Monday, August 4, 2008

Jimmy Yu - Part VI, The Final Entry

Jimmy with Judge at CBGB, NYC. Take note of a young Skip Turning Point X'ed up and packed up front. Photo: Boiling Point

This wraps up our gigantic interview with Jimmy Yu. Be sure to go back and check any parts you have missed.

We want to give Jimmy a big thanks for being a gracious host and letting us put this out there for everyone. And oh, Jimmy just got his doctorate from Princeton, so he is now Dr. Yu! Coolest doctor to come out of hardcore? You decide.


I started going on retreats once I really got into Buddhism and left Judge. I have a tendency to be pretty extreme. When I get into something, I completely dive into it. I had a girlfriend in college for four years, and even that didn't hold me back in becoming a monk. Each time I would tell her that's what I needed to do, she would cry. The first time she just started crying, and I said, "Ok, don't cry, I won't do it." The second time I told her she started to cry and I thought, "Oh no, I can't see her cry!" So I didn't do it. The third time, I just did it, I just moved in. I found out that this was the most meaningful thing I can do. By that point I just felt like life was meaningless. I didn't even think I would live past 20, the way I was living. I needed something useful. I felt like, "Wow, I can actually translate these texts from Chinese into English. I can do something. I can be a useful person and transcribe these things for my Zen Master." And I dove right in.

I kept in touch with my friends when I left Judge, but not on a major level. It's a shame. But that's how I am when I dive into something. I didn't keep in touch with the guys in Judge in a way where I knew what the new record was like or anything. And after I graduated in 1991, I moved right to the monastery, and I kept in touch with no one. Nobody at all. A big part of it was the travel, because every 3 months I was back and forth to Taiwan. I was just trying to understand this new thing, learning it. I didn't look back. I went to the University of Kansas after I lived in the monastery, and then I came back to the east coast and went to Princeton. So I got in touch and looked some people up then, but not much.

All of us in the hardcore scene were kind of looking for something. Even early on when we were crazy, diving off of stages, getting in fights and fighting people, going nuts at shows, on one hand we were lost. But on the other hand we were still searching for something even though we were. So I guess these religious traditions kind of attracted some of us, especially the Hare Krishnas, they accepted us and they accepted street kids…when nobody else did. They were accepted…no matter what.

So, I found my place. My brother on the other hand, he actually ran away from home. It started out with him doing this many times. Usually he always came home, I would open the back door, and he came back. But then one time he didn't come back, and I was starting to worry. He found some place to work, and he was staying at a girl's house and living with her, and that's now actually his wife believe it or not. But he never came home. He got into work, and she had a child from a previous marriage, and real quick he just became like a family man and a provider. He didn't go to school, he just worked and built his career from there.

He wasn't really around to see Judge and all that. I told him about it, but he was in a different place. DBD was his thing, he always loved that. That was the band that Steve really loved, at the time he was like, "Yeah, that's my future, playing guitar, doing this band." That was his life. Every now and then he'll say "Let's do it again!" I'm like, "Steve, come on. Twenty years later. There is already another hardcore band with the name. Hang it up." But he loved it.

Jimmy and Mike at Oliver J's in Allentown, PA, Photo: Boiling Point

Yesterday with Mike, he brought up to speed about so much. Talking about the old days, who is where now, who has died, what he is up to. He actually wanted to know who I was in touch with or what I knew, because he is really a hermit, he doesn't really stay in touch with anyone or seek anyone out. We talked about how we were family back then, and that was really deep to hear his say that. Just seeing him was like seeing a brother, you know? It had been twenty years, it was emotional. And we made plans to stay in touch, because the context for us to hang out in, it wasn't right. But it meant a lot.

Mike and I, we were very close. Even yesterday when I saw him, I was getting all emotional, and I said, "Mike man, I've very grateful to you, that you were my best friend during those days." Mike took in what I said, but he isn't the type of guy that would break down and share his feelings, so he didn't know how to react. But he took in what I said. He was telling me yesterday that me and Steve, we were his family. Steve was his first best friend. He was an outcast in a preppy town, and they were best friends. And then me. The three of us just hung out all the time. It was family.

