Monday, August 14, 2006
in the BEGINNING...[Part One]
In the beginning, there was Mark and myself…the story of IMPETIGO begins with the story of how Mark and I first met, and the events leading up to SGT. ROCK and, eventually IMPETIGO. This is an entirely personal perspective on how things fell into place, and the events are in the best manner that I can recall. Some things may not have happened as chronologically as I depict them here, and some people may remember certain events differently than I. In some cases, I may truncate details so as to not hurt a person’s feelings, and in some cases…I won’t. These are abridged excerpts from a much larger document that may or may not ever see the light of day. Either way, you can thank your lucky stars that it is what it is.
When I was attending Illinois State University during the 1985/1986 school year, I had become very adept at skipping classes and goofing around for the majority of the time I spent there. One of my favorite goof activities was writing…I loved to write, even if it was nothing but bullshit. I would sit at the typewriter for hours, making shit up. I even earned cash on the side, typing papers for grad students…typing other peoples’ bullshit. Other than that, I was drinking and listening to records and feeling sorry for myself.
Naturally, my love for music was the most important thing in my life. For years, my attempts at playing in bands with other people had never worked out. No matter what…always the wrong mix. My ego was enough to drive a group of people apart in a matter of minutes, and my enthusiastic idealism was enough to lose the ones who could stand my ego. I had tried several times to resurrect my high school punk band, DEAD TRENDIES, while attending ISU and it never happened. During the late winter of 1985, I began to write record reviews for the dorm newsletter, a tiny, Xeroxed piece of crap that was produced only to fulfill the University’s goal of “enriching student life.” Since shock value was the only way to express my ideals without a band to play with, I wrote reviews of ONLY the most extreme, terrifying, anti-social music that I listened to at the time…HEAVY METAL.
It would have been enough to focus on punk/hardcore…it certainly was “in vogue” at the time, and hair metal was still very much “in.” You have to consider the “audience” of this newsletter…all people who either knew me or had seen me psychotically stalking the hallways of my dorm. NOBODY else read this, and those who did…DID NOT care. The newsletter consisted of 5% “pertinent info” for dorm residents (such as, we’re trying to buy a popcorn popper, don’t use the laundry after midnight, etc.) and 95% bullshit. Besides my record reviews, there were interesting and bizarre cartoons drawn by my pals on the first floor, an advice column (also written by me), and useless articles and gripes about everything from cafeteria food to new movies and crazy campus events. For distribution within our dorm only…or so I thought.
The “dorm control alliance” was a ruling body at the university that combined the efforts of representatives from each dorm on campus to improve life in these sad concrete boxes. They were called something different (and did NOT like the word “dorm” as an operating parameter) but all you need to know is that a representative from MY dorm presented a copy of the newsletter as a “sample” of how our dorm was improving life for its dwellers at a meeting of the “dorm control alliance.” On the other side of campus, a fellow by the name Mark "Stoid" Arrigo was his own dorm’s representative, and he gave the newsletter to his pal, an individual by the name of Mark Sawickis, a generally normal guy who was very involved in the underground at the time, and had a few local things going on, not the least of which was helping a local fanzine get some interviews of some ‘extreme’ bands from across the country. Scott showed this newsletter to Mark, who immediately contacted me and introduced himself. I got his note in my mailbox and wasted no time calling the guy…he asked me if I liked CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER and stuff like that and I nearly fell over dead.
Mark and I became fast friends. He had contacts in the underground I could never dream of, while I was interested in getting more involved (especially in tape-trading) but had not contacts and not much to start off with. Mark changed all that, generously offering copies of anything he had that I was interested in and then some. His success in maintaining lasting friendships via pen pals was mostly due to his serious, organized attitude and I did everything I could to emulate his prosperity to this end. We both enjoyed the same kind of music, movies, and more. We spent many afternoons together fawning over demos by Chicago’s DEVASTATION and DEATH (remember MANTAS?!?) and poring thru EXCEL flyers. Unlike many of the other friends I had made at the same level, he was a bit closer to my age and just as manic about detail as I was. We both felt like the underground existed to save the world for guys like us; this was true then and is still true today. Besides that, Mark was genuine and sincere and not interested in taking advantage of myself or of my ideas. If anything, he should have been wary of me doing this to him, but the thought never crossed his mind.
Mark was also a better student than I was. In early 1987, after months of drinking and partying my way through school, I finally gave up. I quit ISU after being placed on academic probation and given an ultimatum by my father that I could not work my way around. Reluctantly, I packaged my college life up into hurried boxes and returned to Decatur, IL to try and repair my ‘good standing’ at home and also to try to do something about all these ideas in my head…but first I had to have a leg (or two) to stand on…
TO BE CONTINUED…
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Chunks of VOMIT!!!
Welcome to my twisted space!! After posting actively in many t*rrent forums and working on the extensive liner notes for the upcoming IMPETIGO re-issues on Razorback Records, I thought I would get going on a project I've been wanting to do for a looooong time (and have been lazily preparing for)...a blog in which I can share with you, friends, fiends, and fans of the TRUE UNDERGROUND, the tales, stories, and recollections of mylife in the underground...with many of my bands (IMPETIGO, of course, and all the rest), my tape-trading and zine-editing experiences, and above all, remember and recall all the kool people I've met, known, and worked with over the years.
The TRUE UNDERGROUND will never die, friends...there are plenty of us who are keeping it ALIVE by doing things just like this...
If you were THERE, then HAILS...you may show up in one of these tales from the Chamber of Ages!
If you WEREN'T...pull up a chair, and get a taste of what it was like...BACK IN THE DAY!
Thanks to EVERYONE for their support over the years...
and, as always...