The Obelisk Turns 10 Years Old Today


So I went earlier this month and got a tattoo. I’m 37 years old and it’s my first one. It’s a design by Sean ‘Skillit’ McEleny with a purple octopus wrapped around an obelisk that’s been pulled out of the ground from its base, and the octopus is holding up a sign that says ‘Thanks for Reading.’

It was done by Kaitlin Butler at EvolvInk in Morristown, New Jersey — right near the train station on the M&E line — and it’s my way of literally marking the 10 years of my life that have gone into this site. I wanted Skillit to do the design because he so excellently captured the gleeful vibe of the All-Dayer poster in 2016 and that was the feeling I wanted. Something happy. He nailed it, as did Butler in bringing it to life on the inside of my right forearm.

I’ve named the octopus Petunia, by the way, like from Pete and Pete. I make it dance for The Pecan and he loves it.

Over the last couple months, I’ve thought long and hard about what I want to say in this post. Probably too long, and definitely too hard. It always comes back to thank you. That is primary. That’s everything. Thank you. If you want, you can stop reading now, because as long as you’ve seen that, I’m satisfied. Thank you. 10 years of this site would not have happened without your support. Thank you.

The first post here went up Jan. 31, 2009. Very clearly I had no idea what I was getting into, but over the last decade, The Obelisk has come to consume so much more of my identity than I ever could’ve known it would. I didn’t do the meme that was the 10-year challenge, but I’ve done a lot of reflecting on it and while there are some things I’d change — the site’s had the same theme for 10 years! 10 years! One theme! Come on! — I stand by everything here. The early snark, the fact that I spent all of 2013 being pissed off at the move to digital promos and all of 2014 being the wordiest bastard on the planet, all of it. It’s all me. The experiments that worked, the experiments that didn’t work. All the stuff that I did that reminded me just how much the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do is write. It’s all here, and I know sometimes on the internet it’s hard to see words on a screen and imagine a person writing them, but to me, these words are mine. I own them. And I feel that way about everything here. For the last 10 years. And just for today, maybe just for this post, I’m going to let myself be proud of that.

the obelisk tattooI don’t expect that to last.

Thank you for reading.

Thank you to The Patient Mrs. for her seemingly unending support. I don’t think she’s always understood, but she’s certainly done more than her fair share of indulging, and this never would’ve happened without her. Thank you to Slevin for his ongoing technical expertise and get-your-ass-in-gear-ness. Changes are coming to the forum, though there’s something of a debate about what that looks like, but if Slevin didn’t give a crap, nothing would get done. Thanks to the incredible and strong women I’m lucky enough to call my family — Pamela, Suze, Cate, Sam, Sage — as well as to the gentlemen who make me aspire to be a better person — Andy, Walker, Emmett, Tyler, and especially the Pecan.

Thanks to the several good friends I’m fortunate enough to have. Thanks to Walter Hoeijmakers, who 10 years later continues to inspire with his passion and creativity. Thanks to Liz Ciavarella-Brenner for helping bring my own passion for music into focus. Thank you to Steve Murphy for the ongoing reality checks. Thanks to Scott Harrington, Scott Hamilton, Todd Severin, Niels Bartholdy, Stefan Koglek, and all the labels and PR people and companies who have helped bring new music here on a constant stream I couldn’t possibly hope to keep up with. Thanks to Gimme Radio for having me, to Dropout Merch and Made in Brooklyn for handling that end of things, to Maryland Doom Fest for welcoming me and to all the other fests I’ve been to over the years. And again, thanks to you for reading.

For as long as I’ve loved anything, I’ve loved music. I was an awkward fat kid and 30 years later I’m an awkward fat adult, but whatever. I can still put on some record and get out of my own head for half an hour like I could when I was seven years old. I don’t memorize lyrics as easily as I once did, and of course my relationship to listening has changed, but that experience continues to be central to who I am, and this site has become a key part of that. Put your head down, keep working. We also just passed 9,000 likes on Thee Facebooks this morning, and I put up the 11,000th post last week, which was for acting as a presenter for the upcoming 1000mods Australian tour, which is the kind of thing I feel stupid lucky to be involved in.

I could go on and on and on. Really. I’ve gone back and forth for months in my head about how I wanted to approach this. Because this is it. This is my celebration — well, this and the tattoo. But after this, I’m not gonna mention it again. There’s no show, no self-aggrandizing celebratory compilation, nothing like that. I love writing. So there’s writing. I’m gonna finish this post and do another, and tomorrow I’m gonna close out the week like nothing happened. I still need to pick a record for that. Ah jeez.

But the point is that as I’ve approached the actual making of this post, I’ve been filled with ideas for discussion. The notion of self as product in a social media sphere. The idea of becoming your work identity. The pieces of ourselves we show others and what we keep private. This site as the defining work of my life. It’s all come into my head over the last however long — I’d say at least since last October and probably well before that — but now that I’m here, I don’t want to talk about any of it. I just want to say thank you.

So thank you. Thanks for reading.

Like Petunia says.

It’s been 10 years, and I still don’t know what’ll happen tomorrow or the next day, but we’re here, so thank you. I am grateful for and humbled every day by your support.

JJ Koczan


26 Responses to “The Obelisk Turns 10 Years Old Today”

  1. Obvious & Odious says:

    no, thank YOU!

    Congrats and keep it rolling!

