Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Flashback: around 1987 or 1988
See that clock?
I got it for a birthday in 1984, maybe. That little GE fake wood panel box woke my lanky butt up through some of junior high, all of high school and college, and most of the time I've lived in Chicago.
I still got that little guy. I now listen to WLUW in the kitchen, just did tonight for a bit as a matter of fact.
Still works great, for the most part, except of a missing knob on the front and a SKREEGGRRRCCRUMMPA sound when you adjust the volume.
Love that little brown fucker!
Well, back in high school, I was that regular guy. Sort of lost, geeky and weird, but normal enough to kind of fit in with most of the cliques one encounters in high school.
But I always felt like I wasn't quite in the right spot. I had/have great friends from that time. Best friends, a regular crew of dudes and dudettes who I loved/love. They always had my back against the Shop Rats jerks and the Jock and Jane Preppy crowds.
Even back then I recognized and liked the fact I had such a diverse mix of friends. I could pass a joint with one crowd, and then my buddy would gain me entrance into a football/preppy party the next night. I'd polish up my writing skills with my Journalism buddies (J. Leatherman!) or sneak into Dillion's with my other friends for Alternative "dance" Nights or a gig with Delicious Moss, sneaking beers or blowing a joint in the parking lot across the street. Or many weekends, we'd lower cases of Bud Light or Old Mil that I had hidden in my closet out my bedroom window, and just cruise The Circuit, hang at The Barn, or party with friends at The Abandoned House.
All and all, not a bad high school experience compared to some.
But always a little left of center feeling.
Until, right around this time, I discovered the best radio. Sunday nights, from 6 p.m. to Midnight on the local college radio station 88.3 FM all "alternative" music or "progressive" music (that's what we called it at the time, or punk). It gave me at least an inkling of a direction.
Sunday night of course, I had to go to bed for school the next day. And my parents bedroom door was across the hall from my door (about four feet away), so I couldn't listen on my regular stereo.
And that's where the fine radio pictured above comes in.
I'd shut the main stereo off for the parents, and then snuggle up with the GE one. It sat on the mattress, leaning a bit against the wall, to the left of the pillow. And I would discover an entire world outside my little town.
Of course, being the 80s, cassette tapes were the rage. You could plug the into a car stereo and fly down country roads after midnight, slugging down beers, and screaming about how you hated this shitty town and you couldn't wait to get the hell out; maybe move to New York, write for Rolling Stone, meet artists and musicians, live in a graffiti scrawled walk up loft on the LES, puke on the subway, and fall in love with a model because anything was possible in New York City! You yearned to be one of the Slaves of New York! You were praying and dying for the Bright Lights, Big City! You wanted to see what the hell Lou Reed meant by all the colored girls going doot-de-doot-de-doot!
So you made a mixed tapes from the Sunday night shows. Hit record, let the tape record through the song, hit stop when the DJ spoke, rewind, hit record when the next song played, if it sucked, hit stop, rewind, play to a stopping point, hit pause, wait for the next song, hit record....repeat repeat repeat.
I think I still have most of those tapes except for one that had the songs "first time played at 88.3" from Nirvana's Bleach and others, eaten in my car stereo around 1997 at The Brickyard.
But on that first tape, ah that first tape, I am hearing some of the songs now in my head, was an amazing mix of punk, thrash, and hard reggae...thank you Mister DJ! And one of my favorite songs on that first one, I present to you below (it's the first 47 seconds of the video).
I'll see you in the cafeteria after fourth period: