Interview by Aaron Burgess Though critized by some for their militancy, Syracuse, NY's Earth Crisis have helped magnify the Straight Edge belief system to previously unimaginable levels. Profiles on CNN and MTV News, a spot on the Ozz-Fest tour (and its accompanying CD and video), and attention from publications as unlikely as The New York Times have allowed the band to spread both their message and their music (itself a brutal beast) to literally millions outside of the punk/hardcore community.
The following interview took place in mid-1996. While many of the details discussed here have since changed, this interview presents a snapshot of Earth Crisis at the brink of their "breaking big." Incidentally, bassist Ian "Bulldog" Edwards, drummer Dennis Merrick, and guitarists Scott Crouse and Kris Wiechmann were available to speak, but vocalist Karl Buechner insisted that he do the interview himself.
Aaron: First I want to talk about the new record. I heard the demos; I don't know how close they are to the finished product. Is it going to be a full-length record ?
Karl: We started recording about a month ago, and we're mixing it now, so it's almost complete. It's eight new songs, and the title of the record is Gomorrah's Season Ends. That song, what it's specifically about, is the revolutionary potential of Straight Edge, starting first, obviously, with the individual. When a person's not addicted to drugs, they're not controlled and distracted by nicotine addiction, they have a lot more freedom. What we want to see people do with that freedom is try and make the world more of a just and peaceful place by making personal sacrifices that are for the good of all. On this record, that's basically what the outline of it is. There are two songs about Straight Edge; there's an anti-alcohol song, and that song is called "Situation Degenerates," and it's about watching someone that I knew slowly die from the disease of alcoholism. I think that's an important track because I want it to serve as a warning. It's an observation of what I saw happen. I don't need to try to...
A: You don't have to explain. The thing I wanted to talk with you about -- specifically when you talk about the revolutionary potential of Straight Edge -- is the violence that comes up in some your lyrics. Firestorm
, I guess, would be the perfect example. When you write your lyrics, are you writing from more of a "Call to arms" mentality, or...
K: (Visibly annoyed) All right, explain the violence in Firestorm. What is it about; what does it mean. ...
A: I'll tell you what it means to me. The idea of corralling drug dealers and drug users...
K: Not drug dealers; not drug users. The drug user we see as a victim.
A: All drug users?
K: Basically, yeah. You have to look at the situation. Why do people take drugs? They take drugs because they're unhappy for whatever reason. Maybe they're part of this whole setup of financial imprisonment, like they live in the ghetto. They're forced into this situation; in many instances, it's nearly impossible to get out of this and make things change when it's generation after generation of parents that are abusive or alcoholics or whatever. The drug dealer totally perpetuates that chaos. They make a bad situation far, far worse than it has to be. What they're concerned with, obviously, first and foremost, is their financial gain. Even if they don't live in the neighborhood, they can see the damage that they're bringing to it. Firestorm was inspired by what's happening in my nephew's neighborhood, which is in the north side of Syracuse. Things there have been degenerating for about the last six years. It just gets worse and worse: There's more crime; there's more robbery and random violence; and I think that drugs have a lot to do with it. You can't feel safe. People tried to break into my girlfriend's house five times. My house had screwdriver marks around the door where someone had tried to pry it open. Two years ago, I was living in this neighborhood... See, a lot of what I'm saying is disjointed, but what I'm trying to tell you is that Firestorm was inspired by things that I've seen. It has to do with an area where I was living, as well as with an area where I saw my nephew grow up. It's totally destabilized because of the drugs -- or they contribute to it even more, is what I should probably say. I agree with everything the Black Panther Party was trying to do, as far as realizing that in many instances, the cops have basically drawn the line and given up on what's on the other side of that line -- if they're not actually part of the problem themselves, getting paid off or looking the other way. Basically, what's going to happen is, people are going to have to resist on their own. They're going to have to fight back to try and sets things to order where they live.
A: To what extent do you think music can contribute to that change outside of the hardcore underground -- your music, specifically?
K: Well, we started... actually, we had a record out and were touring in '92. Since then, if I judge things from all the letters we've received and the conversations we've had with people while on tour, and a lot of the write-ups we get in zines, I think we have helped educate people about veganism and in some ways motivated a lot of people to make some changes for the better in regards to animal liberation. So I've seen a lot change in four or five years. We were the first Vegan Straight Edge band, and that was in '92. It's '96 now, and there's around 10 (VSE bands). So that's a good sign.
