Feels Like

micronotz smashStill one of my very favorite punk rock records of the 80’s, Smash! by the Micronotz is represented digitally by a grand total of two songs, though alas both are the same songs, one is just mistitled. So here is “Feels Like”, on MySpace no less, the only evidence that this record ever existed in the whole digital universe, though I have the analog version tucked away with my other vinyl only a few analog steps from where I sit here, peering into the ether. The Micronotz were from Lawrence, Kansas sometime in the early mid-80’s, when that raw, urgent, dissonant, shredded vocals midwest sound saved punk rock from playing the same Ramones based riffs over and over at different speeds. The Micronotz managed this classic LP or 12″ EP, actually, in the parlance of the time, then the singer, Dean Kubensky split, another member killed himself, and the band became just another midwestern band. It was like that then, though, these brief, brilliant flashes, so for an album or two the Replacements and Soul Asylum were great, and Hüsker Dü managed a four or five albums stretch. There were other bands, too, scattered across the great American plain wherever there was a college town–brief, brilliant flashes that might last an album or two, or maybe just a single, or even only one incredible song on some long forgotten regional compilation that I only know of because it’s on one of my ancient compilation tapes, that being what record collectors did back then, make compilation tapes. But that whole Midwest scene turned pop and predictable soon enough, and I lost interest, never being a pop fan, and loathing anything predictable. I still do. Unpredictability was the rule then, pure spontaneity, as we lived by days and hours, figuring Reagan or the Russians would start World War Three any second and we’d be gone in the searing flash of a hundred thousand simultaneous Hiroshimas. We really thought that. We had to. We’d all grown up fearing instant annihilation the way stoned kids a today worry about being vaporized by a giant asteroid. So the next year wasn’t something we thought about back then, there was no point, we could all be dead by then anyway. That was the line, even, “we could all be dead by then anyway”. That was our way of saying why bother? It was an existential ennui that we battled with punk rock madness. You can pick up that desperate urgency in this tune. The tempo, the ferocity of the playing, the desperation in the singer’s voice. This is déjà vu for me, and being epileptic I have a familiarity with a déjà vu none of you can imagine, déjà vu so intense it sent the universe spinning and dropped me to the floor, sick and unaware what year I was in. I hear this tune now, pulled from the ether, and I am slammed back into my twenties, when I haunted record stores looking for rock and roll that felt like the very end was upon us and we were screaming into the void, telling the world to fuck off. I still feel that way, but I’m older now, and the epilepsy meds are better, and the world will not blow up any second, and all my friends have gotten old and nostalgic. So I write, and sometimes I find ancient punk rock tunes like this and I remember, but more than remember, I feel, and know again what it felt like to feel like this. It felt good, scary good. It all felt good. The edge, the precipice, the lack of any meaningful future for us in Ronald Reagan’s world, it felt so good. We partied and rocked and fucked and laughed like there was no tomorrow. But there was, and I’m in it, partied out, rocked out, fucked out, but still laughing.

 “Feels Like” by the Micronotz

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