Towson-Glen Arm Graphic Design – part 1

A flyer by Lou Thomas advertising a September 1995 show that featured his band Rive Gauche. The other bands who played this gig weren't Towson-Glen Arm groups. Note the holy seal of the Universal Life Church in the upper right corner. Thomas was an actual ordained reverend and member of this non-denominational mail order "faith" which was supported by many TGA kids as a means of expressing opposition to conventional organized religion (i.e., among the church's many untraditional policies, it clearly encourages atheists to join up; for more on  the ULC check this website: www.themonastery.org/aboutUs).

A flyer by Lou Thomas advertising a September 1995 show that featured his band Rive Gauche. The other bands who played this gig weren’t Towson-Glen Arm groups. Note the holy seal of the Universal Life Church in the upper right corner. Thomas was an actual ordained reverend and member of this non-denominational mail order “faith” which was supported by many TGA kids as a means of expressing opposition to conventional organized religion (i.e., among the church’s many untraditional policies, it clearly encourages atheists to join up; for more on the ULC check this website: http://www.themonastery.org/aboutUs)[courtesy of Lou Thomas].

Graphic design represents a big chunk of Towson-Glen Arm’s most well known output. In the 90’s the TGA design style was featured prominently in hundreds of photocopied paper flyers made to promote live performance events, though it also made its mark on zines, political pamphlets, and various oddball print ephemera. Towson-Glen Arm flyers could be found posted up throughout the Baltimore area in record stores, book stores, coffee shops, college campus bulletin boards, down on the legendary merch table in Matt Bray’s basement*, wheat pasted onto telephone poles and other municipal infrastructures, or even posted (without permission) on the grounds of the public high schools Dulaney and Towson (the two schools that most of the teenaged TGA artists attended).

Towson-Glen Arm artists would often give out flyers by hand at their own shows or other all ages concerts in the area. The front steps of the Towson Commons shopping center (a loitering hotspot for young troublemakers from all over suburban Baltimore) also was a place where one could find TGA kids handing out print material, though, as most Towson-Glen Arm shows were drug/alcohol free** events, the hedonistic “mall punk” kids who hung out at the Commons would frequently end up throwing the show flyers into the trash or they’d just refuse to take them.

The TGA movement thrust the art of graphic design into a nebulous realm where leftist fervor, wild absurdity, and primal/d.i.y. production culminated in brash displays of ragged grace. Presented here is the first part of a new blog series featuring some top examples of Towson-Glen Arm’s visual splendor.

the logo from the Daily Schoolbus zine; designed by Spence Holman; October 1994 (courtesy of Spence Holman)

the logo from the Daily Schoolbus zine; designed by Spence Holman; October 1994 (courtesy of Spence Holman)

a set list created by multi-media artist Jeff Duncan for his band The Idiots; early 1995 (courtesy of Lou Thomas)

a set list created by multi-media artist Jeff Duncan for his band The Idiots; early 1995 (courtesy of Lou Thomas)

 a flyer probably designed by Jeff Duncan to promote a TGA concert at the Baltimore city venue The Loft  (pardon the condition of this flyer; it was actually ripped off of telephone pole back in the mid 90's.) [courtesy of Shawn Phase]

a flyer designed by Jeff Duncan to promote a TGA concert at the Baltimore city venue The Loft (pardon the condition of this flyer; it was actually ripped off of telephone pole back in the mid 90’s.) [courtesy of Shawn Phase]

design/lettering: Lou Thomas; 1997 (courtesy of Lou Thomas)

design/lettering: Lou Thomas; 1997 (courtesy of Lou Thomas)

(* the full story behind the premiere TGA venue Matt Bray’s basement can be found in the notes to the Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts 2 compilation, some of which are reprinted here: http://towsonglenarmfreakouts.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/matt-bray-and-the-early-days-of-towson-glen-arm/)
(** While Towson-Glen Arm didn’t completely indentify with the drug free straight edge philosophy, some in the north County underground identified the excessive drug use associated with Gen X/grunge rock/’slackers’ as “counter revolutionary” therefore at odds with the TGA movement’s political beliefs.)

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Alive And Well And Tattered

Damn…looks like I skipped out on blogging last month.

