Coffee and Feelings: I Woke Up This Way #4 For Abbie

I believe that the year was 1996 and I made a trip to the Homocore Minneapolis PO Box like I did back then, usually once a week.  On this particular trip I found a letter from some kids in Lincoln, Nebraska with a cassette.  Back then bands would send me a letter and a demo cassette asking about playing a show.  Sometimes I would open the mail right there on top of the copy machine in the drug store on the corner of Hennepin and Franklin.  I remember reading Abbie’s letter and thinking, what?  17 years old?!  Who are these kids?  The cassette had your typical Kinko’s photocopied insert a collage of the “kids,” David Bowie and typewriter typed out song list.  I popped the cassette in my car stereo and the passionate roar of queer youth filled my Ford Tempo.  Punk You, Rock n’ Roll Militia, Miss USA.  Drums, distorted bass and screaming, appropriately sloppy and pure joy.  Did I write back?  Did we email?  I can’t remember but they made the journey to Minneapolis and I put on a show for them.  It would be one of a handful I hosted for them before I ran away from Minneapolis in the spring of 2000 to join the Transfused punk rock opera circus in Olympia. 

The first time Jeromy and Abbie came to Minneapolis that it was a small, sparsely attended show.  I wanted everyone to love them as much as I did.  I did my usual rounds about town with flyers, press releases, calling in favors to Radio K and the City Pages to get the word out.  Back then every show meant sending out postcards to the couple hundred people on the mailing list.  Sometime 100 people showed up, sometimes 20.  On the night of the Fagatron show, Abbie and Jeromy gave everything they had to the handful of people who were there and then we went back to my house to get them comfy on the floor or couch.  After feeding them breakfast and seeing them off the off the next day, I got a call a couple hours later.  Their car had broken down and they were asking me if I could pick them up.  Because they were a couple hours away, I instead figured out how to get them back to Minneapolis via bus.  Little did I know that they would have to camp out for almost a week waiting for their car to be repaired.  My housemates and I did our best to feed them and watch out for them.  By that time maybe they were 18.   At the time we were all only 27ish so we were kids ourselves but for that week we felt like real adults.  They were the sweetest and most tender and shy kids.  They ended up mostly staying in the downstairs apartment but I was checking in on them and hanging out with them every day after work. 

And so began my friendship with Abbie and Jeromy.  They made other trips to Minneapolis or maybe just one other trip.  I’m going through the show files and flyers right now piecing it together.  Abbie was in another band called Fashion Sense, they also made the trip.  In Olympia, we recorded an album together at Yo Yo Studios and they played at Homo A Go Go in 2002 and 2004 (I think both those years).  We didn’t hang out regularly, but I loved them dearly. 

It was so much fun to make a record with them.  Getting to make a record with them was so special to me. We did the basic tracks overnight at Yo Yo, after the 9PM movie showing.  With Capitol Theater schedule and the fact that we recorded with bands on stage, I often did overnights with bands.  Almost all the overnight sessions would go like this: set up around 11PM, start getting sounds around midnight, between 12-4AM everyone is having fun and tracking is going pretty well.  Around 4 or 4:30AM people, including me, hit a wall.  The takes are harder to get.  Everyone is moving more slowly and is a little foggy or grumpy.  Red Bull or coffee, sugary snacks, repeat.  We would try to push through and get what we could recorded but we would rarely make it past 5AM and we’d have to tear down and load out.  That’s about how I remember our session going that night.  There was a gentle, sweetness and ease with Abbie and Jeromy because of our history together that carried over into the days of overdubs and mixing.  It was my first time hanging out with Greg.  He sat quietly on the couch, rarely chiming in but there every second for moral support. 

My favorite moment was Abbie screeching out the vocals for a track and me getting a call from Pat Maley.  Pat had gotten a call from The Painted Plate which was one of those places you could paint a blank piece of pottery, they fired it and you came back a week later to get your masterpiece.   The ladies, and I do mean ladies, of the Painted Plate told Pat they were concerned that someone was getting hurt because they could hear screaming.  Now, if they were actually concerned that someone was hurt would they call the studio owner?  The message was clear, Abbie’s passionate performance, is scaring the fuck out of the nice families in our business who are making “art,” so can you please stop?  We laughed up in the control room and probably just kept going. 

I moved to LA in 2003 and lost touch a little with them both.  I was still spending some time in Olympia to put on HAGG through 2006.  In 2018 I exchanged some very sweet messages with Abbie after inquiring with Jeromy where she was.  And then lost touch again during COVID times.  When I got word in early August that Abbie had passed away my stomach dropped and my heart broke.  I’ve been sitting on this blog post for over a month trying to find an ending to a story I don’t want to end.  Isn’t that always the case with losing people we love?  Now I’m on vacation, sitting on a patio across the world, watching people live, thinking about how hard it can feel to stick around through wounds and trauma that never fully heal.  The world isn’t kind to so many of us queers and freaks.  Some of us shrug it off, some of us dig our heels in, some rebel even louder, some try to quietly pass through it all.  Thank you Abbie, for loudly living and tenderly loving.  Thank you for the gifts you gave us all, your words, your music, yourself.  xoxo

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