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➣ [Epub] ➝ Cometbus By Aaron Cometbus ➭ – Uc0.info


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Aaron Elliott, better known as Aaron Cometbus, is a drummer, lyricist, self described punk anthropologist and author of Cometbus, a seminal punk rock zine.

➣ [Epub] ➝ Cometbus  By Aaron Cometbus ➭ – Uc0.info
  • Paperback
  • 72 pages
  • Cometbus
  • Aaron Cometbus
  • 06 June 2018
  • 9781899866151

10 thoughts on “Cometbus

  1. says:

    i feel smugly happy in saying that i have many of the original zines. i wonder if they're worth anything? ah, cometbus...for a brief period of time, reading those wonderful scrabblings made my college self feel as if i had someone else i could actually talk to. hadn't felt that way since reading john waters' Shock Value in high school. but then i moved to san francisco and i was surrounded by people i could actually talk to. too many, in fact.

    still, despite the many years that have passed, i'll always love you, aaron cometbus. for a few years there, you were my secret best friend! you were the first person i knew who convinced me that being punk rock didn't necessarily mean being an annoying, pretentious asshole who hung out at the campus radio station, judging the records i played. it could mean so much more, a whole new way of looking at life. long live cometbus.

    as far as my review goes, it is almost silly to even try and write an actual review. reading these zines is like looking into someone's mind - a mind that is humble, kind, thoughtful - and occasionally, critical. i can't review that kind of mind, i can only hope to aspire to it.

    well anyway, this is a collection of the various writings of aaron cometbus, a drummer for various bay area punk bands. his writing is unpretentious, melancholy, funny, insightful. the various zines are also a portrait of a particular kind of life and a particular way of looking at life, especially life on the road and life on the cheap. re-reading these zines makes me happy and sad in equal measures. time passes so fast!

  2. says:

    Huh? So I originally reviewed two different issues of Cometbus, but it looks like they somehow got merged into one review. I'm adding headings below to make this less confusing...

    Here's my review of #54 ("In China with Green Day"):

    Aaron has been friends with Green Day for most of his life, so he's able to use them as a common thread tying together the different eras of his past. There's also great travel writing in here, and the kind of priceless anecdotes you'd expect from a trip like this. I actually still have about 10 pages left to read, but I'm ready to call it: 5 stars.

    And then here's #51 ("Loneliness of the Electric Menorah"):

    An "origins story" of sorts about Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue, and the many booksellers that helped shape it. This was a great read -- funny (especially the chapters about the owner of Rasputin), well-researched, and told with a lot of heart.

  3. says:

    Note on 2/14/13: Discovered Goodreads stupidly merged a bunch of issues of Cometbus into one entry. Dumped my reviews for respective issues into one, as well. I'll try to clean it up later, I guess.

    Probably a strange first issue of Cometbus for one to read, but after being aware of the zine for a few years now, this is what I started with. And, really, it's great. Aaron delves into the tension between his own anti-corporate personal ethics and the old friendships he has with the Green Day dudes who now happen to be international superstars. The writing takes the form of personal travelogue while on tour with the band. The setting of various locales in Asia (but despite the title, not China) make this all the more interesting. There's so much here to think about - Western pop culture being foisted upon the world, the sustainability of punk, the ethics of personal loyalty and (or versus) idealism, etc. Well worth reading.

    Merged review:

    Good issue of Cometbus, but not not great. A rushed first-person (you think it's perzine fair at first, but then realize it's fiction) on a St. Louis circle of punks with dreams of punk house utopia, but realities of lost collective members and ideal-defying drama. Part of what makes this resonate less with me than other issues of Cometbus is the pace. Like I said already, it's rushed. More so, however, is the assumption of shared ideals. The narrator (pretty much Aaron himself) assumes that the reader buys in to the whole punk utopian ideal (which I don't, at least not to the extent hoped for here: communal life, consensus, etc. I'm jaded.). When it all hits the fan and the narrator gets spiteful, it's hard to empathize. Plus, I take issue with implications herein that things like marriage, a career and children constitute "selling out."

  4. says:

    I love it already. This feels like Aaron's most honest book yet. Not that he isn't honest; I don't even know him, but I've never seen so much self-examination and humility in his writing. He just gets better and better. After a career of writing travelogues, this is a travelogue like no other Cometbus. Aaron really comes clean about his famous friends, his not-so famous friends, and how relationships change in the wake of fame. I can't wait for someone to make a movie of Aaron's life.

