underground since'89

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Monday, February 11, 2013

jigsaw's guide to ending the bar scene

1. Stop playing shows in bars when you can afford to - in other words - if you live in the NW don't play a bar here, demand to play an all ages venue instead. No excuses, please.

2. Stop going to bars you hate that you go to anyway because people you know will be there, Etc. There are other ways to be social and see your friends. If I go out to a bar for a drink it is ALWAYS at Ben Moore's because that place rules and if they went out of business Olympia would suck. When I go to The Reef it is for pie and coffee because that is what they do best. When I go elsewhere, reluctantly, I might have one drink but I might just have a cup of coffee and gorge myself on water or chips and salsa or something.

3. Make a point of supporting all ages shows by paying to attend them regularly. Do not try to get in free to an all ages show. Pay extra when you can afford it. Even if you are on the guest list. If there is a bar show and an all ages show on the same night, go to the all ages show before going to the bar show.

4. Try to spend large chunks of time NOT DRINKING on a regular basis - I celebrate sober February, June and October every year. For me this breaks the habit of drinking out of sheer boredom or whatever and goes along with a cleanse I do during those months. If you have trouble with this step there are resources that can help you quit drinking.

5. Start a regular exercise program that is goal-oriented. When you wake up early to run 5 miles on your day off you don't wanna be hungover (unless you are The Country Teasers, but that is another story). Likewise, you stop feeling tempted by happy hour after work when you know you have to be done at the Y before 9pm. Drummers are natural runners. We need to be in shape in order to play our best. Do it for the band.

6. Playing in a band, you end up at a lot of parties. As a general rule I try to limit myself to 7 drinks per week, which is pretty easy for me, except when touring in a band that plays bars/house parties every night. I am prone to drinking more than usual in social situations (the music scene, duh) where people drink a lot. I also have a lot of friends who are alcoholics (musicians, duh) so it started to seem normal to me to sit in a bar for hours. When I toured with The Old Haunts I made a rule where I had one drink before we played and one drink after. Every once in awhile I'd party (San Pedro comes to mind...) but I tried to keep it in check. As the drinking started to escalate on those tours I decreased my intake to less than one drink a day. I drink minimally nowadays - I'd say on average 2 or 3 drinks a week. I still like to celebrate birthdays and holidays and friend reunions with a party - but that's fine, parties are for SPECIAL OCCASIONS , remember? Like, hanging out in Spain or London on vacation or three day weekends or whatever. Not for everyday life. Everyday life is for writing songs and letters and reading books and going swimming and working on stuff. Creativity vs. destruction. We have to balance these forces.

7. DO NOT make the move from playing in a band to DJing in a bar. Nothing against DJing - it's just that I don't want to be a part of the reason why people come out to a bar to drink, EVER. DJ a house party, DJ your apartment, DJ the streets. Don't DJ in a bar (unless it's your job…but you know what? there are better jobs out there…) If you are a DJ-for-Life please make a point of DJing all ages events on a regular basis and please make a point of DJing sober on a regular basis. It sets a good example and it will keep you healthy and that will make you the best DJ you can be.









Anonymous said...

As an alcoholic I feel unjustly excluded from this sober scene.

Tobi Vail said...

Dear Anonymous,

I didn't mean to exclude anyone but it is true that my manifesto on ending the bar scene doesn't offer a solution to addiction. The truth is, I don't have one. We are all different but I see too much self-destruction in my scene - that seems to inevitably lead to tragedy - so I decided to talk about how I live my life with regards to these issues, in manifesto form, as a kind of invitation or whatever.

I don't have an answer. I'm just trying to encourage healthier habits as a culture. The truth is, I am still thinking about this stuff, specifically about how addiction relates to capitalism and how the bar scene encourages self-destruction ...I mean, I'm not straight edge...and I'm not advocating a sober scene necessarily (although I do advocate for taking breaks from drinking if possible) I just want an alternative to the death and decay I see all around me.

I do think that punks hanging out in bars is a sorry excuse for a punk scene...and I say this after having seen some of the best minds of my generation destroyed by ...a kind of madness...yes. I'm going to listen to Some Velvet Sidewalk now.

