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Saturday, May 29, 2004

The Night Before

Looking at the clock, I see that it’s just about to turn 2 o’clock in the morning. My stomach knots up even more than it has been, the churning and tightening getting worse with each jerky movement of the second hand. I feel like vomiting, but there’s nothing to be forced out. My eyes continually sting with tears that won’t form fully and refuse to fall from their ducts. I feel like I’m spinning, but I haven’t had a drop of liquor to drink.

In less than three hours, a man in full Army fatigues will arrive at the front door of my home at 183 Spruce Street in quiet, suburban Elyria, Ohio, and drive me to my first day of Army Basic Training.

It is November 28th, 1988, and at 5 o’clock in the morning, my entire life will change forever.

Sleep is impossible. I said goodnight to my mother, step-father and sisters around 10 o’clock, ostensibly to lay down and rest my body in preparation for what I’m sure will be the first day of the toughest phase of my life. Instead, I find myself lying on my bedroom floor, headphones on, listening to the same song on the same CD again and again:

The last night on Maudlin Street
Goodbye house, goodbye stairs
I was born here
And I was raised here…
And I took some stick here

I find solace in Morrissey’s lyrics, like so many times before. But tonight is markedly different, the circumstances making the words seem even more poetic and prophetic. “Late Night, Maudlin Street” is on repeat in my head, the verses about leaving behind home and family resounding more clearly than they ever have. I look outside my second story window and watch the impending winter’s wind move the tree branches, as the song begins again. Morrissey speaks softly:

Winter is coming
Winter is so long
Winter moves on

It is November 28th, 1988, and at 5 o’clock in the morning, my entire life will change forever.

I think about what led me to this point, a teenage life filled with moments both equally joyous and turbulent. Living at three different addresses in four short high school years, leaving old friends behind and making new ones, but tentatively so (after all, why get attached when you’ll just have to move again soon anyway?). Bouncing from living with my mother and verbally (and sometimes physically) abusive step-father to living with my father and verbally abusive step-mother. Living with two sets of parents who offer not a single word of encouragement, praise or hope for the future between them. Living in an extended family where academic excellence is not something to be recognized and rewarded, but to be met with ridicule and scorn for opportunities that never came for those who sired you. Living where it’s not anything resembling “living” at all, and to stay means one thing: working in the factory and fading to obscurity. The Army is an alternative to this life. The Army is a welcome escape. I didn’t think twice as I held the pen in the recruiter’s office. I even signed my full name, just for added dramatic flair; John Charles Blahblah. You’re in the Army now.

I change tracks on the CD to two songs ahead.

You say
Break up the family
And let’s begin to live our lives
I want to see all my friends tonight

It is November 28th, 1988, and at 5 o’clock in the morning, my entire life will change forever.

I think about the true friends I’m leaving behind in Bumfuck, Ohio. Bryan. Brandon. Ed. Adam. There are others, too – Rob, Marc, Jim and Gus. But they’re like me…no rich, or even successfully middle-class parents who could afford to send them to college. So, together we made our choices. Rob chose the Air Force. Marc chose the Navy. Gus, Jim and I joined the Army. Three years later, while home on leave, I find out that Jim was dishonorably discharged after one year of service for “mental instability and inability to conform to military life.” I hear through the grapevine that his wrists are scarred. But thankfully, this knowledge comes later so it doesn’t stain my expectations of what’s in store for the next four years of my life.

So, wish me luck my friends, goodbye
Wish me luck my friends, goodbye

Somewhere between songs and replayed memories, I have fallen asleep. I come to realize this only when my mother is suddenly in my room, gently nudging me awake from my slumber on the floor. It’s 4 o’clock in the morning. It’s time to shower, gather my things, and say a final, sleepy farewell. The next 60 minutes are a blur. I seem to be floating, watching myself do my morning ritual as I’ve done it hundreds of times before. I’m soon in the living room, sitting with my mother and little sister. They are crying. The doorbell rings. My ride is here.

It is November 28th, 1988. It is 5 o’clock in the morning, on the dot.

So, let’s begin to live our lives.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Jobriath was first.

"I'm a true fairy," Jobriath exclaimed, putting any debate over his true sexuality to rest, becoming rock music's first openly gay superstar. It's just that the superstar part never happened, despite hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of hype.

