Throwback Thursday: A Series

I used to save ticket stubs. I started back in the early 1990s. I kept them in a ziplock baggie. I did this for over 15 years.

I’m not sure why I stopped, but I did. Maybe it was when I started having kids and didn’t make it out as much. Either way, the ticket stubs stopped making their way into the baggie and then I lost the baggie. This was an awful realization because these stubs are much bigger than tiny pieces of paper. They’re scraps of memory; tangible strips of emotion.

Sally Mann recently said, “Using photographs as an instrument of memory is probably a mistake because I think that photographs actually sort of impoverish your memory in certain ways.” And I have to agree with her. I started saving these ticket stubs long before we carried cellphones everywhere. You weren’t allowed to take a camera into a show. This was a huge no-no. When you attended to a live show, you simply watched the show. You didn’t snap pictures from your iPhone and then upload it to Instagram proving to a group of people (who ultimately don’t give a shit) that you were there. Back then, you simply watched the damn show. And you listened to the show. And your memories of that show became richer. (At least for me.)

I know. I’m coming off as some crotchety old fart with this crap. And that is a shame. Because I’m also so totally guilty of this. Just last month I found myself snapping pictures while at the Mountain Goats show. Why did I feel compelled to do this? It was an awful shot. And yet I found myself, much later, on a train home, uploading it to Instagram. Why? The answer to that question isn’t, “Because my picture is journalistic!” The answer to that question isn’t, “Because people want to see my shitty picture of John Darnielle.”

The answer is more along the lines of, “Because I want to show people that I was at the Mountain Goats show.”

To which I would ask, “Why do you care?”

I understand why we upload the hell out of our memories. But I also get to question it. I question my motives for doing so. And maybe if I leave the phone at home, I’ll come away with richer memories.

But I digress.

I lost the baggie. Or so I thought. On Sunday, after my latest NYRR race in Central Park, I got home and decided to gather up all my recent bibs. (I save them as well.) I went to add them to an old filing cabinet I used to use for graphic design projects, recipes, and the like. That’s when I saw it, peaking out at me. The pink ziplock baggie!

I dove right in.

You know how when you receive too much stimulation all at once it can be too much and it leaves you feeling vulnerable? That happened to me as I sifted through all my old ticket stubs. I became overwhelmed with emotion. It was too much. So I put them away.

So I’m going to go through it weekly and upload them here. I’ll tell whatever story I can tell about each show (there are movies in there as well); who I went with; what was happening at the time; where I was living; and anything interesting that took place. I’m going to do this every Thursday.

So, without further ado, I give you my first post: Fugazi.

I attended with Missy and my brother Rob. We all lived in D.C. at the time. I walked there from my apartment on 16th Street. It was a chilly December evening.


  1. Love this! I actually have two friends who have been keeping lists of all the movies/plays/music/sports events they have gone to, and include on the list who they went with (used to be handwritten back in high school but moved to excel and then Google doc). I like looking back at it as well as it reminds me of all the fun we had way back in the 90s…

    I get annoyed at the need to photograph everything as well…I try to avoid it and live in the moment (don’t always succeed, but the desire is there!). I think I was inspired by a whale watching trip my now husband and I took years ago. The guide told us all to put the cameras away and just enjoy the nature!


  2. My memory is bad (I blame a fall down the stairs and my head hitting the concrete when I was little) – and taking pictures, and then reviewing them later, helps jog my memory.

    I’ve tried keeping ticket stubs but am definitely not as organized as you with your baggie! :-) I find them stuffed in my wallet, then they go to my nightstand drawer or kitchen island, etc but never into a scrapbook or keepsake baggie. Argh. But, if I have even one picture, even grainy, dark or blurry, of the event, I can recall enough to remember. I don’t post a lot of pictures of vacations, etc while I’m actually on vacation – for security purposes really – but I wish I did so that I had something to look at and recall the details of a trip without ‘trying’ to be organized during the trip…

    Don’t knock all the instagram, twitter, or Facebook pics…some are truly not trying to boast – but to remember for themselves. :-)


  3. I’m really looking forward to this series of posts. Now if you only had pictures of the concerts too.

    I crack me up.


  4. I grew up in DC. I remember being in high school and we’d see Fugazi at an outdoor place called Fort Reno in the summer. I’m not even sure if that’s the official name of the park, maybe it’s just what the kids called it. There was lots of slam dancing, skinheads and then the “straight edge” skinheads. A fight would usually break out in the crowd, someone would spot a knife and we’d scatter real quick. Then the cops would come. oh man, the memories


    1. Liz! Were you by any chance at the Fort Reno where it began to thunder and lightning and they didn’t stop playing? That was such an amazing show…


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