Yes, indeedy, YabYum has been around for four whole years and in that time we’ve heard some truly incredible music, borne witness to some amazing events, and viewed fantastic art, all desert-made. The whole birthday/anniversary/whatever has me feeling a whole surplus of gratitude for everyone working to make art happen here.
I started YabYum Music and Arts in 2009 after moving back to Tempe from San Francisco where I’d been living and attending school. I had fallen ill during graduate school with an almost unknown neurological condition. As the illness progressed and changed the shape of my everyday, the need to move closer to my family became increasingly important with every late night hospital visit or unplanned attack (they’re all unplanned). I held out longer than I should have because I hated the idea of moving back to Arizona, the cultural wasteland of my youth.
I loved my adopted home: the weather, the water, the people, the bridges, and, most importantly, the art. The Bay overflowed with art in every known and unknown form. Each night presented a challenge in decision making. Should I go catch the Tarkovsky film at the Pacific Film Archive or head to the Matthew Barney exhibit at the SFMoma? The Lyn Hejinian reading or Anticon at Bottom of the Hill? Every evening offered something to ignite the soul, offering a thing of beauty for the horror in the world. It wasn’t all good, of course, but when it got bad I could go look at books where Jack Kerouac once also looked at books and feel like there was balance. Art gives us meaning and makes us human. And, despite my resounding atheism or perhaps because of it, I look for meaning where I can.
After a month of wallowing back on home turf, I emerged from my pit and decided to see what was actually happening around town. I reconnected with several bands I knew from my earlier days in Tempe like Tramps & Thieves and Truckers on Speed, excited to see they were still making the rounds on the local circuit. I discovered new artists like Snow Songs and Courtney Marie Andrews. If you looked closely you could see the diaspora of artists and musicians slowly building connections and those connections growing into communities within the overarching ARIZONA I remembered. With a refreshed sense of hope, I was able to see my home in a different light with all of its kitschy strange wondrousness I loved first as a child maintained amid the newness.
YabYum initially started as a way to share my findings with others. It’s my way of constantly trying to bludgeon that hipster exclusivity inside myself which only leads one to further alienation. We should all share in the art we enjoy and support the artists that make such sharing possible, in whatever ways we can. In Buddhism, YabYum is a path to spontaneous enlightenment, a way of overcoming otherness. Both actions we seek to embody through our publication and website. We’re building a support system, a community; and we’re constantly trying to change to meet our ever-growing readership.
The past four years have been filled with music and art made right here in Arizona. And, while I might occasionally lament the circumstances that brought me here, I don’t regret the time I’ve spent here. It’s been an incredible era in spite of personal difficulties.
So, this year, I’d like to thank the readers and “followers” and everyone else that has shown us support over the years and in recent months. I’d also like to thank all the artists that maintain their connection with Arizona whether they live here forever or not. As my confines become more real than perceived, I am ever more grateful for the beauty growing around me. Keep sending us your work! And to all the writers that have contributed to us over the years, past and present, thank you thank you thank you. Last, but certainly not least, I have to thank Senior Editor Mark Anderson who has been on staff 3.5 of our 4 years. Mark does everything when I can’t do anything and an endless amount of work all other times to make YabYum a continuing possibility.
If you made it this far, dear reader, thanks again. My annual exposition ends thusly: Year Five will be our best ever!!
Thank you and good night.