A: Do you see yourselves as part of the lineage of bands that sprang up after Minor Threat
, or are you disassociated from that?
K: Well, see, the vast majority of those bands fell. Almost every member of every one of those bands sold out Straight Edge; or maybe some of them still live clean, but they say they don't want to associate themselves with the title "Straight Edge" because it's a stringent set of rules, and the kids are militaristic and violent, and they don't want to be a part of that. Historically, I'll give them credit for setting things into motion, but that's pretty much where I draw the line about giving any respect to that. How much could it have meant to them if they sold the fuck out? I don't know if you have All Out War. ...
A: Yeah, I do.
K: That's where a lot of the anger in the song "No Allegiance" comes from. I've always lived clean, and I recognized myself as Straight Edge at age 16, when I was listening to those bands, like 7 Seconds, Minor Threat, DYS...
A: How old are you now?
K: Twenty-five. A lot of other bands, as well as some members of bands I just named, sold out. So what I believe in, what I believed in then and what I believe in now and what I will continue to believe in until the day I die, was cheapened by their actions. It's like they were playing around with something that, to me, is sacred.
A: So how do you feel about the idea of clean living as a lifestyle versus Straight Edge as a movement? Is one more valid than the other?
K: I don't necessarily see Straight Edge itself as a movement. It's not like we're on a crusade to make people Straight Edge. That's not something we can do. It's not like a band can recruit people into Straight Edge. ...
A: Well, I know that, but...
K: Oh, no. I'm not saying this to you. I'm saying it so people who are reading this can understand. Straight edge is something you recognize yourself as, and for people who don't know, it's a lifetime commitment to abstain from the poisons of drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, taking illegal drugs for escapism, and engaging in the destructive and self-destructive behavior of promiscuous sex. So it's like hardcore music is my life, and Straight Edge is my religion, and I want people to understand that it's not a title you play around with for a couple of months or a year. It's forever; that's what the "X" means.
A: Yeah. I just want you to understand that I've got to play devil's advocate on a lot of these questions, for the sake of our readership.
K: No, sure. Because a lot of people have never heard of our band or even Straight Edge. So let's keep it simple. If they like the interview, and your magazine is happy with how it comes out, then we can do another one someday and get into the deep stuff. So I would rather not -- at first, since this will be a lot of people's first taste of Straight Edge -- I'd rather not talk about the violence of a song like "Firestorm" or "Wrath Of Sanity" or "Deliverance." Let's keep it basic at first, so everyone can understand where it stems from. If that's cool with you. . ...
A: Well, the other thing is that there are going to be people who pick up the magazine because "Earth Crisis" is written on the cover, so this is going to be reaching a lot of the people who are into the band already. I have to write for both audiences; I've basically just got to play ignorant and...
K: I just want to make it clear that -- how many copies of this get sent out each month?
A: About 100,000 around the world.
K: I mean, that's huge, and we can reach out to so many people through this. So we should start off with the basics -- just explain what things are; our history, you know? I'm not trying to be bossy; I'm just offering my suggestions as to what I think will make this an effective story.
A: So let's start with a simpler question: What factors influenced you toward the belief system you now hold?
K: Like I said, I was never into drinking or drugs in any way. Most of the people I grew up with, that was just kind of an overnight change for them once they hit junior high or high school. They just started getting into harder and harder stuff, and they started sinking faster. I saw one of my friends... didn't literally see him, but he took his own life. The drugs he was taking made him feel more and more miserable and helpless, and it caught up with him really quickly. The other kids I was hanging out with were really self-destructive, to the point where I could tell just from talking to them that they're not what they were mentally, so to speak. They've literally been damaged by the way they chose to behave. Seeing people drunk always disgusted me, from the time I was a young kid to now -- now even more so. When there's that lapse of control, when someone's inebriated or under the influence of a drug, it's like everyone is at risk. For example, if someone's father is drunk, he's not in control; he can't think as clearly as he would be able to if he were sober. He might not be able to provide as efficiently as he otherwise should, or he might become violent.
A: Was your value system at all shaped by things that happened in your family?
K: There are no alcoholics in my immediate family, so it was absolutely nothing like that.
A: What about your veganism?
