Lookout Records may be dead, but I have 11 copies of Lumberjack Days. Thanks for the memories.


Friday started off a little weird. Thursday night after band practice I came home looking for a song my band in high school covered, “Ace King Queen Jack” by Herman’s Hermits. (Listen to it, it’s really good and a bit weird.) Friday morning I listened to it, and then Back From the Grave, and then settled into the complete Hi-Fives discography. I don’t go all out like that very often, but it was a great way to end the week. Just as I was finishing up Get Down!, I saw Ted Leo’s announcement that Lookout is dead popping up all over Facebook. While I had heard they were liquidating stock a few months back, and they have been effectively dead for years, it’s still a bit sad to a label that had such an influence on my upbringing really fold.

There was an interesting mix of memories on Larry’s Facebook wall. Today Grant Lawrence (of my second favourite Lookout band, The Smugglers) blogged his memories of Lookout. One thing that I find sort of remarkable is how so many people my age have similar stories of being affected by Lookout, and now it’s really just a memory. It sort of makes me feel a bit old.

That picture above was taken in 1997 outside of the Great American Music Hall. I hitched a ride down to see The Hi-Fives play with the Mr T Experience. It was my 6th Hi-Fives show, first out of Sacramento. When I saw John Denery walking in I asked for a picture and made up some line about making a website for them. I didn’t even know HTML at the time, but it didn’t stop me. I learned HTML and made the site. Who knew years later I would be making websites for a living? I didn’t, but it’s just one of those things I can credit Lookout for. All these years later I look back on high school with a fondness, mostly for feeling like I was a part of something. Seeing the Hi-Fives, the Smugglers, MTX, the Queers, the Groovie Ghoulies, was a social. I made a lot of friends at those shows, hanging out on the Com Center (remember when it was orange?), and trolling the internet. For the rest of those kids, I will put on More Bounce to the Ounce for you.

And at this moment, sitting on my couch in Berkeley, I think back to what it was like in my parents’ computer room in Carmichael, listening to the Ne’er Do Wells/Judy and the Loadies split on the computer because that was the only CD player we had in the house. At that point Gilman was a mythical place that I always wanted to go to, and this past Friday night I was there hanging out with my husband I met there years later. This is the same man who made an mp3 of the Hi-Fives’ b-side “Baby Let’s Grow Old” for me when I was living in Germany and missing that record. (I’m relatively easy to please.) I was wearing my much loved Little Type t-shirt (that Larry gave me off his own back!), which somebody recognized and we reminisced over Erika and her mail order legacy, and how’s she’s still missed by many.

I also look over to my record shelf and see my Smugglers Dance Contest Trophy, one of my possessions I’m most proud of. I used to practice in my room, waiting for the opportunity to shake it with the Smugglers. It happened in 1999 at Gilman. I don’t remember much other than being insanely giddy, having a great time, and buying all the merch I could. I think I also met one of my oldest friends that night.

And then there’s been that whole surreal thing of being in the Potatomen. Although I have to admit, there’s also something unreal about Larry’s new comp The Think That Ate Larry Livermore, due out on Adeline Records this year. The esteemed Patrick Hynes (artistic genius, guitar guru, and solid holding mid-fielder), was drawing the cover while we were in New York for the Potatomen. He said I was going to be on the cover, and I am. It’s really is some adolescent dream come true. I hate admitting that, but there you go.

So while they haven’t released anything since 2005, and I can’t recall the last release I purchased (maybe Ted Leo?), it is a bit sad Lookout is well and truly dead. I’ll put on Can of Pork and make dinner now.

Larry, thanks for getting things started. It’s weird to admit, but you’ve made my life much richer. Lots of people can probably say the same thing. I would give you a bro-shoulder-punch if I could. Patrick, same goes for you, or maybe just a sage nod. (John, Chris, Grant, you as well.)

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