- This piece was written over a year ago. It may no longer accurately reflect my views now, or may be factually outdated.
Here’s to our lives being meaningless/And how beautiful it is because freedom doesn’t have a purpose!
A couple years ago, I wrote a piece titled On Pat “the Bunny” Schneeweis: Absurd Anarchism. Looking back, there’s certainly a sense of me trying too hard to shoehorn as many references and philosopher names as possible (the first paragraph alone drops in AWOLNATION, Friedrich Nietzsche and Roland Barthes), but I stand by the general thrust of the article:
He sings with a screeching passion about apathy, youthful self-destructiveness and the painful realisation that politics will never be fixed by him or his friends, but tempered with the realisation that it’s the ‘him and his friends’ that really matters, and the politics can go hang.
So what’s happened since? Why am I returning to this topic, having already gushed about it for over 3,000 words?
Well, he started by consolidating his three solo albums—Die the Nightmare, The Mark Inside and The Volatile Utopian Real Estate Market—into a single package, also called The Volatile Utopian Real Estate Market. He released Probably Nothing, Possibly Everything, another solo album, followed by a third: Cocoon Music. The album art was a photograph of the sign to an airport departure lounge, and the album description ended with the following:
This document is an ending. Goodbye!
This document is a beginning. Hello! It’s such a pleasure to meet you! May we abandon our cocoons and find that everything we need has been just outside the door all along.
Then, a few months ago, he released a 12″ vinyl split with artist Ceschi, and quit music indefinitely.
I can’t say I didn’t see it coming.
While the Bandits are still true rebels banging on the system, I am not really one anymore. […] Nothing I write feels very skilled at communicating whatever it is I am trying to say, but it just seems important to tell you that I am not really an anarchist or a punk anymore.
Charles Martin wrote an excellent—and far more timely—piece called The Retirement of a Derelict Hero that hits a lot of notes I can jam to, but I wanted to write my own short piece on this, the only denouement that the story of Pat “the Bunny” Schneeweis was ever leading towards. This is a man who has never been shy about his lack of grand plans:
I don’t know/Hell, I don’t know/How to do this right.
And he’s never been shy about doubting his own ability to make an difference:
I was stupid enough to throw my life away on music/Like it was that simple/But if singing changed anything/They’d make it illegal
But it seems that now, with his years of struggle with addiction behind him, he’s reached crisis point:
I was a teenage anarchist/What does that make me thirteen years later?
Indeed, Pat says that
my viewpoint has changed dramatically in the last 6-9 months, and this kind of politics and music is just not where my heart is anymore in his goodbye message — one would be forgiven for thinking that he’s been taking stock of his personal debts:
I think of my brother/I’ve never been there for him/He’s always had to be brave/I’ve been a coward since we were kids.
I put off making things right with Andy/And now he’s dead
There is even a long story in his goodbye message about having stolen money from DIY Bandits to buy dope, and his subsequent mission to repay them and re-earn their trust, despite the fact
I don’t know if there is an end result to a process like this. Pat has gone clean,
grown into a basically ordinary person, albeit a somewhat strange one and finds himself at odds with who he has been for the better part of a decade and a half:
I used to dream my beliefs would lead me onto barricades with Molotovs/But mostly they lead me straight to a line at the post office/To send ‘zines to someone behind bars
So, rather than risking people
feel[ing] tricked when they buy or listen to my music, he’s calling an end to the whole show. He’s not disowning anything—he felt it all at some point in time—but he’s stating that he personally cannot do himself justice. To the people to whom his songs have meant the lot (as Martin puts it,
[t]ype his name on Google and you’ll be bombarded by photos of his lyrics tattooed on arms, and with stories of hearts healed and lives saved), they can continue to mean all that and more. But they don’t mean that to him any more.
The ones who said:
Onward, comrades, to our death!
With ruin on their breath
The weight of centuries on their tongues
Loading failed manifestos in their guns
As if defeat, repeated often, could someday mean we had won
I’ll end this article with the same lyrics that ended the last one, two years ago:
So I don’t want to kill a cop,
What I want is neighborhoods where they don’t have to get called
When the shit goes down
Cause our friends, they are enough, and our neighbors have enough.
Finally we’re enough.
Cause our friends, they are enough.
And our neighbors are enough.
And finally we’re enough
Please help me be enough.
(no bunny, at last) feels he’s enough. There’s hope for us all yet.