Bikey, bikey, bikey. MOSH MOSH MOSH!
I checked the route I took biking on google maps last night, and it was 44.6 miles. A few days before that, it was like 37.2 miles. I oughta get a bike computer ‘cuz I never really know or remember which way I went, even an hour after getting back. I want to find myself a good 50-mile loop. That’ll be a good daily ride.
This is the first day I haven’t biked in a while. I think I needed a break after the last two days. I feel kinda tired. I might want to put a softer seat on my bike, too. Rough roads are making my ass sore. I wonder if that’ll make me lazy, or more comfortable and therefore more effective. That’s probably the same question about what will ever happen to me when/if I ever find a girlfriend.
I started doing some research on bike training, but it did the same thing that thinking about entering a triathlon did. It made me not want to do it any more. I don’t want to race. I fucking hate racing, I always have. Mainly, because we’re told to be competitive and I always want more people to win more than me, and I am always less prepared than the best prepared, so I always tend to fall short. Lose. Suddenly, I’m a loser. Before, I was just a non-racer, perfectly content to just be me, riding my bike quickly from point a to point b. Suddenly, I put all kinds of “pressure” and expectations and focus on one singular bike ride at the same time as a bunch of other rich jackasses on their multi-thousand-dollar set-ups. My fucking bike was free, asshole. My dad found half of it at a rummage sale and I curbed the frame in Madison. I spent $5 on the camelbak at a rummage sale, $30 on gloves and a tool kit from the internet, and $20 for tires. For the bike itself, I have $20 in it. I’ll fucking ride circles around you from now until the end of time, but on any given day, you can probably beat me.
That’s just how I roll.
I should tell you more about that show I was at. Fucking basement grind show in Appleton. Rawr! I got kinda yelly, slightly moshy, and sorta flaily when I was left to my little corner of heaven, two little angels protecting the rest of the poor souls from my wrath. Human shields, motherfucker. That’s the only kind that can stop me.
So, part of the reason I have such a soft spot for SFN, besides the fact that they’re cool, smart people who play music I love, is that they mosh. I have no clue what your opinion, experience, or philosophy of moshing is, so here’s mine.
Introduction to “moshing”
Webster’s dictionary defines… ha ha. Fuck what the dictionary says. Moshing is just dancing. It is human movement, rhythmic, bio-rhythmic, or random. Like most things, it works much better when there are other people participating. How many? I’ve seen respectable “pits” with as few as 2, but that means you almost need an occasional third and a willing and aware crowd. The “sides” of the pit are as important as the pit itself. Most of the time, a pit is in a contained area. A small basement, garage, or coffee shop works quite well for this purpose. The problem is that these spaces usually have shit you could hurt yourself running into. Being in the crowd, at this point, becomes as much self-preservation as friend-preservation, and your spot against that wall may be as “dangerous” as getting tossed around by the other moshers themselves.
So, why do concert-goers put up with being smashed into walls, pipes, duct-work, water heaters, and other basement obstacles? One, it’s relatively safe, and if one is unsure of one’s finesse, balance, or energy level, being cramped and smushed into a wall still gets you one of the best parts of being in the actual pit. People fucking run into you. Hard. Usually its muscles, shoulders, but occasionally you’ll get popped in the face. Within the context of the music, it’s perfect. Having a band that can sustain moshable music is a feat in and of itself, but having a crowd that does it well is unmistakable heaven.
Most of the little cramped shows end up being mostly other bands and their close friends or die-hard fans. Or, people that love running into other people to music. Then, there’s me. I don’t know where I fall. Well, where I fall at shows is usually behind the best looking girls in the room. Sometimes this is my doing, but usually, I pick my spot (and I’ve been picking spots near walls, posts, or something else to lean on, lately), and they come to me. They rarely talk to me, but they seem pretty comfortable there, and if the pit gets rowdy, they shield me. If the pit gets out of hand, either I hop in and re-direct its momentum, or I’ll become the shield.
Girls are an essential element of good pits. Dude pits suck. Fucking elbows, knees, and start-up runs of 10+ feet will propel a meat bot to pain-inducing speeds. It’s dancing, asshole, not football practice! Are you trying to make the girls leave? Having one or two knockabout punk girls will calm the over-violent and put everyone more at ease. That little girl just took an elbow to the face, dickhead. You really gonna complain about my elbow in your back? Heh heh. I’m crowd security, and offenders gonna get pain’d.
Bigger spaces (warehouses, outdoor shows, etc.) require far more people. This increases the percentage of douchebags, showoffs, violent assholes, and drunks. That’s when my elbows go into battle mode. One violent person can really fuck up a pit. I haven’t encountered one of these in a while, prolly ‘cuz the barrage of elbows I can become, or the crowd-lauched human projectile that put my shoulder square into your chest, just keeps everyone in line.
So, every once in a while, I’m the out who gets out of line. In particular, I am thinking of the two occasions when a singer in a performing band punched me in the face. One was the dude from Erebus, at a show at the Glass Nickel in Madison. They were opening for Hammered. There was a kid in the relatively small pit who had no idea how much pain he was inflicting. He was flailing around hitting people, so I started hitting back. He got pissed. Other people around weren’t backing him up, because he’d been hitting them, too. I’m pretty sure this kid was kind of slow, but he was acting like a mindless weapon, so lessons were in order. He essentially went out-of-control violent towards me, which, when entangled with ye olde dicktator, tends to put you on your ass. It was a graceful, rather gentle flip, but he went down. The singer kid had had enough. He clocked me with the mic, and I momentarily blacked out. I still have a scar right on my left eyebrow.
The short version of this story is: I beat up a retarded kid in a pit, so the lead singer of Erebus smashed me in the face with the microphone. I stand by my actions.
By the way, after that, homeboy calmed down. I stood in the same spot I had, and he kept moshing, but he didn’t hit me any more. He didn’t get near me. I’m pretty sure he didn’t hit anyone else, either. At first, he looked a little scared, of me, probably. By the end of the show, I think he was ok. I was. I got a big hug from my friend.
The other time was when SFN was playing a short daylight set right out on library mall at the end of State St. in Madison. Punks came out of the woodwork! Daylight takeover. I was right up front, looking menacing and being distracting, so SFN’s guitarist/screamer (I always forget his name) punched me in the jaw. It was like our own private little mosh pit out in front of god and everybody. It was also us saying, I will take-a/punch in broad daylight. This is how little I fear you or anything else.
Punks 1, society 0.
Ok, so that’s how I like to imagine it went down. Prolly, it was just the collective response of humanity and their frustration with my never doing anything to obviously deserve a beat-down.
It’s not fighting. It’s not violent. It looks violent, and the music sounds violent, but it’s people running into people. If you do it too hard, it hurts both of you. Done correctly, it’s like everyone gives everyone else a full-body massage in a sweaty sauna. I can think of no better way to share this kind of music. Fuck, any kind of music. I wish people moshed to other stuff.
I’m convinced that this thing, this concept I’m so drawn to, some 18 years after my introduction, is a perfect analogy for what ails us as a society. To function effectively on limited land, we’re gonna run into each other. Some of us flail around like the blades of a blender, and we all gotta deal with that. Some of us stand at the precipice, protecting the rights and safety of participants, musicians, and the terrified or oblivious bystanders. The front-line turns fewer-square-feet-than-should-be-capable into a dance floor.
Socialization by fire. Acquaintance by physical impact. Anonymous love through gently stylized noise violence. Shared life.