“Hey, hey, it’s the static age. Well, this is how the west was won…”
I didn’t know who she was, but she told me her name was Michelle and she went to my high school. She was a friend of Teddy’s. He had given her my phone number because she was nervous about making friends at a new school. She said she liked Teddy and that maybe she’d like me. Starting ninth grade felt like the first season of a spin-off sitcom that I didn’t want to be on; contractual obligations met with poor managerial choices, is how I’d have envisioned myself explaining it in some career spanning interview years later– ninth grade felt like a real low point. I didn’t know anyone outside of friends from elementary school, cast members the invisible producers decided to keep around, and everyone else was Saved by the Bell: The New Class (1993).
I knew there would be girls, and while this idea was tantalizing, it was like seeing a painfully inaccessible item on the first screen of a Legend of Zelda (1986) game. Even if it appeared to be obtainable, the methodology behind its retrieval was buried in an issue of Nintendo Power (1988) that I didn’t have; dull, aching frustration. Michelle’s phone call was that tantalizing item. I found her at her locker the next morning. We never spoke again.
There was a familiar distance between boys and girls in eighth grade. No resonant feelings of ill will or persistent antagonism– boys and girls were simply on different planes of existence, living in alternate realities like nearby countries with a vaguely shared culture and little cross-talk. Then, one night, as summer approached, O.J. Simpson was accused of killing two people and after refusing surrender to the L.A.P.D., he led police on a slow-speed car chase while threatening suicide. This felt important for reasons that were not immediately evident– certainly not to eighth graders. It was important because the television said it was important. Without deliberate coordination, or so it had seemed, our entire class converged on a single residence to watch, and for the following summer boys and girls were suddenly friends.
And even if Teddy had once suggested my exclusion from a spin-the-bottle game as a way to coax the reluctant opposing team into participation, he still deemed me cool enough for a quick recommendation to a friendly girl. Michelle was short and heavily freckled; long stringy brown hair and a thick, raspy voice that would have been considered an asset during Lindsay Lohan’s tiny window of unironic fame, but that was a lifetime away at the end of 1994, and a little girl who sounded like a dedicated smoker was alienating. Our phone call was awkward even in its brevity. She was excited to meet me. If you’re anything like Teddy… a sentence she didn’t think needed finishing. An idea that she allowed a natural death– the conclusion, to her, was obvious.
And even if it wasn’t as easy as it seemed– even if I were only on the first screen of a long, adventure; a long, painful journey. Even if Michelle had only served as a proof of concept, I had seen the master sword. I knew it was there. I couldn’t unsee it.
The final weeks of summer brought with it the emergence of Green Day as the first post-Nirvana supergroup, at a time when the passing years felt like episodes of a television show: definitive points of entry and exit that were mutually understood and implicitly agreed upon, with decades like TV seasons, each with their own set of aesthetics and plotlines. Just six months after Cobain’s suicide the cultural winds already blew in a different direction. Green Day was sonically lighter than Nirvana. “Basket Case,” Green Day’s runaway, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”-esque hit, served as a counterpoint to Nirvana’s murk. While Cobain dwelled miserably on the meaninglessness of suburban life, Green Day reveled in it– a simple message the modern suburbanite teenager, who devoted tremendous amounts of time to smoking pot and jerking off, was able to understand: it’s okay to masturbate.
For those who experienced the ascendence of Green Day first hand, their breakthrough album Dookie (1994) is saddled with baggage difficult to explain. Dookie, like its best-of-the-decade predecessors Nevermind (1991) and Metallica (1991), is an excellent record that’s aged phenomenally well– a fact that did not matter just one year after its release. For mainstream rock fans of the era, Dookie introduced a sound previously unheard on MTV and commodified it. Teenagers were introduced to punk rock through Green Day, and subsequently considered Green Day sell outs for violating punk’s rigid code of ethics (which they had quickly internalized). Green Day was an incredible band who was considered incredibly uncool only a year after they started selling out suburban hockey arenas.
