Wifebeater (a short story of 1036 words from this small French town)

It was a large, open hall full of small tables with bright red columns and a tiny floral pattern on the carpet. Dinner was buffet style and just starting service. There were groups of athletes in warmups interspersed with travelers in street clothes. Haru's coaches had moved enough small tables together to accommodate them. He stood at the head of the table, his hand resting on the back of his chair.

Everyone scattered to the buffet after that—well, Mikoshiba, Takara, and Ozawa went in search of booze, first—and Haru wandered among the stations, looking for mackerel or at least some kind of fish. He stared at the offerings spread out before him, exhaling at the lack of saba. Haru's belly was pleasantly full of saba —and a little bit of salad to make Rin happy—when he got back to his room after dinner, managing to escape before Mikoshiba and Takara could rope him into the bar. The quiet in the room was blissful. Haru sat down on the edge of his bed and pulled out his phone.

At 7pm, it was too early to Skype with Rin, who probably had his hands full keeping Momo as far from the desserts as possible. But at this rate, he wasn't going to make it to nine. The daylight beyond the window wasn't helping him stay awake. Haru dropped down against the sheets, gazing blearily at his phone as he worked through browser instructions in French to get connected to wireless. He at least had to text Rin to let him know he was going to bed early—. Haru tapped out half of the message before his eyelids drooped and wouldn't open again. His hand fell to the bed, the phone slipping through his fingers—.

The room was darker—red-gold with the last rays of sunset. Mikoshiba was standing beside the bed, looking way too sober—not to mention awake —for someone who had to be several drinks in by now. Stifling a yawn, he followed Mikoshiba downstairs. In the lobby, they turned right instead of left—heading the opposite direction from the restaurant.

As they passed the bar, Haru caught a glimpse of Takara and Ozawa at the center of a cluster of other athletes, shot glasses in hand. Mikoshiba took him down a hallway where it was less noisy, with closed doors leading into meeting rooms. Haru glanced at his friend suspiciously, but the guy merely shrugged. Exhaling, Haru twisted the knob—. Captain Ikehara was alone in the small conference room, his frame bathed in blue light from the projector that was on but not showing anything.

He had a laptop with him, the screen turned away. Shades were drawn over the windows and only a few of the overhead lights were on. The captain's face was grave. Haru paused in the doorway with his hand still on the knob. He'd never seen that expression on Ikehara before. His palms went clammy as he tried to think— Had something else ended up on the internet?

He couldn't think of anything weird he'd done, but—. Haru's pulse was pounding in his throat as he forced himself to let go of the doorknob and approach Captain Ikehara at the table. The screen was split into four sections and all of his friends were smiling back at him—Nagisa and Rei…Gou…Rin and Momo…and Makoto. You guys— He only belatedly realized there was a webcam set up in front of the free-standing projector screen.

Then the room was suddenly filled with roving, multi-colored lights and Mikoshiba and Takara had the karaoke machine out, singing Happy Birthday badly in English while the cake was set on the table in front of him—. Haru was stunned speechless, looking around at his friends and teammates. Everyone— The warmth rose up inside him, thick and overwhelming, and the tears spilled down his cheeks before he could even think not to cry. Everyone laughed and Haru quickly wiped his eyes, the leather of his bracelet soft as it brushed his face. He finally drew a breath. The round cake was iced in white, with twenty candles around the edge.

In the middle was a blue dolphin wearing a gold medal and Joyeaux Anniversaire written in careful script. Not, 'I wish I was at the pool right now. Haru drew a long breath— Wishing to be with Rin was obvious but it wasn't enough for the outpouring of love he felt drenched in.

Not even Rio was big enough. He closed his eyes briefly, his hands curling at his sides.

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I wish…that Rin and I can swim together in Tokyo , surrounded by our friends… Opening his eyes, he blew, the golden sparklers going dark one-by-one—. Cheering and applause filled the room. As Konishi and Nakagawa took to slicing the cake, the karaoke started up again and six-packs of beer appeared out of nowhere…. She laughed, strands of red hair falling across her brow.

I help the guys stretch and stuff. You know, for class. Rei, Gou, and Makoto went quiet, peering into the screen, their sharpened gazes landing on Haru's wrist. Momo managed to squirm free.

PornOs gr

Like the time Sakamoto-senpai kissed Yamazaki-senpai. You know, with tongue—". It was just a little one," Haru muttered. On the screen, Gou, Makoto, and Rei were blushing fiercely while Nagisa was whispering something behind his hand into Rei's ear with a far-from-innocent smile on his face. Takara slammed half of her beer and came over, slinging an arm around Haru's shoulders. Haru eyed her, trying to gauge how drunk she was…not drunk enough, apparently.

He pushed her arm off his shoulder with a finger, but she just put it back. Rin came back into view, his face red and it was difficult to tell how much was embarrassment and how much was exertion. He straightened his tank top. The only song Haruka's been singing since Barcelona. Haru's face started to burn. Everyone on screen was looking at him curiously now, especially Rin. Momo popped up behind Rin's shoulder, looking on. I'm not gonna get out of this, am I? Takara put the microphone in his hand. Not after you sang publicly for me….

Haru sighed, closing his eyes for a second and gripping the microphone. It was awkward the first time he sang it with his teammates, too, but… He glanced behind him. Ozawa, standing at the center of the trio and holding the other mic, gave him a big thumbs-up. As the syncopated notes of the punk rock song— Chiisana Koi no Uta —by Mongol started, Haru lifted the mic— " Hiroi uchuu no kazu aru hitotsu…" His voice was joined by electric guitar and a steady backbeat. She was covering her mouth with her hands, but obviously grinning.

As the full drum set came in, Rin blushed all the way to his ears, his gaze flattened and he obviously recognized the song—. When the chorus came up, the ladies took over, singing upbeat and loud— "Hora! Anata ni totte, daiji ni hito hodo sugu soba ni iru no…". Everyone else sang the chorus the second time—their teammates in the room and their friends on the screen, all belting out the familiar lyrics. Haru held Rin's gaze as the words of the song surrounded them.

I love you, Rin. Rin swiped at his tears and grinned, laughing and crying at the same time. His eyes danced with the same love as they looked at each other. The party started to deteriorate as the empty beer cans piled up. The Japan crowd logged off for class or more sleep and—while Momo sang loud, off-key karaoke with his drunk brother—it was easy for Haru to catch Rin's gaze on the screen and slip away from the room, unnoticed…. It was late, the night sky clear and dotted with stars beyond the window in Haru's hotel room. He perched on the edge of the bed, Skyping on his phone.

He and Captain Ikehara are roommates. Rin smiled, though his expression quickly turned wistful. Haru's throat closed hot and tight. He shook his head. Captain Ikehara and Sakamoto organized a lot of your end, and Makoto helped me set things up with the others. Don't tell me—it's supposed to be a secret, but… It was a good one, right? Konishi-san and I kind of have our hands full with the others. The elevator stopped on the second floor on the way down. When the doors slid open, Coach Akagi was standing there, holding a cell phone.

The conference room was pretty well cleaned up by the time Haru got there. All the trash and food had been taken care of, equipment put away. Coach Akagi sighed, standing in the doorway and surveying the scene. He glanced back at Haru. He went and gathered Mikoshiba from his chair, draping one of the guy's arms across his shoulders. Mikoshiba came awake—sort of, staggering a little as he got his feet under him.

Hell of a party. Haru and Mikoshiba made it to the door first and across the lobby with mincing steps. There was no sign of Coach Fujino, fortunately, and the lobby bar was still plenty crowded. In the elevator, Haru leaned the guy against the wall—not letting go, but resting while he could. Mikoshiba's eyes were mostly closed, his head lolling against Haru's shoulder and his breath thick with the scent of beer.

Better than last year? Haru was exhausted the next morning, but at least he wasn't hung over. Four of his teammates wore sunglasses at the breakfast table, their plates uniformly eggs, toast, and oatmeal. It was a small miracle that Mikoshiba and Takara were conscious at all. Coach Fujino pulled Coach Akagi and Captain Ikehara aside for a 'chat,' but that seemed to be the worst of it. Until we get to the pool, probably. They were all dressed in matching Team Japan attire—white and black T-shirts with one red sleeve and gray shorts with a water pattern. It was square leg day and Haru's thighs felt cool and free beneath the loose Team Japan shorts.

He was starting to like the way it felt, actually. The day was clear and sunny, the temperature crisp in the morning but forecasted to be hot by midday—though Haru's definition of 'hot' had changed in Phoenix. Vichy's daily high of 29 degrees C was balmy in comparison. In an area of grassy fields and low trees, the shuttle pulled up to a triangular building with a sloped roof and cobalt blue siding. Large sections of the parking lot and the surrounding walkways were full of small tents and kiosks in various stages of completion. The shuttle let them off in front of the entrance, the building set a short distance from the curb.

The entryway was all windows with a glass dome beyond, sparkling in the sun, and Haru could hear the sound of the water and the whistle from the outdoor 50m pool. They headed into the lobby for registration, one whole wall looking into the large, glass-enclosed space that housed a 25m warm up pool, a wading pool, and waterslides….

The locker room was massive and already crowded with athletes. Haru stripped down to his square legs—the suit navy blue with flowing lines of ocean-blue and sea-foam green down the sides. He smoothed his cap over his hair and grabbed his goggles before heading out into the glass-enclosed dome where they were supposed to meet. After two full days without pool time, the influx of warm, chlorinated air was a heady rush…and the view left him breathless. The dome was centered over the wading pools—concentric circles spreading outward, with water right up to the lip of each arc. A coiled staircase led up to the waterslide, which snaked down and splashed into the left-hand side of the leisure pool.