  2. Stoom says:

    Thank you for this amazing site and constantly introducing me to new and great music.

  3. Earl Walker Lundy says:

    Congratulations dear boy ! The Obelisk is a beacon for all who sail the scene’s salty sea of tears, and a standard for sages all. May the Gods bless you and yours, always. e.

  4. John says:

    Can’t thank you enough for all your work. I found so many amazing releases, and tour dates because of this site. Doom on.

  5. Mike H says:

    10 years…damn… To a job (so far beyond) well done. YOU are an inspiration and an undeniable asset of gargantuan proportions to the world of heavy music. As someone who has been coming here for nearly 10 years, I think of this site and you as one in the same, unfairly probably. Someone I feel I have grown close to over the years, which is just weird (we have still yet to meet in person). I have felt at times that has given me the right to express myself in ways not wholly appropriate and to which I have no right. It feels as though you put so much of who you are into this site, that it creates some sort of false connection with long time readers. Your openness and honesty about your personal struggles, it makes The Obelisk seem like a living breathing being. Which I think it is really. I think you and The Obelisk are inseparable at this point…there is no difference. What we the readers, myself especially, need to remember is while it is you, it is only a part of who you are. There is so much more that we don’t know. My sincerest apologies for overstepping at times. It was out of genuine concern, however, misplaced (I guess) it might have been. You rock. This site rocks and I hope to write another one of these ten years from now. …and to me, you still are The Dude.

  6. miller says:

    Thank you brother for being you.

    As for the Friday full length, maybe it is time for your album of the decade to mark your (first) decade of The Obelisk.

    All the best my friend!

  7. David says:


  8. Tap Scott says:

    Happy Obeliskiversary!!!!! You should be proud for all you do :) Thank YOU!

  9. Remi VL says:

    Thanks for all the hard work. Hope I can buy you a drink someday! :)

  10. wombat60 says:

    You should be very, very proud JJ. We give you permission to be proud. We also give you permission to continue for another ten years ;)

  11. SabbathJeff says:

    1st things 1st: Congratulations, Salud, Mazel Tov & Mabrook to you & this wonderful blog you’ve steadfastly maintained & outdone year after year; frankly, day by day in many instances. Thank you for letting us all in on these feelings & thoughts about this music that you so obviously cherish. The vast number of tours, albums, labels and bands I’ve discovered simply via this blog is incalculable, and I can only say that the gratitude is all on this side of the fence.

    2ndly: In sincere amends for poor decisions, my apologies are owed to you. I’m sorry, J.J. I’ve never stopped reading & I never will. In trying to share some experience, strength and hope your direction, I publically and brashly was far too attached to my own judgmental reactions & feelings on difficult matters. I still have journals left from my old sick self, filled, solely, with the syntax-ly-challenged sentence “fucking kill me.” Because basically, that was all I was using my brain to do at that time. I should never have reacted outwardly in the manner I did. It was from a place of concern but that doesn’t excuse the behavior. I wasn’t wrong for caring; the way I expressed and reacted so judgmentally and attached to your pain was absolutely incorrect. Again dude, I’m really sorry.

    Thank you, again, for still keeping on and doing what you do. I don’t know how you keep up with all the music that you do, and I don’t know how I would without your tenacity. Your dedication to ‘the scene’ is beyond admirable. You’re a piece of this riff puzzle; one of those anchoring, cornerstone pieces, at that.

  12. Able Stivers says:

    Congrats JJ – Amazing writing, excellent knowledge, and great taste. Love reading the Obelisk and look forward to the next decade.

  13. Deanne FirkinGood says:

    As always, very grateful for what you do for the community that is music…see you at MDDF if not sooner! ?

  14. Sam says:

    Thank YOU. For the hours and the care and the love and the knowledge. And the sharing of all those things. One grateful dude here.

  15. Gaia says:

    Thank you HP Taskmaster! It’s been a pleasure reading for so long. When I wrote for The Number of the Blog back in ‘10 I always wanted to steal everything you wrote ha! I’ve been a reader ever since, and even introduced myself awkwardly at Desertfest UK back in 2013. Before Stubb I think. Thank you for all the hard work, and your humongous contribution to this scene. I love The Obelisk.

  16. jose humberto says:

    More years to come please


  17. Mike aka Demoffola says:

    Late to the Birthday Party. Just wanted to say congratulations on the Obelisk’s 10th Birthday. Its a special place looked after by a special guy. Cheers JJ for all that you do and I look forward to more new discoveries and musical journeys over the coming years.
    Catch ya Sunday/Monday.

  18. Harvey KK says:

    I could not really tell if I was there from the start, but I’ve been around. And I have discovered a great deal of stuff thanks to you. Congrats JJ!!

  19. Rick says:

    I had HAIR on my head when I first started reading here…ha.
    (sad, but true)
    Been a fun and interesting read.
    Thanks for doing it!

  20. Jason says:

    Congrats, JJ. Thanks for the hard work and dedication. All the best

  21. Gavin aka Kings of Frog Island says:

    Congrats JJ
    And thanks for being a big part in our lives.
    I will leave the words to you.

  22. milton says:

    godluck goodspeed

  23. Dan says:

    JJ, you post I read. Thank you for consistently providing enjoyable content. It’s easy to start something like a blog, but when you keep something going for ten years you have a real accomplishment. Congrats!

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