Monday, October 01, 2007

Diary: In October, 1995.

The randomization of these accounts of months has been weird lately... they almost seem to be pointing toward an actual narrative.

If you like you can pick up here from September 1995, and the huge house-wrecking party described at the end of that entry actually happened in October.

At said party I played my electric clarinet. What this meant was that I electric taped a microphone to the bell (with the effect that notes went way flat), plugged in my amp, and ran up to stary playing. As long as I could continue without losing breath, the feedback distorted in a way that would have worked nicely onstage with a rock band. Unfortunately, this ghettoish setup was as sophisticated as I ever got.

Compared to roucous September, October was a month of meditation and recalibration. I borrowed Vitalogy from Greg and listened to it practically every night. Some days, I'd listen to "Immortality" a few dozen times in a row in my room. There was a lot of lying on my back on my bed and staring at the ceiling. I drove with my sister to Sunset Hills in Flint Township and drove around, studying and exploring the crematory grounds, obelisks, and mausolea. I wasn't a goth. I wasn't obsessed with death. I was intrigued by autumnal decay. This was, after all, the coldest year I can remember. The leaves had started turning in late September; they fell in mid-October. Michigan wouldn't really warm up for good until late May.

I was changing in other ways as well. I had really come to a point from which procrastination was no longer possible. Through tenth grade, I'd drawn pictures in class all day, came home, and listened to music all evening. I also had plans to go to Northwestern University at best, and the U of M at worst. These two lifestyles were becoming quickly incompatible... I'd taken the college prep course at high school, and both Algebra III/IV and Chemistry were ready to hurt me if I didn't pick up the pace. Northwestern wouldn't love a few Cs and Ds in meat-and-potatoes classes my Junior year. So I was studying pretty hard every night – a change from the intense fits and starts that had gotten me through other years – and while Chemistry continued to suck hard, I gradually brought Algebra under control. I think my mom was impressed that I was finally doing homework without coercion. I started writing poetry, and my Creative Writing teacher said, "Connor, this is amazing."

Northwestern held an information session in Grand Rapids, and my parents drove me out there. We sped up and down the hills and the trees were spectacular, veiny redshot and orange. We spent the afternoon with my grandma, and stopped at a particular scenic view where I noticed graffiti left by an exchange student from Flushing. On other days, Paul and I would go to my grandma's house to watch a cable-only special on the war in Bosnia. We were also planning an educational theater workshop series. I spent a lot of time on the phone with Brandi. Mitch and I talked about starting a band, but we never really got it together. I spent most evenings at home.

Toward the end of the month, though, something had developed. My heroes, the Smashing Pumpkins, were preparing to release their first album in the over-a-year since I had discovered them. It was a double album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and it was the biggest news in Alternative music since Kurt Cobain has lost several pounds very quickly. From my own unbiased perspective. I was picking up my brother and sister from junior high when I heard Bullet with Butterfly Wings for the first time. I was pulling in my driveway when I heard 1979. I had to get this album on the day it came out. I had to. But I didn't have a job or any money. I would receive some money for bringing home good grades, but my parents hadn't received my report card yet.

On the week before it came out, I listened to Gish, Pisces Iscariot, and Siamese Dream especially, putting myself in the proper spiritual frame of mind to be up-to-speed and fully receptive.

On the night before it came out, the debut concert at the Chicago Riviera broadcast via Simulcast, and I listened from my parents' Saturn, parked in our garage in Flushing, Michigan. I huddled in the cold with a tape recorder perched on my lap and watched the carbon light streak through slats in the wooden walls. I went to bed at about one in the morning.

The next morning I borrowed $20 from a classmate. The moment that school was over I bolted down to Best Buy and bought the new album. I took it home and listened straight through, reading the lyrics as I went. My brother and sister got home from their music lessons. Somewhere in the house, there was an argument about responsibility or something. My room was a mess. The light was on, and it made a contrast next to my windows as the sun went down and even the Poplars outside went purple and black. The songs that impressed me the most that night are – for the most part – not the songs that impress me today. I liked "To Forgive" and "Cupid de Locke". I still like "In the Arms of Sleep." I wasn't particularly impressed with that album on the first listen, but it continued to challenge me, and still challenges me twelve years later.

A week later, right before Halloween, my friend Mitch tried to get me to skip school to go into Flint with him. I didn't. I was worried about being caught, and anyway, I felt like I was catching a nasty cold. In fact, I was in bed most of Halloween night with a headache and a stuffed nose. But that's okay. I was way too old for trick-or-treating anyway.

Where were you in October 1995?

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home