To the right, in an adjacent section, seating areas surrounded the 25m pool. Beyond both pools, an entire wall of clear glass looked out at the 50m swimming pool outside. Haru gripped his goggles as he took it all in. The place was beautiful , enough to make him reconsider Rin's suggestion about transferring to the School of Architecture. He could dream up pools like this all day long…design them, build them, swim in them… Except for the design-build part taking years , it sounded like a good idea.

Or we could just travel to these places and swim together—. The thought was bittersweet, catching hot in his throat. Two months ago, Rin sent him pictures of this place. I wouldn't be standing here now if not for what you did. Helping him work through his fears and prepare for this trip was only one item in a long list of things Rin had done for him. There were big things like Sydney and Barcelona and small, precious details like karaoke in Rome and the bracelet that left a tan line on his wrist.

Not to mention last night— all of the work you did to make my birthday special— even though Rin was wading through some difficult stuff on his own. Haru knew it wasn't a competition—that love wasn't measured by the quality or quantity of things they did for each other. But he longed to reciprocate, to answer with something that required more from him than a medal in Barcelona or a stuffed dolphin. She wore a lavender practice suit, her eyes still a little bloodshot. Not like this, though. At the edge of the water, he set his goggles in place and dove in, starting his warm ups.

The cool water surrounded him, gliding across his skin as he moved. The muted world beneath the surface always brought him clarity and focus…and today was no different. A solitary thought seized him and wouldn't let go—. Practice was brutal, especially with the residual jetlag. The abundance of oxygen to his lungs and muscles after weeks at elevation in Flagstaff helped, but Haru still felt drained when they were done. The thrill he usually felt—just being in the water—was absent. He stood under cold spray in one of the shower stalls in the locker room, still in his square legs.

When he should've been done, he reached for the knob to turn the water off, but his fingers fell short, returning numbly to his side. Out of two months, they were one week past halfway. It wasn't really fair to think of the whole two months anymore—not given Barcelona—but the majority of the travel and competitions were behind them, now. Haru turned and sank down to sit on the tiled floor.

He hugged his knees to his chest as the cool water ran through his hair and pelted his shoulders. Could they make it? It wasn't like they had a choice, anyways. They would both grit their teeth and slog through it, somehow. But there was a part of him that he'd tried so hard to shove down, bottle up, and ignore… If he were honest with himself, that part had only grown in his negligence, the part of him that didn't want to anymore —that wanted Rin and home and for all of this to simply be over. Haru rested his forehead on his knees, the water cascading down the back of his neck, cold enough to make him shiver.

Rin hadn't explained in so many words what he was going through; Haru could only guess at pieces from the ghosts he'd seen in Rin's eyes and the bits Rin had talked about. Rin rarely spoke about his father's death, even when they were kids it was a subject that came up only once or twice. He heard most of the details from Gou and from Makoto, who always seemed to be sensitive to the way things affected people. When Rin talked about his dad it was usually in the context of his dream and the Olympics… I know you said it was your dream and not his that you're after, but… If things—memories? Haru knew he couldn't fix Rin and he would never delude himself to try…but if—like the storms—he could help… If, by being there, by brushing away tears and whispering I love you , he could soothe the pain even a little… He wanted so badly to be able to do that for the one he loved.

Phone calls and nights cuddling through Skype were better than nothing, but that didn't stop the ache in his chest when he knew Rin was still hurting—. He was still in plum-colored square legs from practice, a towel slung around his shoulders. The overhead lighting caught on the copper highlights in his damp hair. Haru wordlessly got up, numb from more than just the cold water as he followed his captain into the main area of the locker room.

The place had cleared out compared to the busyness of the morning. Haru stopped drying, his hands falling to his lap as he remembered how Rin found him in the shower and held him until he felt better. Add that to the list of things you've done for me. Actions and moments that said, 'I love you,' long before we ever confessed in Barcelona.

Or I could grab your phone for you. At length, Ikehara sighed. You're an adult now. If you want to go through life moping around and shutting down when something upsets you, that's your business. But you're better off finding more productive ways of dealing with your problems than this.

But if you didn't ask…then the answer will always be no and you'll never know if it could've been yes. Haru swallowed hard around the lump forming in his throat. Ikehara's eyes softened with compassion. If I said I needed to go home for a week to see my wife and daughter, don't you think they'd let me? We're here because we've chosen to be here, not because anyone is forcing us. No one can decide for you what your limits are or where that line is. Our coaches try, but there's only so much they can do. But I am saying…you have a responsibility to take care of yourself and speak up when you need to.

People aren't going to treat you like a kid anymore. The captain rubbed his brow. Get in the pool, do your art thing… Just not this. Haru followed, clutching his towel around his shoulders. He inhaled as Ikehara started to move off. Haru's heart pounded as he logged onto his laptop after lunch, sitting on top of the covers in his hotel room while Mikoshiba snored one bed over.

As soon as he was connected, he started a flight search… As results came in, Haru grabbed the hotel pen and notepad off the desk, jotting down times and prices…. An hour later, he dropped down to the bed, exhausted. He pushed the laptop and notepad aside, grabbing his stuffed shark instead.

Each one of his gold medals in Barcelona had earned him Euros, not to mention the additional for meet records. It was possible he'd make more this weekend, too, if he didn't screw it up. The thought of trading money for the chance to see Rin seemed ridiculous and obvious—of course he didn't care about money. He'd pay a lot more than Euros. Time was more the issue—it was a minimum of nine hours of travel, making anything shorter than a few days impractical.

All of that would cut into his training…not that he cared about missing training, but the people paying for him to be here did. His coaches, too—they had plans laid out for him. What had Coach Fujino said at the beginning? These itineraries have been carefully selected for you by our staff and the JASF…. It was all of those things that weren't money that made the sweat break out on his palms. He wasn't the kind of person that asked for things or asked for help. He didn't go through life demanding that people bend to his needs and desires.

Instead, he adapted where he could and withdrew when he couldn't, sinking into the calm, quiet world underwater where disappointments didn't matter and he didn't need anything. What if they say no? The thought filled him with dread, the fear pulsing in his throat. In some ways, that was equally terrifying…because it meant that Captain Ikehara was right, that he couldn't just hide in the water anymore, that he had to step out and move and make an effort for what he wanted. That merely swimming fast wasn't going to be enough to get to the future he wanted.

His throat went dry as he stared up at the featureless ceiling, clutching the shark to his chest. Things like this were so easy for Rin, but for him it felt like swimming against a strong current with ropes tied around his limbs, holding him back—. Haru closed his eyes, drawing a deep breath and letting it out slowly. Was Rin worth it, though? They were back at the pool in the afternoon with an hour to relax and recuperate before practice started up again.

Haru's teammates hit the jacuzzi, sauna, or leisure pool, but he went in search of his coaches, his dog-eared paper of scribbled notes tucked into the pocket of his shorts. He found Coach Fujino and Coach Akagi in a glass-walled meeting room on the second floor of the facility, with views of the 50m pool outside. It was clear the two were in conference, with notebooks and stacks of paper in front of them.

Haru's nerves—already coiled tight in his stomach—worsened at the thought of interrupting them with his request. She wore a white, short-sleeve blouse and a navy blue pencil skirt, her hair twisted up and secured with what appeared to be a stylus. He recognized her as one of the team's sponsor reps, though he couldn't remember her name.

They'd had so many filtering in and out over the course of the trip. The woman only looked up briefly from her Blackberry, glancing at him through thin glasses. Haru cleared his throat with effort, forcing the words out. His heart sunk as what little bravery he'd been able to muster started to erode.

Haru turned, going numb with disappointment while some sick inner voice reveled in validation. See, you couldn't do it even when you wanted to. His throat closed as the feelings of failure weighed on him—just like in high school when his feet touched the bottom of the pool during the m free and everyone, with all their expectations, stared at him.

His own voice echoed in his head, " Dream? I don't have any of that! But that wasn't true anymore. He had a dream he wanted with Rin. He had a future he wanted with Rin.

Haru's steps slowed…and stopped. And those things were worth fighting for, were worth slogging through his own fears and proclivities. He wanted to do something for Rin that was more than what was easy…even if the answer was no. So… fuck it, I'm doing this now. Wasn't that how Rin decided things?

Haru came back and bowed from the waist in front of the sponsor rep. I have a request. Haru stayed with his head bowed, his heart pounding in his chest. There was a short pause; the woman set her Blackberry aside on the small end table next to her chair. I just asked for the moon. The woman smiled with her eyes in a way that reminded Haru of a satisfied cat. She adjusted her glasses and lowered her hand. He could cover the transportation there but not room and board and everything else. That were made months ago, I might add. All that assuming the facility in Spain has the space available.

I doubt I have to explain how expensive that could be. It adds up, obviously. But this is the real world, Nanase-kun, and my bottom line is about selling products. Aspiring athletes want to wear what their heroes wear. They buy products showcased by the fastest and most successful athletes. So why should I expect these three weeks to positively impact my bottom line, more than you're already doing?

His hands curled at his sides as the internet sportscast came to mind. Rin usually agrees to that stuff, though I won't speak for him. Her eyes gleamed with amusement. Before she could say more, her phone rang. The glass door of the conference room opened, Coach Akagi leaning out. With both of his coaches looking at him and waiting, he bowed from the waist. The nerves came back, tight in his stomach. He cleared his throat. There was a long pause, the room silent except for the sound of Coach Akagi dropping back into his chair at the table. The room had one round table with six chairs and a projector screen on one wall.

