I looked forward yesterday so today I'm going backwards for an exhaustive look back at the pop culture references I was dropping in 1986 and 1987. From a notebook I titled Everything Sucks. It was a small spiral notebook with 80 91/2x6 sheets. I'd fill two of them up in a year with standard diary issue entries along with drawings, songs, and best of lists. I liked to think of myself as a writer, but re-reading them today I find little real writing. There's also an obvious obsession with consuming the properly sanctioned cool items at the expense of a developing individuality. This is not a horrible thing since I was only 20 when I wrote the stuff.
excerpts from Everything Sucks:
My tape player is blaring out The Kinks and all is well. There's an entry about going to see the White Animals for the first time: clove cigarettes, dyed hair, mohawk Sunday afternoon at Cantrell's nightclub. A drawing of the cover of Pink Floyd's The Wall. I'm listening to 91 Rock. Bob Geldof is now called Sir and Monday's are now an international holiday. "It's Tricky!" Iggy Pop still lives in a trailer park! Charon will ferry me to damnation. Listening to some 70's band wasting time at the gameroom.
There is a list of authors under the heading Def Writers. Ironically they're all white dudes. Kerouac, Snyder, Ferlinghetti, Kesey, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Fitzgerald, Wolfe, Mailer, Keats, Coleridge, Rimbaud, Shelly, Shakespeare, Thoreau, Vonnegut, Heller, Hemingway, Faulkner, Corso, & Nietzsche.
There's a drawing of Tom Waits' Small Change album cover. Listening to Charlie Parker. Sounds like West Side Story. Lou Reed and John Cale are knocking my ears about "Lady Godiva". Singing along with The Clash always makes me feel good. I worked the TV Guide crossword puzzle and boy was my brain drained. There's a drawing of the cover of the 25th Anniversary paperback edition of Jack Kerouac's On The Road. Strongbox full of ghosts reading Nietzsche and laughing at the ladies smoking Virginia Slims and wetting their fingers before they turn the pages. The Black Flag bars on a page where I write that I should move to Mexico like Kerouac and Burroughs.
There is a list of my favorite movies at the time in no particular order. To Kill A Mockingbird, Wizard Of Oz, Woodstock, Pink Floyd's The Wall, The Breakfast Club, Rebel Without A Cause, St. Elmo's Fire, The Big Chill, Taps, The Deer Hunter, Where The Red Fern Grows, Rocky, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Lady And The Tramp, Over The Edge, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Repo Man, It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Apocalypse Now, Breathless, Breaking Away, and Weird Science. It's a strange mixture of childhood and teenage movies. I still like most of them.
Punk band logos adorn the bottom of the next page: Dead Kennedys, M.D.C., Minor Threat, Subhumans, Black Flag, Vicious Circle, J.F.A., Suicidal Tendencies, G.B.H., Beastie Boys, Circle Jerks, D.O.A., F Particles, & my own fake band Wastoids.
Even them I was obsessing about the past. Here's the story of my first date in 9th grade. A gas company could have possible exploded on the night of my first date with Elaine. We had to take the long way around to get to the game and dance. Riverdale beat Oakland (I was attending Oakland then), but I didn't pay much attention to the game. I played with a Rubik's Cube while I waited in line with Elaine to get into the dance. I danced to "Flame Thrower" with C.J. and Help Me Rhonda while Elaine pouted because she didn't want to boogie. Some other dude even asked if he could dance with her, but I called bullshit on that. When the slow songs played Elaine was on the floor holding me close. This incident is interesting to me more for the fact that I was a regular disco kid throwing down moves with all of the cute girls than the actual romance with Elaine. I would go on to more romances, but I'd never dance like that again unless you count slam dancing.
It's been almost two years since the Flag was in Rolling Stone, but hey man I get to see the Du on March 3rd (Warehouse tour). Spent my last penny and I may have to go alone, but it "Makes No Sense At All" and it shall be wunderbar. It'll be the first band I've seen since R.E.M. that matters. I'll walk if I have to. This is followed by a summary of Norman O. Brown's 1960 Phi Beta Kappa address at Columbia University. I guess I was trying to throw on a little coat of intellectual paint. It peeled pretty quickly.
"Do It Clean" Echo! No more Buddhist mantras. A drawing of a Foster's Lager can. "I think I'll read alot of William Burroughs and be depressed" - Camper Van Beethoven. Mind on! Get the firehose. d. Boon is proud. Will computers erase our humanity? Multiple unflattering references to Reagan. I plop J.D. Salinger into the mix on a page featuring some entirely crappy short story. One page is devoted to a glowing review of the Family Ties episode where Alex's friend Greg gets killed in a car wreck. If that doesn't prove I was a dork I don't know what could. There's a drawing of The Clash at the bottom of the page, even if Topper is missing. There's a drawing of the Flash.
The last pages of Everything Sucks was devoted to a review of the Husker Du show. The interesting bits are that there were kids in grade school at the show, I got pissed that the band was playing the Warehouse album in its entirety, and that their encore version of "Helter Skelter" was the best live music I'd ever witnessed and heard.
That's the end of the trip back into the past. Back in 1986 and 1987 it was so serious, but it seems all so harmless and lightweight to me now. I'm glad it does.