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Stealing is Good — A Year in Retrospect (Stephen Sowley)

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Stephen Sowley rips off the Wire in his year-end Pro's & Con's.

Stealing is Good — A Year in Retrospect (Stephen Sowley)

The first time I stole, I was 15 years old. I stole a giant Nestle “Symphony” candy bar, while my friends were onto bigger and better things—mainly cigarettes, or cases of beer… It was a rather exhilarating feeling—a rush, kinda like when you skydive for the first time. That’s entertainment when you live in the sticks...No one died, no one got pregnant. I got fat from eating that damn “Symphony” bar, and drinking that beer but the cigarettes sure helped me slim down! But those days are behind us now.

The reason I bring this up, is to say I’m stealing again — I’m stealing as I write; I should preface all this by saying that, I’m not a great writer. Matter of fact, I have no idea why Otis and Sam have asked me to join the ranks of the great writers that Dusted has. I mean, I went to State for fucks sake! So, Otis announced that Dusted was going to do a year end wrap up, I went into a panic. What to do? What to write? I got scared, confused, flustered, and later on drunk. That’s when it hit me — I’ll steal from the most pious of all rags, the most pretentious drivel in the world — The Wire. For years, they’ve done the “Pros & Cons” with their staff and musicans for the end of the year. Seeing as how I have a better chance of becoming a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader than a Wire contributor, I figured I’ll bite from The Wire. So here it is, “Pros & Cons” (Wire style) for 2002:

PROS: Chicago-wise, things that saved my life this year: BRONX CHEER records, playing records at Danny’s, Zakopane & the Hideout; “bro-downs” at Simons with the editor of GT FKD fanzine, and the beautiful & wonderful DJ M. GEILS; Having a very brief, but meaningful experience interning at Thrill Jockey records, and getting to kick it with Sam Hunt at the Thrill Jockey 10th Anniversary party.
BLOWIN’ MINDS LIVE: Tortoise, Mission of Burma, Sonic Youth, Black Dice, Consonant, Silkworm, Pelican, High on Fire, Oxes, Melvins, Isis, Watchers, !!!, Denali, Taking Pictures, Milemaker, 90 Day Men, Chicago Underground Quartet, Madlib & Peanut Butter Wolf’s DJ Fiesta, Lustre King, Lightning Bolt, Shins, Erase Errata, Pullman, Queens of the Stone Age (even whilst dealing with the shittiest audience in history), Belle & Sebastian, Liars, Mekons (especially getting to watch Sally Timms in all her drunken beauty),Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Walkmen, Lovage, Rapture, 27, Plastic Crimewave Sound, Golden, Italo (r.i.p.), Carla Bozulich & Nels Cline, and Cat Power (Not so much for the performance, but for “The Country Bears” afterward.) Speaking of which — I know everyone got wet over Y Tu Mama Tambien, but Christopher Walken's work in “The Country Bears” will eventually go down as one of his finest performances ever!; All things Def Jux & DFA; Tom Waits’ two-headed carnival attraction; Finally getting to hear Fennesz; Kranky records putting out 8 great and equally distinct records within the span of 4 weeks; Shooting pictures for the IRT fanzine throughout Chicago; Chains & Black Exhaust compilation; I Am Trying To Break Your Heart; Sam Hunt’s interview with Barry Hogan; Fourth of July parties at the Kranky House and Nice Fort Headquarters; Scoring a bootleg copy of “Run Ronnie Run”; Finally, meeting befriending wonderful people throughout Cook County, and getting to write for Dusted.

CONS: The tragic & untimely deaths of Jam Master Jay, Paul Wellstone and Mary Hansen; Chicago Hipsters—imagine all the worst fashion statements, along with the most snotty impressions, and there you go…work on being nice, and put content over context, it might get you somewhere further than the Rainbo or the VD Clinic; Twisting my ankle at Camp Gay; Not reading enough books; The entire electro-clash boom, along with this rebirth of “death disco.” (Yeah it’s fun, but when a band like Moving Units can get something released it proves that being derivative is the new original.) Being too scared to say shit while having drinks & dinner my boss and guys from Silkworm & Shellac; Republicans having way too much power right now — I see us standing on top of the hellmouth, and it’s about ready to yawn. A bunch of other things I’m too polite to mention…

Future: The Watchers, Soft Pink Truth, and Loose Fur will blow some heads in the ’03; Emma Forrest’s next novel; More Simpsons DVD sets (hopefully more than two seasons worth); Hopefully some peace in this world, but that’s pushing it these days, is it not?

By Stephen Sowley

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