Death of the Circle Pit

by Nic Olson

When I was in grade seven, a punk rock tour called SnoJam came through town for the fifth or sixth or seventh time. I don’t even remember who was on the bill, ask someone older, but it was big news.  Big news on a Tuesday night, and not all grade sevens get the privilege of weeknight shows, or the privilege of living in the city, so sneaking out would even be an option. So I didn’t go. That’s why I don’t remember who was on the bill. I was later left admiring the photos my brother took from the show of Davey Havok, and of Pete from Sick of it All, and I still remember these like I was there. But I wasn’t.

Later that year in art class we were learning how to paint old Chinese style flowers complete with a wise proverb. Mr. Ochitwa taught us how to use the brush naturally to make the flowers with watercolours, and how to write each letter of the English alphabet, Chinese style, so we could neatly write down our wisdom for the years. He gave us a list of ancient Chinese proverbs we could use, or he encouraged us to think of our own. I painted several flowers, all intertwined, with many thorns and painted the words, ‘Don’t be a prick in the roses.’ It was grade seven, I was different, really into Sick of it All, still angry, puberty-free, and the words seemed perfect for the project. I finished the painting, ran it by the peaceful and spiritual Mr. Ochitwa, but he wasn’t feeling it. He said something along the lines of how it didn’t flow with the general idea of serenity for the painting, or something wise like that. He was incredible. So I painted another, used a silly three-thousand year old Chinese Proverb, probably got a B- on it, and kept the other painting for myself.

Until yesterday, I hadn’t got to see Sick of it All. They’ve been touring for more years than I’ve been alive, and that still blows my mind. And although our education system has depleted to the point where people don’t know the shape of a circle, because anyone who knows the shape of a circle should know how to enjoy a circle pit, it was a good to finally see them. I still feel like I’m in grade 7, not only when I’m watching bands from my time spent then, or thinking all about the good times I had pre-armpit hair, but each and every day. The only difference now is that I can’t afford shows that I go to, whereas before I somehow could afford shows I couldn’t go to. I stood at the show with a heartburn that would rival a 50 year old man in a touring punk band, but I felt like I was twelve, what with all the middle-aged men in the crowd. My physical ailments make me feel half a century old. My music enjoyment and everything else makes me feel like I’m 14. I feel old, but I’m not. My body is confused. Just as much as my mind.