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6 January 2010

Aaron Cometbus and the Community Function

Aaron Cometbus is not my Hero (singular) because I don’t have those anymore. But he is one of my heroes (plural). Here’s a photo of him, via Text.Werkstatt.


Aaron Cometbus doesn’t seem care much for publicity, celebrity, notoriety, society, the many bitty little itties that seem to our age what quasi-philosophical -isms were to the 20th century (communism, capitalism, existentialism, anarcho-syndicalism, et ceterism).

Here is what I know about him: Real name Aaron Elliott…founder of the long running zine Cometbus (53 issues! 28 years! sells for $3 or less! no fucking web presence!)…epitome of East Bay punk culture…former Green Day roadie…former drummer for bands like Crimpshrine & Pinhead Gunpowder whom no one much cares about but are legendary in their subcultures and have great names…a modern day Jack Kerouac…

I’m cribbing most of this from Wikipedia but, still, it gets his essence across — albeit not quite as well as this recent Amoeba Records blog post. Point being, he lives an authentic, coherent, no bullshit, beautiful kind of existence. His means are equal to his ends. His modes of execution match his intentions. His work is rooted in real communities, and is addressed to real communities, not imagined psychographic profiles.

I’d never seen a picture of the dude before doing a Google image search while writing this post. It’s unlikely you have either. Cometbus is about as internet-unfriendly as any person can get these days. More likely is the possibility that you’ve seen a copy of his equally internet-unfriendly zine tucked away in the magazine stand of your favorite independent bookshop, record store, or anarcho-vegan-co-op-type situation. Here’s what it looks like when it’s not tucked away.


I recently purchased issue #53 and came across a quote from that speaks to the role of the Community Function in creativity which I would like to share with you all.

    I call it the ninety-nine percent success story. The noble failure. Hundreds of novels lie around completed but not published, albums recorded but not pressed, tours booked then hastily cancelled, articles written but never sent. Vast and impressive castles are built, but they’re not inhabitable. Just one small nail in the right place and we could move in, but I show up with a hammer and the block my way. “No,” they say. “Not yet.”Why is everyone so scared to put in that last one percent? Having gone through the pains of labor, can they not bear to see their child leave the nest? Having own the seed and plowed the field, how can they stand by and let the fruit rot on the tree?

    As a community, it’s our duty to try to bring everyone’s creativity and ambitious plans to the fore, and to fruition, instead of passively watching and encouraging that potential to be wasted. To keep laughing, but keep the hard work and the hope that comes with it from becoming a joke. As a friend, it’s my duty to try to be that one percent.

More excerpts of the zine’s insides after the jump…
Read more »

Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis  

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