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[whitespace] Youthful Promise Abused? Before taking up Notes from the Underground, Matt Koumaras (here pictured in 1994 fronting the Exploding Crustaceans and wearing the season's hottest floral sundress pattern) prototyped the cross-dressing death-rocker style that made millions for Marilyn Manson. Now he's a broken man.

Final Transmission

Richer by more than 200 pairs of Dockers and ready to take the principal's office from the inside, Matt Koumaras pens his farewell notes

By Matt Koumaras

AFTER TWO YEARS, four months and 22 days as the "underground" music writer for Metro Santa Cruz, I must desist and give my goodbye. It's been a distinct pleasure serving you. I've met plenty of nice people, made a few enemies wedged between the usual kiss-assing suspects, but most importantly, I've made enough cash to become the only punk rocker who owns more than 200 pairs of Dockers. Like Ronald Reagan, Kiss and the 1999 Golden State Warriors, I'm leaving at the top of my game.

The early '90s local punk band Backwash had a song entitled "No Scene in Santa Cruz." It had the usual cheesy hardcore messages about unity, but it's basically true. There is still no permanent place for all-age shows; there's a lack of practice spaces, and talk of a 10pm music curfew is downright evil. Everything seems raised against a scene. But a scene is blooming despite it all. It's been awesome to see various musical fronts crossing over--emo hipsters praising the Lucifuge at metal shows, punks nibbling on gouda at indie art shows, me becoming Scrabble buddies with Sista Monica, and so on.

Why am I leaving? The death threats were kind of cute at first, but now those severed pig heads I find on my bed with the note inscribed "You" just aren't that amusing anymore. I also have little time to give. I've been working towards a masters in education a couple of nights a week in San Jose. Plus I've got the 8am-5pm day job that has been chomping away at my cerebellum. I start student-teaching English in high school this fall--so if any of you kids start fusing Riff Raff lyrics into your creative writing exercises, I've got a referral with your name on it.

I've also been busy recording a CD with the Crustaceans so marketable that Christina Aguilera will be hand-feeding me caviar in a nun's habit by the next Grammys. I never expected to be signed by Geffen Records, but it happened. Your cruel taunts damage me far more than any bullet. Please stop stamping those damn bar codes all over my new, tricked-out Lexus. To give back to the scene, I will pick up the cover price for every future Metro Santa Cruz you see in town, and you won't have to pay a cent. I'm sorry.

There is also a "Yoko, Oh No!" girlfriend factor. I've been spending too much "me" time and not enough "we" time. I think I should devote more time to her--considering she's already raising 11 of my children (who will soon become more formidable than the Clements punk dynasty). Mock me all you want, but just like the Captain and Tenille and Penn and Teller, I'm doing this for love.

New blood is good. I'm confident that whoever follows in my footsteps will shine even more perspective on bands I loved, hated or simply missed. Things won't change between us. If you see me walking down the street, remember to put your head down and quickly walk the other way--just like the old days. If I have one regret, it's that I really wish I knew everyone's last names so I could write to you from my plush, vacation home in the Flats. Until we eat meat again.

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From the March 22-29, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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