Further, Dookie introduced punk rock to fill the vacuum left by Cobain’s departure. This made sense. Green Day was a gentle introduction to punk rock; pop-punk, with a strong emphasis on the prefix. Green Day transformed metalheads into Hot Topic punkers overnight, and those newbie punkers turned on Green Day with vicious immediacy: by the end of 1995, Green Day was considered a kid’s band.
Aesthetically, Green Day was overwhelmingly non-threatening. Something that worked for them when recording for the tiny independent Lookout! Records with labelmates Screeching Weasel and The Queers, where a rejection the overt masculinity that defined the prior decade’s mainstream rock was considered a strength– after all, punk rock should be an inverse of the mainstream. But even if those punker converts were high on their newfound identity, the ghosts of Axl Rose and Motley Crue remained. Even Kurt Cobain, who championed the underdog, was still a guy who liked to shoot guns and heroin, both in equal measure. Pretty boy Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong, with his diminutive build, baby face, and bright blue hair made Cobain look like the strong silent type. A picture of Sesame Street’s Ernie taken in a mosh pit adorned the back cover of Dookie upon initial release, which was initially meant to be ironic but once the band’s fate was sealed, only served to further solidify their punk rock for kids reputation; kryptonite for the image conscious teen.
The funny thing about children’s entertainment is that at a certain age kids end up hating it. Soon after childhood became something protected alongside the emergence of a comfortable middle class– no more dirty-faced twelve year olds talking pussy on factory smoke breaks– newly christened teenagers wanted to separate themselves from the quickly expanding age range of childhood. Children don’t want to be treated like children, especially with puberty and dry humping on the horizon. More often than not this point is misunderstood by those trying to market entertainment to the young adolescent demographic, one that’s considered a commercial goldmine.
When Gene Simmons noticed kids liking KISS he thought it made sense to lean in to a presentation deliberately made for children. KISS had already dominated the teenage market with their combination of black and white, leather and studs, proto-punk imagery met with raunchy sex songs– a presentation that differentiated them from the more serious artist approach of the era’s mainstream rock bands. KISS didn’t take themselves too seriously: they wore make-up, spit blood, smashed guitars, and blew shit up– which appealed to teenagers, but they took themselves seriously enough that no one felt embarrassed wearing a KISS t-shirt. KISS managed this delicate balance with an intuitive sense of grace and aplomb. The band served as a hyper-realized glimpse into the kind of adulthood a sexually frustrated teenage boy idealized– personified decadence– while serving as the same marker for kids having teenage day dreams of girls and cars.
KISS initially managed existing as something kids wanted to like while not compromising their rough edges for the sake of kids– a delicate balance that Gene Simmons did not understand, and by the end of the decade KISS had softened their image with a toothless radio-friendly sound. Their flashy costumes better fit a Vegas stage show, they had a TV movie depicting them as cornball superheroes and a Marvel comic book (made with “real KISS blood” in the red ink) witn enough cheap merch to stuff every stocking for the 1978 Christmas season. Their Dynasty (1979) tour was attended by families like it was the circus and KISS had even planned a traveling amusement park (“KISS World”).
A cold, rational adult would assume that appealing to children makes a product already successful with children even more successful… except that isn’t how it works. People choose the media they engage with most for how it make them feel about themselves; how they want to feel about themselves. Media products are enjoyable because they lay the foundation for a desired identity. Media iconography can replace undesirable parts of the self with a more desirable fantasy: sex and power. When a teenager begins seeking music to identify with, the actual music– the sonics blasting from the speakers– is only part of the equation. The teenager wants an image template to copy-and-paste over themselves and get lost in.
A teenager in the mid-1990s did not want to emulate the effeminate, lovesick Billie Joe Armstrong, nor did they want to identify with the punk rock for kids Green Day.
They wanted something harder.