Well, I wasn’t tryin to, I swear, but let’s just say things got interesting in the non-blogisphere, so I had to put in some extra time in the outside world, that strange nonsensical place where you won’t find teenagers from the 90’s sitting around feverishly worshipping at an altar of obscure music and radical leftist politics…uh, yeah anyway…

Since I’m still recovering from the overload of interesting things that happened last month, I don’t really have a ‘traditional’ Towson-Glen Arm post ready just yet, so…

This morning, in a groggy/just woke up/zombie-esque haze, I unknowingly put on a pair of pants that I really thought I hated. The reason I hated these pants is cuz a few months ago, while wearing these pants, I fell down really hard in NYC’s Chelsea section shortly after getting off of a bus. I brutally skinned my knee, I even still have scars from the injury. The pants bear the marks of discoloration and still have a tiny rip in them where my knee got ground extra hard into the pavement.

I’ve been avoiding wearing these pants for months just cuz the site of that damage reminds me of how dumb and careless I felt after falling, not to mention how painful the injury was.

It wasn’t until I walked a few blocks from my apartment this morning that I realized I was wearing these most hated pants. The funny thing is, despite the negative association, these pants were actually really comfortable. They felt like any other pants I have. Right now, as I write this hours later, I’m still wearing them even and they still feel very comfy.

What this all means and what this could possibly have to do with an obscure art movement from the 90’s is beyond me, but I really felt compelled to share this with everyone out there…maybe this is just a weird metaphor for the creative work I’m usually covering here. It’s like this: if something is damaged, if something reminds you of a less than perfect time, even if something seems like trash, before you throw it away forever maybe just give it a second chance cuz you might find something of value in it that you’d taken for granted before, whether it’s a tattered pair pants or a warbly old cassette tape of crazy teens bangin on pots and pans all day.

A flyer for a 1994 Towson-Glen Arm show that occurred in the affluent Baltimore City neighborhood of Lake Evesham at The Church Of The Holy Redeemer. If you really dig this kinda crazy art and attitude, stay tuned - before the end of this year there will a post up featuring for the first part of an ongoing blog series all about the rise and fall Towson-Glen Arm's biggest band: avant-garde ska provocateurs The Preschoolers! (flyer art/design: unknown)

A flyer for a 1994 Towson-Glen Arm show that occurred in the affluent Baltimore City neighborhood of Lake Evesham at The Church Of The Holy Redeemer (flyer art/design: unknown)

 

 

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Within

(All material here is quoted from the liner notes of Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts 2. These were written by Mike Apichella, aka your humble blogger)

Within's biggest moment was an opening slot at a suburban Annapolis show with two of their biggest influences: Unwound and Universal Order Of Armageddon in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs (flyer design by Colin Seven; courtesy of Lisa Starace)

Within’s biggest moment was an opening slot at a suburban Annapolis, Md. show with two of their biggest influences: Unwound and Universal Order Of Armageddon (flyer design by Colin Seven; courtesy of Lisa Starace)

The experimental garage band Within was my most ambitious attempt to transform art into political action. I was 17 years old when I began working on Within’s material using borrowed guitars and amps off and on from 1991 to mid ’92 while killing time during breaks at the band practices of the various Matt Bray/Violet LeVoit-led groups that I played in (more details on those bands can be found in the TGAF blog posts on Violet LeVoit and Matt Bray, and also in the notes to The Retarded Dogs track on the first Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts collection).

That all changed in late 1992 when I got a part-time job working as a telephone surveyor at the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens Funeral Home & Cemetery. $110 earned at this unbelievably boring job got me a tiny Grand Prix brand guitar which I purchased from Schubert Music in Reisterstown, Md., a store that primarily sold school band equipment and uniforms, as well as a hodge-podge of new budget priced music gear. Soon after that, I bought the piece of equipment that would go on to define Within’s sound: a Boss Hyper Fuzz pedal. A somewhat fried, vintage Juggs practice amp (borrowed from Violet LeVoit) would be the next contraption added to my sonic cache. With all of this tweaked gear in tow, I began to constantly write songs for Within, which remained a nameless project until late 1993.

Within live at the Powhattan Fire Hall near Annapolis, Md. circa spring 1995; l-r, Tim Kabara (in a rare turn on the drums) and Mike Apichella  (photo by Tricia Lane or John Corcoran; courtesy of Tim Kabara)

Within live at the Powhattan Fire Hall near Annapolis, Md. circa spring 1995; l-r, Tim Kabara (in a rare turn on the drums) and Mike Apichella (photo by Tricia Lane or John Corcoran; courtesy of Tim Kabara)

It actually took me more than a year to find other musicians to join Within. My intense perfectionism, a sincere desire only to play with untrained musicians, and my invented musical approach all made rounding out the band’s membership quite difficult….

