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The Talking Issue

Three Older Kids We Thought Were Cool In High School

Memories of tattoos, hardcore, and breaking into classrooms.



1. “Indie Rock” Jim, New Brunswick, NJ.

Vice: So we probably met in 1998 or so, right? What were you doing?

Indie Rock Jim:

I was going through the motions of county college, working a shitty job, and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

Some of my most vivid memories of that time are sitting in the back of your hatchback with about seven other kids. Why were you so nice to us?


When I was younger and had no car, someone would taxi me around, so I returned the favor. You know, the circle of life and shit. Also, don’t forget I was running a distro—I was going to shows anyway and you guys kicked me gas money sometimes.

Oh right, I totally forgot about the distro! Do you still do that?

Oh no—I petered out of that pretty quick. I’d make it to three shows a week, then it was two, then it was one. The quality of bands just got worse and worse, you know? Everyone said, " I can do that," and after a few rehashes, it's terrible.

Do you think it really did, or do you think we just got older and stopped caring?

Perhaps, but I’d rather blame someone else.

So what have you been up to then?

Really just some blue-collar living, managed a record store for a couple years, moved on to wine retail (surprisingly not that big a shift), did that for a couple years, and now I’m working in outside sales for a beer company, and I’m 30. Right this second, I’m talking to you and watching the Mets game.

When I met you, I’d say your three favorite things in the world were music, the Mets, and beer. Is that any different today?

Hmm, that's tough. The Mets are definitely in the top 3, but don't forget

The Simpsons

. As for the third spot, I don't know, maybe music, maybe video games.

Last thing: Why did we call you Indie Rock Jim when I don't ever really recall you listening to "indie" more so than anything else?


I think it was because I was still listening to Pavement and Superchunk while all you scamps were totally into NOFX and LES Stitches.




2. Tom Baxter, Pensacola, FL. Vice: You were a junior when I was a freshman and sort of charming and nice to me but simultaneously kind of a dick, which usually works out well. I think my favorite memory is before we met I’d see you in the hallway and wonder what your deal was while blankly staring and one time, as you approached, you looked right at me then got in my face and yelled “WHAT ARE YOU STARING AT!?” It was terrifying for a minute, but then became incredibly funny. It was a great move. Anyways, what did you do after finishing school? Tom Baxter: I always wanted to fly jets or something else that could do cool shit in the air so I applied to the Naval Academy. I know, I know, the old “military from a punk rock guy.” I got my congressional nomination and all, but ultimately didn’t get accepted. I heard that you removed that tattoo you had on your leg of a fist in front of a big X. The removal of that tattoo was part of the application process to the Academy. They didn’t want tattoos showing in PT gear, and I ended up getting 3 out of 6 laser treatment surgeries. After I didn't get in, I had a halfway removed straight-edge tattoo on my calf for about three years. Finally I got the X changed into flames. Not judging or nothing but why did you break edge? I think girls were probably the biggest reason I gave up being straight edge. There were numerous others though: Being called a sellout for tasting—not drinking—a sip of wine by a "straight edge" guy who would later end up stabbing and killing his girlfriend, who was a friend of mine (it gives my great pleasure to know that I beat the shit out of that asshole). Also becoming disillusioned with why I was straight edge, going to college i.e. drinking school, working in the high-end restaurant industry. They all played a part. I think the reason I looked up to you so much back then because you were one of the first people I met who was into hardcore and had tattoos. How did you think of yourself back then? Did you think you were cool? I don't know whether cool is the proper term. I know that I had a ton of friends and I got along with everyone. Cool to me was the guys on the West Coast. Russ Rankin from Good Riddance was my hero at the time. He was cool: He had tattoos, he was straight edge, and he played in an incredible band. I guess I always considered myself a bit bigger than Pensacola though. What did you think of us younger kids? Well, first of all, I thought of you guys as part of the clan. There wasn’t a grip of hardcore kids; we needed everyone we could get. I was never much into the whole I'm a senior and I'm better than you mentality, but you were probably the kid I actually liked the most from the younger grades. Aw, thanks. Didn’t you have a twin brother who was a jock? I remember one time him I was in the food line in the cafeteria and he was throwing grapes or some shit. Yeah, my twin brother and I are total opposites. He was a redneck: fished, hunted, listened to country music. You know my deal.





3. Shannon Shaw, San Francisco, CA. What’d you do after high school? Shannon Shaw: I went to Napa junior college to booze and schmooze, then moved to Oakland California to get a BFA at California College of the Arts. I’m currently still in Oakland where I like creeping around parking garages and rocking and rolling in my mediocre band, Shannon and the Clams. What do you guys sound like? It’s supposed to sound like sweet and sad girl groups at a beach party and then some rock and rollers come and start a panty raid. You were really into the Pixies, Sonic Youth and Nine Inch Nails in high school. What do you think of those bands now? Hmmm. Not much these days, but I guess it’s not their fault. Although remember when we met Frank Black and he was offended by our bear falling out of the tree picture? [Shannon and I once attended at Frank Black show in Sonoma and tried to give him a newspaper clipping of a bear falling out of a tree that we thought was hilarious. Frank Black did not.] Instead of saying, "Oh Shannon, nice boobs, I love it," he said, "Well, I like bears." That sort of ended it for me and all Frank Black-related projects. Are you working on any new art stuff? I'm doing a new series of portraits of celebs like Crispin Glover, John C. Reilly, Wilford Brimley, Shelly Duvall, Robert Duvall…. Do you remember when Mr. Thomas called you a Turkey? I wanted that Jheri-curled man so bad. One time Alison and I broke into his classroom to write a secret message on his board and he caught me. At first I scared the shit out of him and then he just stared intensely into my eyes and told me to leave. His mouth said no, but his eyes said stay… I’m an idiot. I feel like you were often in some sort of trouble in high school, what’s the worst you’ve been in lately? Well, I got 86’d for life from the Renaissance Faire a few years ago for shenanigans, and recently I got two black eyes at an 80s club.