The window shades were all raised, the 50m pool down below glistening in the sunlight. Fujino tapped a pen absently against his notepad. It's already the weekend in Japan and late in the day in Spain. We're headed to the training facility on Tuesday…". I know what I'm asking is difficult. I could go later, I just…" … don't want to wait three weeks until I see Rin again. If some members of the team feel like others are being unfairly given special treatment or shown favoritism, it affects the whole, doesn't it?

Are you saying you can't continue unless I let you do this? Haru swallowed, his hands curling against his knees. I want to do this for Rin. But he couldn't say that. They wouldn't understand and he didn't want it to sound like there was something wrong. That would only make things worse. Coach Fujino studied his face for a long moment. I know even coming to work with me at Koutei was a stretch for you. But every time you think you can't do something, I've watched you be amazing at it. Look at how far you've come, just in a year. Sure, maybe all those things were true.

But none of that changed the fact that he was only here because Rin helped him. Haru nodded because that was what Fujino expected of him. Coach Fujino looked down, writing on his notepad. Let's revisit this on Monday, after the competition. Haru wiped his eyes swiftly and bowed so they wouldn't see his tears. This was why he didn't ask for things, why it was so much easier to stay under the water where everything made sense and all his expectations were assured. The water never disappointed him. The glass door opened before he got to it, the sponsor rep breezing into the room with her phone held to her ear.

Haru paused, trying to remember the last time he saw his coaches be that formal with one of the sponsor reps…. The woman lowered her phone, her gaze flicking over his face before she looked at Coach Fujino. Tsuchiya-san is head of the division. He found a bench in a quiet area of the facility and sat down, not about to have Captain Ikehara find him in the shower for the second time in one day.

The energy leeched from his limbs as the effort and raw emotions took their toll. Maybe jetlag was involved, too. There was some victory in that and in a day or two, he'd probably be able to take a bit of comfort or satisfaction from that fact. Now it just hurt. This 'adulting' stuff wasn't really that great. But…he'd asked instead of giving up and he'd—accidentally—bargained with the head of the division of one of their major sponsors…and he hadn't completely embarrassed himself during the conversation with Coach Fujino.

I wanted to do something hard, not easy. It hadn't worked out this time, but maybe next time it would. And—at least—there wasn't any way to make things worse. Haru felt better—or at least he felt functional—by the time he was supposed to meet his teammates at the pool for practice. He stashed his things in the locker room and headed outside with a towel. Stadium seating lined the far side of the pool with temporary risers set up on the nearer side and at the turn-end.

Behind the start end of the pool, on the left, were tents set up for the call and inspection areas. Ozawa was waiting behind lane one, where they were supposed to meet. She wore a blue practice suit trimmed with black, her brown hair already tamed beneath her swim cap. Her goggles hung at her throat. All of the women were present, but their coaches and the rest of the men were absent. Takara-chan, you're leading off. He glanced up at the glass-walled building, trying to guess where the conference room was, but he couldn't see through the tinted windows.

They were a half-hour into the set when the others arrived—including Division Head Tsuchiya, who took a seat in the stands with sunglasses and a sunhat to shade her face. Haru was used to the sponsor reps hanging around, but he rarely interacted with them unless they needed him to sign something. He scanned the faces of his coaches and teammates but couldn't read anything—Mikoshiba was as excitable as he usually was and Ikehara looked relaxed. When his prescribed thirty-second rest was over, Haru ducked back underwater. The jetlag was catching up with him; fortunately, his race tomorrow—the m free—had late morning heats, so he could get a little extra sleep if he needed to.

Especially those of you who had a little…extra ground to cover this morning. I trust that's clear. Shuttle's in twenty minutes and dinner's at 7: See you there, Olympians. He stilled at the sound of Coach Fujino's voice, laying the towel around his neck as the water dripped from his hair. Coach Fujino gestured him towards the edge of the pool deck, near the temporary risers. Tsuchiya was climbing down from her seat, still wearing the blouse and skirt, along with a pair of striped flats.

Coach Fujino sighed, facing him. The only reason I have an answer for you this quickly is due to Tsuchiya-san's efforts and some extenuating circumstances. He almost didn't hear anything past you'll go to Granada. Haru's breath caught, the shock of it flooding him. Because earlier, you said—. You'll be giving up your day off to travel, but I trust this won't be an issue. I also assume you'll be fine with off-hour travel, should that be needed. Sunday night…Monday morning… He almost felt dizzy. That was just over two days from now. Tsuchiya folded her arms.

I assume you'll be able to focus for the next two days. Not that I'm making this contingent on gold medals, but I expect comparable times or better. Or we'll be having a conversation. And Haru didn't want to find out what that meant. It's much easier then. I'm not saying you would've gotten it, but we would have accommodated what we could. Damnit, I didn't even think to… Haru felt sheepish. Because I don't question things.

I'll inform the others as necessary. Captain Ikehara and Mikoshiba-kun are aware. I believe Maekawa-san has spoken to him in context, but it's fine for you to share details with him. Haru shook his head. The thought hadn't even occurred to him; it didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was that he and Rin could be together, swim together—. Tsuchiya loosened her arms. But it'll be a week or so before I have anything for you on that. Haru's eyes filled with liquid. He walked back to the locker room in a daze.

It almost didn't feel real. This morning it had only been a wish—an impossibility.

Where White Men Fear to Tread: The Autobiography of Russell Means

Now—all of a sudden—it was happening. In just over two days—. The captain smiled at him. For giving it a shot. Things won't always work out the way you want them to, but I'm glad this one did. Ikehara squeezed his shoulder and slipped by. His cell phone had five missed calls. Not Skype calls—real, no-kidding roaming-charged actual phone calls.

Haru yanked his clothes on, stuffed everything else into his gear bag, and headed out into the hallway. Before he could even attempt to log on to wireless, the phone rang in his hand. Haru … what …". I wasn't going to but…Captain Ikehara said I should at least try…" Haru gripped the phone. It was so close to being 'no. Rin continued to sob on the other end of the phone, barely getting any words out. How…how much…" He sniffed hard. Haru…" His voice broke softly.

Haru's eyes welled with tears that spilled, unhindered, down his cheeks. I didn't tell them that was why…but yeah. Haru closed his eyes and brushed at his face with shaking fingers. Haru groaned and rolled over, coming face-to-face with the tablet Mikoshiba held. On it, Momo was sitting up in bed in Granada—in his sea otter pajamas—and grinning. Rin was behind him in the other bed—awake but just barely by the looks of it. He was still lying down, curled up around the dolphin plush and propped up on an elbow. The look on his face was clearly… I'm not gonna miss mornings with this kid.

That did the trick. By some miracle, the guy was already dressed in his Team Japan T-shirt and warmup pants. I'm not gonna miss waking up like this either. Haru stifled a yawn, the shark plush tucked in his arms. He's excited about Monday. He left the room and Haru turned over, reaching for the laptop on the nightstand without getting up. Within minutes, he was logged on…. Waking up to you is never going to be a bad thing.

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His fingers trailed across the screen, along the curve of Rin's cheek and jaw before he dropped his hand back to the sheets. Haru dreamt he was floating in a pool full of sakura blossoms with Rin in his arms. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Rei was explaining in a lot of unnecessarily complex words why Physics said this was impossible…but in the dream world it worked just fine—lying on his back with Rin resting against his chest, their arms wrapped around each other.

Glistening water droplets and sakura petals clung to his hair. Either you wake up…or I'll wake you up —" He shifted, a kiss grazing Haru's skin—. Haru's eyes flew open, his lips parted in a gasp. His pulse was running fast as he twisted in the sheets, facing Rin on the laptop screen. Rin was lying on his stomach with his head cradled on folded arms. Just the upper half of his face was visible and Rin's bedroom eyes were the sexiest thing Haru had ever seen—. He climbed out of bed, moving the laptop to the desk as he stripped off Rin's shark T-shirt and reached into his suitcase.

He pulled out a dark gray Team Japan T-shirt and his jammers, setting both articles on the bed. He paused to check the tilt on his webcam before slipping out of his underwear. Rin would yell at him if he got naked on the internet. He tossed Rin a smirk as he worked his Team Japan jammers up his thighs. Rin sat up in his tank top and sleep pants, the video shifting as he adjusted his tablet. The stuffed dolphin ended up in his lap. Feeling good about it? He finally got the suit up around his hips and secured the cord tie.

Haru braced one hand on the desk, leaning over the laptop. But the day after tomorrow will be even better. Rin smiled, his eyes soft with veiled emotion. Some of it he'd seen before…but some of it was new—things that Rin was showing him, sharing with him, for the first time. The intimacy was precious to him, but it hurt, too—knowing there was rawness and pain behind that look. They had a lot to catch up on.

It was a cooler day, Haru and his teammates wearing their full warmups to ward off any potential chill. The grounds were buzzing with activity, spectators already crowding the tents and kiosks of the Village Grand Public as well as starting to filter in and out of the stands. The 50m pool was packed with swimmers warming up; Ozawa was leading off in lane three. Up on the block in his jammers, Haru made the final adjustments to his cap and goggles.