The first void to be filled in this band was that of the drummer. Claire Mysko and I had been friends since around the spring of ’93 after we met through mutual (political) activist friends…. I told Claire that my ideal drum sound would consist of ultra primal beats played on a kit with only a snare drum, a floor tom, and a crash cymbal. Mysko had no issue with this set-up, and actually seemed even more excited to give it a go once she knew about the stripped down specs. With a successful try out rehearsal in summer ’93, Claire then officially joined Within.

Claire Mysko as she appeared in her 1993 Towson High School yearbook picture (courtesy of William Jones/Towson High School)

Claire Mysko as she appeared in her 1993 Towson High School yearbook picture (courtesy of William Jones/Towson High School)

For the vocalist’s role, my friend Tricia Lane recommended that I tap her Spastic Cracker bandmate Lisa Starace. Lisa had done some ear-shredding back up vocals on one of SC’s harder songs. After Tricia played me a tape of that impressive performance, I asked Lisa to do a try out rehearsal in August of ’93…. so after we successfully ran through a few of my songs I convinced Lisa to join the group…. as she already had a leadership role in Spastic Cracker, she decided to join my group just for the change of pace provided by the work of a side musician. Nonetheless, Starace alone would go on to write most of Within’s blaring vocal parts.

Like many other TGA kids, Claire Mysko was an accomplished student. This led her to skip over a grade to become an 11th grader at the young age of 16. Not only that, but in her junior high school year she was incredibly busy and stressed out preparing to skip her senior year in order to make an early admission to college at The Eugene Lang New School For Social Research in NYC. The New School gave her an offer of substantial scholarship money as a result of her superlative SAT scores and her participation in several of the prestigious writing workshops that catered to the mid-Atlantic’s gifted teen scribes. With all of this frenzied academia, initially, getting Claire on a regular Within practice schedule was a bit daunting…

Claire Mysko (2nd on the far right front row, to the left of The Nudists' Alicia Rabins) posing with the staff of the seminal 1994 edition of Towson High's Colophon literary magazine. Other TGA artists appear here also: top right - writer Tyler Roylance and writer Ian McDonald both of Skull & The Cross Bones, and Spence Holman of The Nudists; far right in the 2nd row in the fourth, third, and second spots from l-r: Steph R. of The Preschoolers, writer Beach Carey, Liz Bishop of Loch Ness and Susan Murphy's Law (courtesy of William Jones/Towson High)

Claire Mysko (2nd on the far right front row, to the left of The Nudists’ Alicia Rabins) posing with the staff of the seminal 1994 edition of Towson High’s Colophon literary magazine. Other TGA artists appear here also: top right writer Tyler Roylance and writer Ian McDonald both of Skull & The Cross Bones, and Spence Holman of The Nudists; far right in the 2nd row in the fourth, third, and second spots from l-r: Steph R. of The Preschoolers, writer Beach Carey, Liz Bishop of Loch Ness and Susan Murphy’s Law (courtesy of William Jones/Towson High)

(Claire) managed to make just enough stray practices throughout early fall ’93 to prepare us for our first show – an October 29th Food Not Bombs* benefit gig put on at my mom’s house which also featured my performance art/joke band Young Death and a headlining set from Pittsburgh, Pa. crust legends Aus Rotten.

A flyer for the first Within show; Towson-Glen Arm band Young Death also made their debut at this gig. (flyer art/design: unknown; courtesy of Lisa Starace)

A flyer for the first Within show; Towson-Glen Arm band Young Death also made their debut at this gig. (flyer art/design: unknown; courtesy of Lisa Starace)

Around December ’93, the three of us began rehearsing about once a week at my mom’s house in Glen Arm, Md. and occasionally at Claire’s parents’ house in Lutherville. Like Lisa, Claire also turned out to be exactly the kind of musician that I needed for Within – a drummer who didn’t give a crap about solos or playing fast thrash beats or weird time signatures; she was just a hyped-up kid who loved pounding the hell outta the drums…. By the end of any given Within practice or show, Claire would always emerge from this zoned out haze drenched in sweat and flushed beet red as if she’d just completed the most grueling triathlon imaginable.