K: Some members of my family are vegetarian. I didn't really start getting into animal liberation until I was 18.
A: What influenced you toward that -- or was it just a slow process?
K: Mainly conversations with my grandmother, who's a vegetarian. She's 98 now; she's been a vegetarian for at least 40 years. Actually, I used to mock animal liberation until she explained to me what happens in a slaughterhouse, the suffering the animals go through before they wind up as a steak or something.
A: Why do you think there's such a widespread negative attitude toward Straight Edge? People mock it; they mock vegetarians. ...
K: Well, you have to think about what Straight Edge is. It's a rejection of almost all the negative things that we're taught are all right, from poisoning your body to poisoning your mind with ideas like racism or speciesism. Straight Edge works against all those things, starting from a personal level. So, obviously, we're viewed as a threat to the lifestyles that most people choose to live.
A: To what extent are you guys fatalists? Do you have a pessimistic attitude about what you see going on around you? How about for the bulk of society that's not receiving your message and possibly never will?
K: I definitely used to be a lot more pessimistic than I am today, because I've seen that if you keep going and you keep pushing things, then things will change, and you'll find who's real. Things will come together; it just takes a long time, and it's a struggle, but it's worth the energy and all the effort because it will start to show. It does already. In Syracuse, for example, what we had there in the mid- to late-'80s, when I was in my early teens, now the Syracuse Vegan Straight Edge scene is worldwide because there are so many kids who are productive, putting out zines, distributing music, doing shows. The Animal Defense League is a grass-roots organization that's pushing for animal liberation. They started in Syracuse, and now they're in five major cities around the U.S. Basically what we had in Syracuse back then, what I was trying to say, is, I won't give it the honor of calling it a punk-rock scene; it was a drunk-rock scene. People might have looked punk, but they didn't have anything truly punk in their minds. They were just self-destructive and destructive people -- totally filthy. (Laughs.) They weren't striving for any positive changes.
A: Do you think music has to equal a message? Do you listen to stuff that doesn't necessarily "say" anything?
K: I listen to mainly metal, so I end up hearing a lot of bands that are singing about the devil. (Laughter all around). Metal, I think, is the most aggressive sound that exists, that probably will ever exist. I think we have elements of that in our sound, too. Obviously, we're a total 180 lyrically from a lot of metal, but there is positive metal, bands that have positive lyrics. They rarely get the credit they deserve.
A: As far as the metal influence is concerned, from what I've heard of the new record, I can see it so much more than on earlier records. Your voice, for example...
K: Oh, you heard it?
A: Well, Diane (Victory Records' publicist at the time of this interview) lent me the demos.
K: Oh, the new ones?
A: The ones recorded June 6.
K: Oh, okay.
A: When did you first...
K: It's pretty cool to think that we started in the garage with all of the ideas that we have, and now we have people calling us from Guam, Japan, all over after that CNN thing. So already a huge part of our "mission," so to speak, is being accomplished. The message is reaching people through the band without any compromises. We're on a hardcore label with a hardcore sound, and all the lyrics are left to the band. It's on our terms.
A: Outside of the band, are you active in any types of social organizations?
K: We help to financially support the Animal Defense League, and they do a lot of civil-disobedience protests in Syracuse against fur shops and things like that. We also contribute some money to ALF bus funds. The Syracuse newspaper did a story on the animal-liberation struggle in Syracuse. In 1995 there were more direct actions in Syracuse than there were anywhere else in the U.S. So there are two prongs of attack hitting at the same time where we live.
A: Growing up, did you see a lot of bad things going on, in terms of crime, and...
K: Nothing. There have always been neighborhoods where there's a lot of strife, but nothing to the extent it's at now. I was talking about Firestorm earlier; I think a lot of it has to do with the cost of chemical drugs. It just breaks everything down much further than it would be without their influence.
A: Do you think I'm misreading the lyrics, asking you about the violence in them?
K: No, no. Totally. That song is about shooting drug dealers. You got it.
A: You were talking about civil disobedience. What would you do if you knew that people were listening to your lyrics and taking matters into their own hands, carrying out the violent acts you sing about?
K: Mission accomplished. Totally. That's the whole point.
A: But do you really think we're at that bad a point now, and that's really all we've got left?
K: Hey, if it can save their life, if they have to go to that extreme to keep themselves alive, and if we in some way influenced them, then that's beautiful. So be it.