When it was his turn, he slipped into the water's embrace and spiraled leisurely to the surface, content. The water felt better today than it had in weeks. Heats started at 10am and progressed at a steady pace, Team Japan having an entrant in nearly every event. There were competitors from over thirty nations, delegations from countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas though no one from the States with the US Olympic Trials still underway. The French Olympic team had a commanding presence. In the m free, Haru would be swimming against four of the six members of the French gold medal 4xm freestyle relay team from London , not to mention the guy whose likeness graced the Open de France banners—his top-seed time was sub- While Konishi jumped into the pool for her heat of the women's m backstroke, Haru was on the edge of the call area, watching the screen with an earbud tucked into his ear and his phone in the pocket of his warmup jacket.

After a beat, Rin exhaled. I'm sure Coach Fujino told you to save it for the final …". Haru's Phoenix time gave him second seed in the race—fourth lane in the ninth heat of ten. Stripped down to his Team Japan jammers, he walked out in line with his competitors and adjusted the block for his feet. The announcer called the heat in French over the sound of cheering from the stands. Haru had one of the French gold medalists on his left in lane five and a swimmer from Belgium on his right in lane three.

Division Head Tsuchiya was watching as well—expecting a good performance, just like his teammates, the reporters and fans, and everyone back home… The pressure of it all should've been weighing on his shoulders, but Haru felt relaxed and at peace. Under the midday sun, he climbed onto the block at the long whistle. As he reached down and grabbed the block, he thought of Rin—the way their eyes would lock in adjacent lanes, just before the start of the race. Rin would be grinning, eager—. He tensed for the start and leapt forward at the buzzer— The cool water enveloped him, sliding against his skin as he dolphin-kicked, propelling himself forward.

There was no resistance, the water letting him glide through and surface. As he raced Rin in his mind, the bubbles running along his cupped hands with each pull of free were like streams of sakura petals caught in a current, stirring around them—. The race was over before he wanted it to end, his imagination fading beneath loud cheering and the solid wall against his palms. Haru clung to the side as he tugged his goggles down to his throat and turned for the board—. A radiant warmth spread through his chest as he caught his breath.

The only thing missing was Rin's post-race hug…but—the day after tomorrow— we owe each other a lot of hugs, Rin. She wore cropped pants and a sleeveless floral blouse, her hair still secured by a stylus. She smiled, handing him a folded sheet of paper. His new itinerary was spelled out in printed characters in black ink. The car will leave from here, as soon as events are over tomorrow night, to get to Lyon. In addition to being the most cost-effective option, it has the benefit of being the absolute soonest I can get you there. Haru's final event of the competition was the 50m free.

In a cloudless sky, the sun slowly sank towards the western horizon as he peeled off his warmups behind the block for lane three. He smoothed a wrinkle from his swim cap, ensuring the strap of his goggles was secure underneath.

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This was it—one last race before he could see Rin again. This morning, he'd done He had a silver medal after yesterday's m free and a gold from the m free just over an hour ago. Now, he was flanked by members of the French Olympic team with one more national record to chase—Rin's The closer it got to tonight, the more nervous Rin seemed on the phone. If he needed that one breath, he'd take it. After his earlier races, he could risk Tsuchiya's wrath if he had to. The swimmers were introduced in French by the announcer; the four-pulse whistle followed. Haru stepped up to the block with the sun at his back and the breeze sweeping in from his left, rippling gently across the water's surface.

Fifty meters now…one thousand kilometers tonight. He'd be in Sierra Nevada before the sun came up tomorrow. At the long whistle, Haru climbed up and set his feet. He breathed like he practiced—the way Rin first taught him months ago. Haru ignored the competitors to either side of him, the spectators and cheering, even the time he wanted to beat. He kept his thoughts calm and focused… Rin was watching and probably still worrying.

Worrying that he'd overdo it, that he'd pull something or jam a finger going for the wall. Rin would never be as much of a mother hen as Makoto, but Haru smiled to himself. Haru stilled for the start, listening as the stadium fell quiet… When the buzzer sounded, he sprung forward— The water felt smooth as silk, but it wasn't as good as being in Rin's arms. Haru powered through fifty meters like he could swim to Spain…then his hand was against the wall and he was drawing rapid breaths of cool air.

The French swimmer in lane four pumped a fist skyward to the excited voice of the announcer and deafening cheering. Haru spared one glance at the board before he climbed out; his silver medal time was Tying Rin's record was better than beating it and Haru felt light and free… In less than ten hours, he and Rin would be together again. He'd be on his way as soon as the award ceremonies were finished. From the call area, Mikoshiba gave him a thumbs-up. The A-Final for the men's m backstroke would follow Ozawa's race.

Haru waved back and headed inside. He did an abbreviated cooldown in the 25m pool, then hit the showers. For the sake of the podium, he had to dress in his Team Japan warmups, but underneath he donned fresh underwear and a T-shirt for traveling. It would've been easier to place fourth and skip the podium entirely, but that would certainly have earned him the 'conversation' Division Head Tsuchiya threatened on Friday.

Haru made it out in time for the end of Mikoshiba's race, watching from the side as the guy finished in first place at the end of two hundred meters. Mikoshiba popped up with a broad grin. He climbed out of the pool and posed for pictures in his Team Japan speedo. She had her phone out, undoubtedly snapping more 'reference' photos for Gou… Unless Gou had let it slip, Rin still didn't know about that. He withdrew to the background, though Haru could still hear him yelling at the TV as he bounced around in a neon-yellow T-shirt and white shorts.

He pushed a hand through his hair, looking marginally less tense than earlier. Rin didn't answer, his lips thinning into a line. His eyes were bright with worry. You've got practice tomorrow. What Rin felt in anxiety, Haru felt in anticipation, but he understood. After all this time apart, to be this close to being together again… It's why I could barely swim in Barcelona. The announcer's voice came over the speakers, introducing the swimmers for the last race of the competition—the women's m free A-Final.

The cheering started up again and Haru pressed his earbud so he could still hear. A swimmer from the Netherlands took gold in the final race. The medal ceremonies were directly afterwards. Haru stepped onto the podium, getting his silver medal for the 50m free and waving for the camera, all the while counting down the minutes in his head—.

As soon as the awards were over, he headed back to the locker room. All of lhat's illegal. There must be half of the footage in there lhat I don't have the clearance for. I didn't pay, I didn't ask permission. I just took it, I stole it. It's not made like a conventional compilation documentary where you have film researchers who go and get the clearances from the lawyers who represent the people who own the copyright.

What I did is, I just took it because I wanted to make something lhat wasn't a compilation documentary, but in fact was a collage, just bits and pieces thrown together - Mark: This is called form follows content, Nardwuar. So none of it would make it. How could you get sued, then? I could get sued by someone who would see some material that I didn't get the clearance for and I was using it in my own picture, and - Ahhh, so if somebody comes to the film and checks it out and gets mad.

Have you ever thought of just inviting them, to see what would happen? He stays at the Chateau Granville 'cause he wants to be down with the street crew - unlike the Negativland contingent here. Craig Baldwin, of Sonic Outlaws, you talked about getting caught - how does Weird Al get away with it, or people like that? It all looks kind of naughty, but no, he has permission. He parodied Nirvana, and he asked ihem. He goes to Nirvana's management and lawyers and he says, 'I want to do ihis.

We put out all of our own work on our own label because, one, we've learned so much about how screwed up the music industry is that I don't want to deal with them anyway. I think they're all pigs. But the other reason is that even if we wanted to work thai way, we're a total legal nightmare, a total liability, and I don't want to worry - it's like Craig. Craig doesn't want to worry when he makes his film about whether he can or cannot use this.

He just wants to follow his creative instincts. Craig Baldwin, director of Sonic Outlaws, station ID every eleven minutes, and Mark of Negativland - where did things start going wrong? When did people start suing each other? Not for your movie, but you're saying Weird Al gets clearance - when did stuff start, when did the suing start? That's what my movie tries to talk about, the history of this kind of thing.

So I don't know - there's no date on it. It could be the '20s or '30s. I have an answer to ihis question. Actually, one of ihe celebrated cases in the music world -' because, of course, Craig deals with all kinds of different aspects of people doing this - It wasn't the Ghostbustmrs thing, was it? No, ihe case lhat was really the one, lhat really put it across, was lhat De La Soul was sued by Flo and Eddie of the Turtles for using a sample from an old record of theirs.

It was settled out of court, [but] it established a precedent. It scared the hell out of everyone in ihe music industry, it stopped everyone from sampling, and it clamped down on lhat whole creative aspect in hip-hop of reusing people's stuff. The guy who worked as the attorney was the same lawyer Greg Ginn hired to sue us, of all things. Jack Benny was sued in the s with his TV show. You know, Mad magazine - Mort Sahl. Mort Sahl, I'm sure, Milton Berle So the idea of owning intellectual properly goes back to the start of the century. It's weird, though, how some people get away with it.

You know what I'm referring to, OK. No, what's more interesting, and what Craig's film brings up, is lhat while we were being sued by iheir record company, U2 was touring and using footage thatwas coming in live off satellites and off network TV in their multi-media production.

Home Shopping Network and all thatwas being pumped Craig: Why would I do lhat? That would just be putting myself in danger. In fact, I'm endangering myself even to admit it right now. I don't really want to do lhat. Ask him how much the movie cost. So who cares -what the money cost. Things can be done cheaply. Don't believe everything you read. Where'd you read that, Rolling Stone magazine? Yeah, bucks for the "Jump" video.

Maybe they owned all the cameras and stuff. Was that the Sammy Hagar Van Halen? No, it -was the original, it was the David Lee Roth one. And David Lee Roth doesn't stay in the Hotel Vancouver when he's in inlo the mix of what they were showing in iheir stadiums. They didn't get permission for it, they just did it. And this was part of some of the great ironies that came up in this whole story, and part of why - the reason why media jumped all over the story is just 'cause of all - there was just incredible ironies and contradictions between people's public behaviour and personal legal actions and all that stuff.