Claire Mysko -  looking typically flushed - performing live at a Within basement show in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs; Cesar's House, April 30th 1994. (photo by Melissa Fatto)

Claire Mysko – looking typically flushed – performing live at a Within basement show in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs; Cesar’s House April 30th 1994. (photo by Melissa Fatto)

The odd parameters I set for Within were created to highlight my extreme political leftism, something which, for the most part, was shared by my bandmates. Playing my own style of music was not merely done to “show off” how original I could be, nor was it a pure reaction against other kinds of music. Instead, by using invented music theory, I felt that Within’s work served to demonstrate an ideology which could be constructively applied to more than just artwork. The invented concepts of Within were things that I had hoped would inspire oppressed/disenfranchised people to refuse any kind of constraint imposed upon them by evil authoritarian forces. An invented chord, an alternate tuning, a thick layer of distortion coating a melody – these were all examples of how the utility of music composition itself could be radically manipulated in many unusual ways while still providing a strong backbone for something more individualistic, therefore far outside of what most musical “authorities” thought of as melodic structure, technique, or dynamics. To me, the fact that I could create songs without either destroying or strictly adhering to the tenets of conventional music *proved* that a better way of life was inevitable for those who really wanted to create a grass roots political system outside of the corrupt bureaucracy run by the world’s exploitive “super powers”.

…Imbuing Within… with a political consciousness, however, was not the only action used to spotlight the progressive nature of our work. Attracting even more attention to that element was the way in which Within worked in aesthetic realms beyond music through our conscious effort to put on visually spectacular live concerts… These elements were further complimented by the use of instruments that were compact in both size and number, a choice which led the audience’s attention to focus upon on the fact that we were sweaty flesh-and-blood people first and musical conduits second. In no uncertain terms, Lisa Starace has expressed that this was the most unique, powerful element of Within:

“People responded to our performances viscerally…we were so brutally raw emotionally, physically, and sonically, so demanding of ourselves and of them, our audiences couldn’t just sit and watch/listen. We dragged them into the moment and made them experience the whole thing with us. So people loved it or hated it…they either embraced the rawness and honesty or they were afraid of it…. I was always proud that we were never easy and never just ok to anybody…”

Lisa Starace roarin' the roof off at a Within show; Cesar's House - Annapolis, Md. suburbs; April 30th 1994 (photo by Melissa Fatto)

Lisa Starace roaring the roof off at a Within show; Cesar’s House – Annapolis, Md. suburbs; April 30th 1994 (photo by Melissa Fatto)

If reference points must be named, some of Within’s main influences as a group included the chaotic leftist hardcore of Born Against, Man Is The Bastard, Huggy Bear, and Universal Order of Armageddon (UOA). My personal influences, however, were a little more “across the board” than that of my bandmates, particularly when it came to my songwriting choices; these were often informed by the noisey garage punk of bands like The Gories, The Cramps, The Swamp Rats, and The One Way Streets (aka my all time favorite punk band). Though Within’s music theory ideas were mine and mine alone, these were certainly a by-product of my love for Sun Ra, Beck, Ornette Coleman, Stereolab, and other artists who refused to jump on any bandwagons or stoop to the bottom-feeder level of reactionary pop music. Phil Ochs, Woody Guthrie, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan gave me a’lot of my lyrical ideas and reinforced my belief that music could be fluidly combined with political sentiment….

An original 45 rpm 7" by  ultra-aggro/noise laden 60's punks The Swamp Rats, one of Within's main influences

An original 45 rpm 7″ by ultra-aggro/noise laden 60’s punks The Swamp Rats, one of Within’s main influences

As Within’s avalanche of noisy art rock plowed through central Maryland throughout the early/mid 90’s, many of our most defining moments were those shared by the group’s original line-up: our hyperactive live shows, our 7″ e.p. (released on Matt Bray’s short lived Sunshine label/distro and produced by scene veteran Christian Sturgis), and high profile gigs supporting Unwound and UOA at a suburban Annapolis house show and Half Man in NYC at ABC-NO-RIO. Still, to me, Within’s most important recorded work was made in late 1994/early ’95 towards the end of our existence during the group’s brief period as a duo featuring only Lisa Starace and I, and, also, when Lisa’s Towson State University classmate Tim Kabara became a Within member. At around this time we arranged to have my friend Eli Jones come in to produce what would end up being Within’s last and only four track sessions (most of Within’s earlier material was recorded/produced by me on a boom box).

Jones was already a big Within fan before I asked him to produce some music for us, plus, thanks to his seminal work with Lesbian Chicken Maggot Blasters and Glorious Fourlane, he’d developed a special knack for getting the most out of any recording driven by effects processing and unconventional melody, so he was very enthusiastic about the work we offered him. My favorite of Eli Jones’ Within productions is the medley ‘Golden/Your Wound’….

