8 min read

on the weakerthans + being publicly emo

on the weakerthans + being publicly emo

I do discuss sexual assault within this newsletter. It’s not graphic and more about a response I had but, as with anything concerning the topic, I’d like to give a trigger warning.

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Yesterday was a mostly very good day. I decided recently to make a zine about how our multiple crises have affected people within the music / music journalism industry which, in my late decision to do this, put me in the position of interviewing two people I admire and respect a whole lot in one day. One of them entertained my opinions on emo journalists, the other allowed me to give her dog treats. I got an expensive coffee on the walk between their Avondale and Logan Square homes. It was a delight.

Then I got home and packed up some of my apartment but not as much as I probably should have and ordered myself food and just went on my usual sequence of checking twitter and youtube until my roommate came home.

At around 8, while laying on my floor bed as a result of drunkenly taking apart my bed frame on Monday night, I saw a post about sexual assault allegations toward The Killers. I opened it without much thought.

My relationship to sex is, in general, complex. I won’t delve deep into it because I feel it doesn’t serve anybody but it has involved a lot of crying in hot showers. I’ve read plenty of assault allegations over the last several years but something about that post I read last night stuck in my brain and in my chest. My boyfriend brought it up to me later just to ask if I’d seen it and I couldn’t even talk about it.

I’ve spent the last few years volunteering at an organization in Chicago specifically advocating for sexual assault and harassment awareness within music spaces. I know a lot of people who have been victims specifically within those music spaces. I am, thankfully, not one of them, but I believe I’ve mostly got my deep anxiety about fake IDs and a refusal to drive to shows forcing my dad to pick me up to thank for that after a retrospective look at some situations I put myself in at pop punk shows in my teen years. No, all harm done to me was within the context of personal relationships with people who were not a part of the music industry to the degree of a power dynamic who probably don’t understand the extent of harm they caused. After all, I’ve only just recently realized they caused me harm. (Though one of them did write a song once apologizing to me)

Twitter last night was dominated by two things:

  1. A person who ran a DIY label a load of people I know were on was outed for manipulation and sexual harassment
  2. Some weird “contract” to fight assault within the scene came out. Everybody thinks it’s performative activism. I think they’re right.

And while scrolling between 1 and 2 AM, the sick feeling wouldn’t go away. A dark feeling washed over me and I decided to post that I was taking time off twitter and made a warning expressing just how triggering I found The Killers’ allegations for those who follow me.

I woke up at 8 this morning with the same sick feeling, retweeted my 2 AM tweet, and set an alarm to wake up between 10 and 11 so I could get ready to go out to the suburbs to see my family before I leave on Friday. So I went back to bed until 10, read Dan Ozzi’s newsletter (or most of it. I didn’t know who he was talking about this week.), then I read Ian Cohen’s newsletter full of people who I do know about. Bob Nanna, Mike Kinsella, The Man From Mineral whose name I won’t look up right now. Coincidentally, or maybe not, part of that newsletter was about how the former two singers’ divorce albums have gotten good coverage while the non-divorced of the three did not. Sorry, I looked it up. His name is Chris Simpson. I like Mineral (though Ian is right, EndSerenading is boring after the first track).

While I read Ian’s newsletter I tried to find something to listen to that felt more appropriate than my continued listening of Romance Is Boring by Los Campesinos! and decided upon Left and Leaving. I’ve been saying I’ll review Reunion Tour for a while. I probably won’t but as a consolation prize I’ll talk about Left and Leaving here.

I was first exposed to The Weakerthans through a playlist my now boyfriend made back when we first met years ago entitled “Spectres Haunting Albert Street” full of his recommendations. As has become a joke between us, none of those songs ended up being the ones I love now except Plea From A Cat Named Virtute which is the best song ever written maybe.

It took me a long time to divorce The Weakerthans from my perception of them as a band for 30 year olds. In fact, it took until April 26th of this year. The thing about being perennially online is that I have time stamps for this stuff. I tweeted into the void asking for people’s’ favorite morning time albums and got a response from wonderful photographer + roughly 30 year old man who is nice to me online, Mitchell Wojcik, (sorry if you’re not 30 mitch) recommending Left and Leaving alongside Sunset Tree by The Mountain Goats.