Who were the EBN guys? Mark doesn't know them -1 was ihe connection with them. They're former art students out of the Rhode Island School of Design. They live in Providence, Rhode Island right now. The guy has a weird face. I mean, I've got zits and stuff, but the guy has a weird- looking face. In any event, they're very creative people. I admire iheir work and they're a good subject for doing the same kind of thing lhat Negativland - What do they do? Do they make videos for people? Well, actually, they've come out on their own.

They're on TVT Records and they've just come out with a CD lhat has a computer complement so you can see visual stuff, you can punch in - They do a lot of found images and they put that all together. It's all found from broadcast. And U2 actually bought some of this footage to use? OK, let's say Negativland were sonic outlaws - you guys were getting persecuted for what you were doing. Who's out there that hasn't got persecuted yet that deserves to go down? What the EBN Network does is illegal, isn't it? I don't know, I'm not a lawyer. Most of what they know, most of what ihey do, because of the level they're functioning at in interviews - You get picked on 'cause you're a little guy.

You don't let me finish the question. I don't have to finish the answer to your questions, but you could let me answer the questions if you want. Oh, now there's, oh boy - Anyway, so, what was I saying? No, they've said that there's a lot of footage - ihey used to make stuff where ihey used much more risky things and ihey don'l anymore because, the level they're functioning at, they are too worried about the legal things, so they don't use a lot of the footage.

If you're using President Bush - you don't have to get permission to use public figures, it's not that big of a deal. Like, if you were to follow what Negativland's done since the U2 thing, we're much more low-profile now. Our work's a lot harder to find 'cause we run it ourselves and we're not such great business people and all.

The work we've put out since the U2 thing has far worse potentially infringing material on it than the U2 thing. But because we're small, and we're not making any money, there's no presence that we have out there in record stores. We're just ignored, because most of what you're talking about is just- if someone thinks someone's making money off of them and they see dollar signs or a lawyer sees dollar signs, then lhat's when they step in. Well, it's a national movement, of course, but actually it was kind of centred in San Diego about two years ago by people who were attending the school there.

Are you worried you might get subpoenaed to try to identify who the people were? Because they could get in big trouble. Like, you know who the Unabomber is, don't you? I am the Unabomber, by the way. But no, no one's going to subpoena me to do that, that's absurd. You didn't do that movie with Barbies, did you, that Karen Carpenter story with Barbies? No, I didn't do that. Thatwas done by Todd Haynes. There's a feature by that guy. Playing at this festival by the way.

Please update the listeners what you're mumbling about, Craig Baldwin, director of Sonic Outlaws. Todd Haynes and myself, I guess you could say we're from the same generation. We're younger directors, relatively speaking, and he also went to school at the Rhode Island School - no, Brown University, which is also in Providence, Rhode Island - where these same people EBM come from, by the way.

Yeah, well, don't put him down. He's just - he's very well educated and he made a film when he was in college called Superstar: It's a serious essay film, like my film is, about anorexia. The way he staged it is not, of course, to get Karen Carpenter to act in it, because she was dead, but to stage it through the use of Barbie dolls. But it wasn't Mattel who busted Todd Haynes. It's a fine film In Herb Alport probably wouldn't have minded, because he allowed that tribute Carpenter album to come out. He probably would've allowed it right now, eh?

He's making money off that, though. He wasn't getting any money from the Todd Haynes film. But anyway, the point is, to answer your original question, Todd Haynes has gone on in ihe world of motion pictures. He has now made a feature film which is playing here, as part of the same festival. I don't know if he was here or not, but it was called Safe. My film also is playing, so lhat's what we hove in common right now.

What other sonic outlaws besides Negativland are out there? I don't know all this stuff, I'm too busy working - What other sonic outlaws, Craig Baldwin, did you consider using for the film? Like people who were cut out of the film and ended up on the editing room floor Well, Brian Springer, he's the first person who comes to my mind. He's a guy who takes satellite dish Feeds and then he cuts ihem and re-edits them and organises them into a sort of self-critique of ihe mainstream media, because feeds are the kinds of things that aren't re-broadcast. Feeds are when they're waiting to go live.

Anybody with a dish can intercept that, so that's a perfect example of an outlaw type of activity - downloading this material before it's actually suitable, quote unquote, for broadcast. It is available to anyone wilh a dish. He just realised he could do it and he did it. It's on the threshold of what's really accept able in terms of working wilh audio and video. And so he did it. What exactly was Tribulation Alien Anomalies Under Americd? It was your first movie Thatwas a film lhat I had made earlier which was about the Men In Black, as you were just talking about. Dick Dale and the - Yeah, he's a survivalist.

He lives on his ranch, he lives off the land. You know - those people who are afraid the world's going to end so they stockpile a lot of food. It is sort of a parody of those people, of that kind of very Southwestern-type mentality. I'm from California, so, you know, that's a big part of the culture there, especially in the southern part of California. Did you profile any of those people? See, all of those right-wing maniacs, they produce a kind of a literature lhat I used as a sort of a -1 researched when I wrote my script, because I was interested in the intensity and the extremity of Iheir vision.

We gotta go, Craig.

Kevin Costner is in the next room and he's waiting, he's gotta do a big Well, just quickly, before we go - Mark: You know, they premiered Waterworld her at the Vancouver Film Festival. If people want more info on Negativland, where can they write? You can write to Negativland and find out whot we're up to. We're working on all ihis new stuff, we're taking on one of the world's largest soft-drink manufacturers in an upcoming release, and our next stuff is all about sex, dirt and germs. And Craig, if people want to know more about Sonic Outlaws and other movies you've done, where can they write?

I like that place you went to, you know in San Francisco, with that kind of fair. I love that place where you filmed the movie. That giant rock where that outdoor swimming pool once stood Right, right - Seal Rock, it's colled. And it caught on fire, man, that's wild. Thafs scary, thafs really Munsterishl Craig: Thank you very much. Doot Doola Doot Do It's more like a biography, the documentation of one woman's existence. She isn't an entertainer, she is a motivator, an inspiration, an activist.

Sometimes there is more to a musician than music. Sometimes there are ideals, intentions and messages which are communicated through the music. Meegan Maultsaid is a political activist. And by politics I don't mean those abstract notions professors sit around tables discussing. I mean the issues and concerns which pertain to the conditions of everyday life, issues and concerns which affect us all. Meegan lives with these conditions, especially within the sometimes conveniently apathetic music scene, but she doesn't sit back and accept them in silence.

Instead, she works to raise awareness and promote change. If you hove been to a benefit show in Vancouver in ihe past two years, you have probably been to at least one event organized by Meegan. That doesn't include the compilation, featuring bands such as Cub, Sparkmarker, The Vinaigrettes and Kreviss and distributed by Cargo Records, which is still bringing in money for the centre.

Grrrlopalooza I, a mostly girl showcase held in September '94, included acoustic acts, Meegan's own rockin' bond Tickle Trunk, spoken word, and information booths. The integration of the two events seems perfectly logical, as both combine music wilh grassroots politics. I feel like ihe Vancouver scene is apathetic in a lot of ways, as in there aren't enough shows, or even shows lhat have enough educational format.

The Rock For Choice thing is very close to my heart. I'm very, very pro-choice, and pretty anti-religion. And so, those two things in conjunction make my opinion lhat much stronger. Being super, super pro-woman. I mean, lhat's my thing. I believe in a lot of issues. I think all those groups ore amazing. But ihe issue thot is closest to my heart is the pro-choice, pro-women issue.

That just stems from being a woman, and being queer, and seeing the socialization of men, and how, in society, women are oppressed. The new 90s schtick is that that's not true, that there are enough women in the business world, that there are enough men in power who are now conscious and aware that there'need to be women's rights. But it is still within their itinerary, still within their idea of our voices. I mean, if we scream this loud, it's okay, 'cause that's within their idea of onger.

You know as well as I do, I mean your stuff [spoken word] is full of anger, and it's about being a woman, and fighting back. Some people think it is amazing, and they connect with what you are doing. Young women feel drawn to lhat, they see something that empowers them. That's what I'm after. To be a musician, who's up there, who has an agenda. She feels lhat Puncture is very political, for two reasons: For example, the song "Snap Your Neck or Starve", now lhat's overlfy political.

It's about homophobia, it's about religion and what ties into riat kind of thinking, tie whole prolife thing, ihe onfrwomen thing, he homophobia thing - lhat's all lied together. The main lyric of ihe song ihot I feel connected to is "Hate is not a family value. Meegan believes lhat even when the lyrics are more personal and document individual sorrow, they are still political as ihey relate back to the oppressive society we live in. That's why we feel backed into a corner, and lhat's why we write a song that's about anger. It might not be saying, 'Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me', it might be saying, 'I don't feel like there is any exit from your line of thinking or the lines you have created.

And to deviate from lhat is to call more oppression to yourself. Puncture's newly released CD includes names and addresses of political organizations lhat it sees as worthy and in need of young people's energy. Don't just flap your gums about it, Iry to get involved. Look at different groups and see how wilh even a little bit of time, you can change the system. Maybe you "can't change ihe whole evil, but you can change a portion". Meegan believes in the strength of preaching to the converted, but she also challenges herself and her audience by taking shows where her ideas and politics may not be so welcome.

