Shouting the Poetic Truths of High School Journal Keepers

Monday, December 20, 2004

December 20, 1995

Tonight was quite pleasant, as I still marvel at how immensely satisfying good conversation can be, especially when among people you know and love. It was the Thespian Christmas Party, you know, at A1exia Kruger's house, for she is our President, despite the fact that she doesn't do much -- or so says Adam. He's been doing more than his share, apparently. But that's neither here nor there. Anyhow, quite a few alumni were present: Mike C0rtez (USC), Pe+er Tinaglia (Northwestern), Becki Aske1and (Ill Wesleyan), Sc0tt Malzahn (Valparaiso), Nathan Miku1cik (NIU), Holly Hami1ton (Bradley), etc., the latter having recently been arrested for stealing stop signs. But of course, good Genevieve Webs+er was also accounted for, and she is a sparkling conversationalist, as we chatted about movies and other such things. I really like that girl, to be sure. I honestly do. I was staring at her tonight and thikning she looked like child actress Christina Ricci, but maybe just because of the forehead. Otherwise, she looks like a bat. That's what Adam says, and I agree. I thought Tatyana M. Ali on last night's "Fresh Prince" looked rather Christina Ricci-esque. Genevieve, now at least she's white. She had her coat on the entire evening, too, because she said she was fine, and Alexia asked her if she could remove it for her, and again, she said she was fine. What happened eventually is that everyone kind of split up: in one room, the alumni and the girls who love them (J Sillitti, A Hoffert, M Meier, just absolutely fawning over Tinaglia and Cortez like they were some sort of movie star); in the next, some folks playing a game called Aggravation; and then we (Stacie, myself, Holly, Genevieve, Chris Carley, M@ndy Geiger) playing Scattergories in another room. But it got too loud so we left. It was a fine party overall, but it just got too loud and we wanted our conversation unhampered by that crass commercial alternative rock that kept blaring from the stereo speakers. "Reality Bites"? Give me a fucking break! Counting Crows? Don't think so, pal. And yes, I do realize that that was all me circa February 1994, but that was in my youth and so I have a bit of an excuse.1 I've grown up tremendously since then. Anyway, it was just Chris and I that got really offended, since he's my buddy in the music department. We make each other tapes and such2. So we went to Chili's and it was closed. Daniel H0rn yelling from Mandy's brand new red car, "Hello!" and me thinking what the fuck, you're only at this party because Becky R0senmayer thought you were a Thespian and accidentally slipped you an invitation before she realized it was too late. And then of course we went to Denny's, and of course, typical-typical, Stacie just said "bye" very tersely and left off on her merry way, on her voyage home. I like Stacie very much because she's my best friend and everything, but I don't know if I can always handle her mood swings. As I said to Chris later, I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky guy, and if you're not happy when I am, it's just like, whatever. She had to be home by 11:20 anyway. What happened then was that at Denny's, we pop in and I end up talking with M@rk Beirn and Kyna Smi+h and Becky R0senthal the entire time, because it's not often that I get a chance to talk with them, and they just happened to be there, sitting in a booth, almost ready to go when I showed up. Genevieve and Mandy and Daniel were already at a table, ordering french fry and sandwich-filled baskets, and Chris would make periodic visits to the Mark, etc. table, but I just stayed there the entire time. Talking to Becky mostly, though, because Kyna and Mark together are just, as Becky said, "unnerving." It was quite a good visit and reminded me that I need to call Marie tomorrow to just chat. We haven't personally done so since August and that's quite a long time when you consider that I truly enjoy Marie's company and consider her a good friend of mine. Well, that I must do and a zillion other things. Chris and I decided that we're going to put off seeing "Nixon" until Thursday3, since I'm obligated to have dinner with my great-aunt tomorrow as a sort of a Christmas visit. And I'd truly like to drive up to EJ Br0nkema's house next week sometime. We'll see. It all kind of hinges on my grandma's death, that is, when, in the next few days is she going to actually die. It's hard to talk about it without using such blunt terms, but I mean, Christ, why bother with the euphemisms? She's going to die, and that's it. There's positively nothing erroneous about that statement. Okay, okay. I'll stop with what must be coming off as macho-ism. I won't really know how I feel until it happens. But yeah. Christmas will be kind of weird this year. Let's see. What else went on today that's notable. Nothing much, and that's kind of sad because without a job I have no excuse for not getting things done. Worked a bit on my Duke University application. Talked to Stacie on the phone, had lunch, went over to Stacie's house for like three and a half hours. [...] Much of the afternoon was spent caring for Paula, who was awake for a ridiculously long amount of time, for babies, that is. She'll be three months in six days. And we watched "Jeopardy!" togehter. Ho-hum. I think Adam wants Alexia to be like Stacie is to me. Kyna said something about him having to affirm his heterosexuality, but I don't think that's it. It was a joke anyway. But I just don't see how he's going to accomplish that kind of friendship if he keeps making fun of her constantly. Adam's a very fun person to be around, to talk to, but he can't be very serious at all. He can be serious about things that matter very little, like social etiquette and such, but not really about sex or relationships or things like that. That's what I told Becky tonight, along with the gossip about Ryan and Jes@ida, and about Becky and Steve: people who've had sex.4 She's the girl that wanted to know, and I guess I don't care anymore about telling people. Becky took a chance when she told Mandy. Ryan, whatever. He told me he was sorry he wasn't able to make it to my party on Saturday. Don't even give a shit. Hmmmm. [...]