Hear ‘Golden/Your Wound’ by Within here: http://nunsliketofence.bandcamp.com/track/within-golden-your-wound

Within live in 1995 at Powhattan Fire Hall in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs; l-r, Lisa Starace and Tim Kabara (photo by Tricia Lane or John Corcoran; courtesy of Tim Kabara)

Within live in 1995 at Powhattan Fire Hall in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs; l-r, Lisa Starace and Tim Kabara (photo by Tricia Lane or John Corcoran; courtesy of Tim Kabara)

…the first chunk of the track… is highlighted by an aggressive performance from Tim Kabara whose bestial vocal attack interprets critical lyrics that I wrote about a problem which often impeded the success of the political activism in Baltimore city that me and my north County friends occasionally took part in. In the mid 90’s, the city’s leftists were plagued by a ‘law and order’ attitude that was supposed to make protests and such more efficient, but really this only stifled creative thinking and diplomacy in order to support a form of weaponized elitism designed to eliminate the participation of those who didn’t follow the “rules”. These “rules” governed how often activists were to demonstrate, what they were to do when those demonstrations commenced, and even the acknowledgement of political correctness as a crucial part of activism.

This all seemed totally fascist to me. It just seemed like the most overzealous activists were setting an unobtainable ‘gold’ (or ‘Golden’) standard so they could have a sense of power and accomplishment at the expense of everyone else’s dignity. (i.e. “You should just totally quit fighting against oppression because you’ll never be as politically correct or aware as those who follow the rules”). The snobby ‘law & order’ attitude made activism in Baltimore ineffectual and boring, so, consequently, around late 1995/early ’96, I chose to cut any close ties that I had to most leftist organizations in that area.

….the ‘Your Wound’ section…deals with a subject frequently found not only in Within’s lyrics, but also in those of all my other early bands. This was my belief that a complete return to a rural/agrarian way of life and an intense focus on natural beauty could save the world from environmental disaster. I also surmised that the competitiveness which often characterizes inner city life contributed to the conflicts of Baltimore’s activist culture; this latter assertion is why I felt that ‘Your Wound’ was a perfect companion for ‘Golden’….

Looking back now, the entire concept behind ‘Your Wound’ is completely impractical. I no longer maintain the belief that all cities must be sacrificed in the name of Arcadia. None of life’s problems (urban or otherwise) can be solved with such a simple/’cut & dry’ solution….

Regardless of all that, it was great to have Within as a therapeutic outlet for the aggression provoked by my once distorted view of political turmoil. The group also taught me some important lessons about how to helm an anomalous creative project in a democratic way, something which was a fringe benefit of the kinship that Lisa, Claire, and all the other former Within members shared with me. I wouldn’t have been able to pull off something this weird and complex without their creativity, patience, and dedication. Really, what set Within apart from many other noisy young 90’s bands was a ridiculous sense of idealism, something that, for better or worse, was destined to be smashed to bits by the unforgiving rigors of the “real world”. Bearing that in mind, the fact that Within’s work remains interesting or entertaining in any way seems almost miraculous.

Within live in 1995 at Powahattan Fire Hall in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs; l-r, Tim Kabara, Lisa Starace, Mike Apichella (photo by Tricia Lane or John Corcoran; courtesy of Tim Kabara)

Within live in 1995 at Powahattan Fire Hall in the Annapolis, Md. suburbs; l-r, Tim Kabara, Lisa Starace, Mike Apichella (photo by Tricia Lane or John Corcoran; courtesy of Tim Kabara)

(*for more info on Food Not Bombs go to

http://foodnotbombs.net/story.html)

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Tim Kabara’s early documentation of Towson-Glen Arm

writer Tim Kabara's 1994 Towson State University i.d. card (courtesy of Tim Kabara)

writer Tim Kabara’s 1994 Towson State University i.d. card (courtesy of Tim Kabara)

Picking up from where I left off on the last post, recently I made a big geographical jump that’s plopped me down me in the New York City area mostly in one piece. It’s been a heck of a ride so far; I’ve stumbled over everything from my own shoelaces to my own identity and an infinite number of other things. Regardless, as much as I am grateful to have spent my younger years in Maryland, it is truly gratifying to know that I’m able to make a home in one of the craziest places in the world.

