Superhero Origin Story

The Noise publicity photo, 2001
Lexi Kahn, Senior Associate Editor

In 1994, college was in the rearview, and it had been two years since moving from New York to Boston. I'd worked my ass off for every company a suburban temp agency sent me to, and eventually my fat folder full of glowing recommendations got me a full time job at one of big ones. They gave me a pager and an American Express corporate card. I'd stumbled upwards into a high visibility, lucrative high-tech career, but I was feeling creatively stumped.

At the suggestion of an old college friend, I went to see a band at a restaurant in Central Square. The name of this charmingly ramshackle establishment was also it's cuisine: The Middle East. I ordered falafel and pumpkin kibby, which was magnificent. The music decorating the shabby chic ambiance was better than anything on the radio in those days. On a rack full of local publications I picked up my first Phoenix, the regional arts & culture newspaper. I also found a copy of The Noise.

Lexi Kahn (Michelle DiPoala) and T Max (Timothy Maxwell)
The Noise, 2002
The Noise was a scrappy little rag, black and white and clearly desktop published, but something about it intrigued me. Every article was about local music or a local personality. While the writing wasn't always great, the words were at least charged with a kind of raw expression that can only be found in writing that isn't assigned or paid for, because as it turned out this was a fanzine. These writers were just local music fans, punks and cowboys, and they could give a wet slap about grammar or spelling. It was droll, it was humorous and I liked its utter lack of pretension, or maybe it was totally pretentious -- the thing about the 90s was you couldn't tell anymore. I called the guy running the thing, and before long I'd started writing for The Noise myself.

The first thing T Max asked me once we'd talked on the phone and he told me what to do about writing for his indie publication ("Go see some music and write about it") was what byline did I want to use? I had noticed that many of The Noise writers used pen names, such as Einstein and Spaghettio Reverso. "I'm Lexi Kahn," was what popped out of my mouth. Back in New York I'd been assigned this rock moniker by a band called The Di$counts. The play on "lexicon" was because of my vocabulary. I like words.

All the Queen's Men performing at Bikini Test,
La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland (2002)

My years with The Noise were awesome. At work I was doing great, making a lot of money, plus the company was flexible about hours, so therefore I could afford the time and the money to go out and see local music just about every night. I could be out 'til 1 or 2 if I don't have to show up to the office until 10am. I wrote about everything that I saw and heard, bought about a thousand CDs and interviewed the music makers.

I started Low Budget Superhero as a show booking/publicity entity and online music zine of my own. The Noise covered only New England artists, literally -- like if a New York band was on the same bill with a Boston band, T Max only wanted a review of the Boston band. So Low Budget Superhero became my outlet for writing about anybody I loved, and the brand under which I booked my own showcases, did some marketing and PR for local bands (bio's, one-sheets, press kits, flyers, website banners), managed and road-managed a band (All the Queens Men) and I began co-chairing the monthly Boston Rock and Roll Social with three awesome women.

I am extremely lucky that I was welcomed into such an active, creative community when I needed it most, a place to inspire and get inspired every day in a surprising new way. Everyone was excited about things, we all wanted to make something beautiful and put it out into the world. I loved every minute of those years. The rock, the places, the people. I wouldn't trade those years for a trunk full of cash. The friendships forged in the sticky-floored, smoke-filled Boston basements yelling into each other's ears to be heard are the kind of friendshps forged in blood.

Joe "onlyone" Kowalski
Bass, All the Queen's Men (2002)
By 2008, enough of my situation had changed (job, money, time) that it becamse necessary to reallocate my resources, and the local music thing, which had been pretty much another full time job, had to be considerably cut back. Also I was pretty burned out.

It took a year or two, but I resigned from the Rock and Roll Social, left The Noise, and dismantled the Low Budget Superhero enterprise. I kept the domain as a regular, ordinary blog. Now it's 2015 and I have more of a casual acquaintanceship with the local music scene. Me and local rock are like when you give a polite nod to an old lover who has caught your eye from across a crowded room. Except the bass player for All the Queen's Men -- that guy I married this year.

Is there a greater local music community in any other city? Boston people, if you don't know any local music, go find out. You'll find magic there, I highly recommend it. I also recommend the Middle East's falafel and pumpkin kibby. It's still magnificent!  😀

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