“For twenty years now, I’ve been telling the trainees who I teach and mentor that they should recognize that they will never develop such intense personal relationships as the ones they are now cultivating with their peers in the trenches during medical training. And for years this has held true for me. Until Expert Witness happened.
“Expert Witness is just as vivid and important a shared experience for me as my residency was. I’ve made friends I’ll hunt down in my travels. I’ll share my tough moments. I’ll always have my eye out for someone wearing a Wussy t-shirt. And I’ll always be there when any Witness gives me a call.
“There is something epic about how Mr. Christgau has crafted his writing, his art history of the musical now. But in some weird way his writing expands into something even more alive here at Expert Witness.”
It’s a wonderful thing to be part of a community — a genuine community, I mean (not to get all hoity-toity pedantic on you, but like “friend,” the word has been somewhat debased — or anyway, altered beyond meaningfulness — in the Web 2.0 era). Not just one connected by geography or demographics or economics but a community brought together through what Patterson calls “shared experiences.” I’ve experienced that kind of community three times in my entire life: writing for Nerve, a Toronto indie publication, in the mid-80s; writing for Why Music Sucks and Radio On (and Tapeworm and Kitschener) during the ’90s — a fanzine network with a core group of writers who contributed to the discussion in all of them; and the HMV Superstore in Toronto, also during the ’90s, where I was employed, in various positions, for nearly a decade. The strength of these respective communities was far from equivalent, and all ended, to some degree, in varying measures of disappointment. But the fact is, they existed, and for however long, and to whatever degree, I was part of something bigger than myself.
I’ve certainly experienced intimations of community at other times and in other places (and even in other jobs, such as my current one), but those three events, or situations, feel singular to me, and I’m not convinced I’ll ever experience something like them again. I think I’m just too ambivalent about community now (whereas, I’m much less ambivalent now about family, which, by the way, I don’t interchange with “community,” though there are shared characteristics, for sure). It’s sad in a way that communities never last, at least in a physical, or real-time, sense. But the truth is, if you’ve experienced community it will never really leave you anymore than you will ever leave it. (Believe it or not, I actually appreciate Facebook for this reason; it has been my only means of staying in touch with my HMV cronies.) I laughed at Patterson’s line, “I’ll always have my eye out for someone wearing a Wussy t-shirt,” but my laugh, ultimately, is one of recognition, not scorn (not that you will ever catch me in such a tee).