A: Are you guys involved in direct actions yourselves -- not to the extent where you go around shooting drug dealers, but...
K: Obviously, we couldn't do any of the things we talk about in our lyrics regarding direct action or militant resistance. It would be suicide.
A: Well, the mindset I'm coming from is someone who's just read your lyrics for the first time...
K: Just as I said before, obviously, since we are a band, since we are essentially on a platform where we can reach people with our message without having to compromise and completely glorify what organizations like the Black Panthers were doing or the Sea Shepherds or Earth First! or the ALF -- the liberators -- are doing now... You know, we obviously can't be out doing that ourselves, or we'd be caught. But Syracuse has -- I can mail you the article from the newspaper -- there have been more direct actions in the county where Syracuse is than in any other city in the U.S. in 1995. I think 3,000 minks altogether were liberated from fur farms. Animals are liberated all the time. Stuff like that happens, probably on factory farms, too. The way I see it is this: Obviously, we can't have as many people as we do now, because the earth can't sustain this many people and continue to function as it should. There are so many cattle all over the world; they're offsetting the balance of nature because in order to raise cattle for, even, say, dairy cows, so much wild land is leveled to create pasture land for them. A forest is cut down so it can be turned into a field where crops are grown to feed those cattle in the winter. It displaces wildlife from their natural habitat. So it can't be true when someone says to me, "If I'm vegetarian, I'm doing enough for the dairy cow or for the forest that was cut down or slashed and burned." You're still hurting animals; what you eat every day is directly affecting them -- the overall environment and the animals, too.
A: I read Buechner a quote from John Robbins' Diet For A New America about how you cannot use anger to convert those who in their insensitivity toward others' suffering would harm animals. Robbins essentially says that education, not violent resistance, is the key.
K: That does mirror what we're saying to an extent, but I think that right now we're at a point where you have to realize that every life saved is a victory. Try and empathize with an animal that is inside of a cage in some vivisectionist's laboratory and is continuously burned every day. The person who's doing that is a scientist, so from an academic point of view they're respected as intelligent. But they can obviously look down and see this animal screaming, being burned, suffering. And they don't care. If they're going to keep on doing it, if that's not going to move their heart and make them think, "Jesus, how can I be doing this? This is the sickest thing in the world, and my hands are doing it?" then I don't believe in forgiveness for someone like that.
A: So that's why you sing, "Vivisectionists dragged into the street and shot..."
K: Exactly. I believe that in some instances, homicide is justifiable. And if that would be the only way to rescue an animal from a laboratory... Here's the scenario: Militant animal-liberation activists break into a laboratory; they free the animals; maybe they destroy the vivisectionist's files; then they burn the laboratory. The laboratory is rebuilt; new animals are captured and put in there; the vivisectionist is again continuing the experiments. I completely agree with an even more militant group of activists going in there and shooting that person. That would be what I would view as justifiable homicide. Their existence is doing nothing but bringing pain into the world, and if their life has to be ended to stop that, then that's exactly what should be done. We need to start people off with the concept: Respect innocent life; look at the bottom of the pile. What's at the bottom of the pile? The bottom of the pile are the animals in the vivisectionist's laboratory, in the slaughterhouse, on fur farms being electrocuted, having their forests burned to the ground and either dying inside of that or having their environments ruined. I think we need to start people off with that, and from there, to quote a line from "Eden's Demise," a peaceful world can evolve after animal liberation. Not to say that human-rights struggles aren't equally important, but there are a lot of people out there right now fighting for those types of things, and there's almost no one fighting for the animals. When you look at how many people are on the face of the earth and what most of them are doing, well... The things that we're pushing in our lyrics might seem like a total extreme to everyone else, but a lot of kids who are into hardcore have been involved in the struggle since their early teens. They've been going to protests; they've been brutalized and mocked by the police or by store owners for something as simple as a peaceful protest. If you take a look back at just that short period of history, you can see that it's not as effective as simply going in and taking the animals out.
A: Do you think the extremity of your music has a lot to do with the way society has changed since Minor Threat
or Youth Of Today
's time? Have you seen that much of a change for the worse?
K: I definitely have. I've seen two generations -- I wouldn't say the majority, but a vast amount of people -- grow up without any real respect for life in any way. It's like the only thing they're interested in is satiating their own personal cravings, their desire to haze over their minds. They're consumed by greed.