1 It was not even two years prior! Although the next sentence seems to signal that I was speaking at least somewhat ironically.

2 Liner notes to a mix tape I made for Chris two weeks later:

1. "Smooth Control," Dambuilders
The almost-obligatory hard-drivin', fast-playin' punkish-type song that must begin every mix tape. Yeah, I know, it's not like Pennywise punk, but I feel all the cooler for at least knowing who Pennywise is and being able to effectively make an allusion to them in the October 1995 issue of "The Raider Review," thus earning the respect of Jas0n Rainwater. Anyway, the Dambuilders are pretty cool. And this is a pretty good song. Check it out.

2. "Stillness in Time," Jamiroquai
True to your wishes, stated both at the Osman cast party and, I think, at my Christmas fiesta, I included some Jamiroquai on this tape. Described by "Rolling Stone" as, and I paraphrase here, "a salt-and-pepper British combo" whose singer has "a Stevie Wonder jones," Jamiroquai has taken the world by storm, earning the praise of critics and audiences alike, as evidenced by their 8-million-copy-selling debut "Return of the Space Cowboy" and a spot on the main stage of Lollapalooza. Ha ha. Just kidding. Actually, no one outside of Aar0n Marsh has ever heard of them, and I prefer to keep it that way. This is one of the mellower tracks; you'll hear the heavy funk later.

3. "El Camino," The Rake's Progress
I realize now that maybe I should've bought this album when we were at the MusicMart place instead of fellow Buy-Product artist St. Johnny, which I later traded to Jenny Patterson's dad for two bucks. But actually, had I bought this album, whose cover contains a tiger, I would've had two albums in which the cover contains a member of the cat family (the other being the tiger on "Ruby Red"), and that would've been beyond my one-wildcat quota. So this is all I have to offer.

4. "Ponderosa," Tricky
Don't be swayed by Amy Kh@n's hasty judgment of "Maxinquaye." She also has the words Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains scribbled onto her bookbag in black marker, showing she's a true alterna-teen. To quote, "I like the sound of guitars, whether they're heavy or not." In my opinion, this and "Washing Machine" may be the top two albums of 1995. Then again, I only had about a dozen to choose from. You decide for yourself.

5. "Bodhisattva," Steely Dan
The story behind this song: I'm picking my brother up from his guitar lesson some dreary Monday in autumn, and good anti-Alanis, anti-Live boy that I am, I've got the dial tuned to WXRT. Needless to say, this song comes on and I'm so blown away, I slam on the brakes in the middle of Boughton, thus causing a multi-car pile-up and injuring a helpless bicyclist. Okay, slight exaggeration (I've got to stop doing that), but you get the point. Since the song wasn't on my dad's only Steely Dan record, I high-tailed it to the library several days later and picked up the greatest hits compilation. The liner notes were rather skimpy, and because it never cracked the Top 40, I can only tell you that "Bodhisattva" was released sometime between 1972 and 1980.

