It can be startling how a song, a voice, or a sound can stir up memories I hadn't thought about in a while. Seems like I can be minding my own business when "Dragula" comes out of nowhere and reminds me of the day I got my cat and she threw up all over my bed. With two beloved staple bands from my youth back in the rotation this week, I've been on a small tour of my own childhood, and I think it's important to loop you in on a couple of the things going on over here.
The first big memory came about with the new Bad Religion release. Try as I might, I can't shake the feeling that these guys sound like a really, really good high school band. Listen to any track on the thing—heck, any track in their repertoire—and it comes off feeling not quite adult, but still way better than whatever the other 17 year-olds are putting out. Greg Graffin's vocals have all the weight of that early bloomer in shop class who already had a full beard and a checking account, and his lyrics don't betray that idea whatsoever. Pretty fitting that putting True North on blast earlier this week had memories of a particular class springing to mind, from when I suppose I was on a serious Bad Religion kick.
This is what Bad Religion looks like right now.
Even though Mrs. H wasn't even remotely talented and the curriculum had nothing to do with it, she fancied herself a dancer. When she thought we weren't awake enough she'd have us push our desks up against the wall to do a few ballet stances and pliés. It worked well enough, but it was pretty agonizing. This quiet guy Hector's desk was usually pressed up against the side of the teacher's desk, and one afternoon when he moved it, the mysterious word "ASSBONES" was revealed to have been scrawled on the side of her desk in black marker. He denied doing it for years, but Assbones was such a pivotal moment in Hector's development as a young man that no doubt still has it as a nickname today.
I don't feel bad for Hector though, because all anyone knew about him before Assbones was that he and his best friend Ernie allegedly tied their dicks together in a knot a few years earlier. Yes, I think we all secretly knew that wasn't quite possible with normal human dicks (or at least, I knew it about my human dick), but nobody wanted to be the first to cast doubt on it lest they be thought to have a dick too small to be tied with another, or worse, that they had tried and failed. In effect, a widespread type of mutually assured destruction was in place, and the dick knot rumor stood.
The three douchey sides of Green Day's new triple-disc album.
Green Day also came out with some new stuff recently in the form of an album trilogy. There's only a handful of re-listenable tracks across the whole triple whammy, but it's oddly comforting to have the old fallible Green Day back after American Idiot made them likable again. We're getting back to that era where it felt like I was the only person with Warning in my Discman and I'd stand around at recess defending that purchase, except now I don't care what anyone else thinks of my music taste so I just shrug and turn off my computer.
Listening to the new tracks threw me immediately back to when I'd gotten into Green Day in the first place. I had a good friendship with this guy Michael, but one aspect of it was wearing thin with me: somehow, I'd been guarding his stall while he went to the bathroom. Almost every day. For a long time. Like, years. It wasn't gross or intimately personal or anything, it was just me leaning on a sink and waving people away from going any further like a cop at a crime scene. There was never any history of stall incursions by anyone else, but he was paranoid and I was the biggest and tallest nerd of our group. I guarded him off and on in grade school when the bathroom situation was crowded and weird, but at some point it occurred to me that we were now in high school, and there were plenty of vacant bathrooms all over campus to use. He didn't need me anymore and I knew it, but he also was the only guy I knew with a CD burner at that time, so we struck a deal that he'd copy me a CD for each time I stood guard. I actually got kind of excited about the sweet new deal.
Plans changed a little when Michael got into smoking pot that year and couldn't afford the then-expensive blank CDs to burn me copies, so instead he gave me original CDs from around his house. I scored Diablo (the first one, in the square case, with the angry-looking cartoon devil-man on the cover), Westside Connection's Bow Down, Microsoft Encarta, and very appropriately, Dookie. In fact, that album is so tied to my bathroom guarding days that hearing "Burnout" start up reminds me vividly of the crack of sunlight coming through the second story bathroom door when someone would push it open. And the smell of that industrial day-glo pink hand soap. And sidearming wads of wet paper towels up onto the air vent grating.
Gosh, I'm sitting here practically nostalgic for hanging out in a bathroom. Weird how the brain works sometimes. I'll be crossing my fingers that NIN's upcoming comeback album won't remind me of an awful weekend iguana sitting alone for Michael's stepdad. Or finding that handle of plastic bottle gin, throwing up in the backyard, and falling asleep for the night in a cobwebbed tool shed.
Yeah, I hope I never remember those things.
Jon Hendren is the genius with the best Twitter handle of all time - @fart