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Anything for a Weird Life

On the Importance of Infrastructure

The collapse was sudden and terrible. Long standing, this vital part of the infrastructure collapsed catastrophically and quickly. Theories are being floated and fingers are being pointed. Something taken for granted is no longer there, give or take the long and messy clean-up.

I am referring to the recent collapse and bankruptcy of Small Press Distribution, a vital lifeline for subcultural underground small-press publishing. I understand that you thought I was referring to something else.

The Key Bridge opened in 1977. I was born in 1976, right down the road. The six workers who lost their lives were from Dundalk and Highlandtown, neighborhoods I grew up in and around. A week later, I am still having trouble processing this tragedy, as are many. Something that was always there is just… gone now.

The thing about this sort of infrastructure is that, if in place and functioning, it is often just simply and quietly there, doing what needs to be done. You use it for its purpose and don’t spend too long contemplating it. After a lifetime of countless trips over that bridge, I don’t remember the last time. But I know there was a last time, just like there was a first, somewhere in the hazy memories of my very early life. And now, every time I log on, algorithms make sure I think about The Key Bridge much more often than when it was still there.

In the heat of national coverage, things are happening to benefit and support those affected, and it is important to do this. Folks are doing what they can to commemorate those who, often invisibly, maintain our infrastructure, who keep it all moving, who work third shift and night shift to keep things accessible and hassle-free, as we prefer it to be. As I grew up around and have had family members who do or have done this work, they have never been invisible to me.

So, my challenge to you, fair reader, is: as the national media circus prepares to leave town, think about your infrastructure. What is in place that allows you to operate in society and enterprise? How about in our shared underground? Do you hassle the door person over the donation” at underground shows? Do you tip your servers? When you saw that there was work to be done on a particularly hectic show evening, did you pitch in and help out without complaint? Have you noticed and/or expressed your appreciation to those that run the venues? Is your presence and behavior a net positive or a net negative in the scene?

We all benefit from infrastructure. It does not maintain itself. Please do your best to appreciate it, not only when it is gone. I know I am working on that myself these days.

Tim Kabara

IG: @kim_tabara

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