Despite all the positive energy of greater metropolitan New York, my process of getting fully settled in the place is still on going. This means that the lengthy Preschoolers chronology mentioned in the previous entry also remains as a work in progress. It should be finished around Christmas or maybe little earlier.

In the meantime, over the next few months expect some quick but essential posts about a few of the more forgotten corners of this blog’s already obscure subject…

In the 90’s extensive press coverage for Towson-Glen Arm was extremely rare. While TGA bands like Spastic Cracker, The Preschoolers, and Within all received capsule record reviews in the major indie press and some local zine/school yearbook attention, the alt rock era only ever witnessed the publication of one comprehensive article about the north County underground’s unusual approach. This piece was written by Tim Kabara and it centered around a Towson-Glen Arm concert held on September 26th 1997 at the now defunct Baltimore city all ages venue The Small Intestine. This show featured the pre-Oxes group International Sounscape Internationale, and two TGA bands: The Boom Boom Cats, and The Superstation – a grungy indie pop group lead by the bizarre singer/songwriter Josh Marchant . This band also featured Mike Apichella (aka yours truly) on drums, the lead guitarist-producer-composer Eli Jones, and bassist/composer Chris James. Kabara’s article focused heavily on The Superstation as the concert in question featured one of that group’s last performances. The article originally ran in a fall 1997 issue of Towson State University’s student newspaper The Towerlight.

The musician/author/journalist/documentarian/1999 Towson State graduate Tim Kabara would become a staple of the Baltimore underground in the aughts and he continues to be an important part of that city’s ever growing creative milieu. During the 90’s Kabara was a great supporter of Towson-Glen Arm, as well as many other underground art movements up and down the U.S. east coast and beyond.

Kabara also played a major role in the birth of a strange local art scene in the rough working class town of Dundalk, Md. where he spent much of his teen years. Many odd bands and recording projects that combined the efforts of young TGA artists and Dundalk freaks emerged directly as a result of Kabara’s patronage of and collaborations with north County artists, things which occurred primarily once he graduated high school and began attending Towson State. A deeper inspection of Kabara’s early creative efforts will grace this blog soon, but for now we’re going to focus on the distinction he’s earned as one of the very few 90’s journalists to crystalize the Towson-Glen Arm wildness in essay form.

Below are scans of an earlier essay about The Superstation done by Tim as an assignment for a college English class. This was completed about a year before the 1997 concert which eventually became the focal point of Kabara’s Towerlight article*. In this earlier rough essay, poetic descriptions of The Superstation’s artistic versatility served to present the band and “the Towson scene” as a Merry Prankster-esque raspberry blowing mightily into the cold facade of the mid-90’s’ alt-rock homogeny. After each scan, the always compelling Tim Kabara has contributed some contemporary impressions of his younger self’s artistic intent…

...PAGE ONE I like the opening! You are struggling with how to explain the “Towson scene” of the 1990s. Yes, something was changing at the time this was written. People were growing up and older, bands were coming and going… this is cyclical. It is hard to see that when it is happening for the first time, but you are getting it. Are you sure the Towson scene music is “punk rock”? Would your audience understand what you mean? I would consider revising this in the next draft. How are you speaking with such authority about “taking yourself seriously”? You immediately contradict yourself by talking about “serious” bands being a part of the scene.

…PAGE ONE
I like the opening! You are struggling with how to explain the “Towson scene” of the 1990s. Yes, something was changing at the time this was written. People were growing up and older, bands were coming and going… this is cyclical. It is hard to see that when it is happening for the first time, but you are getting it.

Are you sure the Towson scene music is “punk rock”? Would your audience understand what you mean? I would consider revising this in the next draft.
How are you speaking with such authority about “taking yourself seriously”? You immediately contradict yourself by talking about “serious” bands being a part of the scene.

PAGE TWO I dig on your description of the set! I was there, and totally don’t remember those details.

PAGE TWO
I dig on your description of the set! I was there, and totally don’t remember those details.

PAGE THREE I like how you see this sort of messy “multi-musicality” thing and describe it as a strength. Maybe that is a “punk rock” aspect of this Towson scene? The rule bending and breaking? The general “YOLO” vibe? Just a thought… Um… hey. I have to level with you. You were doing such a good job of being objective and even-handed and nice and then… you launch into this “snowball’s chance in hell” invective? Why? Like Edgar Allan Poe did when he was working as a literary critic, you are spending too much time on a “hatchet job” on these local groups and the Baltimore scene at that time. Why not stay positive? Don’t hate, appreciate! Oh well… I’m going to chalk this up to youthful inexperience and advise you cut this stuff out in the next draft.


