Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why Do You Come Here?


Did you ever love an album so much you prayed you could will yourself into your stereo, in live in it's world? You close your eyes an pour yourself into the spinning vinyl to awaken into an auricularly born land. Every word creates a life and every note a breath. Each lyric is a meal, every song a home. And you don't care if you don't ever leave. Did you ever have such a need to do that?


In December of '88, B and I were failing miserably in our attempt to move on with our lives after Bob's death. That December of '88 felt like it lasted a year. B wasn't working, and spent all day sleeping, and would wake up after I got home from work. I decided to let him do whatever he needed to do to grieve for Bob. I would not judge or condemn his actions; I would partake in them. We spent all my money going out. We went were the booze was cheap or free, sometimes spending more on the bus fare there and back than on the alcohol itself, and we would drink, inhale, and snort every cent, not talking, with an occasional quarter in a jukebox. I tried to find songs that triggered memories of happier times from our boyhood.

"Remember when we would drive around with Crazy David blasting this cassette? What a mess she was! What do you think he's doing now? Still screaming at his parents?! Oh God, this song. Mike and Todd never went a second without this album on back then, remember?!"

He would smile a moment or two, but B was like a champion chess player when it came to drinking: his concentration lay in planning ahead as to how he was getting his seventh and eighth drinks of the night.
Even in the state he was in, a slight smile in any guy's direction would buy whatever he wanted. Whenever I saw him do that, I was reminded of the day a few years back when I met him downtown after he got his GED results. The man who gave him his grades told him he had the highest score he'd seen in a while, and he should go to school.
He can do whatever he wants, and he chooses this. I would think to myself.
This was the time I first attempted to read Neuromancer. (A book I still read once a year.)
"B, can you try to read this book for me? I get fifty pages into it and I don't understand what's happening." I asked him one night.
I couldn't 'get' how one character was able, via computer implants, to experience the world through another character's body. Then I didn't understand the concept of AI, and how, in that book, it was created with the memories of a dead man, and how the main character talked to him in a virtual reality situation.
"I can't read much any more, Brian. I just can't concentrate."
After hearing that, I would buy him comic books and magazines, and leave them laying about in hopes he would pick one up. One night I got out all the high school notes he had ever written me, for I saved them all, and we read each one. We got into the habit back then of writing each other on Sunday nights, during American Top 40, to fill each other in on what had happened over the weekends we weren't together. I was usually at Bodyshop, in Green Bay, an amazing, ahead of it's time, new wave gem of a gay bar, when I was in high school, and he was usually with Sean, his ex-football player, ex-hetero boyfriend.
Reminding each other of the recalcitrant times in our lives, when we rose above our problems, steeled us. Once upon a time, we could laugh at the invading armies hell-bent on our destruction, that lived in our homes and hometowns back then, because we knew something they didn't; we listened to our hearts and souls and embraced them; we instinctively trusted them. I guess somewhere along the way we forgot how to do that. I guess somewhere along the way we became our own enemies.

Hypnotize (over and over)

Those long nights of pollution wouldn't end when we came home. B couldn't really handle the things he snorted, and the extreme paranoia it created in him would make him position mirrors from his side of the futon, so he could see the front and back doors, because he 'knew' the police were going to crash in at any second. Coke heads are a nightmare to live with, especially bad ones. He would try to drag me into his paranoid fantasies, but I would make matters worse by conspiratorially whispering to the 'people' outside the apartment, or by shouting Drugs! or Illegal! out the back door as loud as I could. I would wake up the next morning to find him still awake, playing the stereo, or worse yet, ripping the closet apart to find the stash 'he knew he left somewhere...'


B's self-destruction, and Bob's death, reminded me of the destiny I was headed for, and my inability to stop it. That December I gave myself many pushes in that direction, to speed the process along, because the tedium of the second hand was maddening.
"What are you doing to yourself! What is all this blood!" B would scream at me. "Do you want to die that badly?"
I thought about it for a minute, and said "No. But I can't live like this."
I thought I was empty. I thought I couldn't take another step. But there was something inside of me I was barely aware of; an insatiable curiosity, an untapped vein of creativity, an unseen spring of love, building a momentum of energy, keeping me going, and I finally heard it's voice, and decided to listen to it for a while.

Links: Morrissey, Human League, Grace Jones, Scritti Politti

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Yea! you finally listen to it!