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.