I never planned to be here. I hadn’t written anything in any “official” capacity since my days at my college paper, and that was nearly a decade in the rearview when I was convinced to sign on here. Sure, I still dabbled – a couple of LiveJournals here and there; a tumblr for personal-oriented music writing (that’s still around and will have some new life injected into it soon). But when a blink 182-loving internet friend named Zack (RIP ASchismOfZack.tumblr.com!), who had just started turning his little music blog into a slightly less little music blog, asked me back in 2010 if I would chip in with some reviews, I thought it would make for a fun exercise and a nice distraction from the salt mines that are New York legal document review projects – and nothing more.
(My first review? A Circa Survive Daytrotter session. Why in hell was I reviewing a Circa Survive Daytrotter session? Reading it now, it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, which maybe means I haven’t come as far as I think I have.)
Somehow, five years and something like 350 reviews, interviews, profiles, features and op-eds later (not to mention lord-only-knows-how-many editing jobs), I’m still here. I’ve stretched my writing muscles, put myself through a training regimen and discovered that this is something I want to make part of my professional life, long after I’d left any such pretensions behind. I’ve become a regular contributor at Alternative Press. I’ve gotten to chat professionally and personally with the people whose music has meant so much to me. I’ve flown to Austin for SXSW (4 times!), to Chicago for Riot Fest. I’ve sat in a 3-hour traffic jam only to get drenched in the most miserable rain you can imagine – with some of the best people you can imagine – at Skate & Surf. I’ve spent Christmas Day each year banging out cheeky holiday “reviews,” to this day still my favorite regular feature we’ve had, and one I was happy to sheppard. I’ve built bridges to places and people I never knew existed, and burned a few that needed burning. I’ve made lifelong friends in Zack and Connor and Ashley and Erik, and in so many of our former staffers, not to mention all the friends I’ve made in the wider punk community via this little website. I’ve sparked new friendships from old acquaintances (suppy, Adrienne!). I’ve found a community – multiple communities, really – that don’t have me questioning whether I belong. And hopefully, somewhere along the way, I’ve written something that touched someone, that made them open their eyes to something they didn’t see before, be it out in the world or within themselves.
I’ve also shuffled jobs; met an incredible woman who, to my continual daily amazement, agreed to marry me; and, in the coming months, will be moving across the country and becoming a father. A lot changes in five years. I know this place has changed me for the better. I hope that maybe, in some small way, it changed you for the better too.
I want to give special recognition to all of the badass women who have been part of #TeamPOZ over the years. From our first editor-in-chief Emily Coch on down, women have held it down on our front end, our back end, our Reviews section, our Showcase section, our Photo galleries, our op-eds – everywhere. So to Emily, Adrienne, Ashley and Deanna and Caitlin (who have just started a great new podcast), Maysa, Sydney, Brittany, Becky, Ali, Marie, Hilary, anyone else I’m unfortunately forgetting right now (I’m sure there’s a few) and all of our awesome female contributors over the years – thank you for making this place better than it ever had any right to be.
I’m not writing this to pat ourselves on the back. We didn’t put out a special call for women, or institute a quota, or set out trying to make a statement. We simply went looking for the most talented, most passionate, most awesome people we could find – and this is who we wound up with. Which means that if you’re running a music site and it doesn’t look like this, you are actively doing something wrong. Do better. Our strength as a scene will always follow directly from the diversity of our voices.
My staff bio begins, “Jesse was the first staffer at PropertyOfZack, and will be here until someone turns out the lights.” When I wrote that, I didn’t expect that we’d be choosing to flip the dimmer switch quite so soon, but here we are and here I am, keeping my word. In the five years I’ve been here, we’ve accomplished so much. We took a husk of computer code on a free platform and pumped that shell so full of spare minutes and hours, excitement, curiosity, hard work, anger and love that it became something wonderfully special, vibrantly alive and singularly ours. We took this place we built, filled it with family and made it a home. Maybe we’ve outgrown that home; the fact that it’s now time to leave in no way diminishes what we’ve accomplished here.
PropertyOfZack was great. PropertyOfZack is great. Ever will it be.
Turn the lights off, carry me home.
Today, we said goodbye to PropertyOfZack. Tomorrow, life goes on.