A perfect example of this took place this summer, when Puncture opened for the Day Glo Abortions. I know who you are, and you're a feminist. And you're gonna get your fuckin' ass kicked, 'cause we're as heavy and better than they are. And don't say, 'I won't open for them because they aren't political', or 'They have an anti- woman song. That's why I want to be active in the scene - to show that there is dichotomy.

Generally, it seems to be the case that the people wilh the most power seem to say the least, choosing instead to focus their energy on self-destructive behavior without any conscious effort to use iheir power wisely. I would do something with lhat power. I would talk to young people, stay after shows and talk to teenagers. I would try to activate people. But there are things that people don't know lhat they do. They give tons of money to women's organizations, to rape relief in Seattle, to Home Alive, an organization started by the women from Seven Year Bitch to make sure women get home safely from clubs.

He was pro-women and pro-queer, and I think he called it like he saw it. He would see ihese guys at his shows, and he was like, These are ihe kind of redneck fucks who used to beat me up. In interviews he would say, 'These are the kind of people who used to call me faggot for wearing nail polish - fuck you. A for their music, I love their music, and B for the people they are, for what I think they stand for.

She will also be doing another Grrrlopalooza ihis summer, as well as another Rock For Choice. As our interview ends, I ask Meegan about her two bold tattoos, one on her back and one on her arm. The tattoos read "Survival" and "Strength". To try and do something. For those of you who are unfamiliar with their work, Mark Spybey is a former member of England's Zoviet France and is currently recording with both Download and his more or less solo project, Dead Voices On Air. I'm feeling pretty tired as I'm ushered into the studio, so I sit on the ledge beside an open window, where I can even see the lovely landmark I live behind the Biltmore Hotel and watch the sky darken.

Mark has a table covered with noise-producing toys set up in the large main room, while Kevin keeps his myriad of keyboards in a smaller room where he mixes and adds to Mark's music. The combination of Kevin's beats and Mark's quiet noise and trumpet playing are very soothing.

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'Wifebeater' is a short story about life in a French country village in deep rural France. It is one of a collection of stories from the series, 'This Small French Town' . “You should see my desk,” she said, “I never thought a small town like this could Giles and Cordelia held back a little, forming a kind of second rank. . Something inside him objected very strongly to the word 'behave. . worn at the Bronze, almost a week ago, white tank top and a jaunty ponytail. All stories by Marcee.

When they finish, I ask if they will play every evening at the same time Oh well, good try. I have come to interview Mark and Kevin about Download, but the first question I ask is about the future of Skinny Puppy. Following the departure of vocalist Kevin Ogilvie Ogre in une of this year, the band broke up for good - not so much because of Ogilvie's decampment than as a result of what Kevin terms "over-manipulation by greedy, corporation-minded people".

In this case, anyway, because we're alt three such individuals who work together, we need the "gluer. We've always been such a musical project, and we collaborate with him on the vocat and lyrical level, as well as on a stage level. But it became more difficult to be responsible and come through for everybody else's idea of what Skinny Puppy is - I wasn't responsible for that.

It's always been about connecting the energy you get from someone else's' input in such a way that it's like a language, in one sense. It was fo mutated under the same conditions as where I see Download headed. This whole label deal with American Records destroyed, or attempted to destroy, all of the integrity we felt we had achieved with our team - that twelve year team being Dave Ogilvie, Ken Marshall, Anthony Valcic and the band. That's where the disasters started taking place and it seemed like it was Armageddonsvitte, not just in the band, but all the natural disasters and injuries.

I tried my best to assist him and help him but, in this case, it's proper to go on in the most positive of things I totally respect Dwayne, [but] I can't die along side [hirr the sense of not continuing on in his spir Kevin's collaboration with Mark Spybey on Download is not the most immediately obvious of unions. But the merging of Mark's low tech approach with Kevin's reams of keyboards was not as difficult as night suspect. More important than gear or technical skills is feeling you can play with one another. It's not a feeling that is particularly frequent between musicians - I think you have to really go and search people out and test them out to find people who are going to be compatible with you.

Mark doesn't think so: So a knowledge of the sounds that Dadaists made or Futurists made is entirety appropriate when you took at the music of Einsturzende Neubaten. It's all got those kinds of roots. Hasn't the genre been superseded by techno? If you go back, it's stilt the originals that are the most stimulating to me - the Throbbing Gristles, the Neubautens.

I'm sure disco fans are having the same debate - "It was all there, man, in the seventies, with Moroder! I think a lot of people are off-beat if they think that liking bands who base themselves on some of the worst music in the world, like sev enties guitar bands, are cool. I was there and I know how bad they were the fist time. Even Pearl jam put a lot of credence in that Bad Company crap.

Then there's the people, and I certainly know a lot of them in Vancouver, who think they're at the cutting edge of the avant garde because they stand on stage and play a guitar. Welt, I'm sorry guys, you've disappeared so far up your own backsides it's not funny. Kevin says that when he tried to explain Genesis P-Orridge to Ameiican Records, the label asked if Genesis could send in a demo! Just play the gee-tar. Was it with Phil Collins? P-Orridge for a while, but before too long Kevin wanders off and starts playing with his keyboards. He hits upon an amazing metallic rhythm, and Mark hurries to his table to join in.

I resume my perch by the window, assuming that the interview has now come to an end, and as I listen to the sounds being created around me I feel honoured to be hearing what I'm hearing. It's not everyday one gets to see - and hear - the improvi- sational process at work and in such fine form. There's was a spirited but not particularly memorable performance. In a few words, buzzy rock songs with vocals that could have been stronger. I quite liked the first ten or fifteen minutes of their eclectic set of Zappo-meets- Primus-in-an-elevator kind of music, but after a while it seemed as though they were overdoing it.

Lots of creativity and even more great technique, but one can only endure so much six-string bass, guitar finger-tapping and wah-wah pedals. Maybe it's best to take this band by the ounce Sugarcandy Mountain were on third and also got off to a promising start. Somewhere in the middle of iheir set they lost it though, and their songs filtered into basic pop-rock tunes. Perhaps a wee bit more original than the first two bands, but just not as interesting to hear.

I guess you could say that Shindig is a little like an election, except that the only constituency voting consists of the five judges. There choice of candidate to endorse this week? Three quite dispa- rately influenced bands and a lot of good musicians showed lhat local music is in good health. Juniper Daily played a very nice set of pop-influenced songs which were well written and well played in a rather subdued fashion. The band was quite good, with the highlight probably being the lead singer's lovely, clear voice good back-up vocals too , which was put to fine use with the melodies in their songs.

The second band, Knockin' Dog, were the victors of the soiree, and this was most likely due to their superior musical abilities and the fact that they were damn fun to watch - they totally enjoyed playing or they appeared to and this made it a very enjoyable set. Quite reminiscent of Zappa in their freestyle explorations of sound, they paid worthy tribute to his legacy. Despite this rather obvious influence, Knockin' Dog, along with Pound, have been the most refreshingly original bonds of the competition thus far.

The Hooligans promised to "suck", but they didn't, really. Fairly unremarkable, but no doubt they will find many parties at which they can thrash their hearts out. A Few Roosters gave us a tight, well-constructed set of songs ofthe bleeding sneakers variety made popular by those Bay Area weepers the Counting Crows. AFR were good musicians and they had obviously worked hard on their songs, but if they don't stop venting such vast amounts of spleen during their performances, they'll rupture something. The absence of women in this competition was made apparent when an exception took the stage to sing for Stamps who eventually won the night.

The lead singer had a great punk voice, and she wrapped it around some interesting, diverse songs. The band played a really good set, all in all, as the different elements in their music came together well. South of Main were enjoyable and competent, but failed to make much of an impression. They were all pretty good musicians, but iheir songs were not distinctive enough to win it for them. However, it was good to see a band actually looking like they were having a bit of fun.

Instead, the way is now paved for Pipe Dream to spice up those proceedings in a few weeks' time. Having said that, there was an interesting mix of music tonight, as there has been just about every night. Bono-Fly have a great, laid-back, mellow- funky-lhang going. Tight musicianship, great singing with the male and female voices complementing each other well , and a good beat behind it all made for a totally enjoyable set, which pleased the large number of their fans in attendance.

Three-piece band Pipe Dream played an intense set of moody, swirling music, making very effective use of keyboards, bass and especially the heavy drums. It was suggested to me that their style was a bit too prog-rock, but it was nice to see something different in the competition.

A great, structured noise-fest. Last up were Kaneva, who ployed kind of jangly, pretty tunes. Their singer had a lovely voice, and they seemed like good musicians, but their music was not too different from a lot of the other bands we've seen. It was pop, and it was enjoyable. First, the bod news: There were two addresses missing from last month's reviews. I have no real excuse for myself, except to say that I lent the zines to a friend thinking that I would have them back well before the column's due date.

I didn't, and I apologize. In on attempt to redeem myself, here ore the addresses: These omissions were in no way due to a lack of interest; in fact, both of these zines rocked my world and I highly recommend them. Now for the good news I discovered the n Ihe Lin ailbox. Receiving anything for free puts a smile on my face, but acquiring new zines without even having to pay postage made me ecstatic.

My greediness aside, the mailbox is essential because through it Andrea and I get introduced to new zines we probably wouldn't buy or trade for ourselves, and it's important lhat we don't limit our reviews exclusively to our own preferences. So send us your zine, whether it be political, artistic, personal, music oriented, or none of these ot all. Keep in mind, however, that neither of us will consider any zine containing racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise discriminatory material. It's unfortunate lhat we have received some zines especially music zines expressing such oppressive attitudes, but for the most part we've been sent thought provoking, positive zines - so keep them coming.

