Twenty Years of VENGEANCE.

My favorite hardcore punk record of all time is 20 years old. I got my grubby little hands on this LP 20 years ago this month. I picked up my copy when Tragedy played Denver on tour for this LP. It would have been November 30th or December 1st, 2002. I don’t remember the exact date, but more on that gig in a minute.

When this LP came out, the hype surrounding it was inescapable. A testament to its power, considering this LP came out in the days before social media ruled our lives, making hearing new records no more difficult than making a sandwich or brewing a cup of tea.

In any punk house in any city, an annoying fanboy might talk your ear off about how this record was the perfect blend of Crust Punk and D-Beat and melodic Death Metal. They might even argue Tragedy was our generation’s DISCHARGE, albeit with superior musicianship, more impassioned, less contrived lyrics, and without the humiliating foray into hair metal.

I know this because I was one of those fanboys! I would still argue that Tragedy adding an element of melody to hardcore and crust punk changed the genre. They spawned countless bands who either imitated the style or took it and made it their own. Fall of Efrafa and Ekkaia come to mind, but I am sure I am forgetting other important bands.

I have connected with Tragedy’s output less over the last two decades, but I still love each record. However, none of them define entire eras of my life like this LP. I think some music just hits you in that pivotal moment. You’re in the right time, the right place for a sound to settle into skin you can never quite feel comfortable in. The music hits, and it gives voice to all the pain and frustration weighing you down on a day-to-day basis.

My clearest memories of watching Tragedy play on tour for this LP are how they did not waste a moment onstage. All killer, no filler. Not a single misplaced beat or misplayed note. They were a machine, honed to perfection. The room exploded when they hit their first note. At one point, an unruly slamdancer smashed into the band, since the gig was at a warehouse and there was no stage. The guitar player, without missing a note, grabbed the dancer by the throat, pushed him back into the crowd, and then continued playing. I got my own taste of aggro that night when a wasted local crust punk, aptly named “Mikeaholic” ran recklessly through the crowd, clothes-lining random dancers. Without thinking my actions through, I grabbed Mike and punched him, dragging him through the crowd and to the back of the warehouse. I threw him down and kicked him in the stomach and left him there to dive back into the swirling morass of dancing punks. Lucky for me, Mike passed out, or just decided not to escalate the situation. I never knew.

Do yourself a favor and revisit this LP today. It holds up. If you’re not familiar with it, get acquainted! I wish I could say that the seething rage directed at corporations and governments bloated by human greed and malice running our world run into ruin contained in this LP is not as relevant now as it was when the songs were written, but that is sadly not the case.

And hey… If you know Mikeaholic, tell him sorry for that sucker punch, but I paid my five bucks for that gig too. I had as much of a right to enjoy it as he did. And at least it wasn’t as bad as the time as Melissa beat both him AND his friend’s ass outside Bar Bar a few years later.

Los Angeles, Again.

I am not here
In this lonely little room called home,

This place
One day blurs
Into another
Then blurs into one more.

Pull closed the blinds
Block out the light
Close my eyes
Drift, softly into restless sleep
On a lost melody
Drifting above a concrete
Desert in synthetic bloom
Pulsing, humming
With electric life.

I am home
Within concrete canyons

They’re not rumors anymore
At the sound of the tone
The time is now
One hundred seconds

And what I wouldn’t give
Just a few of those
Wasted years
You know you know you
The ones spent weathering
The storms of resentment
And wrath

To spend a few seconds
As the second hand counts down,
Regaining love once lost
All wrapped up
In those fleeting moments
Of connection

Sleeping in the safety
Whispered words that never wound
Behind closed doors
With the deadbolts locked up tight

Shutting out the cold
Closed against the winds
Of disaster

I always joke with my students
Writing is what I love most
Even though it will be
The death of me
That is
If warheads screaming
From the sky
Don’t put an end to me

Before the curtains close
I would like very much
To write one more story
A story
That did not end in tragedy
But a tale
Of life
And loss
And triumph
That told itself
Until the end
Until the circle closed
And the characters healed
Lived full lives


In the studio on a gloomy Sunday afternoon,
(I have a studio now, I guess)
Does this mean I’ve made it?
Not quite yet
But it’s nice to pretend.

Too much coffee
Not enough food
Anxious dog pacing the room
Write and revise
Stretch my sore neck.

On the other side
Of the window, gray concrete
Greets a matching shade of gray sky
They’re building another parking garage
In a city where everyone I know struggles to survive.