¡viva zapata!
Published 07-09-2008 on my old wordpress blog.

sometime in the early nineties, my friend john hong made me a mixtape. sometime in the early nineties, john taught me what music really was. i didn’t have far to go, i suppose, as i was listening to mudhoney, suicidal tendencies, circle jerks and what not, but he completed my training. john introduced me to operation ivy, green day, j church, jawbreaker, 10:07, and many other bands that i love to this day, including the gits.

i always liked the gits, but not in the fanatical way i liked the east bay punk bands in those days. john’s tape had the whole “second skin” 7″ on it. i listened to it many times and even used it as the soundtrack to one of our high school skate videos. there was something about it, but i never quite figured it out. perhaps i never figured it out because, due to my sheltered childhood, i never got to attend a gits show before mia zapata, their singer, was murdered. in fact, i never even went to any show until about 3 months after she was killed.

it’s been fifteen years and one day since mia zapata was killed while walking alone near 24th and yesler. i find it weird to think about. not just because my friend lives one block from there, but because i was so unaware that it happened until much later when i got glimpses of the benefit show flyers and heard about home alive and everything. zapata’s death never really had an impact on my life, i’m sorry to say.

that is, it never seemed to have a tangible impact. watching the gits movie today, i realized the actual impact her life and death had upon me. driving back, i was trying to think of my top five favorite (recent) singers. jeremy enigk, chuck ragan, garrett klahn (texas is the reason), jesse michaels, and mia zapata? i hadn’t really thought to add her to the list until tonight. but she’s on it now. here’s why:

after the end of every song in the film, i felt like clapping.

like i was at the show and everything was all electric and awesome. i can’t really say anything about the gits that hasn’t been said before, of course, but they were simply amazing. the reason they are amazing to me is that they are real. for sure, they are a presented reality like any other band, but if they aren’t the closest act to actual reality, they definitely are a believable one. not aliens or skeletons or laser light shows or explosions or stonehenge or anything show-like. like three guys and a lady putting down exactly what they feel. and this is what music should be.

the gits movie served to show me what i missed when i was just a dumb kid in high school. however, it touched on some larger ideas as well. after mia’s death, some excellent people formed a project called home alive. as i understand it, the idea is to provide self defense classes and other support for people interested in lessening the violence in our streets.

to really think about what this means is to think about some very terrible things. i might be tempted to think “well, i’m lucky i’m a dude.” however, to be a dude appears to be in a somewhat helpless state. other than raising awareness or confronting gender stereotypes, there seems to be no direct way to take action against these atrocities that happen every day, like zapata’s murder. i have the same conflict with my idea of feminism as well: i’d like to help but i’m not sure how. and perhaps it is not my job to help. perhaps part of the struggle is for those that fear to find a way to overcome that fear.

while i struggle with yet another life-long quandry, i should leave you with some of the lyrics of my favorite gits song in the hopes that they will inspire you to go see this movie at the northwest film forum with 20 of your closest friends before it ends this sunday. it’s for a good cause. you simply must see it if you are at all interested in music, early nineties seattle, or in making the world a better place.

i’ve thought about it, hell,
about a million times
it takes all my strength
just to keep me calm
i have to tell myself, it’s best just to breathe
holding it inside will only help to do me in!
each time i close my eyes
i see another chain
it’s one i can’t forget,
something i can not break out of

i need a second skin,
something to hold me up
can’t seem to get out of this hole
i’ve dug myself right back in

just to wake up tells me, hell, i must be brave
it hits me like a drug
shot into my vein
it’s not as delightful
delightful of a pain
immobilizin me
almost makes think i’m dead
i need that second skin
something to hold me tough
can’t do it on my own
sometimes i need just a little more help, well
i want that chance to give every drop that’s left in me
i need a second skin
something i can not break out of!

** Old Wordpress comments **

Matt Brown says:
July 9, 2008 at 4:59 pm
See? I still read your blogs.
And I’m glad I do. Have a blast at the Hungry Pines show tonight, Don. If you have an opportunity to walk a lady to her car, or make any other genuine gesture that emphasizes the gentle strength of a good man, I think you’ll be supporting more than mere feminism.
Cheers, buddy.

don says:
July 11, 2008 at 3:48 pm
well, matt, thanks for reading. i’m glad you’re glad you do.
i wholeheartedly agree that we need genuine gestures. and we all should give into those little feelings that say that we should *do* something when we see a problem. that’s my particular downfall: inaction. however, i’m worried that by helping i’m really hurting. for example, i think about it a lot in my teaching: i’m a pretty generous teacher, but i’m worried i’m making the kids too dependent on generosity to succeed. but then again if everyone was as generous as i am, they wouldn’t need to worry about the future. it’s similar for my stance on various things. i’d love to help, but perhaps by helping we’re creating dependence on the help. and in that moment where a woman who has been helped to her car all her life is attacked on the way to her car when she can’t find a gentleman to escort her, what then?
i don’t know, matt. this is clearly an issue i think too deeply about. my personal goal is to listen to the inner voice that says “you should ask that kid sitting on the sidewalk near the park staring at their phone if they need help or anything” instead of just walking past like everyone else. maybe that’s all i can do.
cheers to you as well.

If you like this page, you can buy me a coffee.

Keywords: home alive, mia zapata, northwest film forum, the gits, the gits movie

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