Anonymous said...

i also feel excluded from this post. i mean: i get it, but its pretty much yr own reality that you are manifesto-ising. which is cool/fine, but guaranteed its gonna make a lot of us feel out of touch with you. i know you're not trying to touch on the larger problem of addiction, and that will exclude a number of readers. but i get it.. you aren't an addict/alcoholic. and a lot of us who are don't hang out in bars. we go to all ages shows, put on all ages shows, TRY to do healthy things (jogging, et al), but there is also merit -- oh, and maybe we go to a bar/work at a bar sometimes. you go to a bar sometimes. i get your good intention but it feels superior.

Tobi Vail said...

PS If this manifesto doesn't work for you please make up YOUR OWN PLAN TO END THE BAR SCENE 2013!!!!! thank you

Anonymous said...

thanks so much for writing this. i rarely come across ideas as radical as these. i really appreciate this manifesto. so much consumption everywhere...

Santiago said...

Hello Tobi,

I'm from France and it's quite different here so I'm a bit curious to understand what an "all ages show" might be nowadays
(I read a few lines about it when reading the 'Minor Threat' chapter in Michael Azerrad's Our band could be your life but it dealed with the 80's)

Is it a bar that doesn't sell alcohol or just a random place like a school gym turned into a venue?

(Besides that, I like reading your blog :)

CA said...

Food for thought indeed. I have months where I lay off and I generally feel brighter and certainly wealthier for it (I buy way more books and albums in these months, but I buy a lot generally). I like the idea about addiction and the link to capitalism. I'm going to think about that. Inspiring stuff.

Tobi Vail said...

There is a way of dealing with addiction that works for a lot of people via the 12 step program - I support doing whatever works for each person - this is what works for me - and what I can do is try to identify things we can do as a culture.

I understand I should acknowledge the view that alcohol is a disease and that many people believe if you are an addict you don't have a choice. I don't know what I believe. I understand I do have a choice and I recognize that is a privilege, so my thinking comes from a privileged point of view.

In my process of thinking about this stuff and as someone who is living my third decade of being impacted by a culture that normalizes addiction and has seen many tragedies I feel that I sometimes have to speak to the truth of my experience. I encourage others to do the same.

A conversation is better than silence. Thanks for your comments.



Tobi Vail said...

PS an all ages show is a show where people of all ages are allowed to come to the show... they are often alcohol/drug free but not alway... many all ages shows are illegal house parties and some are in bars, depending on the law, sometimes people of all ages are allowed in a bar within certain stipulations

Tobi Vail said...

But most shows in bars are 21 and over in the US.

shelley said...

Thanks for this inspiring post! I don't drink hardly at all, so I understand that I am privileged to not have to deal with alcohol addiction. I have always been opposed to bar culture but have definitely made concessions over time - booking shows in bars and playing in bars, etc. I always try to book shows at all ages spots but they are kinda few and far between and if that is not possible I'll do it a bar, but always have mixed feelings about that because it is always making the event more focused on selling alcohol, and that always feels bad to me.
I appreciate you highlighting the importance of paying to support all ages show and not just getting in free because you can.
Oh and I am a drummer and I definitely do not feel I am a natural runner, never really have been. But I do hope to start exercising more reguarly in 2013. Thanks for the post.

nuvola said...

Tobi, Thank you. <3

diewildente said...

Love it!
Actually, I end up spending most of my time alone these days. Most of my friends are total bar-rats, and I kind of had to make a decision between me and them- my own health, well-being vs. hanging out with my friends and getting way too tipsy and wrecking days doing aftermath recovery. So, I re-examined my priorities. It gets kind of lonely, but I make more art and music, and have more energy. I invite friends into my world, and from time to time, I get to hang out with someone outside the bars, and it means a lot to me.

What I don`t really understand are some of the blogger comments about feeling left out or whatever. I see that most of the people I know- punks, non-punks, part-time punks, co-workers, whomever-all converging in bars all the time. It's peculiar to think that I would somehow be excluding them by not participating in going to bars. I will have to think about it, but I am a little dubious.

Anonymous said...

For an interesting read on capitalism and addiction check out The Globalization of Addiction. It's an fantastic read :D