PAGE THREE
I like how you see this sort of messy “multi-musicality” thing and describe it as a strength. Maybe that is a “punk rock” aspect of this Towson scene? The rule bending and breaking? The general “YOLO” vibe? Just a thought…
Um… hey. I have to level with you. You were doing such a good job of being objective and even-handed and nice and then… you launch into this “snowball’s chance in hell” invective? Why? Like Edgar Allan Poe did when he was working as a literary critic, you are spending too much time on a “hatchet job” on these local groups and the Baltimore scene at that time. Why not stay positive? Don’t hate, appreciate! Oh well… I’m going to chalk this up to youthful inexperience and advise you cut this stuff out in the next draft.

PAGE FOUR Still, your youthful strum and drang does nail something about the spirit of the scene at that time. Saying The Superstation will “shove wacky fun up your ass” is a bit over the top, but the point is made. Okay. Now this last part is baffling/ bizarre. Why would you weirdly attack The Great Unraveling, your friend’s band, in this last part? You totally like that band! Your band toured with them! They played a show in your mom’s basement! I am seriously confused. Tim Kabara from the 1990's, I think maybe you are trying to attack bands that are imitating an existing sound/style? Some advice… those kids who are really into Unwound and all that great music, people like Chris Coady and Guy Blakeslee and Walker Teret, are going to grow up and make some seriously awesome music and make great art. Put the literary “knife” down. I assure you, we are all in this together.  Trust me. I am from the future. I know. Regards, Tim Kabara from the 2010s

PAGE FOUR
Still, your youthful strum and drang does nail something about the spirit of the scene at that time. Saying The Superstation will “shove wacky fun up your ass” is a bit over the top, but the point is made.
Okay. Now this last part is baffling/ bizarre. Why would you weirdly attack The Great Unraveling, your friend’s band, in this last part? You totally like that band! Your band toured with them! They played a show in your mom’s basement! I am seriously confused.

Tim Kabara from the 1990’s, I think maybe you are trying to attack bands that are imitating an existing sound/style? Some advice… those kids who are really into Unwound and all that great music, people like Chris Coady and Guy Blakeslee and Walker Teret, are going to grow up and make some seriously awesome music and make great art. Put the literary “knife” down. I assure you, we are all in this together. Trust me. I am from the future. I know.
Regards,
Tim Kabara from the 2010s

[*a scan of that appears here also. If anyone can give full bibliographic info on this autumn '97 article, please get in touch asap]

[*a scan of that appears here also. If anyone can give full bibliographic info on this autumn ’97 article, please get in touch asap]

(A million thanks go out to Tim Kabara for his help with this post, and the thorough archival/fact checking assistance which he’s given to the TGAF project as a whole. You can catch up with Tim Kabara via any major social networking platform, his work as a presenter on Baltimore, Md.’s WYPR 88.1fm, and as a record reviewer for the now defunct – but well archived – Beabots website)

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Big Changes/Big Plans

A short update here: For awhile now I’ve been working on a lengthy serialized piece all about Towson-Glen Arm’s most popular band: avant-ska masters The Preschoolers. It was originally supposed to be completed next month, but I’ve recently had some huge changes go down in my personal life, the biggest being my permanent relocation to the New York City area, so, while getting used to a new awesome routine, I may need to take some time away from TGAF.

For now, I’m thinking things will be back up to this blog’s normal speed of one post a month by this summer.

Til then, have a great spring,

Mike Apichella

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Sabrina Alano: The Hidden Mysticism Of Everyday Life

a page from an old Chinese manuscript depicting the supernatural being known as P'an Ku, the inspiration for Sabrina Alano's poem of the same name. If anyone out there can shed more light on the origins of the image above please get in touch asap. (this scan comes from a website about Chinese tourism: http://blog.chinatraveldepot.com/2012/07/chinese-mythology-how-heaven-and-earth-were-created/)

a page from an old Chinese manuscript depicting the supernatural being known as P'an Ku, the inspiration for Sabrina Alano's poem of the same name. If anyone out there can shed more light on the origins of the image above please get in touch asap. (this scan comes from a website about Chinese tourism:
http://blog.chinatraveldepot.com/2012/07/chinese-mythology-how-heaven-and-earth-were-created/)

The first volume of the Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts compilation series comes with an 11×17 insert which reprints many of the scene’s major literary works – bizarre poems, essays, satirical works, and prose pieces of many shapes and sizes which all represent a colorful patchwork of radical leftist sentiment, outrageous humor, and obscure philosophy.

