I wrote a version of what follows and sent it to a comrade-in-arms in hopes that he would expand on the subject matter and that some sorts of snowball effect could happen and this piece would be built upon and eventually some sorts of large(r) scale project documenting all the far-out times during the burgeoning Cincinnati Punk Rock basement scene of the mid-late 90's... Maybe, maybe not I suppose... That particular comrade in question wanted nothing to do with this effort. So then I sent this 'start' to another comrade from the trenches, someone who was there all Back-In-The-Day™ and shit... Then to another and another... Each with the same results. Maybe those times aren’t nostalgic enough for them yet to relive in hindsight, or maybe I’m too nostalgic for my own good. I’m not sure which, if either, it is. In reality (the terrible, terriblereality), both may be wrong to a certain degree. Maybe those times weren’t really times at all or maybe, just maybe... the story is still being written.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure.
None-the-less those times were times indeed, at least for somebody (if even for just me). This 'piece' or effort or whatever the kids are calling it these days, probably wont become the introduction to a book or anything else on a large(r) scale like Eric Davidsons’ WE NEVER LEARN book, but I wish it would (but seriously, I actually used the full word 'probably' back there-- what have I become?) But that’s all ok too... These/Those times were great. By no means are the goodtmes over I feel I think (I hope). Many more adventures await me and those who surround me (you know who you are-- consider yourself warned), but I felt as if way-back then I was part of something great, something bigger, and something special. Maybe it was just me... I may be wrong about it, I can admit that. No shame in being wrong... Being wrong is still being something after all. Acknowledging the possibilities if being wrong also acknowledges the possibility that I am 100% right too. If I learned anything from being involved in the punk-rock scene as a whole, nothing is about anything more than what you make or made of it. In fact, anyone can realize that sometimes the end is just a beginning; just as any beginning is something else’s end. Nestled here in a strange social spot remembering bands like THE SLOBS, THE LONG GONES, PINCUSHION, ARCHIE & THE PUKES, THE TWERPS, THE SYPHILITICS, GERIATRIX! THE MORTALS THE HYPOCHONDRIACS or SNOTBOY '77 (or just plain SNOTBOY to you newer fans) and looking at new bands like WEAKNESS, HOMEMADE DRUGS, WHITE WALLS and countless others (Cincinnati is packed with great bands)... Things seem to be growing (or at least maintaining) and interest seems to he deepening... Still, after all this time. Putting it simply enough, those times, as uncertain as it seems even now, were a blast!
I hope those weren’t the best times I will ever see.
BLASTING FROM THE BASEMENT
Notes about the Cincinnati Basement Scene 1996-99
There never really was a 'beginning' in the classic form of what a beginning is, or should be. No grand event, no big bangs, or trumpet call. No grand significant moment to herald in what would rise and become something bigger... or was there???
Likewise, there was no big ending to tell you that everything was over and that what had come as a flash, finally went out with a poof! There was no big grand finale or ceremony telling you that you have finally reached the end. The rides over... Please exit to your left in an orderly manner.
Is it even over? Done? Complete?
Of course not.
There are still fringe elements gathering in the danky basements (and other elsewhere’s) that might just as well be places with populations that feel as if maybe (just maybe) they are part of a witnessing of a certain kind of greatness that the enemy (everyone else) don’t deserve or understand nor will they ever!
This, whatever you wanna call it, is special...
The fight isn’t over! The battle continues! Those basements are bunkers where the battle verses complacency and normality will be waged. It, one again whatever you manna call it, will never be over. The battle changes, there’s new battlegrounds... but it will never be over.
Never mind. Asking if it was over was a silly question to begin with.
You’re left with memories and times of events and happenings that you recall like war veterans recalling their wars, battles and campaigns.
Crazy, wild and dangerous times.
There was something to be learned in those earliest basements on Glendora, Parker Street or McMillan and even more lessons on Warner Street, The Dick House or The Flora House. They could almost be battlefields in a war that both sides appeared to have won and also lost simultaneously. Many of those stories almost sound made up when you catch yourself telling the tales. Sometimes listeners will just give you that "Yeah, right" look and you can’t really say that you don’t blame them. If you weren’t there yourself, maybe you wouldn’t believe it all happened either.
Yeah, someone’s bangin' in the bushes... Yeah, those bushes with all the garbage in them. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
That is raw sewage coming up from the drain. So what? It's just raw sewage. Dancing is dancing no matter where it is.
He smashed a bottle over his head and is bleeding everywhere AND he has aids? A bottle? His head? Blood? Everywhere? Here come the cops.
"My last beer is always for me" he said while reaching into his pocket and sub sequentially brandishing a switchblade.
The pigs are here (again).
What’s all that paper laying all over everywhere? Oh, its copies of the latest zine, THE NEUS SUBJEX that was handed out for free. The Neus Subjex: Litter Waiting to Happen!
That’s just a sample... A verily small tip of a bigger iceberg that is already ripping your ship to shreds. Don’t even bother with the lifeboats. You are doomed. Take a deep breath and just enjoy the sinking...
Before you could realize it, you were wrapped up in something that you knew was special and exciting. A bigger something or other that you didn’t know was special at the time. Sometime in-between the beginning that never happened (or you didn’t realize was happening) and what you got now (whatever you wanna call it) you find yourself rubbing through a thick beard with sore hands surviving a freak car accident with your car in a swimming pool and the news cameras framing you up nicely holding your waterlogged dry-cleaning that (for whatever reason) you managed to somehow, someway, magically retrieve intact.
There you are....
Standing next to the submerged car, scratching your head, playing your role for the cameras superbly and sticking to your wild story that not only seemed to be holding up, but held superbly after all. You survived. You are a survivor. There still some song to be sang yet.
So sing your song. Sing it loud. Sing it strong.
Somewhere in there, back there, around there... That one place, that one time, those particular circumstances... Not knowing exactly anything from anything else, you took a direct hit.
You took a BLAST FROM THE BASEMENT and things will never be the same again.
I, we, they (choose your weapon) haven’t been the same since.
As long as punk-rock has existed in Cincinnati or elsewhere and as long as punk-rock will ever exist anywhere, there will always be basements, back rooms and other forms of dilapidated structures of every imaginable kind hosting the weird, the outcast and subversive elements. No, the abstract will survive. The Rebellion will endure. This weekend in Cincinnati... No matter which weekend it is, in some basement there is action. There is noise. There is survival. There is song to sing.