Her name was Christine and she scribbled her phone number on a tiny piece of ripped out notebook paper before getting off the school bus. She said we needed to talk; specifically to talk privately. I was to call her later. This was the first time a girl had wanted to talk to me; intentionally sought me for conversation; appreciated my emerging wit and occasional humor. She had liked me: to an unknowable degree, I conceded, but liked me to some degree, I was certain. I had landed a solid right jab and was setting things up for a big left hook. I held the piece of ripped out notebook paper in my hand and examined the writing on it: carefree and airy; the distinctly female bubbled letters of her name; the digits of her phone number, which I quickly memorized. I thought about the conversation immediately preceding her decision that privacy was a necessity for further interaction. The words I said: sentences structured in the correct order, words punched in at an admirable pace with a pleasing inflection. I had done something right, this much was clear, and I had gotten to the next screen of the game– with a quick uppercut I put Glass Joe on his back and I was on to Von Kaiser. Momentum reverberating through my body; finally on a winning streak; finally ready to conquer the world.
I thought about that phone call for the rest of the day.
The most memorable day of my childhood was one where I went to Toys R Us with my mother and grandmother; I was able to pick out two toys. This was momentous for reasons that shouldn’t need explaining. I decided my best plan of attack was to get both a physical toy (an action figure as toy industry marketers had put it; a doll according to my grandmother) and a video game.
I had been obsessed with video games since my father brought home a Sears Video Arcade II, an Atari 2600 clone sold through Sears, one night in 1984, very likely on bargain basement clearance after the video game crash of 1983. He had bought with it an arcade’s worth of Atari games. The Atari 2600 provided an experience like nothing else at the time (with the exception, of course, of its imitators). No longer was the television a one-way experience; the television could be interactive; the cold, alienating static of the television’s empty channel three had found new purpose. These experiences were primitive. The Atari relied on the player’s imagination more than it did technological wonder; it was up to the player to imagine the square blocks littering the screen as heroes and monsters. The player’s imagination was an explicit component of the Atari’s magic– it wasn’t about what you were seeing but how you wanted to see it.
Seeing commercials for the Nintendo Entertainment System, embedded in Saturday morning cartoons, was a transformative experience at five years old; it was mystifying and important for reasons that were immediate and felt urgent. The initial release of the Nintendo Entertainment System came packaged with a physical robot that (somehow) interacted with the television, and a light gun that was used to (somehow) shoot graphics on screen in a self-explanatory game called Duck Hunt (1985). By that point, I had been to enough roller-rink birthday parties to have become well acquainted with their meager roller-rink arcade. I was in love with the dual screen experience of Punch Out (1984), the gorgeous vector graphics of Star Wars (1983), and the frustratingly addictive handlebar controls of Paperboy (1985). Even at five years old, I understood that these were luxury experiences not able to be replicated in the home… until I saw commercials for the Nintendo Entertainment System and was introduced to ROB– something that didn’t exist in the arcade. The ads featuring ROB were evasive in their presentation. Like the gorgeous Atari box art, they were meant to ignite the imagination with possibility rather than deliver concrete details– discoveries left to be made by the daring. ROB moved and shifted as commands were entered, the television reflected in its dead eyes.
I probably played Gyromite (1985) properly once on Christmas morning. ROB moved at a glacial pace, even for a world that wouldn’t know the slowest of dial-up Internet connections for another decade. ROB was a slog to set up; playing Gyromite wasn’t fun. Duck Hunt was only slightly better– the gun was accurate and the game was responsive– but by the time any player figures out that they can’t shoot the dog, Duck Hunt has run its course. Of course, the pack-in games weren’t the point, they existed to get the NES on store shelves and in living rooms. What I got was a tech-demo: a proof of concept.
Within the same week my father took me back to Toys R Us and we came home with Kung-Fu (1985), a game that impressed us with its side-scrolling arcade action. The only game I finished with my father, back when we still spent time together. Some of my fondest memories growing up, playing Kung-Fu in our living room. Sometimes people move on and go their separate ways even while still living in the same house.
But even beyond any Christmas or birthday, family vacation or school play, it was the trip to Toys R Us with my mother and grandmother, when I got to pick out two toys, that was the most memorable: I chose Optimus Prime and Super Mario Bros. (1985). I had been familiar with Optimus from having watched hundreds of hours of Transformers (1984), one of the decade’s iconic Saturday morning cartoons alongside G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1983) and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983). Any kid exposed to even a meager few minutes of Transformers will walk away wanting to own the iconic Optimus Prime– the metallic embodiment of masculinity. With the disguised robot in hand, I perused Nintendo’s black box collection, inspecting screen shots with a critical eye, already reeling from mistakes made; misguided choices and game paks collecting dust.