    Merged review:

    Not as good as #52, but I am glad Aaron is talking about punk, and how many young and old lives have been touched by it. Some serious death and mourning in this one. Lots of heartbreak over lost loved ones. Sadder than your average cometbus. But that's okay.

    Merged review:

    This is an amazing one-of-a-kind history of East Bay book stores, particularly Moe's Books and Cody's Books. Aaron painstakingly interviews the various bibliophiles, proprietors, tyrants, and those who were there when Moe built his used books business, which survives to this day. Fascinating revelations of long lost radical Berkeley history, and also why communal Jewish business and hiring practices last for longer than uptight sterile protestant ways.

  5. says:

    All biography is about the biographer's frame of mind as much as the subject. I'm glad Aaron Cometbus never pretends otherwise. This is his own version of a Green Day biography, told unashamedly through his own totally biased 20 year long experience as sometimes roadie, sometimes friend, sometimes critic. It's part exotic travel journal, but the larger part is an inspection of the widely different paths people from the same backgrounds can take. Oh and yes, he does go on tour with Green Day in China. I'd hope that anyone who is still "in" the punk scene at 40, or 30, or 22, would be willing to take such a critical look at the successes and failures of not just their idols/scapegoats but themselves. Apparently Aaron wrote a while back that he'd "quit his position as Green Day apologist, a thankless position and hopeless as well." I think he may have quit his position as a punk rock apologist too.

  6. says:

    It felt ridiculous to read the latest issue of Cometbus on a plane. While Aaron was re-counting bicycle and greyhound bus rides, I was hurtling through the air with simultaneous fatigue, boredom, stiffness, nervousness, and anticipation. Aaron wrote of satisfying walks and strong winds, while I endured recycled air, making my face feel both dry and greasy. Okay, I’m not really complaining about air travel to Houston (I would not have made it by land). But I felt a little ridiculous reading it nonetheless (but not as ridiculous as the author of the cover story of the latest Newsweek must feel. I spotted it on the empty seat across the aisle, next to a fellow traveler. It was titled, “America’s Back: The Remarkable Tale of Our Economic Turnaround”)! This traveling fellow was most noteworthy for his 30-second attention span, rotating between bouts of seemingly-engrossed reading between a seemingly endless supply of varied literature: New York Times, aforementioned Newsweek, dramatic-covered novel, “Sky Mall” by Delta Airlines, vegetarian cookbook...all interrupted by equally seemingly engrossed moments of shut-eye.

    Me? I was reading Cometbus. Like Aaron, hopped up on coffee. Aaron was getting free rides from touring bands--I was getting a free ride from the government! The new Secretary of Labor appointed by Obama is shoring up the Department of Labor and the public’s image of it. I was on my way to join other labor activists to talk to the Department about workplace health and safety. The tales spun by Aaron and the other featured contributors recounted varying forms of bad health and unsafety: heartbreaks, parental loss, failed plans, drug addiction.... Another theme is an always palpable, and on occasion, explicit, tension between youth and age. Maddelena writes: “I do not want to be young. I want to be old and die with hollow bones.” Aaron writes: “Sitting in the shadows of the park, somewhere between old and young, filled with longing, pumped up on the promises and anger of punk but not sure where to put them, or even if they fit me anymore.”

    Aaron writes in the introduction of his surprise at the return of the word “punk” to his zine. There’s an awesome interview with John Holmstrom, the founder of Punk magazine. And Aaron writes a hilarious review and appraisal of the NYC punk scene, based on a single show he attended and his pedestrian wanderings on a visit to the city:

    “a slew of mostly local bands playing their hearts out with little chance of being immortalized on even a flimsy piece of fabric. Which is fine, for who really needs another Suck My Ass or Ugly Shithead shirt? Remember folks, not everyone can eye our expletives and recognize a band name.”

    He also makes the poignant observation that punk may be (for the better) returning to its more eclectic roots. At the show, he observes,

    “an odd couple rolled up outside ... One was swami-like in long, flowing robes, the other shirtless on rollerblades, looking like a crazy pigeon feeder from the park. No one in the room looked twice, as if to say, “If a swami and a pigeon-feeding guy aren’t punk, then who the hell is?’”

    It reminds me of We Got the Neutron Bomb (see my review), in which the early L.A. punk scene is described as the “miscellaneous” category of weirdos who didn’t fit in, having no dominant sound or style yet.

