GROUND ZERO: Who’s Yours?

Last night I reconnected with a long-lost friend. I wanted to check in but also had a lot of questions since those old days. Both Long Island natives currently living in Brooklyn, we have a lot in common when it comes to music community. One of those things was being a suburban kid growing up in the ’90s and being able to credit loved ones (dads, moms, older siblings, best friends) for their monumental influence in presenting life-changing music to our malleable minds. Whether they were tracks, albums, beats, live performances, whatever, they always led to important epiphanies: I’m not alone. I could do perform like this. I could make this a reality. My reality.

in his book Nothing Feels Good, music writer¬†Andy Greenwald casually calls this gateway person a “ground zero”. But when I read it, I of course thought there’s something bigger in that term that shouldn’t be overlooked. Until I’d read that phrase, I realized that the Ground Zeroes probably never get to hear about the seeds they’ve sown. For me, this fellow Long Islander sitting across from me never knew that he was my Ground Zero for The Smiths and Morrissey. We were carpooling to Posi Numbers in 2003 and he was just letting Meat is Murder play on and on. While the boys in the car chatted, already acclimated to The Smiths, I was sitting there in this sonically-induced coma. So last night I finally had the chance to let him know and thank him. That music reinforced validation in my own sensitive, bookish, introverted ways, traits I’d previously been ashamed of in the midst of the local rowdy hardcore crowd. He was floored. He never knew and felt honored. I then listened to him talk the same way about someone, a cousin, who introduced him to The Beastie Boys at the age of nine, never knowing he’d grow up to be a professional drummer as a result of that first listen to Paul’s Boutique. We all start somewhere and, at least I’ve found, the important stuff almost always involves music.

So, who’s your Ground Zero? Reach out to them & tell them. Trust me, they need to know.

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