Now, for those of you who haven't quite mastered the art of ordering zines, Andrea has a few tips for you What better opportunity to initiate such a relationship than when ordering a zine? Unfortunately not everyone uses this opportunity, so dealing with mail orders can be one of the more tedious aspects of having a zine.

A couple of things to remember when ordering zines: I've received letters that simply said, "Please send your zine. As well, you could write me bock after you've read my zine to tell me what you thought of it; b Don't forget to send stamps or money. Us zine kids are not the richest people around, and unfortunately nolfiing is free when ordering a zine. And remember that zines do sell out and sometimes the writer can't afford to moke more copies. So now that you know how to order o zine lets get on with this months reading Flour Power 6 8.

Not without reason, though, for at first glance this zine looks only mildly appealing: But if you take the time to read FP 6, you'll realize that the literal landslide of information provided in this zine leaves no room for fancy graphics. Flour Power creator Rejoice uses this issue of her zine to display and respond to the mail that piled up while she was away in Europe. These letters address an array of political issues, such 24 NOVEMBER as rope, racism, welfare, abortion, veganism, squatting, classism, onarchy and communism. What really excited me about reading these letters was learning about multinational concerns and opinions.

Rejoice corresponds with political activists all over the world, as well as listing a variety of political and supportive organizations and including a selection of international zine and music reviews. She also includes drawings done by her daughter Frieda and discusses parenting, leaving me touched and awed that a single mom has time to produce o project as great as FP 6. Coal For Eyes if 2 5. The author writes about the cycles of mental and sexual abuse thai she has had to go through with her own family, packing a real punch with her courageous story. What happer when your family, the people who are supposed to teach you trust, teoch you not to trust yourself and your gut instincts?

This zine disturbed me because it reminded me mat child abuse occurs even in the families which you least suspect, and to the people that you are closest to. This is a powerful and unsettling zine that shows a survivor picking up the pieces and fighting back. Send a dollar to: Box , Davie St. Screams From Inside if 4 8.

I put my prejudices aside, however, and I was surprised to find that I actually like this newsprint fanzine. And for ihe one thing that I dread the most in a zine - the interviews. Even I have fallen victim to this sexist mindset, looking down on femininity and losing respect for girls who wear dresses at shows. But after reading this zine I realize that I don't have to look like everyone else in boys club gear, and now you con usually spot me at a show because I'm one of the few girls wearing a dress.

This Is the Book of Truth 6 x 5; 6 pgs It's so rare that mini zines get the recognition they deserve. They may not be as much work as a full zine, but good things do come in small packages. The Book of Truth questions the nature of truth and why it can hurt, as well as looking at white lies ond self-deception. Hollie also includes bits of her own personal truths and, as in her full- size zine Rally 6, her humour and sincerity ore evident. The truth Hollie would love for you to write to her at: If I had been as intelligent as Heather when I was 16 years old, well, who knows?

I might have blown up my high school a long time ago. I've always been a fan of Heather Core Poetry, which is actually really powerful spoken word that is written in the form of a first person story. Included here is "Cupcake", the story of a girl who drives her overweight sister to suicide after years of taunting and verbal abuse. Heather also responds to a letter criticizing her for admitting to being anorexic - unlike the writer, ihough, she is learning to fix her mistakes. Throwing Rocks 5 5. He also tells us why he chose to drop out of high school and why he does not drink or smoke.

Fry day Fanzine I 8. For a first issue, this zine has enough to , including personal views on the c labels, TV, and abortion. I must warn anyone who listens to major label alternative music not to get this zine because you are made fun of in it. But for anyone else, it only costs a dollar and a stamp, so why not write? Absolute is a mixture of Marty's feelings and personal stories and Inspector X's poetry.

I tend to prefer Marty's work as he writes about what is going on inside his head and a past that seems to haunt him. It's always interesting to be able to see people open up and grow. The next issue of Absolute should be coming out soon, and sources tell me lhat it's gonna be o split with Pony Up, Donkey Down. YUM 12 8x10; 16 pgs The ability to give oneself praise for a job well done is a rare virtue, but the YUM girls openly express their love for their zine, as well as their appreciation for other zines. This zine is a must for movie fans, as Kara is quite the budding film critic.

There is also a story of the girls' adventure in Vancouver, which shows that from a visitor's point of view this is on interesting city. More than anything, ihough, I enjoyed the wacky YUM survey results. They really made me laugh. So join ihe masses who have already wrilten: Dealing with issues such as abusive relationships and fighting depression, Jennifer's poetry really touched me and made me realize that poetry can be a way of expressing the words you cannot speak.

Zines like these make me want to reach out to the author. I'm definitely looking forward to more zines from Jennifer because, contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of powerful zines coming out of Vancouver. Box Davie St. Cover art and design is by neato artiste Steve Raskin, who is also responsible for the inge nious record covers for various Sub Pop and Simple Machines projects Remember the matchbook cover 7" for Tsunami?

Even better, proceeds go to the Washington Free Clinic. Send correspondence, Pez, and a stamp to Radiopaque Records, P. Box , Alexandria, VA, Anyone who is a huge SeBADoh fan might be interested to know that there is an internet list serve you can subscribe to: And that's not all I There's also an e-zine called Tasty Threads and a fanzine called Escargot, the latest issue of which, we are happy to report, includes a free 7". The 'zine is full of boring internet information, "threads" token off the internet containing show and album reviews, interviews wilh Julie Cafritz formerly of Pussy Galore, presently of Free Kitten and Franklin Bruno, and, most importantly, a 7" co-released by Sick and Tired and Dark Beloved Cloud Records.

Lou Barlow contributes the first track, "Sorry", a sparse and melodic, Lou Barlow-esque song funny that, eh? The treat on this record, however, is the last song, "Disk Quota Exceeded", by Rula Lenska sorry, not the model but the band , which consists of Escargot zine editors Windy Chien and Jeanne with another woman named Laura. Three women making cool, noisy sounds. The most disturbing of the tracks all of which were recorded in various Californian restaurants is from the Hot Dog on a Stick, while the Subway recording is most yawn-inspiring probably a good thing.

Oh, and don't forget to check out vol. While we're on the weird stuff, Austin Texas the band has sent us their latest offering. The o-side, "Indy Rock Girl", managed to thoroughly confuse us with its mix of musical styles. The song starts out with violins and what sounds like classically trained female vocals, then turns into a classic indie rock number complete with feedbacking guitars, crunchy bass and a male vocalist. The song then switches back to piano music with the guitar feedback still going, but ibis time the vocals are male harmonies.

The b-side songs are sort of like a combination between Smog and the Velvet Underground. This is lo-fi creativity at its best. Louis, MO, 30 A reliable source tells us lhat "urusei" means noisy in Japanese, which is an apt description of the music made by Urusei Yatsura UK label Che Records, also home to Slipstream and 1 8th Dye, has released a two-song 7" by this band, packaged in a bright orange sleeve covered with sad silver hello kitties. We prefer the b-side song, a heavier, distorted track ironically enliHed "Lo-fi" even ihough il was recorded to 16 track.

Kind of like a really punk sounding Seam. It proved to be a delightful find full of wonderful no-fi pop songs and confusing noise tracks, oil done by two folks, Geoffrey C. The Iwo songs on this record are much lusher sounding than those on the Shrimper tope, despite being recorded to four track, and feature sweet boy vocals and strong girl vocals with clear guitar sounds and not much more. But who needs more when you have lo-fi perfection?

Box Arlington, VA, Have you ever bought a record jusl because of the packaging? If so, be warned: Their record holds Iwo songs of typical indie-pop wilh lyrics such as "Oh, baby, give me one more chance; you know I'll toke it. Our cub ain't so cuddly anymore on this platter, as songs titles such as "The Dav I Said Goodbye" full of retro-pop hooks and "Exit" o longer, driving bound-to-be-o-hit song suggest.

Cub are sounding more and more jaded, ond bitter - join the club, we sayl The Potatomen fellow up their full-length CD on Lookout with two songs, "The Beautiful and the Damned" and "Arcato". A surprisingly light and poppy sound with Morrissey-esque vocals from Laurence Livermore Lookout's head honcho himself and co. The single starts off well enough with a great, tongue in cheek pop-punk anthem to the alternative lifestyle "Alternative is Here to Stay".

Don't let the cover to the new Shiva Speedway 7" scare you away from listenin' to it, cuz it's worth it. A three piece 2 gals on guitar, one on drums , Shiva Speedway play aggressive, Sonic Youth-influenced music, and they can proudly say they've shored the stage wilh such bands as the Raincoats, Come, Bedhead, Blonde Redhead, and Boss Hog.

Need we say more? We don't know too much about this New York group, except that we like their, dare we say, cute brand of twee-pop. Interesting song arrangements, good use of flute, accordion, and xylophone, and sweet female vocals and harmonies make us want to call The Receptionists a less produced, less poppy Pest It also features neat song titles like "Eyebrow Dirge", "The Lament of the Soldier's Wife" and "Wink Wink" as in keep your secrets, wink wink , ond a great interpretation of the traditional song "Fairy Dance".

This f, poppers itt Coast indie label Cinnamon Toast Records. This follow-up to the band's Flutterboard cassette is on swirly dark grey vinyl and continues to show off Plumtree's great musical abilities. Side one consists of "The Phone the Phone", a fast, Juliana Hatfield-slyled guitar song, and "Uno", a cute, jazzy ditty. The sole song on side two, "Sodium Chloride", is a medium tempo pop ballad. Two great garage punk hits by two great garage punk bands. No wank, no wimp, just a helluvalolta rawkin' fun. Trophy Records, 89 Seaforth Ave.

