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Old Haunts

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Czar Bar: Saw other bands here, but none leap to mind except a certain ex-local zinester’s band. He/she had corresponded by mail regarding our respective zines. I was a friendly son of a bitch back then. I wanted to be EVERYbody’s friend,* and was chummy as fuck in my letters. That rarely translated into friendship in person, and I mostly remember being kept at arm’s length by most of the zinesters I knew (with a few exceptions… I shouldn’t need to tell you who you are). Anyway, case in point: the aforementioned zinester told me to come and see his/her band at the Czar Bar and say hey. The chipper and friendly tone of this person’s letter drew me out my shell a bit, and I decided, “By golly, I’ll get over my dislike of punk rock and support my fellow zinester!”

I stopped by the bar accompanied by someone, I can’t recall who. Maybe it was Darrin. After the zinester’s first set he/she, I walked over and said, “Hey, __________. I’m Dan Kelly!” and I extended my hand. He/she went through his/her memory banks, and after a too-long time said, “Oh, hey… How’s it going?”

“Um, all right. Thanks for contributing that strip to (my zine). It was great.”

“All right, cool.” he/she said, not really warming up.

“So, all right. You asked me to stop by, so… I’m here.”

“Cool,” he/she said, “Have fun. Later.”

Then he/she kind of moseyed off. I felt like a perfect ass.

I’m sure it’s present in every artistic community, but I came to recognize this behavior in many Chicago-based artistes who equated a smattering of local attention for their stuff with greater fame and importance. It was pandemic in the music communities and, during its height, the zine community. This—not that you asked—is partly why I rarely interact with other artists. I’ve met some wonderfully, sweet, nice, creative, and friendly folks, but the number of Gollums I’ve met (“My precioussssssss! My precioussssssss talent!”) was disheartening.

*It might not have seemed that way all the time, but it’s true.

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