Unfortunately, the TGA writing of Sabrina Alano couldn’t be included in either of the recently released TGAF album packages. To make up for this glaring omission, now, for the first time in nearly two decades, Ms. Alano’s awesome work can be re-introduced to the world at large.

With respect to the north County underground’s many other fine writers, I must say that Sabrina Alano is probably my favorite Towson-Glen Arm scribe. Her incomparable, visionary style reached its apotheosis in meditations on everyday life’s hidden mysticism:

originally published in the 1997 edition of Dulaney High School's Sequel literary magazine (courtesy of Greg Storms)

originally published in the 1997 edition of Dulaney High School’s Sequel literary magazine (courtesy of Greg Storms)

originally published in the 1997 edition of Dulaney High School's Sequel literary magazine. (courtesy of Greg Storms)

originally published in the 1997 edition of Dulaney High School’s Sequel literary magazine. (courtesy of Greg Storms)

originally published in the 1995 edition of Dulaney High School's Sequel literary magazine. (courtesy of Greg Storms)

originally published in the 1995 edition of Dulaney High School’s Sequel literary magazine. (courtesy of Greg Storms)

Sabrina Alano as she appeared in her 1997 Dulaney High School yearbook picture. (courtesy of Andy Devos)

Sabrina Alano as she appeared in her 1997 Dulaney High School yearbook picture. (courtesy of Andy Devos)

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TGAF2 – OUT NOW

The cover art for Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts 2 by Tricia Lane-Forster (originally created for a flyer advertising a late 1994 concert at Towson State University that featured her band Spastic Cracker)

The cover art for Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts 2 by Tricia Lane-Forster (originally created for a flyer advertising a late 1994 concert at Towson State University that featured her band Spastic Cracker)

The second volume of the Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts compilation series is out now, another volcanic eruption of mega-obscure 90’s nuggets from Baltimore County’s teen avant-garde.

TGAF2 is now available as both a download from nunsliketofence.bandcamp.com , and as a cdr release pressed in a limited edition of 150 copies. The cdr version of TGAF2 features 4 bonus tracks that you can’t get on the Bandcamp version: two more crazed improvs from T.E.A.M. (including a live recording made at the group’s debut gig at Matt Bray’s house), an awesome toy piano-driven track by the Eli Jones/Shawn Phase project Glorious Fourlane, and an excerpt from what is probably the wildest version of The Nudists’ ribald epic “Sodomy Ska”.

The release comes with complete track notes including lengthy essays about the storied venue Matt Bray’s house (TGA’s most important show space*), the politically charged saga of my experimental punk band Within, and a detailed examination of Josh Marchant’s totally asbsurd multi-media project The Decency Squad.

Two inserts featuring reprints of rare graphics and writing from the original TGA era are part of the packaging of the newest TGAF comp, most notably an 11×17 poster containing the nearly complete reproduction of a 1994 letter written to me by Jon “Hubcap” Woodstock who adorned this correspondence with some incredible psychedelic illustration and calligraphy. If you loved the visual art of Tricia Lane-Forster and the cover design from the Lard Star/Eve Pagoda split tape reprinted on TGAF1’s insert then you need to see this gorgeous Woodstock piece.

Downloads of Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts 2 are $7.00 each and the cdr version of TGAF2 is $12 postage paid direct from Nuns Like To Fence. To purchase a copy of TGAF2 on cdr please send a paypal payment to the email address in the ‘about’ section here. For orders of more than 4 copies of TGAF2 and for TGAF2 wholesale orders please message the same email address before sending your payment.

All profits from records in the Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts series go directly to these two charity groups:

music4more(music4more.org) – a Baltimore, Md. based organization dedicated to supporting music education programs with a special focus on benefitting those of schools in low income communities in the U.S.

and

Grass Roots Crisis Intervention (grassrootscrisis.org) – based in Columbia, Md., Grass Roots provides a comprehensive resource to individuals who may be contemplating suicide, a 24-hour phone and walk-in crisis center, and educational resources for any one who has been touched by the tragedy of suicide.

Mike Apichella – January 2014

(* More info on Matt Bray’s house, and a few excerpts from the essay about the venue can be found here: http://towsonglenarmfreakouts.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/matt-bray-and-the-early-days-of-towson-glen-arm/)

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