So, Happy Mondays (even though I do realize that by the time I post this it will be Tuesday) to all of you out there in the blogisphere. I apologize for not posting in a while, I have wanted to but I have just been too busy!! My husband and I are sitting here dinner listening to “post punks for post punks” radio program via the internet. My husband is relaxing, reading “Less than Zero” by Bret Easton Ellis, published in 1985. He felt all the elements here went well together: post punk music, the bright warm sun and the destructive lost-but-priviledged 80’s youth and the loose connection to Germany (thanks much to post-punk).
All of this sprouted a conversation between us about firsts, especially with regard to music. We grew up rather differently, my husband with many (many siblings) living the life a parochial youth: church, large family, God, etc while my youth was spent mainly with my father’s business, popular culture and wishing I was as cool as my sister and pretty much in that order.
We both watched MTV late at night especially, which I found rather striking simply because it might mean something deeper or it might be yet another thing in our lives that parallels. I used to stay up late nightly and sneak down into my parents tv room to watch MTV until I couldn’t stay awake any more, which usually meant I would go to sleep at about 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning only to wake up at about 7:00 AM for school. I can’t really tell you why, perhaps Freddy Kruger had more to do with it than I thought, but I can’t be certain because I saw a lot of the Nightmare on Elmstreet films before I couldn’t sleep at night. My husband said he used to listen to the Carpenters and apparently lots of ’70’s folk/rock. His musical tastes also apparently developed a little later than mine, but I must admit he has pretty good taste today, in both women and music!
When I couldn’t sleep I would watch music videos because that was still mainly what MTV showed. I used to watch “120 minutes” “Headbangers Ball” and “Yo! MTV Raps” among others. I also used to attempt to memorize all the songs and dance moves to all the cooler videos. In fact I used to be able to lip-synch to Madonna’s Vogue better than anyone else I knew. And yes, I knew exactly that I was a drag queen in waiting!
So, back to firsts, mine at least…
I remember, before my families basement was finished as a tv/rec room, it was just the basement and I used to spend a lot of time down there in my make believe land where I would sell food to my stuffed animals via my imaginary restaurant. In this restaurant I would use my father’s grocery circulars as the menu. When I would spend time with my grandmother I would play outside, generally making mud pies that I would give to my grandmother or “sell” to my stuffed animals in the basement. We also had a ping-pong table that my parents had set up for my sister and I, but that would usually just collect clothes from the laundry room on it. It was under this ping-pong table that I would also play make believe. I don’t remember what kind of things I would under it, I think I had a makeshift room set up under it because my sister and I still shared a room at this point. It seemed normal to be so young and adept at quality customer service. It was after all such an important part of my family’s life/business.
I distinctly remember my father coming to get me from the basement one day saying we were all going shopping and that both my sister and I could buy one record. I remember being so excited because when I was in the basement I would listen to the radio, which was usually tuned to Portland top 40, Z100. I was young, I didn’t know any better. I always heard “Do you really wanna hurt me?” by the Culture Club (1982). I loved that song and so, that was the only album I could think of when my father informed us that we could all get one album. It was also really special because it was really not like my dad to do something like this, as least as far as I can remember. Unfortunately, in the end I didn’t listen to it much because I think my sister made fun of me whenever I played it. Funny thing is now though, I don’t remember what album my sister picked out, only the one my father picked out: Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the USA.” That record, and all the others that I grew up with and collected along the way are currently in storage in my parents barn along with all of my other stuff…
A few years later, I remember being at my aunt’s house in SE Portland. She had a huge yard with an enormous garden with delicious cherry tomatoes all the time. I mean it, every time we would go there she seemed to have an endless supply of cherry tomatoes to the extent that now I cannot a) buy a tomato unless it smells like a flippin’ tomato, and b) cherry tomatoes specifically make me think of my aunt. I thought she was great! She openly read National Lampoon, which mixed humor with breasts and sex jokes – believe me I noticed. She also smoked and drank and always seemed to be straight with me. I have come to learn that this is simply the job of the ‘aunt’ since I now occupy this role in my family – and LOVE it! One night when it was just my aunt and I hanging out together, perhaps I had just spent the night there, we were listening to the Go-Go’s and I really liked them. I mentioned something about this to my aunt to then proceeded to give me the cassette tape, “Beauty and the Beat” (1981) that she had. I think I might have worn that cassette out I listened to it so much. I thought it was so cool, and that I was so cool for having it because it used to belong to my ‘cool aunt’!
Jump to some time in the early 1990’s when my sister was playing softball and her friend Cindy gave me her old copy of “Holiday” or more accurately “You can dance,” which had “Holiday” remixed on the CD single.
I thought it was so very cool to have a CD, never really mind that I had to wait to get a boom box for Christmas that same year. With it I also received four CD’s from my parents: Whitney by Whitney Houston, We Will Rock You by Queen and two others I cannot remember to save my life. I remember thinking and, I am pretty sure saying, that I didn’t know who this Queen was, but that they couldn’t be cool! Again, I was young, I didn’t know any better. It really is a good thing that both time and my parents helped me to see the errors of my ways!
This is where the story of my firsts becomes far less fun and rather sad. I imagine we all have to have a foray into the abyss at some point in my life and well, at least it was when I was really young!!! When I was still in primary or grade school ( aged 8 or 9) my friend invited me to see the New Kids on the Block in concert. I could sing every single song on the radio and their album Hangin’ Tough. I thought that I was the coolest ever for getting to go with my friend to this concert. I am also now not to happy about my early concert experiences, as they were Brian Adams and then Color Me Bad. This horrible accident I was able to salvage a bit of dignity from and went on to see Bjork, The Postal Service, the Beastie Boys, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Violent Femmes, The Flaming Lips, Cat Power, The Shins, Robert Plant & Jimmy Page, Metallica, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Jefferson Airplane, Modest Mouse, Tori Amos, Gil Scott Heron and many (many) others (especially Portland or Northwest bands) too.