Donkey Kong Jr. Math (1986) had seemed like a worthy compromise for a mom reluctant to buy a new game on a non-holiday. It had math in the title; it was part of the “Education Series.” It was a math game and game was half of that equation. A math game– it had to be enjoyable; edutainment; fun while learning. It was none of these things. I had another misfire with Wrecking Crew (1985), a puzzle game disguised as an action game and Donkey Kong (1986)– an arcade classic, and an admirable NES port… but one that didn’t land with me at six-years-old.
The future sometimes will have a gravity that can be felt in the present. When something looms largely enough, something world changing, its shockwaves are felt in reverse. Static, single screen games; games whose only goal was an accumulation of points, bragging rights for the loveless, were rendered obsolete even before their replacement had been fully realized. The video game industry crashed in 1983; video games were considered a passing fad. These static, single screen games had gone out of style for a few different reasons, but partially because the next step in gaming evolution– the screeching monolith surrounded by howling apes– was so momentous that it had produced its own gravitational pull. I believe it were these forces that drew me to Super Mario Bros. that night at Toys R Us, with my mother and grandmother, where I was able to pick out two toys. The most memorable day of my childhood; the night that changed my perception of everything that came before and after.
And the events that unfolded that night, in my living room with Optimus Prime and my father by my side– one last ride for the old boys– blew my mind and altered my worldview.
Even if the second level of Super Mario Bros., World 1-2, had played things straight: a stompy, jumpy, left-to-right romp through the underground; another stop in the Mushroom Kingdom, with its fiery dungeons and icy excursions, Super Mario Bros. would still be an innovative and genre defining game with glass cuttingly responsive physics. Only Super Mario Bros. aspired to be more than that for the adventurous player: the hidden beauty of Super Mario Bros. wasn’t in its action but its component of exploration– something so woven into the fabric of the game that even the concept itself was left for the player to discover. Super Mario Bros. introduced players to the side-scrolling, stompy, jumpy platforming action game in its very first level– functionally an in-game tutorial– and then subverted the player’s expectations in the very next.
That night I experienced the single greatest moment I’ve had playing video games, in World 1-2 of Super Mario Bros., with my father by my side and Optimus Prime in my lap, in his undisguised robot form; his unwavering metallic masculinity providing symbolic support. I understood the objectives and mechanics of the game, the rock breaking abilities Mario gained in his advanced form as I jumped and stomped from left-to-right, appreciating the soundtrack and atmosphere of the underground, when it occurred to me that Super Mario could jump his way to the top of the screen, to where the score and statistical information is kept, beyond the game’s presumed parameters of play… and only on the second level of his adventure; only with your keen eye and ingenuity.
The most exciting moments of a video game carry the illusion of the experience being unique to the player– that these moments were not meticulously written and programmed; that every inch of digital space hasn’t been documented and accounted for; that every moment you’ve had in every game you’ve played, every movement and every outcome, hasn’t been lived a thousand times over. The most exciting moments of a video game feel alive. Similar to feeling emotionally connected to words on a page, a character made entirely of language, if this illusion is flawlessly executed, a video game transcends the mundane and achieves the beautiful; true immersion; when the exploration feels real; when the experience feels unique.
If I close my eyes and allow myself to re-experience that moment, I can still feel an echo of what I felt watching Mario run across the top of the screen into the unknown. I felt a little tiny fraction of what it must have felt like to sail the darkened seas, on a great big clipper ship, going from this land here to that; head buzzing; fear and ecstasy; freedom; immersion– running top speed, left-to-right, into the unknown; into nothing. All these twisted feelings on just the second level of a game that didn’t need to go there; that could have played things straight with a stompy, jumpy, left-to-right romp through the Mushroom Kingdom and you would have never known the difference. This was Miyamoto’s true master stroke.
