“There’s a lot of spare time in Bodega Bay.”

21 09 2012

It’s true what they say. “You always remember your first.”

My mother would have been 13 when Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic masterpiece, The Birds, was released in 1963. I imagine I was around the same age, if not a year or two shy of that, when she first introduced me to the film. Even though I was a rather offbeat child, my mother knew what films would interest me and which ones I would return to our neighborhood library unwatched.

The movie quickly became one of my favorites and found its way home with me from the library on numerous occasions. Even if I tried, I couldn’t tell you the circumstances surrounding the first time I would see Psycho, Rear Window, or even Vertigo. However, my earliest memories of seeing the denizens of Bodega Bay get pecked apart by seagulls and crows are as vivid as ever.

It was either my second semester or sophomore year at Buffalo State College when I met Dr. Geraldine Bard. She was my professor for “History of Cinema II” and subsequently “Literature & Film.” Her love and knowledge for all things related to Hitchcock knew no bounds and most of her curriculum was heavily devoted to analyzing his films and looking at the connections between the movies and the original works of literature in which many were based. I remember how her eyes would always light up with excitement as she would address the class and divulge the hidden symbolism and metaphors that were so delicately placed into each scene.

It was thanks to Dr. Bard’s passion for Hitchcock that would allow me to view hiw work from a whole new perspective. A superficial layer had been peeled back from his films and I was able to, for the first time, see them as actual works of art.

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012. Turner Classic Movies screened a restored print of The Birds for one night only at a local movie theater. This would be the first time I would see it on the big screen. It was fitting that my first Hitchcock film in an actual movie theater would be the first Hitchcock film I had ever seen… rented from the neighborhood library on VHS… way back when I was 13, if not a year or two shy of that. Of course, I excitedly called my mother from the lobby of the theater.

Fathers’ Music Syndrome.

12 04 2012

To quote Portlandia: “Do you remember the 90s?”

The programming on MTV was relevant. Britpop reached its height. Kids roamed around in wide-leg jeans and Airwalk sneakers listening to their Walkmans (or Discmans if you were fortunate enough to have a decent allowance). Music was a genuine artform instead of a mass-produced marketing gimmick that humps on autotune the way a dog humps a leg.

Blood for Poppies

Garbage "Blood for Poppies"

If you are like me, refreshing every music blog/website/tumblr from Spin to Pitchfork and Consequence of Sound to Brooklyn Vegan, then you are well aware that the decade that paved the way for the modern indie-rock scene to come to fruition is making quite the resurgence.

Garbage will be touring for the first time since 2007 and has been selling out shows in mere minutes of the tickets being made available. Mazzy Star (dream pop pioneers who were Beach House before Beach House was Beach House) reunited to release their first material since 1996 with promises of a full-length record and tour to follow. Melancholic waif, Fiona Apple, releases her fourth record (The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do a.k.a. The Idler Wheel…) in June just prior to a summer tour that takes her across the United States and Canada. Irish alternative band, The Cranberries, also released a new record after a 10-year hiatus.

These were some of the big names in music in the 90s that helped define who I was during my high school years. In fact, Garbage was the first live show that I saw (they opened for The Smashing Pumpkins at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in July of 1996).

My first reaction to the news that some of my favorite bands were returning to the spotlight and releasing new material was to wonder if I was suffering from what I call “Fathers’ Music Syndrome.” If you grew up in a household where your father was a music junkie, you might have a pretty good idea of what it is that I am referring to.

I will be the first to admit that when I was a teenager and engrossed in the music that was popular at the time (namely Seattle-based grunge rock), I couldn’t help but throw a side-eye of judgment at my father when he would pull out records by The Beach Boys or The Rolling Stones (it would be a few more years before my love for music developed enough and allowed me to appreciate these rock-n-roll legends). This was the music he grew up with. The music he loved. I remember being taken to see The Beach Boys at Pilot Field (currently Coca-Cola Field). I remember thinking to myself that only washed-up bands must play at minor league baseball games.

Have Fiona Apple, Garbage, et al become my (our) own “Fathers’ Music Syndrome?” Save for the fact that they can still sell out shows, still record amazing music,  and have cult followings decades later, there’s still that part of me (us) that finds comfort in the familiar sounds of a youthful era. I’ll be the first to admit that I would be the first in line to see Courtney Love play a free show at a baseball diamond.

Ironically, Hole just started playing on my iPod.

Saturday Night Nostalgia.

10 04 2012

This past weekend was spent in with my family in Boston. In between playground visits, comic book signings, a visit to Harvard, and an Easter Egg hunt, Will and I managed to catch up with some of our childhood friends on Saturday night.

Chris Parker and co.

"She's got the baby-sitting blues..."

Chris Parker and Ryan Lynch were the first to arrive. It had been a long time since Chris and I were in touch and the last I heard, she was attending the University of Chicago and she and Ryan were still together and very much in love. Who wouldn’t fall very much in love with Ryan? He’s charming, sensitive, and warm-hearted. Alterior motives aside, it takes a special kind of guy to drive from the city to the suburbs just to return a rollerskate to a child that he barely knows. It turns out that Chris received her MEd and shares a loft with Ryan in Chicago’s North Side neighborhood. We had to chuckle at the notion of her going into the education field considering her infamous baby-sitting-gig-gone-awry.