I thought it was funny he said “i hope this works out”. Anyway, I did listen to it while sitting at the front of my long hallway of an apartment at a wooden table while working on printing zines from a digital zine thing I did at the beginning of quarantine.

It did work out and Mitch was right, it is music for rainy mornings and coffee, though he probably wakes up earlier than I do.

Today I sat and listened to it at 11 AM avoiding coffee because I knew I wouldn’t eat before I left and the cold brew I have would make me feel sick so I just sat reading Ian’s newsletter. Everything Must Go! on repeat and its perfect bass line behind John K. Samson’s voice at all my favorite points in the song.

Ian touches on the concept of being publicly emo through different lenses, including considering he maybe should apologize for having told the story of a first date, just not to the people reading his newsletter.

Coincidentally, last night my roommate looked at me and said, “no offense but i’m glad my personality isn’t wrapped up in one music scene”, a statement based in a previous conversation about wooks but equally applicable to my very publicly emo online behavior.

I told her, “yeah” because what am I supposed to say? That it’s not a little bit embarrassing to have my personality wrapped up in an online community around emo? It is and if you can’t make fun of yourself for it a little bit, you’re in the wrong place.

Lately twitter’s been a hard place to be, despite all the love and connection I’ve felt through my friends and their newsletters and conversation.

Stories of sexual abuse, sexism, and racism on top of everything going on in America at large, it’s heavy. Everyone feels on edge at all times looking for a fight. I opened twitter earlier to grab that screenshot above, I saw a tweet that said, “beginning to think nuanced, meaningful conversation can’t happen in under 300 characters” or something like that and that feels particularly true lately, though is always right.

I’ve had some of my best conversations about diy and music and industry stuff in the last few weeks which has been cool but definitely born of not wanting to join in on frustrating takes (or regretting when i do). Sometimes you have to tell people you don’t want to argue. I really don’t want to argue.

Today I’ve taken the brown line from Montrose to Quincy and then the Metra from Union Station to Lisle where my dad will pick me up. I’m going to sit outside and see two girls I’ve known since kindergarten, quite literally before I remember. My boyfriend asked me if I think it’ll be emotional and the true answer is that my newsletter and the things I post online are far more emotional than I’ll let myself be with most people I know.

Is that a product of social media? Is it a product of the self deprecation of emo and alt music commodification of depression? I don’t know. I just know it’s probably not in my own best emotional interest.

Why do I feel comfortable disclosing my personal stories to strangers just because they took place at a show or because I have a strong connection to an album due to a certain situation? Why do I feel the urge to tweet “really not having a good time luvs x” ??? I don’t know.

But that’s kind of what this newsletter and my zines are based on. My willingness to put forth my publicly emotional and intimate experiences is, to a degree, what I do and the reason I’m part of the online community I am. I no longer wish to publicly cope with my eating disorder or spiral out of control during a depressive episode in slews of tweets… But I did write this newsletter today that starts with an acknowledgement of harm done to me through sex which is something I’d shy away from discussing in a different context.

I also want to tell a story about an ex-boyfriend of mine and his specific problem with my inability to be candid while being so publicly emo in the very specific way I’m sure you’re all familiar with if you read these newsletters. But I’ve told enough stories and that public telling is not always co-signed by the people in them (if you read my zine about venues this year I do want to confirm that all those stories were ok’d by the people in them).

I’ll see my parents and oldest sister for dinner tonight. We’ll joke and I’ll be sad to leave them on Friday (although my father is driving me to Philadelphia so I guess I’ll be sad to be left by him on Sunday).

To be left or to be leaving, what’s worse?

I’m not sure. I’m unsure about a lot of things. But I’m not unsure of the unstable calm I feel listening to Left and Leaving so, for now, I’ll take that as comfort while I can’t stomach the ecosystem of public emos I usually find some solace in.

Maybe one day I won’t feel like I need an online space the way I do now. Or maybe the need to be online will always be there. Maybe one of the nice 30 year olds who follows me on twitter can let me know.

This is a photo of me in the wicker park reckless records that i’m inserting to have a thumbnail image. It was taken in 2016 by the same man who wrote that apology song. He uses a photo i took of him for his apple music artist image so i feel ok using this here.

Miranda Reinert makes zines. Follow me on twitter @mirandareinert.