The Gnome's feeling a bit emotional right now, perhaps because this is the final edition of the Metro Gnome. It's certainly been a blast—from the first column back in May 1999, to the weeks following when Seattle's whiniest weekly, The Stranger, obsessed over the name, to the friendly and not-so-friendly battles with local musicians like Heather Duby and Orville Johnson.
The end comes at a time when much of the music world is in transition. Joey Ramone's death last week at the age of 49 marked a profound loss—as the mop-topped, mealy-mouthed singer from Queens taught the world that punk could be political, humorous, and catchy all at once. His influence extends from downtown New York to Seattle and beyond; it's truly a shame he didn't live to see just how far his simple yet successful vision would stretch. Fortunately, he left us with songs that will never expire—the Gnome, for one, will still have occasional bouts with stuck-in-the-head versions of "Teenage Lobotomy" and "I Wanna Be Sedated."
On a local level, Friday night at Sit & Spin teemed with a sentimental spirit. It reportedly marked the final hometown appearance of Harvey Danger, whose second album failed to replicate the million sales of their first. As a going-away present, singer Sean Nelson's longtime ally Pete Krebs reunited Hazel—one of four Portland bands to sign with Sub Pop in the early '90s and flirt with post-Nirvana fame. The band had obviously practiced; they ripped through songs from their two albums—as well as obscure 7-inch fare—as confidently as when they were in their prime. Though they've been apart for three years, the conversational tone between Jody, Pete, and Brady picked up where they'd left off—and Fred Nemo still managed to flail about the stage like a cross-dressing hippie demon convinced that fire ants had gotten up his knickers. Hazel got called back for an encore, and wound up playing two longtime favorites, "Comet" and "Truly," before riding into the sunset once more.
Maybe endings aren't so bad—at least, not as bad as new beginnings sometimes are. When Peter Buck spoke to England's Q for this month's cover story on R.E.M., he told the magazine, "I just tend to get pissed off. . . ." He was talking about the difficulties in recording Up in 1998—but Buck might have been describing why he allegedly went ballistic during a flight to England from Seattle last Friday, leading to his arrest upon arrival at Heathrow Airport. He's been released—and has joined R.E.M. for their promotional tour in advance of their next album, Reveal— but it certainly gets things off to a rough start. The Gnome would like to thank Mr. Buck for creating such juicy gossip, allowing this column to come to a smooth end. What will happen next week? You'll have to check in and see. Adieu, Seattle.