating cycles of addiction and misery. That continued
until I ultimately got sober.
Johnny Hobo is about an old way of living, Wingnut Dishwashers Union
is about questioning that way of living but not being able to do
anything about it, and Ramshackle Glory is a point of departure into a
new way of living.
Do you think your perspective of Anarchy has changed from Wingnut to Ramshackle Glory? What differences in your life make that different?
2) My perspective on anarchism isn't very different, there's just more
space for that perspective to influence my actions. I was very
unsuccessful at putting anarchist principles into practice before I
got sober, because I am a drug addict and an alcoholic. It didn't
really matter what I believed in; the only way I could do what I
needed to do was through domination and manipulation of the people
around me. The difference in being sober is that I'm capable of a
wider range of behavior, and more if it can be in line with
my interpretation of the anarchist spirit: living as much as
possible without dominating others or being dominated by them, and
attempting to dismantle everything that forces us into relationships of
dominance and submission.
Can you describe your entrance into the Punk Scene? How did you find it? Why did you stay with it?
3. I became interested in punk because someone mentioned offhandedly to
me that there was a connection between punk and radical politics. I
don't remember who it was, but it must have been an adult--maybe a
college student who was interning in one of my Junior High classes. I
saw a flyer for a punk show in the next town over and decided to go.
At the time, the person who was booking shows just happened to book a
lot of political crust punk bands. There were people distributing
literature at the show. The bands talked about what the songs meant in
between playing. It was really cool. I didn't know anyone else around
my age who had political opinions, so I was pretty excited just to be
there reading the zines. I'm not a very outgoing person, and at
that age I was actively nervous around people, so I don't think I even
met anyone. I just knew that whatever I had just seen was where I
wanted to be.
It was my first show, so I just thought all punk shows were like that.
I went to every one that I could. Pretty quickly I found out
that a lot of punk shows don't have anyone distributing literature, a lot
of bands don't sing about anything important, and a lot of punks
aren't very interesting people. I stayed in the punk scene because I
found people in it that I related to more than anyone I knew outside of
it, and over time the set of aesthetic and cultural values I had in
common with those people solidified into an increasingly coherent
I remember I was seventeen or eighteen, feeling angry and sorry
for myself because I always felt uncomfortable around people and
didn't think anyone liked me, and in a conversation with my friend Johno
I said something about how I wasn't a punk. I was feeling really
bitter about punk at that point in my life, both for not
being "revolutionary" enough and for not making me feel more
comfortable personally. Johno raised his eyebrows a little and started asking
me about who I was friends with, what music I listened to, what
literature influenced me, etc. I was very stubborn, but he patiently
demonstrated to me in that conversation that most things about my life
were heavily influenced by my connection to punk. I could no more deny
being "punk" than being my parent's son.
That transformation isn't all good. I've spent so much time
in this specific subcultural context that I have a hard time relating
to people outside of it. That's a really small world to inhabit, and
over time I think it's crippling. I need deep ties to things outside
of punk in order to be reasonably happy or well-rounded. Getting
sober brought a lot of those kinds of relationships into my life. A lot
of people I know the best in Tucson I only know because we're in
recovery. We don't have anything else in common. I think that's really
important, to find common cause with people I don't necessarily agree
with about anything. Going to college brings me out of punk world a
little bit, although not as successfully because I don't actually have
any friends that I met through going to school.
Besides Punk, what else has inspired you? (Music, Literature, People)
4. The people in my life inspire me, primarily. Undertaking common
projects of our own determination with people I like is my favorite
thing to do. At my house we raise chickens and grow vegetables. We fix
the stuff that breaks, because we don't have a landlord and otherwise
it stays broken. We share food. We work out in the back yard together
listening to pop music. I love all that stuff. Our lives are not a
collection of separate intentions that happen to sleep in the same
building. They are a common project, in many ways. Obviously we are
all individuals, doing the things we want to separately from one
another. But we are also together, and part of something that is all
of ours together, in very real ways.
My friends are brilliant. Most of them are braver than I am. When I am
walking with them and they get catcalled or queer bashed by passing
cars, they scream back. I think I would be too afraid to do that. Some
friends have taken risks and caught charges that put them at risk for
prison. I think I would be afraid to do that. I don't know why people
want to interview me about anything. The things I do meaningless next
to the danger that many of my friends face for who they are, and the
punishment some have faced for what they were willing to do.
Letters of Insurgents by Fredy Perlman is a book that inspired me. The
Dispossessed by Urusla LeGuin is a book that inspired me. Debt by
David Graeber is a book that inspired me. I play in a punk band, so I
hope we get to play shows that are fun for us and the people that come
to them. It's pretty straightforward. There's not a grand vision.
5. What was your childhood like? Has anything from your childhood affected your music?
My childhood was rural and middle-class. My parents are really nice.
My brother is really nice. Most of my early problems were related to
school, difficulty integrating into it either socially or
institutionally. Longstanding feelings of isolation and rejecting
authority certainly affect my music. Obviously my social, racial,
economic, and geographic background influences who I am at every
level. That would be a lot to sort through, and I'm sure I wouldn't
catch most of it anyway. My dad is a musician, so that probably made
me more likely to play music. It certainly meant that I had access to
instruments and recording equipment growing up that most people