I thought about that phone call for the rest of the day. I had done something right on the school bus, and whatever it was needed to be replicated with refinement. I had made it past the first level– functionally an in-game tutorial– and internalized the basic fundamentals. I had dodged Glass Joe’s glacially slow haymaker with grace and aplomb, peppering him with counterpunch lefts and rights; a start button uppercut, used at the exact right moment, had put him on his back. Now I was on to my first real challenge: a private phone call with a girl who knew what I looked like, who had gotten a taste of my personality and demanded more. I had to rise to this occasion and smash through to a first date proposition– given at the exact right moment– to put Christine on her back. Slowly and methodically, I needed to reverse-engineer a perfect moment; to take from my surroundings what was needed and make of it something more.
Standing in my garage, where I would host many high school phone calls to come, clutching my family’s portable phone, I imagined Doc Louis rubbing my shoulders and giving me last minute advice: stick and move, kid, stick and move. With confidence, and from memory, I dialed Christine’s phone number.
She told me that she knew I liked Green Day, and she liked that we had that in common. Even if Green Day were still a year away from their dubious punk rock for kids reputation, I still didn’t want to be known as the kind of guy whose favorite band was Green Day. At fourteen years old, this seemed important for reasons that seem less important now.
Green Day, although producing two much better albums before their breakthrough Dookie, 39/Smooth (1990) and Kerplunk (1991), weren’t cool in the way I wanted to be perceived as being cool. Billie Joe sung whiny songs longing for female attention- songs with titles like “Why Do You Want Him?” and “Don’t Leave Me,” told from the perspective of a socially awkward, nervous and lonely boy whose only desire is female acceptance; who would sit “At The Library” while staring across the room and hoping that the object of his unrequited affection would be leaving soon, acknowledging that he just needs a little time– that he’s too much of a loser to even talk to her! That he couldn’t figure out how to structure his sentences in the correct order or punch-in words at an admirable pace with a pleasing inflection. That he was stuck on the first screen of the game, suffering Glass Joe’s french heckling; now you know who the 1 in his 1-99 record was and it’s loser Billie Joe Armstrong, who can’t even talk to girls, much less get their phone numbers. Much less be standing in the garage, at 7:30 pm on a school night, imaging Doc Louis in his corner, mixing it up with a real, live girl.
I didn’t want to be known as the kind of guy whose favorite band was Green Day.
I wanted to be known as the kind of guy whose favorite band was The Misfits. I had bought my first Misfits CD just a year prior after encountering Metallica’s rendition of “Last Caress” on their Live Shit: Binge and Purge (1993) box set, and the Guns n’ Roses version of “Attitude” on their The Spaghetti Incident? (1993) cover album. These songs were like nothing I had heard before– hard driving guitars and no wasted moments; no frills- they got to the point with purpose and blasted out melodies in the chorus. I knew I needed more, and when I learned that The Misfits were Glenn Danzig’s first band– I had just become familiar with Danzig through his MTV hit “Mother” and already had several of his solo albums– their self-titled collection, Misfits (1986), was an easy buy with my allowance money on a weekend trip to Tower Records.
You never forget the moments you fall in love. These precious moments, when excised and distilled, run only in fragmented seconds; milliseconds so intense they last a thousand hours in time-dilated alternate dimensions. Two-thousand light years away, these are the moments that stay for a lifetime; these moments that no one knows but you.
When “Bullet” hit my discman, on the way to my grandmother’s on Christmas Eve, I fell in love with The Misfits. This love, like a spear impaling a lightning bolt, rocketed through my body with vicious immediacy. “Bullet,” track three on their self-titled collection, Misfits, was like nothing I had heard before. What starts as a poem about the Kennedy assassination shouted over an obliterating bassline in the sonic foreground ends as a sex fantasy about Jacqueline Kennedy masturbating Glenn and licking his seman off her hands. There is no chorus; there is no interlude or reprieve– “Bullet” is a brutal straight line of sex and death which would become a recurring theme of Danzig’s work. I probably listened to “Bullet” thirty times in a row thinking I had found the band’s standout track… and when I finally got to the rest of the album, I don’t think I listened to anything else for an entire month.