With six songs on pink swirly vinyl, their record is interesting because the songs seem to start mid-note. But olher than lhat, this is straight ahead girl garage rock, wilh a definite catty theme. Check out side b for the catchiest of catchy feline tunes. Twist Like This Records, P. Three songs of political angst wilh consistently fast, crunchy and catchy riffs by this Vancouver quartet. Hi-fi production by Blair Calibaba and cool cover design by local artist Atomos. How many times can we say punk? On clear green vinyl, apparently endorsed by the Jolly Green Giant. The Gobbers do it again on their second LandSpeed release.

Green Beans ond Almonds. October 21 You know, I always wondered what happened to those guys with the huge slick pompadours, big sideburns, and muscle shirts - you know, the ones who'd always be down front at those Stray Cats concerts. Apparently they're hanging oul at the new ish Treehouse Lounge down at the St. Regis, where, in the midst of a recent Ray Condo show, they seemed right at home but so did the rest of us. Opening the show were the Hayseeders, a local I assume group I've never heard of.

Weak on the vocals, though. I would definitely check out these guys again, especially if they took notes from Royl One of Ray Condo's gifts seems lo be in attracting an enthusiastic and varied crowd who jusl come to have a good time. For the uninitiated, an old er guy in a cowboy hat with a beat-up guitar fronting a mondolin, snare drum and stand-up bass might seem pretty darn square. Visuals aside, these guys can rock. Ray's on-stage potter is almost as bril liant and twisted as his takes on country and rockabilly gems. And the dance floor never emptied for long.

Those young whippersnap- pers bands out there could learn much from a slick cat like Ray. His treads are far from wearin' thin This guy deserves more attention ond a wider audience, so look for his next gig and git your pals down there. The Imagineers, a bass-guitar-drums trio, started their show with a heart-warming display of amity, shaking hands with each other.

They then cut into a set of bog-standard, classic-rock style electric blues in the Steve Earle idiom, except not as good. It was pretty much 70s music meant for a late 80s beer commercial. The Imagineers seemed to be doing their damndest, but, in the end, their name turned out to be just so much false advertising. Next up were the Strapping Fieldhonds, from Philidelphia. A quartet composed of two guitars, bass, and drums, they relied pretty heavily on tried and true pop melodies and didn't really seem to go anywhere with them.

With the exception of the last song, the Iwo guitars were pretty much just aping each other, and A five-piece band from San Francisco, they played some fantastic ond bizarre music with some of the most original melodies I've heard for a while. Sometimes they had a bass, drums, and three guitars going - eoch guitar playing something different and adding up to a really enjoyable whole - the bass and drum lines were none loo inspired.

The band did a poor o job of capturing the crowd's attention, and their performance was received with polite but unenthusiastic applause. As disappointed as I wos by the first two bands, I was impressed by the Thinking Fellers. The band is very egalitarian in doling out its vocals - eoch member seemed to contribute equally to the singing over the course of the show - ond they have a pretty disturbing way of delivering them at times, as when the men changed midstream from soft bass to deranged Falsetto.

The Thinking Fellers also manoge to create a particularly interesting and original quality in their playing, producing a number of sounds of which I wouldn't have thought their instruments capable. At one point, the bassist, Anne Eickelberg, called for a beer bottle and proceeded to play her bass with it. Not as a slide on the neck, though - she seemed to be using it to drive the strings into a kind of haunting and ethereal opiated frenzy. All it all, il was a heN of a show. I went in not knowing much about the Thinking Fellers' music, and I left it wonting to learn a bunch.

Each oct was worthy of headlining, turning in a great performance and great songs, if anything, the actual headliners were the least worthy. But more of that later. Kingston's The Inbreds started promptly at 8 p. They are a two-man force-de-pop, entertaining and appealing. The relatively meogre crowd that saw them pby were uniformly appreciative, and obviously cognizant of the fact that The Inbreds are, in short, unreal. Songs that were good, strong rock tunes on record reached their explosive potential when performed live. Trynin is a guitar diva sans pareil, almost overshadowing her distinctive voice in the course of her six- stringed antics.

All three musicians impressed individually and as a cohesive, blasting whole, because, basically, they are bloody good; and they set a standard that Buffalo Tom, in some ways, Buffalo Tom seem to be at that taken-for-granted stage - everyone knows ihey are a good live band wilh pop gems of songs, so it is a given that they will be enjoyable. And they were, but in a way it was too predictable. In light of the Jennifer Trynin powerhouse and the somewhat new breed of power-pop so well represented by The Inbreds, the Boston trio weren't as exciting as they once might have been. The excellent musical abilities of Trynin ond her band mode Buffalo Tom seem somehow less accomplished.

I wanted des perately to like Ihem as much as when I first saw ihem play, and their songs are good, but they weren't as remarkable as the other two bands. Ah, whatever - it was a damn fine night of music. Perhaps an attitude like that will never make for the most objective review, but I think I can safely say that Treble Charger lived up to their high standards. Piercing, driving and melodic songs, with on energy that few bands have, allowed them to wow the audience whether they realized it or notl , most of whom were there for the headliners.

Their actual sound was another matter though. If may have been because their regular sound technician was working the Halifax Pop Explosion, or maybe because the band couldn't quite gel with someone else at the board, but the noise coming through the Town Pump's loudk speakers was a jumbled mess. The occasional ditty may have perked my ears in the past, but I never saw reason to seek out more by them. I suppose I could say they're as good os their songs but unfortunately for me, I didn't like more than a few. The full crowd many of them in a moshing mood certainly enjoyed 13 Engines, and I don't know if that says more about my tastes or the crowd's.

They played their anthemic rock songs to people that genuinely liked them, I just didn't happen to be one of those people. These guys were the perfect opening band - they rocked the house just enough to get the crowd riled up and smiley faced, but not so much that they put the headliners to shame.

They pulled off such opening band pizazz by means of their fast, melodic, guitar-driven grit rock and an equally energetic on-stage attitude. These four guys were all smiles and bopping heads, with a few spontaneous knee crunching leaps thrown in for David Lee Roth Rock credibility. Three spritely young bucks with guitars took turns singing lead and harmonizing on back-up vocals, and it was this constant interjection of melody which made their music so head- boppingly, heels hoppingly infectious.

No matter how loud, fast 26 NOVEMBER or hard the song got there was always a catchy tune rugging at your toes ond equally melodious vocals tickling your ears. The Figgs are one of those bands who just look like they're having so much damn fun pounding out the tunes on stage. None of that shoe gazing, sensitive indie rock fiddling with the fuzz pedal between every song, these guys have a raw energy and a totally unpretentious air which make them and their music simply irresistible.

Their songs have titles like "Chevy Nova" and "Cherry Blow Pop", and, appropriately enough, they dedicated one tune to Vancouver's own infectious rockers, the Smugglers. I say appropriately because if I were to lump The Figgs in with anyone, The Smuggs would probably be it, if only for their similar on-stage chutzpah. Unfortunately, after being so revved up by The Figgs, the crowd was forced to endure forty minutes of lag time in between bands, after which they were ready to be fired up again.

So when Britain's Supergrass finally took the stage I'd have lo say that the majority of the audience was more than ready lo love them. As was I, but somehow, despite my full-on readiness to be rocked, I thought the performance fell a little flat. Although I'd probably be hard-pressed to find an audience member who'd agree with me, because technically the show was pretty much flawless, I just thought it was a little loo predictable.

They did play a Kinks cover as well as a poppin' version of a sentimental Kenny Rogers tune, but the greater part of their set consisted of crowd- pleasing Coco. In addition, the set was quite short and the blokes didn't provide much in the way of on-stage banter, but my main beef is that they just didn't do anything on stage which I hadn't already heard them do on the album - which I guess is no crime. So what am I grumbling about? Kazi Stastna LUNA Town Pump Wednesday, October 11 I have to admit that I'm usually one of those people who are in bed by midnight, so concerts can be a bit of slog for me because I usually just want to go home and sleep.

Damn, I wish the band would hurry up, so I can go home and roll in to bed. Luna woke me up after the stupor I was in following openers Superflux, who were so nondescript that I can't even describe them. Luna are so magically pop that you can't help but feel all is right in the universe. The show flowed along very nice! Hell, I was willing to slay up way pas!

They weren't our thing, though, so we mingled. Next up was Sicko, who we'd seen a few months bock at the Starfish Room. It's simple, it's punk, and maybe if so many bands didn't sound like this nowadays it would have been cooler. We like them but don't love them and once again found ourselves mingling. They did have a lol of crowd response though, so hey, what do we know? Jawbreaker rockedl The sound wasn't the best but we loved it and so did the crowd.

There were continuous requests for "Chesterfield King" off of Bivouac which they finally played to an enthusiastic, devoted, lip syncing throng of fans. The pit was moving the whole time and everyone seemed satisfied. Jawbreaker played songs from their new album Dear You as well as previous releases , finishing the night off with "Bivouac", the powerful last track from the album of the same name. We laughed, we cried, we shared a moment. Now, I've been to a few raves in my time, and this was not one. If anything, it felt like Morrissey's wake, or a Labatt Ice commercial. First up was the fashion show.

Imagine the Twilight Zone as a strip joint, only worse. Although the snide remarks directed at these guys were coming in fast and furious, I thought they weren't bad. This band could be really good if they concentrated more on the music and passion, and less on fhe hair dye black, of course.