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Notes From The Flip Side: 04.21.2002

For the past few weeks, I've been a little preoccupied. I'm still settling in, although my books and most of my records are unpacked. Two friends have died. And now I find out that American Steel called it a day.

I was lucky enough to see American Steel here not too long ago; they played with One Time Angels to a crowd of about 10 people. I meant to write about it after it happened because it was one of the most amazing shows that I've seen; the band took the stage knowing full well that the place was empty and set about playing as if their lives depended on it.

American Steel didn't seem to be playing for the crowd that night; it didn't seem to be about us. I got the impression they would have played the same if we hadn't been there at all.

Instead - and it seems especially appropriate in hindsight - it struck me the same way that the end of a relationship does, when there's really nothing left to say but there's all this history filling the silence between a couple, keeping them from making a clean break, restraining them from simply walking away and starting something new.

In a relationship, people tend to want to hold on to their memories; remembering colors their perception of the present and sometimes makes it seem better, makes it seem like they can keep things going regardless of whether they should.

And that show, more than anything else, seemed to be about letting go.

Sometimes, a relationship is at its best when the participants realize that it's over; it removes a tremendous burden from those involved. It frees them to focus on ending things well instead of in bitterness and acrimony. And, let's face it, goodbye sex is frequently the best you'll ever have, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the tears and the knowledge that you will never pass down that road again.

I have seen American Steel several times; I had never seen them play like that before. It was as if they were tying up loose ends, divvying up the flatware and deciding who got the cat. They played as if each moment was the only one that would ever matter again, as if each moment was the last one they would ever know. When they finished, there was nothing left to say. History had been negated, replaced by a series of moments that will linger for those who observed them.

Now Playing:

New tiltWheel; Thrice, "The Illusion Of Safety"; Album Leaf, "One Day I'll Be On Time"; Matt Pond PA, "The Green Fury"; Trial By Fire, "Ringing In The Dawn"; Coheed And Cambria, "The Second Stage Turbine Blade"; new A.M. Vibe

Just Finished:

Thomas Frank and Matt Weiland, "Commodify Your Dissent"; Dick Hebdige, "Subculture: The Meaning Of Style"

Now Reading:

Italo Calvino, "t zero"; Greil Marcus, "The Old, Weird America"; Theodor Adorno, "The Culture Industry," "Minima Moralia" and "Dialectic of Enlightenment" (with Max Horkheimer); Naomi Klein, "No Logo"; Raoul Vaneigem, "The Revolution Of Everyday Life"

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Last modified on Wednesday, March 26, 2008