So, fine: there may have been a bit of vanity Googling happening earlier this evening. And there among the dozens of book-related links (or what I assume to be book-related links but cannot confirm as such, given that they're in a language other than English of French) and other work-related stuff were a few bits and bobs from Sinister.

Can I even begin to describe Sinister? There was a point when I had to try to do that fairly often, to explain how it was that I got to know JDS, how it was we came to decide we were compatible enough to spend several weeks traversing southern Europe together in the summer of 2002, in a car sans AC, en route to and returning from a music festival in Spain. The explanation would go something like this:

"Sinister? It's, um, a mailing list. About this band named Belle & Sebastian? They're Scottish."

And then whoever had been foolhardy enough to ask would more or less immediately find him- or herself sated, not wanting to know any more.

Sinister was (and still is) technically a mailing list devoted to all things B&S. But for several years running, roundabouts the turn of the century, it was much more. It was, for dozens of 20/30/40-something kids like me the world over, a sort of proto-blog. It was a place to post long, rambling messages crammed with literary allusions, news about indie bands, references back and forth to other posts, and more miscellaney than you could shake a stick at.

It was, for me, at least, an excellent procrastination tool: I can't imagine how many hours of Microsoft's time I spent reading and writing posts on Sinister. It was a connection to the UK (where vast swaths of Sinisterites resided), to other chunks of Europe; to J, first in Montana, then in Argentina, then in Slovenia; to sweet indie kids like Laura Llew (whom I found on Facebook but have not yet friended) here in the U.S. It was the source of much of the music I now can't imagine living without.

I read my Sinister posts now (find more, if you're truly a glutton for punishment, by searching the archives for my name) and feel a pang of something I can't entirely describe. There's a fascination in such a clear look back at my younger self, a little sigh at some particularly pungent memories, a bigger sigh at having moved beyond the substance of those memories. There's a sense of opening a time capsule and being able to fully identify the contents but not really having much idea of what to do with them other than hold them for a little bit and smile.

Once, I was in my late 20s, lived a very different life, didn't have to use eye cream every night, actually wrote in a journal, and found friendship and connection and sometimes solace in a random spot: among fans of a band I happened to love. That was Sinister.

1 comment:

sgazzetti said...

On the rare occasions when I was called upon to give account of the origins of my friendship with you, I would just say that I met you on the internet, and that would be that -- people would either know what I meant or think I was some sociopathic geekboy. By now such a thing is so normal that it's hard at times to recall how weird that sounded, and occasionally felt, at the end of the last millenium.

You and I first intermet shortly after I had decamped (literally) from Montana; I posted to Sinister something about the western half of my drive east while stopping over at a friends' house in Prior Lake, MN, and when I plugged my computer in to the phone line (I know! ) at a cheap motel in Batavia, NY a day or two later there was an email about it from some girl off Sinister.

You describe the nature of the nostalgia that I, too, feel for Sinister very well. Both the music and the sudden access to the collective reaction to it came along at precisely the time in my life when I could make the most use of it, so the bond was strong. I ended up meeting, I mean in real life, quite a number of people from that list in a lot of places: NYC, Buenos Aires, Edinburgh. Oh, yeah, and Milan, when that weird email girl from Sinister stepped off a plane. Bizarre.