A picture's worth a 1,000 miles

Sometimes I really hate indie rockers. I want to snatch those ugly Clark Kent glasses off their pasty faces and grind them beneath my boots. They stumble along the Crocodile's narrow corridor in their secondhand sneakers, and my foot instinctively juts out to trip them. My dreams teem with fantasies of stuffing their fraying cardigans in a clothes dryer with a fistful of Bounce, so the unholy fresh-scent specter of Snuggles the Bear hangs over them at even the smokiest all-ages show.

Before the wrath of Olympia descends on my head, let me add that my disdain doesn't discriminate. I often really hate ravers. I always hate hippies. And yes, I hate myself. More often than not, my self-loathing reaches such epic proportions that the bile welling up in my throat fairly chokes the life from me.

But sometimes I really, really hate indie rockers. I hear that they're paying $40 a pop for advances of Built to Spill's new album on eBay just to hear the secret bonus track, and it makes me want to snap my unplayed promo copy in two like a Triscuit.

Then fate will intervene, and remind me how refreshing indie rock can be compared to the pabulum the majors try to slide down my gullet daily, hoping I won't notice that the music sucks if they pick up the tab for dinner. I'll open my mail to find a treat like Jim O'Rourke's gorgeous new Eureka (Drag City). Or an old Helium song will come on KCMU, and I'll remember combing the record stores for its first 7-inch, every bit as big a geek as those I purportedly despise.

Who am I kidding? I own not one, but two Bunnygrunt CDs. I live in a glass house. And all it took to convince me to quit building my rock garden the hard way—this week—was Michael Galinsky's new photo book Scraps (published by Sugar Free Records/Tract Home Publications).

Galinsky's black-and-white images span roughly an eight-year period when he played bass in New York trio Sleepyhead. This isn't the first time the artist has depicted rock life on the road. Along with collaborator Suki Hawley, he's also shot two films: the "underground rockumentary" Half-Cocked, and the brand-new Radiation, loosely centered around Come's Spanish tour. Select Galinsky prints were shown recently at New York's CBGB's Gallery in frames furnished by key scenester Stephen Keene, renowned for his inexpensive, mass-produced paintings, as well as sleeve art for Pavement and Apples in Stereo.

The simple images of Scraps capture moments on the open highway and on stage with bands ranging from Kicking Giant and Nation of Ulysses to Bikini Kill and Sonic Youth. A bedraggled bleached-blond member of Boondoggle curled around an unwieldy mobile phone the size of a shoe. Sleepyhead in matching rag-tag ensembles somewhere in the desert. Exhausted rockers passed out on thin mattresses in Nowheresville, USA.

A sense of community permeates and binds Scraps. It resonates from both Galinsky's images and the accompanying snippets of poetic whimsy and abstract observations from various subjects, plus an insightful forward by Tim Foljahn of Two Dollar Guitar (whose overlooked Train Songs, on Smells Like Records, was a late-'98 highlight). And if every name on this page has left you scratching your head, there's an 18-track compilation featuring rarities by many of the participants tucked in back, to enhance your enjoyment.

The folks depicted in Scraps don't look like agents of the snooty secret society that rankle me at every Sleater-Kinney gig, but a rather loosely knit posse of like-minded individuals with a common passion. Pilgrims even a sourpuss like me wouldn't mind letting crash on the sofa. "I started playing for a lot of reasons, but mostly because music was the most important aspect of my life," says Galinsky. Wise words. Scraps reminds me that I used to echo similar sentiments myself more often.

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