    My reading was interrupted by a little girl who joyously shouted out, “Open a window! Ready, go!” No takers. The man next to me finally found his groove--he settled on the dramatic-covered novel.

    I really enjoyed the pieces by the guest contributors. Like a classic zine, indeed a classic Cometbus, but they added another dimension of emotion and experience. I love Maddelena Polletta’s story of riding a Greyhound through a blizzard with a screaming baby:

    The bus driver pulls the bus to the side of the road ... ‘Lady,‘ he snarls, ‘if you do not stop your child crying I am putting you out of the bus by the side of the road right now‘ ... The mother responds in a somewhat stunned voice, ‘He is only two years old, you can’t stop a two-year-old from crying.”

    Aaron, then joined by other riders, chime in to say that it isn’t bothering them, until, after the bus driver resumes driving, “From the back of the bus a clear voice rises and says, ‘How you gonna put a woman and a baby out onna highway inna blizzard at night?’”

    It reminds me of an article by Darryl Lorenzo Wellington that I recently read in Dissent magazine: “To speak of a poetic collective force other than the espirit de corps today seems mystical, but I confess that I have felt “the spirit of the group” in fairly commonplace circumstances, a blurring of the importance or relevance of individual identity, while traveling Greyhound” (http://www.dissentmagazine.org/articl...)

    Maddelena has another powerful piece in which an emotional bond develops from long-range correspondence between 2 strangers struggling with drug addiction and the loss of loved ones.

    Well, what’ya know! It turns out that reading this zine has compelled me to write down some things. Like the way you know a great band by the compulsion it gives you to start a band, you know great writing when it compels you to put on paper your own.

  7. says:

    edit: this review refers to the loneliness of the electric menorah, but somehow got attached to the wrong title.

    I enjoyed this so much. It reminds me of music journalism – a cast of people reflecting on the arc of an amazing heydey. Except it's … retail journalism. That sounds like a mean description, but it's not intended to be - this is a really good book, especially if you've ever spent time on that part of telegraph. I'm not sure if readers would find it terribly interesting if they've never been there – I dunno, maybe they would. But for those who have, they know that these stores were much more than just businesses. Their collections were curated with love. I went to Telegraph every weekend when I was a kid, and before I had much freedom, a big part of developing my own taste came from browsing the vast stacks at Moe's and Amoeba.

    Also, the sections on Ken Sarachan are effing hilarious.

    p.s. If you're in Berkeley and want to go book shopping, my hands down favorite bookstore these days is Black Oak Books, which gets a good chunk of time in Electric Menorah (or at least the old version did – I'm not sure who runs Black Oak now). Now that they've on San Pablo, their collection seems way more appealing and diverse.

  8. says:

    The title mostly says it all. An inspirational, epic nostalgia trip that takes the reader along through Thailand, South Korea, China, and Japan as Cometbus dissects the past 20 years of his involvement with Green Day. He makes a point to present the band as he knows them as people, as opposed to their famous caricatures. Given his extensive - albeit rocky - history with the personalities behind the music, it makes for an interesting read. The aspect of it that astonished me more than his descriptions of the lavish scenery was how seemingly random encounters during early tours resulted in such lasting associations, friendships, and at least in one instance, marriage. Any critique of the band is leveled out by Cometbus' critique of himself. I remain in awe of his writing and coffee intake, and his ability to present both as being incredibly vital.

  9. says:

    I really like Cometbus and don't particularly like Green Day, but this was a good read. A nice travelogue of a huge rockband's Asian tour with some serious self-reflection and harsh examination of what happens when friends follow radically different paths. The price of fame vs. The pitfalls of being the one who sticks to your principles yet gets left behind.

    It's comforting that at the end of the day, even if your friends are mega-stars, you can still sit down and play a rousing game of scrabble.

    Merged review:

    I'm a fan of Cometbus in general, but I have to admit I picked this one up simply for the Nate Powell cover. Some decent stories inside, if not a little on the downer side.

  10. says:

    I bought this zine while in the middle of a month-long book tour, so my interest in it was mainly to see how another person handled the exhilaration and tedium of constant travel in close quarters with other people. And I must admit that, although I have never had an interest in the band Green Day, I was curious as to how the author's perspective of his old friends had changed once they became celebrities. Well, this book did not disappoint, and I'm reading it again, but slower, to catch all the bits I might have missed while devouring it the first time. I really couldn't put it down.

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