There's a way out of things

This is from September 2003. I came across it today on an early version of a Dimestore Scenario website. Is it valid to "repurpose this content" as it were? It was written with such a world-weary tone, a sense of so many eras having already ended, even though this was a year and a half before we even began the last incarnation of Dimestore, the one I wrote about in "How to Dismantle Your Band". And yet there I was feeling surrounded by ghosts, with the sense that I was writing way after the fact, an archeologist on a dig. 

There will be some confusion to those who don’t know me about the two Joe’s. Long before the drummer Joe from Bayonne was another Joe, one I met in Humanities class at Dartmouth freshman fall, who ludicrously (he was a brilliant guitarist) joined our 7-screaming-girl band, and who later became the Dimestore Scenario guitarist, only slightly less ludicrously. When he left, Dorothy put an ad on for a lead guitarist. That's how we met Alex. He auditioned for the band and joined a few weeks later. I'd expected us to take on my downstairs' neighbor, Greg. At night I could hear him playing Weezer and Neutral Milk Hotel through the floorboards. 

I will write, someday, about the first Joe. But his exit was final, and that makes it hard. I did write a song for him called "Contenders" which is on our album, the one we recorded with the second Joe on drums. It sounds a bit irreverent to put it that way, a final exit--plus it's not like he meant to die--but I can't see him taking offense. In fact, I can imagine it pleasing him. Just like knowing that my friends and I still like to tell the story of how the last time we tried to go up to the bar at the top of the World Trade Center we were denied entry because of the "athletic shoes" Joe was wearing. Without missing a beat (he never did) he told the guard, "I'm not at all athletic." It didn't matter. We were turned away. I think about him a lot when I try to live more authentically. Joe never did a single thing out of obligation, even show up to his own birthday dinner on time. Maybe with talent like that, you really didn't have to.

September 2003

I am now the only remaining original member of Dimestore,
a strange position. At a recent audition for a new bassist,
the player in question asked how long we’d been together.
I answered: “Lauren and Joe started playing with us last
winter. But we’ve been together over 3 years.”

“Oh, you and Alex?”

“No, Alex started last year, but we started the band in 2000.”

“Who’s we?”

Now there’s the “we” used to signify a vague power structure that deflects responsibility 
from the individual as in “We don’t feel your skill set is a good match for our company.”

And there’s the “we” that means “you” but sounds nicer as we: “We need to finish this 
report by 2. I’m off to lunch at the Plaza.”

And the we that means “you” in a sales-pitchy, overly-friendly way: “And how are we doing 

But this “we” really just meant me. Along with the ghosts of the others who came before.

In the weeks that followed that audition, I thought back to the beginning of Dimestore, 
that preternaturally warm March of 2000 when I met up with my friends from college --
Dorothy and Joe-- along with Ivan, a friend I’d met while temping at Sotheby’, to 
play at TuCasa on Avenue B. After our first gig at the Orange Bear that summer with 
Speedy Vulva (who played a reunion show last night!), the adrenaline rush was so huge Dorothy and I couldn’t calm down for days. 
The Trilobites were real! (That was before we’d changed our name.) Nevermind the baffled 
looks on peoples’ faces: (A year later, an acquaintance came up after a show at 
Brownies and said “You guys have really improved. The first time I saw you at the Orange 
Bear I was like ‘What just happened?’”)

I thought about our friend Jim (once the Speedy Vulva drummer, now in his surgery 
rotation at U. Penn *update: Cardiology Fellowship at Cornell) with his Put Out Records table adorned with stickers and t-shirts, Ivan 
with his lead Lou Reed inspired “Sleep”, Joe singing “Whiskey in the Jar”. Then I thought 
of a completely different time in the band's history, over a year later, the melancholy acoustic gig at Luna when
Joe was about to leave, then the suspended, hazy, hot, red wine days recording in Jersey last 
summer. After three days of putting down tracks with tensions rising, we recorded the last 6 
measures to Ithaca late on a Sunday night, the fault lines between us already vast. The next 
day we began searching for a new drummer.

The real story begins, though, in the early days of March four years before Dimestore 
began, in the dark and barren end-of-winter-days in New Hampshire, with my friends and 
I gathered around a beat-up piano in a dorm lounge, chanting “See You Boys Later” to 
four simple chords.

That night was the beginning of our band “You with the Face,” the whole event of which 
lasted only a year and a half but became a defining presence of our college days, and also 
came to signify much of our ideology as the screaming “food court girls". (We were known 
for impromptu performances and otherwise inappropriate scenes in food court. I remember 
once Dorothy asked me toward the end of senior year “What happens when we’re not the 
food court girls anymore?” It was not something I could imagine, but here we are, over five 
years past the day we left for good.)

Until recently, all that history was sort of suspended in the air around us in Dimestore 
rehearsals. Now it seems much more ethereal and personal. How can an unsigned, 
unknown band have a history that is of much relevance to anyone except those to whom it 
It is rather lacking in originality to site those early days of pure expression, silliness and 
spontaneous, unrehearsed songs as the utopian ideal. That raw energy and excitement is
tied inextricably to the lack of a purpose, to acting purely in the moment.

Now our friends ask: What is happening with Dimestore?
Some loyal cyberspace visitors write in: What happened to the much-promised album?
And from the most practical-minded among us: What are your goals?

What began as pure expression is now bound by constraints of time and money,
but also by the hope that change is generative, that possibilities are still unlimited, we just 
have to choose which ones we are willing to give up.


  1. gosh - chills from this. thanks for writing it.

  2. thank you Sean. I am going to post your 476 vid on the dimestore site. recently unearthed it.


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