6. "Hit," The Sugarcubes
I'm kind of annoyed by the fact that I haven't kept in contact with my friend Jessie Benens0n, whom I met at Illinois Summer School for the Arts in 1993, and again saw in 1994 (we were only really friends in 1994; she thought I was a scary stalker-type the year before) At least I mailed her a letter; she's the one who never wrote back. But enough bitching. She supplied me with three items in my music collection, all of which I dubbed off the only CDs she had at the time: Sonic Youth, "Experimental Jet Set..."; PJ Harvey, "4-Track Demos," and of course, this release. Fun fact: Bjork's "Post" is Marie Rutk0ski's #2 album of 1995.

7. "In-Betweener," Sleeper
Could they sound any more like Elastica? I bet lead singer Louise Wener snarls in her videos, too. A shrewd purchase by yours truly at the MusicMart extravaganza, for I like them quite a bit, but I'm stumped as to why anyone would buy a full-price CD single that only contains one track. I mean, you have to figure you're paying a quarter of what it costs for a regular CD for roughly a twelfth of the music. And most singles are songs that have already been released and thus, played on the radio. So just tape em, I say. Or buy the goddamn CD already.

8. "Plastic," P.M. Dawn
Still the only artist by which I've bought two CDs (Arrested Development, The Dambuilders, and Sonic Youth have all had at least one dubbed). Their debut was also the first CD I ever bought, in March 1992, birthday and Catholic confirmation money freshly received. So naturally, P.M. Dawn holds a special place in my heart. Note: the chorus should go, "Plastic, what? Plastic, y'all," NOT "Plastic, what? Basketball" as your good buddy Steve K0ven jokingly claimed one day as he was shooting free throws in my driveway.

9. "White Trash," Southern Culture on the Skids
Man, this song makes me feel dirty. Reminiscent, I think, and you can readily dispute this, of Blues Explosion. To tell you the truth, though, I don't know a whole lot about Southern Culture on the Skids, other than that if you get sick of saying all seven syllables of their name, you can use the acronym SCOTS. It'd save some much-needed breath, and plus, you'll earn the respect of your peers, who will immediately peg you as a rock aficionado, like those Hollywood types who are so absorbed in the industry that they talk about having lunch with "Chuck" Heston. Then again, maybe not.

10. "Africa's Inside Me," Arrested Development
This wasn't coincidental, following a Confederate-flag-raising song with a Black Power anthem. It's all part of my attempt to shake things up as much as possible, juxtaposing black artists with white, trip-hop with rock, slow beats with fast, etc. I think you'll thank me for it later. Unless, of course, you're one of those change-styles-gradually types. If so, then I'm terribly sorry. But you'll live. I hope.

11. "Becuz," Sonic Youth
Okay, if you have this album already, just listen to the song and don't go polluting up the air with your ranting about how mix tapes should expose the recipient to music they haven't heard. Besides, I owe you a Soul Coughing incident, too. If, on the other hand, you don't own this album, then what the hell is your fucking problem? The CD came out on September fucking twenty-sixth, all right? And where were you? Watching re-runs of My Two Dads? I don't fucking think so. You've had your chance, Chris. If this song doesn't entice you to buy the album, you're in a sorrier state than I had thought.

12. "Good," Pizzicato Five
I don't actually think that any of the songs on this album are as good as P5's freak hit of last year, "Twiggy Twiggy (Twiggy vs James Bond)." And there are some tracks on it that just need to be fast-forwarded through (here's a tip to the band: stick to pop; don't try ambient). The reason I like it, though, is its cheesy- and bubble gum- cuteness, ordinarily a potential problem, but also kind of a refreshing dip after listening to serious "alternative rock." Plus, I dig Japanese chicks. Especially when they speak French.

13. "9 Fingers on You," Shudder to Think
I wouldn't go so far as to say it's half the fun, but a good percentage of the fun in listening to this song is knowing the lyrics that lead singer Craig Wedren spouts. Therefore, I've reprinted them here. Turn the volume up and laugh laugh laugh.

