Thursday, December 6, 2012
R.I.P. Sarah Kirsch
Growing up in the Midwest in the early 90's, we would often daydream about the wonders that might be awaiting us once we finally stepped through the doors at 924 Gilman or Berkeley Square or Che Cafe or the Phoenix Theater. During that time, the Punk and Hardcore scenes in and around the Bay Area and south all the way to San Diego seemed unstoppable and larger than life. Thanks to 'zines like Maximum R-n-R and especially Heartattack we felt like we were being turned on to and kept in the loop about all the amazing bands and shows and direct actions taking place thousands of miles away from our little corner of the world.
There were plenty of figureheads associated with those particular happenings in any and all of those amazing cities. But the one that always stood out to me the most had to be Mike Kirsch. Through his myriad bands and contributions, he helped build and nurture honest communication and community in a way most others just talked about. It was through his earlier bands Sawhorse, Fuel, Navio Forge, John Henry West, Torches To Rome and Bread and Circuits as well as the bands he helped birth later on like Please Inform The Captain This Is A Hijack and Baader Brains in which I have generally felt the strongest connection. There was just so much naked, raw emotion seething from the pores of these bands that I couldn't help but be drawn to them. Call it "Emo" or "Screamo" or whatever... Each and every one of those bands are pure fucking Hardcore to the heart and I will debate that until the sun burns out!!!
I feel eternally blessed that I had the chance to see Torches To Rome on my first excursion to Berkeley in 1996. My memory isn't what it used to be, but, the one thing I do remember as well as the one thing I will never forget is standing at the front of the stage, watching with wide-eyed bewilderment as the band proceeded to destroy everyone and everything in their path, thrashing and crashing around with an intensity I had never witnessed before. My life was forever changed at that moment. I was lucky enough to speak with Mike a little bit after the show. He was one of the nicest, calmest people I had ever met in my life. I felt honored that he even wanted to take the time out to speak with me, let alone ask me about myself and my feelings. We spoke of Hardcore as a true movement and lifestyle as well as how awesome the People's Park Food Not Bombs was. I knew then that I was home.
After I moved back to the Bay in the late 90's, I saw Bread and Circuits a few times, and just like before, my life was monumentally changed for the better. It was the same with Baader Brains and Please Inform The Captain... Watching those bands and Mike in particular have the time of his life was like being reborn. It didn't matter what band he was playing in, Mike Kirsch was one of the strongest, brightest beacons in an otherwise over saturated scene.
In 2011, the world was introduced to Sarah Kirsch.
Sarah Kirsch was a proud Trans-Woman.
She passed away on December 5th, 2012 after struggling with complications brought on by Fanconi Anemia, a rare genetic disorder which causes Leukemia and other cancers.
It saddens me to think that we will never again hear her voice or the ringing of her guitar.
I owe a large part of my life and my beliefs and how I interact with people on a day-to-day basis to those early records. It is in large part because of Sarah Kirsch and her music that I continue to immerse myself in this world we call Hardcore Punk. I have been forever changed.