Dog Breath plays TV Eye
New York's hardcore punks play Ridgewood's TV Eye
Dog Breath plays TV Eye
TV Eye is the goth bar in Ridgewood, and the bartender is wearing a true crime podcast merch t-shirt. Sunday night and it’s cold and misty. Even though my bank account is in the double digits, I buy a ticket for the Dog Breath show and forget to collect my $5 change.
I’ve had a draft in Substack for about half a year now titled, “I’m Going To Be Monetizing This Blog Soon,” but though I really do value my labor, the idea of me monetizing this blog has honestly never been more than laughable to me. It’s not a self-deprecation thing, I don’t think, but the idea of something like this mosh pit diary being behind a paywall that deducts money from people’s bank accounts every month is just fucking hilarious. I feel that way about all Substacks, kind of.
There was a part in my hate5six story that got cut where Sunny talked about how he rarely goes to shows he doesn’t film, doesn’t actually mosh himself, and hinted that when he does, it’s some primal release of grief and rage, or some other, unknown emotion emerging from some abyssal place, a kind of real freak-out that can’t be otherwise called upon, a darker thing than the dick-swinging antics that make the funniest and coolest hate5six clips. The idea gave me goosebumps, but I didn’t ask more.
Different mosh pits have different energies. At Soundcloud rap shows, they’re exuberant but hollow, the kind of teenaged boy good time that often involves making someone else cry without noticing; at shows like this one, on the hipper side of New York hardcore, there are typically a few guys just trying to be the baddest dog in the room. I wonder where I would have to go to find the kind of intensity Sunny was talking about.
A bit of hardcore sprezzatura: a guy at the back of the stage is leaning on the amps and yawning, checking his phone, even as the band from California is raging. Commitment may be the virtue that animates this subculture, but one way to boast commitment is to be so unimpeachably a member of the in-group that you’re just standing around on stage looking bored, so there that you’re gone. I’m staring at the Asian guy wearing fuzzy ear-muffs, playing bass and wearing an Agnostic Front t-shirt, and wondering if I should apply to MFAs in California. I applied once before, and got into a program I’m pretty sure is not very competitive, but didn’t go–couldn’t go, because they didn’t give me enough funding. I feel my lip peel back into a snarl.
The bathroom is spotted with blood from someone’s broken nose, and the band from California thanks Dog Breath and leaves. “Damn, that sucked dick!” some girl with a studded belt and a Brooklinen tote bag, which is fine, yells. I didn’t think so. Everyone’s bringing their bad attitude tonight, including me.
What would I write in my “statement of purpose”? Have I even actually written anything in the style I would be arguing for? What’s my project? Do I even know what my genre is? What am I even doing, and how long can I expect to keep doing it? And besides, most non-fiction writing teachers practice memoir, a discipline I don’t respect at all.
I asked three incredibly busy people to write me letters of recommendation even though the deadline was three weeks away, and they all said yes.
The next band is from Australia. If I wrote one of those racial anxiety horror movies, I’d set it in Australia, because of how Americans always talk about how perfect they imagine the vibe to be and how perfect they think the people are, in a way that always comes across to me as erotically charged and vaguely Hitler-y. I don’t find white Australians charming; I find the whole way they’ve portrayed themselves in pop culture as huge, blonde and virile and posing with the open mouths of tranquilized reptiles to be very ominous indeed. They thank Dog Breath and get to work.
I leave and go to a nearby gas station for Cheez-Its and $2 beer, and think about what it would be like to have a car. I stopped buying vinyl and started buying CDs a few years ago, imagining keeping them in the glove compartment of a station wagon, which, now that I think about it, was my first acknowledgement that I’d eventually have to leave. I’m not from here, and this isn’t my community. When I can afford it, I want to get the silhouette of the red Toyota my mom used to have, the one I learned to drive in, tattooed on my calf. When the joints in her knees eventually deteriorated a few years ago, she totaled it. I visited her at the rehab center in Miami this summer; she asked me whether I ever thought about going back to school. I answered vaguely because we both knew how remote the possibility is. A week ago she called me from the DMV, breaking down because they wouldn’t reissue her driver’s license, and I knew that the most likely path forward is quitting. Back at the door to the venue, I show the bouncer my passport and step inside. Finally, the band from New York goes on.
If you’re like a business of media person who disagrees that I shouldn’t monetize the blog, feel free to dissuade me from my position.
It’s my birthday tomorrow! Do me a favor and share this blog on social media, wherever? I want more followers. Also, if you’re free tomorrow in New York, I’ll be hanging out downtown–shoot me an e-mail and I’ll let you know where.
Here’s this week’s online performance video, an acoustic cover of a Baroness song I like very much:
Dog Breath plays TV Eye