Thursday, November 5, 2009

You lost yours early, but you put up a good fight.

We'll get back to pizza tomorrow. Today is the one year anniversary of my friend Jamie's death and I wanna talk about it so fuck you anyway. I don't want to say "it feels like it was only yesterday," because it doesn't, but it doesn't feel like a year. I think my friend Kevin Morby wrote about this really beautifully last year and I'd like to link a post from his infrequently updated blog. At the time, and the months following Jamie's death, I tried really hard to write about it and I always threw everything out because I couldn't get it right. Kevin did a great job in that post of getting it right.

I feel like Jamie was oftentimes one step ahead of me in terms of doing the coolest shit. The last time we spoke, I ran into him at a show and he was wearing this brand new pea coat and some shiny leather shoes. I slapped him on the back too hard and said, "what'd you join the navy or something?" He told me something along the lines of, "Colin, I'm 25 now. No one gets to tell me what to do ever again. If I want a new pea coat, I'll get a new pea coat." Either way, a year later, I looked at myself in the mirror today and I was wearing a pair of classy shoes and a pea coat.

Despite being pretty much the coolest and on to all the awesomest shit, Jamie didn't have a big ego and was actually pretty insecure. It's something that took me a while to grasp as we were becoming friends, but was ultimately really endearing. The week leading up to his death, I started listening to his old band Bent Outta Shape's LP again for the first time in a while. I would listen to it every night while I closed the diner I worked at and think about giving him a call just to tell him how much I loved that shit. Because I knew he would be glad to hear it and it would make him happy. But I always got distracted by the act of closing or who I was meeting up with afterwards, and that call never happened. I think the sentiment I'm awkwardly and ineffectually grasping at was best expressed in the Jack Palance Band song How Can I, "it's just like my buddy Mike Pack says, he says, 'always tell your friends you love them, 'cause you never know when goodbye is gonna be goodbye.'"

Bent Outta Shape was one of my favorite bands, and I'm really lucky I got to see them so much. And I will say, pretty definitely, here at the end of 2009, that Stray Dog Town was easily one of the best punk records to come out in the first 10 years of this millennium. Hands down. Everything about it was so genuine and guileless. There was no real posturing or bullshit, none of the pitfalls of trying too hard to be cool. It was and is, a totally earnest expression of confusion, frustration and hope and despite the fact that my eyes still moisten a little every time I hear those songs, in general, this record makes me feel so good. I uploaded that record, and the Bent side of their split with Snuggle, which I'm pretty sure is the last 7" they put out and is definitely some of my favorite of Jamie's songwriting, and you can download them here.

If you like these records, the LP is available from Recess and the 7" is available from 1234 Go!. Please think about buying them and keeping rad labels who manage to not be beholden to big business and the complex workings of capitalism afloat in our sick fucking society. Because regardless of the fact that all kinds of gross shit happens in the world on a constant basis, all types of people, not just my scummy punk friends and me, are intentionally coming together in the face of all the ugliness and brutality to share beautiful, transcendent moments together. Going to shows and seeing friends actualize hours and days worth of energy into something cohesive and real is a beautiful thing. The fact that a bunch of people can get together and organize something great, simply because everyone needs it to happen, and without profit as a tangible motive keeps me going when I think it's not even worth it to struggle anymore because the bad guys are always gonna win. And that's why I won't stop coming around.

Jamie Ewing 1983-2008
I miss you every day, you fucking jerk.


  1. I don't really know what to say. I went to high school with Jamie, but I hadn't seen him since then. I had no idea that he had died and now that I do, I'm... I don't know. Jamie was an amazing person, even at 15. He was funny and sweet and I'm going to spend the rest of the day listening to his music. Thank you for that.

  2. thanks slice harvester. i stepped in a pile of shit while i was walking my dog this morning. later i met a street punk at civic center in SF. his name was hairball. he had a broken foot & was trying to get to the movie theater next to the stupid diner which makes crappy rubens. all this made me laugh & reminisce about brooklyn cerca 2003-04 & our old friend jim. thinking about youse on the east coast xo gaybobalina

  3. This is pretty fuckin sweet.
    You know how your friends give you their record when they're on tour and you try to give them cash and they say "no, just take it", but they have this look like they haven't eaten anything but crackers and warm beer in 5 days? Jamie would give me 3-5 LPs everytime he saw me and insist that i never give him money. He would say "give 'em to everyone". I did and I ended up giving away my own copies of them. Now, i have to buy them.
    That JPB song gets me everytime.

    --retsevraH gerG

  4. Colin this was a really beautiful post.

  5. Thanks for writing this. I'm Jamie's sister Cassie and this brought me to tears. I wish I had seen this 2 years ago. We all miss him so much and theres not a day that goes by that I don't think of him.

  6. Very nice post indeed.I just bought the 7". Would like to complete my collection with the S/T Bent Out of Shape record (Drunk Tank). Any chance of a label like 1-2-3-4 Go! reissuing it? Copies are going for $55 on Discogs right now.