The shows that we played in the last couple of weeks were real fun. St. Louis was amazing and it was nice to meet everyone and to see all the surprise old friends too. Thanks to all the bands that played and to Stephen and the Lemp Arts Center for helping us out. I’m so glad that we finally got to make it back there. The next day we got to go to the science center and it amazed me that such an interesting cultural resource was free to the public. Between the Lemp and all the museums and I’m sure a lot of other things, those of you who live in St. Louis seem to have it pretty good.

Despite the technical difficulties, us running late, and the rush, Jacksonville was fun as well. Sorry that we missed the people who played before us, but at least it was fun hanging out at the diner for a bit afterwards.

The show last week in Louisville was super-fun as well and it was nice to see so many friends and familiar faces and to get to play with the awesome Del Cielo. Thanks to them, One Small Step, and especially to Cory for asking us to play. Thanks also to Nolan for letting me borrow his skateboard so I could go to Louisville’s crazy concrete skatepark the next day.

Right now, we’re all just working really hard to get everything done before tour. There’s a lot to do but I’m really excited about it. I was watching this skate video from Europe the other day that showed these images of neat old winding alleyways and staircases and it just hit me that I’m going there and get to see all that neat stuff as well as all the fun of meeting new people. I’m also really excited about the US shows on the way out east because we get to see a lot of good friends and play with a lot of awesome bands. I’m especially excited because our friends in Smut are coming along for many of those shows. Smut is a two-piece band that plays spastic freak-out hardcore songs that are all about 30 seconds long and are really, really good. It’s going to be so rad.

Will is coming to Bloomington soon to hang out and practice before tour. That will be fun times and it seems like that should be good for people who haven’t seen us play with will and who want to hear “Tanks, Tanks, Tanks!” or “Hey Kathleen …”.

We’re shutting down the distro in the next few days because we won’t be able to do it while we’re away on tour. We’ll take orders again when we get back from Plan-It-X fest this summer. All orders that we get before we leave for tour on April 16, will get sent out before we leave, so don’t worry. If you want records while we’re gone, you can get them from the No Idea! distro.

I just had a bit of a sad conversation with my mom where she told me that she would probably have to go on strike at her teaching job. She’s a teacher and the district where she works has the lowest teacher wages of any of the 25 local districts. It’s near the bottom of the state in terms of teacher salaries as well, even though administrator salaries are near the top of the state. Proposed wage increases won’t keep up with the increased cost of living and teachers are being asked to start paying for healthcare coverage at a rate that’s higher than that of administrators. I think all this sucks and it really shows how little educators are valued in our communities. Still, I understand that times are tough for everybody. I’m sure that a lot of people who are reading this are in the same situation themselves or with their families or even worse places.

The thing that really made me sad was just talking about how the teachers’ struggle for a living wage would be perceived by the rest of the community. Surely, the prevailing attitude will be “times are tough for me too, and they make more money than I do, they should stop complaining.” Some of that is true. Certainly, my mom makes a lot more money than quite a few people and her life is probably much easier than that of many people. That doesn’t mean that it’s not tough for her and that doesn’t mean that it’s really unfair that anybody whether it’s a teacher, or an IT worker, or a sanitation worker, or someone who flips burgers at a fast-food restaurant doesn’t get a living wage for their hard work. The part that’s sad isn’t the amount in dollars that any of these people make, it’s the disregard that we have for each other’s lives. Thinking about how people have it better than any of us before thinking about the fairness of the situation and what we can do about it together is a mentality that hurts all of us. It doesn’t matter whether it’s people in a rural community undervaluing teachers or punk kids complaining about upper-class SUV drivers. It keeps us from working together to make things better for ourselves or to motivate those in positions where it’s easier to make things better to act more responsibly. I guess this whole situation made me think about how, now, more than ever, we’re all in this together. If you or your family or friends are in a position that makes decisions about economic fairness or are in a position that is effected by these things (which seems like it would include just about everyone) it’s probably worth talking about all of this and looking at what any of us can do.

My mom also told me a story about how she gave students a reading assignment to read some simple stories with their parents. This is a common assignment and the stories are about all sorts of things. One story was about a Jewish family and a quilt that had been passed down through generations of the family. One of my mom’s students came back and said that his parents wanted to know why they were reading certain words, my mom asked what words. “Jew,” the child replied. I feel like this example of prejudice is pretty much the same situation as the economic issues I mentioned above. We’re always trying to focus on how we’re different than other people, how our lives or struggles or traditions aren’t the same, or maybe how we’ve had it harder or easier than others. Pretty much anyone can understand the idea of family and tradition, or hardship and suffering. Everything else can mean a lot, and the superficial differences make life colorful and exciting, but ultimately those differences are arbitrary. The fixation that we have on our differences with each other whether it’s economic differences, differences in spirituality or ethnicity, or even the differences between the punk subculture and culture-at-large can really hold us all back from treating each other better and living happier lives.

I hope that everyone’s having a nice spring. Things are getting warm, beautiful, and exciting here in Bloomington after a cold, discouraging winter.

Oh yeah! Thanks to the handful of friends who sponsored me in the Midwest Pages to Prisoners bowl-a-thon. The event raised about $2000 which means about 10 weeks worth of postage for sending free books to people in prison.

Geoff and Defiance, Ohio

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