Luke from Sticky Zine Store wrote me the other day. Like most independently-run spaces, Sticky is in a bit of financial trouble. Instead of merely asking for money, however, Sticky is asking a bunch of zinesters to put out a benefit issue of their zines, with the proceeds going to the store. Despite the fact that the last issue of my zine came out about five years ago now, I was one of the writers they hit up. My initial reaction was to ask if I could just donate money instead. Luke, in his infinitely cheeky manner, suggested I could do both.
Funnily enough, I was thinking about the zine just the other day. Strange combinations trigger strange memories, and for me the mixture of wearing my old Doc Marten shoes, walking home through the drizzly winter twilight, and Modest Mouse in the headphones did the trick. All of a sudden I remembered wearing those same shoes one night in Glasgow, listening to the same record, walking alone back to Kirsty-Anne's flat after some dinner, because I didn't want to go out to some nightclub with the rest of the folks. I didn't quite know my way home, but knew enough to figure it out. I was thinking about how I'd been pretty funny at dinner that night, and that perhaps I was a pretty funny guy in general, and that if I wrote down some of my funny stories for people to read it could work out pretty cool. It kinda did.
As much as I like to think I'm pretty much the same as when I was six years old - another Modest Mouse reference for you - I'm barely even the same guy I was when I started writing those dumb stories of dumb kids doing dumb things ten years ago. Sure, some of the patterns are the same, but the inherent motivations are pretty different. When I look back at those old zines I see a twentytwo year old kid trying his best to grasp some kind of understanding of the world using the only tools he knows how, with vague pop-philosophical ramblings about "narrative" and "identity" as an instruction booklet. But now, while I still believe that our stories are our identity, I'm no longer fool enough to think that identity is something that can be grasped, or understood using tools, no matter how vague the instruction booklet. And, let's be honest, I'm too old to care.
Modest Mouse fans will tell you that the old stuff is better than the new stuff, and they'll be right. When the motivations change so too does the output, and when the reasons for sitting down to the computer become less about trying to figure out who the fuck we are and what the fuck we're doing in a far flung country in the middle of another shitty rainy night staring out into the street when everyone else is sleeping, and more about wondering if we can still do it, if we can pull it together for one more time, the output becomes less like Building Nothing Out Of Something and more like Good News For People Who Love Bad News. This is part of the reason why I stopped writing the zine. I don't know if I can pick it back up again. Even for a good cause. I just no longer have the angst.