A: Do you think a person's economic status has a lot to do with whether he or she will ever even be touched by your message? I don't know what kinds of economic backgrounds you all come from, but...
K: Yeah, totally. Two Earth Crisis dads are bikers; Vietnam vets. I think one's in jail for cocaine. Dennis' dad's a lawyer, and my dad -- I'll just say my father and Dennis' father are professionals. But we were all raised with the same type of value system, and we all developed the same morals. Even though we're from different economic backgrounds, we've all come to the same conclusion. The reason why we're vegan is, all of us, even though we came from different backgrounds, were raised to be respectful of innocent life, be it human or animal. (Our families) might not have been vegetarian at the time, or even known about it, but they knew that if they saw an animal suffering, it was wrong. All of us were raised with the same type of values and developed the same morals as we became adults.
A: What kind of educational background do you guys have?
K: Bulldog and Dennis and I went to college for a few years, but we couldn't keep up with it because we wanted to do the band full time. Scott and Kris both graduated from high school, and by the time we were ready to become a band...
A: So the band is your life?
K: I don't even own a car. That probably says a lot at the moment. We tour constantly. In 1995, when you count up all the tours and all the shows, we were playing shows for eight months out of the year. We went to Europe twice and toured the U.S. twice. Japan in August...
A: I want to go back to my earlier question about how someone's social class might affect the way he or she is influenced by your message. How would you answer somebody, because I know there are a lot of...
K: I don't think someone who's had an impoverished childhood or been raised in the ghetto may... obviously, what the have to worry about is their survival, their safety, the clothes on their back, food in their mouths. And I understand that. But that doesn't really have anything to do with it. If you're raised to be respectful of other people and innocent life -- specifically innocent life -- with time, after people have been exposed to the idea and the reality of what goes on inside a slaughterhouse or a laboratory, it's just a matter of time and energy before a person becomes a vegetarian and from there progresses onward to veganism.
A: The frame of mind I was looking at there -- because people have said it -- is, "Well, you can't bother impoverished people with this message that doesn't even concern them."
K: But it affects everyone. It affects the natural world, and that comes right back to them. Veganism itself is, in a huge way, a building block toward world peace. The whole concept of respecting innocent life by making in the end what turns out to be a pretty meager personal sacrifice, it's a really small price to pay for an enormous amount of gain. Just as violence perpetuates violence, chaos perpetuates chaos. And you can take that right back down to what's happening in the ghetto.
A: But do you think the idea of vegetarianism and veganism has become an upper- or middle-class prospect?
K: At this point it is kind of a specialty item, but those companies have to get paid. I really don't hear about... well, maybe there is some Edensoy tycoon. (Laughs) No, don't put that in. That's bad. But obviously, if a person is middle- or upper-middle-class or well off, they're going to have a little bit more free time, and the truth is, they might be a little bit better educated than someone who's in the inner city. That answers it; you know what I mean? For someone to say, "Oh, animal liberation, that's what middle-class people are involved with," that's not true. People who were raised with religion, people who were raised to be respectful of innocent life, can embrace it -- no matter where they come from.
A: I guess I was talking about the idea that vegetarian restaurants themselves seem to be an elite and pricey type of thing, that if you're going to eat healthy and be a vegan or vegetarian, you're going to need some money...
K: Some people, I'm sure, get kind of greedy. I think overall it's kind of the way it has to be. For the millions of vegetarians there are, 10 times as many people are eating a meat-and-dairy-based diet in industrialized nations.
A: When did you discover hardcore? What...
K: My first taste of hardcore, the first heavy music I ever heard, was The Exploited, when I was in, maybe, 7th or 8th grade. I was into the Dead Kennedys, Subhumans, those types of bands. From there, I was really into skateboarding for about seven years, and I got into hardcore around age 15 or 16. I was watching TV and saw a Cro-Mags video, and that was the spark that set it off. Cro-Mags' 1986 LP Age Of Quarrel is still the greatest hardcore album of all time. We owe a great debt to a lot of the hardcore bands we grew up listening to. Like Agnostic Front, the Cro-Mags, Sick Of It All, as well as to authors like Peter Singer and John Robbins, Huey P. Newton, all those people.