I just want to say thank you. Thank you to you guys for taking the time to do this, thank you to all the kids from so many years ago, the people we met, the people we hung out with, played with, went crazy with...and moshed with. It was family. It was a time and a place in my life I have always hung on to. I couldn't ever forget about that. To the guys in Judge - Mike, Porcell, Sammy, even Luke and Drew, and Matt and Lars that came afterwards that I never even really knew. That band was a big part of me even if for a short time, and I am very proud of what we did.

I'll never forget it.


xSkinhead Jaix said...

This interview was amazing. Jimmy Yu is fucking stance. So cool to see he's still stoked on his time in hardcore. People who act like it didn't mean much to them or say it was just a phase that kids go through are a fucking joke.

DAVID said...

What an amazingly humble, stand up dude. Jimmy seems top notch. If you read this Jimmy, thanks for everything.

Nick said...

totally - fucking great to hear about all those days

Anonymous said...

This is straight up MARID.

Mike P. said...

Bravo! That was a fantastic interview.

jason powell said...

This whole series on Jimmy Yu was spectacular.

William Patrick Wend said...

NJ's own Jay Fisher also got his PhD from Princeton a few years ago. He also has a Judge tattoo if I remember correctly.

Lenny Zimkus said...

great series, it was nice to get the back story with dbd and the personal aspects of his life that were apart of the hardcore chapter of his life.
also someone needs to track down the person filming the show in the first pic.

Buske said...

Sad that the interview has come to an end, but it's been a fantastic read. Good job, DC dudes and thanks for the great read, Jimmy.

Anonymous said...

this was so thing though, i wanted to here way more about the mike judge now. you know, what he's into, shit like that. i loved the interview, but i was alittle bummed on that.

CARGAWAR said...

This ongoing interview kept me awake sometimes... I started reading the articles on XX but found myself skipping some to read more about Jimmy. What a stand out guy he is.
If you may read this Jimmy: your contribution to influencing peoples lifes crossed many oceans, like here in Holland, EUR, where we were moshing to your NY Crew soundtrack. And even though we never got to see you live, we caught the energy man. And that's what I call ZEN!
Mad props to Mike as well. Wishing him all the best...

CARGAWAR said...

@ anonymous: maybe Tim & Gordo could look Mike up someday and get his story...?

btw: if anyone's interested how we lived those days here in Europe, drop me a note: cargawar [at]

Eric Drake said...

Hey dblxxer's, As a member of this early Hardcore shift I thought you might want to check out some original Double Cross hardcore.

check out the early 80's CA hardcore outfit - Double Cross - at MySpace:


Kim said...

I just came across this interview series 2 years after and am glad I did. It was a fantastic read and Jimmy Yu seems like a beyond humble dude. Really glad I found this and thanks for doing the interview.

Fernando Insociable said...

Man! Amazing stuff! Props to DC!!! Actually it would be interesting to compile a list of all the Hardcore Academics! I know other folks (some from more "contemporary" hardcore eras) that are professors, and you can't say Hardcore (and the ideas/rebelliousness/radicalism) didn't influence them. Off the top of my head:

Jose Palafox (Struggle, Swing Kids, Bread and Circuits) I believe taught at UC Berkley, Stanford, etc.

Rich Booher (Esperanza, Dirty Dirt and the Dirts) who was pretty involved in late 90's HC scene in So Cal also teaches at the university level, forget where.

Mike Amezcua (who received his Phd from Yale, Wide Awake T-shirts status) teaches or is doing a fellowship at Northwestern University I believe. Dude had a label called Discos El Grito and put out Bread and Circuits, Former Members of Alfonsin and other awesome stuff.

Anyways, the Jimmy Yu interview was awesome. It would be interesting to see more retrospectives such as these, like the interplay between hardcore and where it takes people in we can see on some folks it leaves an indelible mark...