Hey hey y’all. Thanks to everyone who voted for Bad Sandwich Chronicles for best blog and best twitter for the Chicago Reader’s best of 2013 poll. It’s over today so, well…good effort. It’s all in the hands of the gods now. Thanks.
For those of you who don’t know, my band, the Lawrence Arms, has been in the studio for the past 3 weeks. Yesterday saw Chris and I both finish our lead vocals. All that’s left are backing vocals, a few bass fixes and all the wacky ambient, textural thematic crap that ties everything together and we’ll have a new record on our hands. Thanks for your patience. It’s been 4 years since we released anything (2009’s masterpiece EP, Buttsweat and Tears) and an almost unbelievable seven (7!!) years since our last full length. That’s a long time. In that time, we’ve somehow not faded into regrettable obscurity, and that’s truly awesome. We couldn’t be happier to have such rad fans and, while I don’t know that any record can live up to seven years of expectations, I think we’ve got a really great batch of songs on our hands here. I was getting goosebumps singing on one of Chris’s tunes last night. We definitely are stoked and I hope you guys like it when it finally sees the light of day.
Another thing that’s going around the Lawrence Arms camp is a case of Vegas fever. Tomorrow morning, before most of you have even had a chance to get up, barf and head to Walgreens for your plan B pills, we’ll be desert bound. Tomorrow night we’re playing a show with Nothington to help kick off Punk Rock Bowling. It should be fun. Do you want to go? It’s sold out, but we’ve got some guest list spots. Just find me. I’ll be around. Interesting trades will be considered. I haven’t been to Vegas in years and I look forward to seeing everything again almost as much as I’m looking forward to getting on the plane on Sunday and thinking “get me the fuck out of this hellhole. I never want to see this town again!” like I always do when I leave Vegas, (simple rule of thumb: no matter how long you’re in Vegas, it’s always one day too many).
Finally, I just watched that documentary about Zach Sobiech. For those of you who don’t know, Zach is a recently deceased Minnesota teen who lived the last significant bit of his life knowing that he had terminal cancer. It sounds like it would be a drag of a viewing…I realize this. If things were switched, and you were telling me to watch some movie about a kid dying, I’d say something to the effect of “man, my life is sad and depressing enough. I’ve already got a lot of energy earmarked to preserve that bubble around my soul that fends off the darkness of encroaching mortality. Thanks anyway!” However, this movie, this kid…He’s truly amazing. I watched it and it’s not sad. It’s one of the most amazing celebrations of what makes life worthwhile I’ve ever seen. I mean…I don’t know how to say this without it sounding like bullshit, but it’s a very happy movie.
This is kind of hard to explain, but, since I have nothing better to do, I’m gonna try. We’re all dying. No matter what you have going on right now, today could very well be your last day on earth. You could have an aneurism or get hit by a car or get shot in the dick or whatever. We pretend we’re not dying, because ugh…dying is a drag at best and horrifyingly, encompassingly permanent at worst. Generally, the standard model of dealing with death is to either fully ignore it or to fetishize it in some way that repurposes it as something that’s not death (your afterlifes, your creepy dark moody gothness, whatever…it bears mentioning that death isn’t dark and spooky any more than death is pink and full of clowns. To ascribe anything to it at all is [probably] wishful thinking and [definitely] wild, blind-ass speculation). What this little bit of mental gymnastics does is allow us to feel like we’ll be around forever. Consciously, we know this isn’t the case, but since our brains literally can’t conceive of a time when we weren’t there to observe and conceive of things, our lives kind of play out like eternity, even though they’re woefully finite.
This view can make it really, really easy to not appreciate what’s going on here. It’s easy to get bummed out and be revolted by loud noises, peoples’ lame jeans, war, the music of the Doors, whatever, but all of these things have positive sides to them that we ignore because the gymnastics of finding joy in even the shittiest of things is at odds with the gymnastics involved in pretending that we’re not gonna die. And this is what I got out of that documentary.
In the movie, Zach is dying. He actually dies at the end (though that’s an epilogue…you don’t see that part). He says shit like “yeah, I’m dying.” He knows. He’s dying just like I’m dying and you’re dying, but he’s brave. He faces it and he admits it, and as a result, the goggles come off and he’s seeing life for the wondrous joy that it is, and now, basking in the glow of having watched this awesome movie, I kind of see it too. Loud noises…it’s amazing that we live in a world where we can construct huge buildings, rip down huge buildings, send ambulances to people who need them and continue to do the little things we need to do every day even as buildings go up and come down right next to us. It’s fucking amazing that we’ve got this system of sounds in place that is so universal that I can understand what this guy on the train means when he screams about how the aliens are after him.
Those lame jeans on that person? Man, that guy likes those jeans and there’s something inherently sweet in someone putting themselves out there. That guy, at some point, put those jeans on and thought “yeah…these kind of make my legs look pretty close to the way I want them to” and I find that to be really sweet. Conversely, how awesome is it that I live in a situation where someone’s jeans are worth thinking about at all? I don’t want to sound like a hippy, so I’m gonna stop short of using words like “blessed” but lemme tell you, people huddled in attics, hiding from storm troopers don’t probably spend a lot of time rolling their eyes at each others’ choice in pants.
Speaking of war, it’s horrible. No one disputes that. How lucky am I to live in a world where war is largely theoretical to me? How wonderful is it that even as shitty people kill innocents in the name of my country, that there are other people out there who think and recognize, as I do, that the entire thing is a shitty tragedy and a crime? People DO care about things and dedicate their lives to attempting to better them. That’s pretty great. The Doors? Yeah, they suck ass, but the fact that they exist reminds me that there are plenty of bands out there who DON’T suck…If the Doors were the only band in the world (and what a dark world that would be), I’d probably like them by default. Almost nothing on earth is so overwhelmingly life affirming as the fact that I can hate the shit out of the Doors because I have so many options. You’re crowded on the subway? That’s because you’re part of a huge group of living things like you that, despite how things may seem, tend to come together and collectively try, mourn, laugh, work, take care of kids, whatever. Does this happen all the time? No. Are there horrors that are daily perpetrated by humanity? Sure. That doesn’t change the fact that there ARE things to love all over the place.
This movie is about a kid who knows what being alive is because he (like us) is only here for a very short time, and, because he’s brave as shit, he’s decided to squeeze every drop of love and awesomeness he can out of it. The only difference is that he realizes that his days are numbered. Yours are too. Before you know it, all this will be gone. You can cry about it or you can get out there and fuck em all.
Anyway, really, really great movie. RIP Zach.
We’ll see you guys in Vegas. Xoxoxoxoxo