A: I was wondering if you'd want to talk about the Earth Crisis
side project "Path Of Resistance".
K: Nope. No Path. (Laughs) We have to keep this simple, for the readers.
A: Do you want to talk about the recent van crash you guys had?
K: Nope. I don't even want to hear about it anymore. My friends were dying in the snow. I don't want people talking to me about it or even saying, "Yeah, I'm glad you guys are all right" because I never want to think about it. I just wish people didn't know about it.
A: Are you a religious person? Does that influence the way you think?
K: A lot of our lyrics have things that were taken from the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation, but we're not a Christian band. Everyone believes in God, Yahweh... People of all different faiths are into our band who respect the Vegan Straight Edge ideology -- Hindus, Muslims, Christians...
K: No, no Buddhists. They can't be violent. Plenty of atheists and agnostics, as well.
A: What about the religious reference in the new album's title?
K: Yeah, Gomorrah's Season Ends. Obviously, "Gomorrah" is taken from the Old Testament -- Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities where everyone was indulging themselves in destructive and self-destructive pleasures. God's wrath came, and they were all destroyed in fire. I see, right now, that things go through cycles. You can mark them all with wars and things like that, and right now I think there's a war against innocent life and spirituality -- I'm talking specifically about the youth, our generation. That's what the song "Gomorrah's Season Ends" is all about. It's about the revolutionary potential of Straight Edge, and us reaching out and trying to save as many lives as we can.
A: How do you feel about the marketing of Straight Edge, through T-shirts and such? Who does that benefit?
K: It's not like it's anything you could ever market. Straight Edge is probably perceived by most people as this totally bizarre thing, like, "Jeez, why wouldn't these guys want to drink? Why do they want to give up all the fun things?" These people don't see those things for what they really are, which is destructive in every way. No matter how you look at it, if a person thinks drinking is normal and is not going to hurt them, they're going to keep drinking, and eventually they're most likely going to become an alcoholic. Same with drugs or promiscuous sex. I think any band could sell a bazillion more records if they had marijuana leaves and a sketch of Baphomet on the cover of their record instead of an "X" or a "VSE." (Laughter all around.) So that probably nails it.
A: It gets back to the lifestyle-versus-movement thing...
K: The point of Straight Edge is to gain or maintain control over your life by abstaining from poisons and behaviors that are distracting and lead to negative ends. From that freedom, we're striving to make things more peaceful and just. So we're completely immersed in human-rights struggles, as well as animal liberation and Earth liberation. If we wanted to sell more records, and if you want to talk about something being marketable, that's pot leaves and upside-down crosses, not an "X" or "VSE." It's not marketable to most of the record-buying public because it's the complete opposite of the way most people choose to live -- it's a threat to the way they choose to live. It's like the Syracuse police and the ATF think the Syracuse Vegan Straight Edge is a terrorist cult because of the direct actions.
A: How much do you care about talking about your music -- not lyrics, but the actual song structures and such?
K: The music's half the game. It's the vehicle that drives the message. We try to put a lot of time into constructing the music; a lot of the songs are built off Dennis' drum beats. I don't know if most bands do that, but that's what works for us. Scott writes most of the guitar work -- all of it. He wrote all of the music on Destroy The Machines and Gomorrah's Season Ends, and, obviously, our sound is very metal. The music is the hammer that drives the nail in -- the nail being the message. Obviously, an aggressive, heavy sound is what's suitable for our lyrics
A: Did you use any vocal effects when you recorded the new stuff?
K: No effects. I do some overdubs, but it's not dropped or anything. I'm still figuring out what I'm doing, to be honest. (Laughs.) All Out War was our cellular stage. Some bands start off good and end up worse. I can say with confidence that our records, the lyrics improve, and we get more technical and solid, and the production's heavier, too. Some bands just start out perfect and stay perfect forever. At least for me, I think I progress a little with every release. Things improve.
A: You've obviously been in the public eye now more than ever before. You also seem very concerned with the way this story is going to turn out. Do you feel you're you misquoted much, that most journalists have an agenda?
K: People have concocted lies, created rumors about us with the intent of being destructive, swaying people not to give us a chance, not to pick up the lyric sheet and see what we're all about. We're obviously a threat, and they don't like the standard we're setting.
Footnote: portions of this article previously appeared in issue 101 of Alternative Press magazine.