A staple of the 1980’s suburban experience was the outlaw independent video store– existing at a time before the rules were written. Before video rentals were commodified and sanitized by corporations like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, the independent video store was the wild west of media distribution- a strip mall experience that seemed dangerous. Where you could rent Disney Afternoon cartoons alongside low-budget porn movies, clamshell boxes sitting within twenty feet of one another. NES games and pro-wrestling tapes; summer blockbusters and off-label snuff movies– all at the same time, all at the same store. A kid on a Friday night could walk out with Batman (1989), Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988), and Wrestlemania V (1989) and have the greatest weekend of his life. But even if the independent video store was a haven for children’s entertainment– after a certain age, children don’t want to feel like children.
I wanted something harder, and even if my parents strictly forbade me from renting anything that was a puppy’s sneeze above PG-13, my attention would inevitably drift to the store’s horror section regardless. As much as I had yearned for the brutal sequences contained on the actual tapes– just as as I had yearned for Suzzane Sommers’ bouncing, braless tits while watching Three’s Company (1977) reruns– the movies’ unattainability became secondary to their VHS box art which had lit my imagination ablaze with impromptu, on-the-spot fan fiction inspired by images like the knife impaling Jason Voorhees’s bleeding hockey mask or a scowling, decisively humorless Freddy Kreuger peering around a corner in hell. The terrifying, scalpel wielding, black eyed surgeon on the clamshell of Faces of Death: Part II (1981), a movie so intense that it carried several warning labels. I studied these boxes with a silent art gallery-like etiquette.
The video store felt real in a way that the television did not. Real in a way that even premium cable channels, with their after hours, R-rated dalliances did not. The video store had a grime to it. The video store spoke to the hidden adult world; the degenerate and depraved adult world. The hidden adult world that adults lie to kids about. The hidden adult world that maybe adults lie to themselves about being part of. The outlaw independent video store was a kid’s first experience with the darker, degeneracies of reality and it was mesmerizing… and once I became old enough to start renting those tapes, from bloodbath slashers, to black-and-white monster movies, to Egyptian blood feasts, I was hooked and never looked back.
I wanted Christine to know that The Misfits wrote songs about cool, old horror movies. I was the kind of guy whose favorite band was The Misfits, not Green Day. Not whiny, loveless Billie Joe Armstrong but Glenn Danzig and his cryptic old band– so cloaked in mystery that even Henry Rollins had thought they “only play on Halloween.” I wanted her to know that Glenn was just like me, so obsessed with those old movies that he’d make transformative art in their name– like “Horror Business” which juxtaposes the movie Psycho (1960) with Sid Vicious stabbing his girlfriend to death in a motel bathroom– reality replicating fiction– or imagining New York City’s heroin addicted homeless as real life zombies in “Night of the Living Dead”– understanding reality through the lens of fiction. Through the lens of horror; through the lens of fantasy; through the dead eye of the television.
Glenn Danzig understood that the line between reality and fantasy in the age of mass media was difficult to decipher, which was the focus of The Misfits’ first album, Danzig’s magnum opus, Static Age (1997)– an album so thematically coherent that it may as well be considered a concept album: we are living in the “static age”; we understand reality through the lens of media. “Bullet,” the song that captured my heart, was recorded for the Static Age album and finds its context there. John F. Kennedy, with his Hollywood good looks and Camelot mythology, was the first TV president: his existence blurred the line between reality and fantasy; Hollywood and politics. His affair with Marilyn Monroe further blurred that line. Reality became theater; the dead eye of the television and the name of God spoken in equal measure. Kennedy had as cinematic an end to his presidency as it gets; as if it were written for the movies; covered to death by the media.