Ryan excused himself to take a call from their dog-sitter (he and Chris have two Welsh corgis named Thor and Handsome John) just as Sara Anderson arrived looking like she fell out of the pages of an Urban Outfitters catalog. She had certainly grown up from being the little girl with the Asgardian helmet and Gizmo backpack. To our delight, we learned that she had continued to pursue her passion for drawing and eventually pencilled her own independent graphic novel based on the Chris’ pseudo-botched night in charge. She met her girlfriend, Darcy, at Chicago Comic-Con and the two of them are the proprietors of The Enchantress’ Lair, a comic book shop/cafe/performance space. A launch party was hosted at the store for the release of Sara’s graphic novel which may or may not have included an impromptu performance of “The Baby-sitting Blues” when Chris arrived to offer her congratulations.

Before the three of them left for the evening, I had to ask Chris about her old best friend from high school. It turns out Brenda finally managed to successfully run away from home and was last seen operating a hot dog food truck in Manhattan. In case you were wondering, she doesn’t accept checks.

The next guests at our little reunion were Jake Ryan and Samantha Baker-Ryan. To my surprise, they went against the stereotype of high school romances not lasting. After conversing for a while, we learned that Jake was a corporate attorney working at his father’s firm and Samantha was a stay-at-home mother to their four children. They were still close friends with “Farmer” Ted. In fact, he was their weekend baby-sitter. Thankfully, Ted has the entertainment factor built directly into his geek gene and the children adore him. Jake and Samantha were truly living a blissful, upper middle-class, suburban life… complete with a two-car garage and white picket fence.

Close your eyes.

"Close your eyes..."

Like most high school friends/acquaintances, the couple lost touch with Caroline Mulford after graduation. Jake jokingly commented that she was lucky that the Sinead O’Connor/buzzed head look came into style not long after the unfortunate pruning of her hair to free her from a door jam. Apparently, when you’re intoxicated, simple actions like opening a door are completely lost on oneself.

While Samantha regaled Will with the list of men that her sister Ginny had since married and divorced since leaving the “oily variety bohunk”, I took a quick call from Mercedes Lane. She had the night off from dancing at The Shanty (a club in Los Angeles that is as glamorous as the name insinuates). “It seems like all your old friends are coming out of the woodwork tonight,” she said after I mentioned who had stopped by that evening.

Mercedes Lane

Mercedes Lane

She and Les Anderson stopped seeing each other not long after they started. In the end, they really didn’t have much in common other than a love for mega-hold hair care products. When she said that, I could practically see her sitting in her small L.A. studio apartment, hair teased, frayed denim skirt on, and rocking a faded Guns N’ Roses tour t-shirt. For Mercedes Lane, the 80s never died. How could it with a name like Mercedes Lane and a career at a strip club called The Shanty?

It really was a fantastic Saturday night. These were the childhood friends that kept me company when I was sick, entertained my friends and I at slumber parties, and taught us that your bangs can never be too high nor your jeans too pinned. They were the friends that remind you of a time when the most stressful decisions in life revolved around which folders to keep in your Trapper Keeper.


Tangerine... flashy and trashy

I’ve already begun digging through my old contacts from way back when to see who I should reconnect with next. I’ll have to let Will know about the rumors buzzing around the fashion circuit that Tangerine is looking to reignite her “flashy and trashy” apparel line. Something tells me that Dodger and his pals won’t be her sweat shop workers this time around.

I used to write.

27 03 2012

I used to write. It’s a little-known fact about me. Most facts regarding the passions, hobbies, and dreams of my adolescence tend to be “little-known”. It’s not because I am harboring some scandalous skeletons in a closet from way back when. It’s also not because I am embarrassed over the fact that I spent more time at the neighborhood library than most of its employees. It just never seemed to be an applicable topic for a conversation over cocktails with a group of thirty-somethings.

Regardless, I used to write.

Sometimes, memories of writing come rushing back in such detail that I can almost smell freshly cut grass. To elaborate, my fondest memories of writing are of holing up in my suburban backyard, camping in a beige tent within the company of a thick summer air, a crackling bug lamp that filled the inside of the tent with a fluorescent hue, a boombox whose purpose was to record (via a blank Memorex cassette) my musical obsessions off a local radio station countdown, and the standard summer smells that you take for granted as an adult but would go back and savor if you could. Ergo, the smell of freshly cut grass accompanying my memories of writing.

I couldn’t say why I stopped (or why I ever started, for that matter). It would unfair to place sole blame any one particular reason, instance, person, or circumstance. Undoubtedly, the reason(s) were shallow and, looking back now, in no way came close to overshadowing the enjoyment that writing brought to my daily life.

I used to write but I never would have labeled myself a writer. I never pretended to be a future Pulitzer winner. I never even saw myself becoming something as common as a dowdy professor who teaches creative writing at the local night school. My writings (short stories, mostly) were not an extra-credit assignment for English class nor were they a cry for attention from parental figures. I can’t really even say what they WERE for. Stories are sometimes just that… stories. Sometimes they don’t need some deep, philosophical, world-shattering meaning or. Sometimes their purpose isn’t to bring that solid B average up to a B+. Sometimes just telling them was and is enough.

Here I sit… years (too many to count) since the last time I’ve written anything. I haven’t a clue why I am writing again. Maybe I need a creative outlet so that my brain doesn’t feel stagnant. Maybe the fact that I am dating a writer makes me nostalgic for the days when writing used to be what I looked forward to doing every evening after school. Maybe I have stories or experiences or observations that finally want to be told. Maybe it’s all of these reasons. Maybe it’s none of these reasons. Maybe I’m selfish to think that anyone does or should care.

Maybe one day I can feel comfortable enough to say “I write.” instead of “I used to write.”