An in-your-face, outrageous gay rock star. The kind of glittery glamster Bowie, Reed and Pop only hinted at being. The year was 1973 and America was having none of it. While he paved his own way, he was derided as merely a cheap American Bowie clone (never mind that Jobriath was rocking the pierrot clown hat and white makeup a full seven years before Bowie would do so in the "Ashes to Ashes" video).

Despite bright hopes, heaps of talent, and sass to spare, "Jobriath" Bruce Wayne Campbell died of AIDS in 1983, alone in his suite at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City after a life filled with sex, drugs and booze. Gossip says four days passed before his body was discovered.

He left behind two albums, his 1973 self-title debut and "Creatures of the Night", released just six months after the first. After that his label, Elektra, dropped him and Jobriath retired from the music industry. Years later, admirers such as Morrissey and movies such as "Velvet Goldmine" have touched upon his legacy, but it's a crying shame that gay people at large have no idea who this man was. To be an out rocker in 1973! Unreal.

You can find a few Jobriath tracks on Limewire, or listen to the entire first and second albums here at Ron "Boogiemeister's" excellent "Crap From the Past" homepage.

Strange note: Spellchecker suggestion for "Jobriath"?

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Stumbling Onto Brilliance

iChat fun:
XXX: lapride's having the motels performing..if u care for them
BowiezGod: what's lapride?
BowiezGod: i like the name!
XXX: we ho
BowiezGod: it's called Lapride?
BowiezGod: as in ride my lap?
BowiezGod: i love it!
XXX: christopher street
XXX: west hollywood pride
BowiezGod: ohhhhhhhh
XXX: and that's called a typo
BowiezGod: LOL!
BowiezGod: that name is better!
BowiezGod: you're a genius!
XXX: yourfriendjasonwastheresunday
XXX: justlikethat
XXX: see?
XXX: lol,
BowiezGod: i still say "Lapride" is a great name for an event
BowiezGod: you've stumbled onto brilliance!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

How to fool the world into thinking you're straight

1. Find hot woman willing to be groped.
2. Grope said woman.
3. Have digital photo of said groping of said woman taken.
4. "Leak" said digital photo of said groping of said woman onto prominent website.
5. Deny, deny, deny, all while winking (voluntarily, this time).

Monday, May 24, 2004

This one is for DM
A Moz b-side that should have been on the new album. Beautiful stuff.


Reflecting from my deathbed
I'm balancing life's riches
against the ditches
and the flat gray years in-between
all I can see are the never laid
that's the never played symphonies

I can't see those who tried to love me
or those who felt they understood me
and I can't see those who very patiently put up with me
all I can see are the never laid
of the never played symphonies

you one you meant to be one
and you jumped into my face
and laughed and kissed me on the cheek
and then were gone forever
not quite

black sky in the daytime
and I don't much mind dying
when there is nothing left to care for anymore
just the never laid
the never played symphonies

you one you knew you were one
and you slipped right through my fingers
no not literally
but metaphorically
and now you're all I see
as the light fades

Signs You've Been Working in Advertising Creative Too Long
When you're at your local Gay Pride Parade and you're more offended by the shitty line breaks and bad color choices on the "God Hates Fags" signs than you are by the content.

Although shouting "GOD HATES SHITTY GRAPHIC DESIGN!" during quiet lulls gets a few chuckles from the crowd. Not that I'd know or nuthin'...

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Graphic Designer Porn
A couple hours of VH1 Mega Hits this weekend has led to me to a new subgenre: Graphic Designer Porn. Heavy on inventive use of typography and bold, new-yet-retro design, these videos give the designer geek in me a big chubby. Liz Phair's video for "Why Can't I?" makes the most boring song on her otherwise fun album a visual treat, presenting a primer on neat typography spread out over a series of mock-uped classic album covers. Niiiice.

Black Eyed Peas' "Hey Mama" vid is just fucking killer, with judicious use of '70s blaxploitation design and color, alongside some impressive choreography. The song is annoying, but it's oh, so nice to watch.

Graphic Designer PR0N. Love it.

Fine Folks

"...and by hubris, I mean overweening pride!" - Johnny's Greatest Hits

25 Year Loop
Fucking Woof
David Live
The Night Before
Jobriath Was First
She's in Parties
She's in Parties Pt. 2
Tales From the Dragon Club
Tales From the Dragon Club Pt. 2
Okay, California...You Win
How to Sell Used CDs

Previously on "Johnny Is a Man"...

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