May 2014 finds me in the middle of two ANTIGRAVITY anniversaries. Next month we mark our 10th year as a publication, while April marked my second year as Art Director. I’m a very nostalgic person, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the events that have lead to my involvement in the magazine and the purpose it serves. I first met AG Editor Dan Fox in the summer of ‘94 at an uptown houseparty. I was tagging along with future AG contributor Anton Falcone to this party, for whom I’m sure none of us knew the host. Anton and I were both skaters from the Westbank who met each other through mutual hatred of everything happening at a Catholic high school social two years earlier.
We sat outside talking about music, flip tricks, and where the nearest Taco Bell was. I believe this was the moment we both closed the door completely on all of the norms of high school life. I stopped hanging onto the ghosts of friendships forged in elementary school and began to build my team. Anton has always been and will always be at the heart of this team. We affectionately call him “The Center of the Universe” around the AG office, with his knack for combining various far-reaching atoms of friends into one complex molecule.
That coming school year I was accepted into the visual art program at NOCCA and would finally get a break from the torture and waste of money that is Catholic education. Being a shy and introverted kid I was a bit frightened by the idea of starting all over in a completely foreign environment, though I was very excited to finally be surrounded by people of different races, sexes, and cultures. On my first day, I sat in the basement of the original NOCCA campus, watching nervously as unrecognizable faces flowed in and out, hoping that I would discover a familiar face. Finally I saw Dan. I don’t think he remembered me at the time, but I’ve always been good with faces so I mustered up the courage to reintroduce myself. We were from fairly different backgrounds—Dan was an uptown public school kid—and our connections to the growing NO punk community were pretty opposite, but we met somewhere in the middle of the Screeching Weasel and Born Against split EP— and like most everyone into underground rock music in the ‘90s, Fugazi. Our friendship initially stayed within the NOCCA basement, aside from a few after-school gigs at the Unitarian Church. However, that all changed after I invited Dan to a party at Anton’s house later that year, his first real introduction to what was happening on the Westbank.
It was a time when the music scene was starting to be run by kids. We had a glut of affordable all ages venues. And armed with a copy of Book Your Own Fucking Life and handwritten letters, you could lure some of your favorite bands to town, have them play a $5 show, and crash on your sofa. The scene at the time was very communal.
Everyone mixed and got along, whether they were into metal, ska, pop-punk, hardcore, hip-hop, drunk punk, straight edge, skateboarding, or tagging.
The explosion of Green Day and the growth of the city made major changes in the music scene. Bands began to operate more like businesses and the alternative venues we could book as teens folded, giving way to live music held hostage by age restrictions and alcohol sales. This and fatigue caused me to lose interest in being more than an audience member in the scene. I’d eventually have a quarter-life crisis and move to Asia, where I’d get formally trained on how to put a publication together. Not long after I returned from Singapore, Dan asked for help with the magazine. He’d been involved with it for years, but had just been given more control over content. I jumped at the chance to work alongside one of my oldest friends for a magazine that celebrates the music of many of my other friends and unfortunately eulogized a couple of them.
Last week I was on a flight between Singapore and Tokyo when I gave a 2006 Q&A session with Ian MacKaye another listen. He was asked by a Loyola music business student what he did. He described his occupation as “Punk Rocker,” and went on to explain that he defined punk as “A term that’s ever-changing, that means the free space where new ideas can be presented. Where profit is not dictating the sound.” When I look back at the interwoven past of Dan and myself, I can see the impact of the ‘90s and the church of Fugazi that we both worship at in the way this magazine is put together. ANTIGRAVITY is the free space for our ideas and experimentation. Our contributors aren’t always professionally trained to do the things they do. We are constantly winging it and changing the way we approach each issue through trials and successes and failures. AG is made up of groups of people from all different parts of the city, schools of thought, and aesthetics loosely connected by some form of disenchantment with mainstream media and society. We are the by-product of that ‘90s DIY movement and community, and it makes the lack of sleep and and arguments over what image or typeface to use worth it. I look forward to the many anniversaries to come.