Anybody who knows much of anything about indie-rock or punk knows who J. Robbins is. The guy's an honest-to-God icon in the indie/punk/hardcore scene, dating from his days in Government Issue and Jawbox (one of my all-time favorite bands, as well as one of the most intense, awe-inspiring live bands I've ever seen) up through his Burning Airlines project, the bazillion production jobs he's done for bands like The Promise Ring, The Stereo, Hey Mercedes, Murder by Death, or Jets to Brazil, and now into his latest band, Channels. The man is a hero, seriously. He makes me feel like a slacker and a half.
Like most rockers his age in the scene, though, J.'s a grown-up these days -- he's married, and he and his wife, Janet Morgan, had a cute little baby boy, Callum Robbins, back on January 27th of last year. And here's where it gets sad. It turns out that Cal has something called Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy (Type 1 SMA, for short; it's also known as Werdnig-Hoffman disease). I don't get all the clinical details, but it sounds bad and involves the brain's control of the muscles that let him swallow, breathe, move his head, and crawl. It can be fatal; most kids with the disease die before they turn 2. If the little guy survives into his third year, he'll never walk, and he'll most likely never have a normal life. There's no cure for SMA, just a long, bleak road full of therapy and heartache. Whatever happens, the financial burden is going to be crushing -- we're not talking people who have all-inclusive family health insurance, here, but an self-employed recording engineer/producer who's basically on his own.
Well, that's not completely true -- Robbins and family aren't on their own, really, because they've got people like you and me. I have to admit that this affects me in two different ways, both as a parent of a 2-year-old and as a fan of Robbins' work over the years. Cal's a cute little fella, going by the pictures, and since having my own little munchkin around, I've gotten all sappy and wussy; stuff like that just melts my heart. Now, I know that there're a ton of sick kids out there, and they all deserve to be helped, but heck, I can't do that, so I've got to be a little choosy. Jawbox, in particular, was one of the defining bands of my college days, and was probably the band that most made me want to be in a band myself -- J. Robbins' music has meant a lot to me, and I'm eternally grateful for that.
So, given that, here's the chance for me to give something back to somebody who's given so much to me. I'm going to donate a chunk of my hard-earned cash (hopefully more later on, but I haven't gotten paid lately, so y'know) to J., Janet, and Cal -- they've got PayPal set up on the DeSoto Records Website, or you can just send 'em a check at the address they've got listed there. If you, like me, feel a debt to Robbins, or if you just want to help out a family in need, then check out the site and give as much as you want to or can. You can't help everybody, no, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to help at all.
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