A couple of weeks ago, I found issue #50 of Cometbus at Shake It. Cometbus is a rare gem among punk zines, in that it’s been in existence since 1983 and, in that time, its creator Aaron Elliott [a.k.a. Aaron Cometbus] has grown up and into a strong, insightful writer.
I’ve been reading Cometbus for about 15 years. While I appreciate his insights into the Bay Area punk scene, his more reflective, sometimes philosophical writing is what really appeals to me. Despite Everything is a 600-page compilation of the first 20 years of the zine, which includes some of Aaron’s really early writing, the relative immaturity of which perfectly complements his later efforts. He also published a novel entitled Double Duce and, more recently, I Wish There Was Something I Could Quit, which I have yet to read.
A lot of Aaron’s writing deals with common themes — love, alienation, loneliness — and a lot of it describes his experiences of new places. Issue #50 has him living in NYC [at least he was two years ago, when it came out], and reading this collection of stories is both an amusement and a comfort to me. Here’s an excerpt:
Summer is the season when all of New York hates all of New York. And no wonder — the place is a fucking pit. A festering, sweltering piece of shit. You step out on the street and start pushing people out of the way. “Fuck you, old man. Fuck you, little kid,” you say. It’s not just an isolated bad mood or case of not enough coffee in the morning. No, every single person who hasn’t escaped for the summer is feeling the same way. Eight million matches crammed into a powder keg and ready to blow. “Get off the sidewalk, asshole,” some old bag yells at a bike messenger. “Go back to the dark ages, you fucking idiots,” I scream, chasing the Christians out of the park. I lean back on a bench and catch my breath. I watch a girl pass by. “I hate you,” her t-shirt says.