Lest you think “Bullet” is too crass– that poor, widowed Jackie Kennedy didn’t deserve the whore treatment– Glenn reminds us in the very next song, “Theme For a Jackal,” that the Kennedys are cannibalistic pieces of shit: even poor Jackie, who managed to find herself a millionaire in the wake of Camelot’s burning. “Theme for a Jackal,” about Ted Kennedy killing a woman in a drunk driving accident. After driving his car off a bridge, lazy Ted went back to his hotel room for dry clothes before turning in for the night– he reported his victim missing the next day. Something that could wait: big Teddy needed to sleep it off and knew that the Kennedy’s had been anointed American royalty because the television said so. What’s one more body added to the count, especially after they got Marilyn– another indictment made against the Kennedys in the band’s “Who Killed Marilyn?” and maybe one Glenn took personally. The Misfits (1961), of course, was Monroe’s final film.
I wanted Christine to know that The Misfits weren’t just writing songs about old horror movies, they were writing songs about me. To understand The Misfits is to understand that Glenn’s songs were written from a first person point-of-view. Most of Glenn’s songs were about growing up. “Teenagers From Mars” wasn’t actually about Teenagers from Outer Space (1959) but more like the the notebook scribblings of a horny sixteen year old in math class; a power fantasy written by the powerless. The only thing “Where Eagles Dare” had in common with Where Eagles Dare (1968) was the title– the song was really about rejection and sexual frustration. That “Astro Zombies” wasn’t about The Astro-Zombies (1968), but Glenn’s anger. That, like the evil Dr. DeMarco, Glenn wanted to “exterminate: this whole fuckin’ place…”
I wanted Christine to know that The Misfits weren’t just writing songs about horror movies, they were writing songs about being a teenager, and everything that came with it– every bit pain and fleeting triumph, every desire and every day dream; The Misfits were really writing songs about you. This was Glenn Danzig’s true master stroke.
I wanted Christine to know these things about me. That I like thinking about art; true art; suburban art; underground art; punk rock art. That I’m Super Mario, at the top of the screen, courageously running top speed into the unknown; into the dark corner of the video store, exploring drive-in splatter fests on VHS. That I had access to layers of reality– hidden reality, teenage reality, adult realty– reality that kids didn’t know about. That I could show her these things, both beautiful and dark; that our future had a gravity felt in our present; omnipresent forces pulling us together. Stick and move, kid, stick and move– about to knock out Von Kaiser on my way to Piston Honda; we’ll take your weak resistance and throw it in your face; momentum reverberating through my body; we need no introduction for mass annihilation.
I finally had the master sword; finally ready to conquer the world.
She told me that she knew I was going to the Green Day concert and was wondering if I could help her find tickets. She had been looking everywhere because the guy she liked wanted to go. He was tall and older, she told me. She thought maybe they could go together. Maybe it could be a first date.
At some point between getting that piece of ripped out notebook paper and this very moment there had been a critical miscalculation. Clumsy and overconfident, I had gotten caught. Having mistimed Glass Joe’s glacially slow haymaker, I was hit hard; head slumped, hands down. Doc Louis no where to be found. Up against the ropes, I scrambled for a next move; scrambled for a movie or TV show that had mapped out this exact situation, with exactly the right thing to say. There had to be a strategy guide or Nintendo code; there had to be an exact right move to make. A way to interface with the algorithm; process the data being given and write new code, in real time. The right words to say: sentences structured in the correct order; punching words in at an admirable pace with a pleasing inflection. What did Jack Tripper say when he wanted to get Chrissy in bed, fucking the shit out of Suzzane Sommers’ bouncing, braless tits?
I told her I didn’t know anyone who had extra tickets. She said that it was okay. That she’d keep looking. She hoped it works out, she told me. She really liked him.
I scrambled for something to say through pauses awkward even in their brevity; eating shots; gloves dangling; mouth agape.
I wished her luck and we hung up.
I ain’t no Godamn, son of a bitch!
Why did she want him?
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Your every post gives me more films to watch and albums to listen to. I remember when Greenday suddenly got uncool in Australia, after just one year. All the cool kids got into old 70s punk instead, or obscure local bands that did all-ages gigs on Saturday afternoons. Teenagers are extremely judgemental about musical tastes and what they represent. I remember Metallica was dorky and commercial to the cool kids at my school by about 1996. The good thing about being an adult is you can relax about your self image, listen to what you enjoy, and admit that Fleetwood Mac has many awesome songs.