Hello It's a long road You've got some ape-guy eight-by-tens and I know what you're thinking You've got to hustle for your muscle machine Hey! I've got nine fingers on you The 10th/pro/get foxy/bottom bin dollar record A record player entitled "Biddy, I Gotta Bump"

14. "Peaches en Regalia," Frank Zappa
This is your first instrumental on the tape and one that I hope you'll enjoy, especially since it isn't exactly a "safe-bet-Chris-will-like-it"...track. I almost said "song" but then was reminded of Debbie (Humphrey band director) Brubeck's rule that "songs" must be sung, and this, of course, is an instrumental. And then I was reminded of a dream I had last week that I was visiting fictitious Zappa University, named after Frank himself. What-evah (pronounce like Aaron Sinclair).


1. "Sophisticated Catchy," Pizzicato Five
So you just flipped the tape. What do you think so far? God, I'm getting so self- conscious, aren't I? Either you've pressed the play button hoping Side B is as good as Side A, or hoping that it will get better soon. Well, I'll alert you to something right now: you're going to be hearing a lot of the same bands, since I think it's only fair someone should hear more than one song by an artist in order to form an informed opinion. Plus, I don't have all that much music to go around. This song, by the way, is the trademark John/Chris quasi-instrumental first track on Side B thing. Think about it.

2. "Christmas at the Zoo," The Flaming Lips
This would be a lot more relevant had I given this tape to you over the holidays, which I had primarily intended. But no matter; it's a good song, anyway, I think. I rather like this Flaming Lips album I bought in late November cuz they understand what I think is basic to my musical tastes: a little off-kilter, but with lots of catchy melodies and good hooks. However, understand that I did not buy "Clouds Taste Metallic" because of what is now known as the "Jelly song"; the Sound Opinions guys just about drooled over it and I thought I might use up my Musicland gift-certificate while I still could.

3. "I Can't Imagine the World Without Me," Echobelly
The last song you're going to hear from my stack of MusicMart purchases (I know, you're crying over the fact you won't hear any Tara Kemp). But what to say about Echobelly? Ignore it if I've already told you this story, but one time I was talking to Kjell and he was going on about how great the Wilco/Jayhawks/(insert roots rock band here) album was, and how the best music is All-American, not that "Euro-crap like Echobelly." I told this to Marie, who then e-mailed me and said that Kjell was full of shit/blatantly lying/etc. because he had once told her how great Echobelly was. I still don't have the definitive answer. I, for one, like this euro-crap for at least one reason: lead singer Sonya Aurora-Madan, is, with Bjork, one of the two cutest women in rock.

4. "Gang of $," Shudder to Think
For some reason, I have nothing whatsoever to say about Shudder to Think, other than that this song, for your reference, also appears on the "Tonnage" CD. ("I Smoke a Lot," "Faster") Therefore, I will address another Washington, D.C., band in this space: Please tell me that some "Red Medicine"-era Fugazi lies ahead for me on a tape sometime, specifically the song "Target," which I heard on the Best of the Big Beat 1995 program, but also remember from that time you played the CD in my room. It's been going through my head lately and to hear it again would brighten my day. Thanks!

5. "Filthy," St. Etienne
When my brother bought this CD, "The Trip-Hop Test," it didn't really match my expectations of it, since all I knew of so-called trip-hop was Portishead and Tricky, and this album contained several 8-minute-long excursions into ambient and, dare I say, techno. Although it took me a while to really appreciate most of the tracks, this tune...right here...won me over instantly. But be patient: at five and a half minutes, it's the longest song on the tape.

6. "Need Some Air," Urge Overkill
Q101's Local Music Showcase Listeners' Poll recently voted Urge Overkill most overrated local artist, but I disagree (that would be an honor reserved for Liz Phair, who's got some clever, punchy songs, but can't sing to save her soul). I think they're quite decent gents, actually, and they've got some lovely songs. If the sound on this track is not quite up to speed with the rest on the tape, it's because my copy of "Exit the Dragon" is a dub courtesy Jennifer Patterson (# 7), whom I forced to lend it to me after she had kept by Dambuilders CD for longer than I had initially had it. Naturally, I wasn't about to ask for it back. But you should note: it is the only non-CD song on the tape, so thank your lucky stars and feel special like you should.

7. "Wild Wood," Paul Weller
Paul Weller, if you're not familiar with him, was the lead singer for British punksters The Jam (1977-1984). He's also put together a solo career in the 90's, which has been described as "tastefully emotional in a soft-soul mode." Yet you wonder: What is Paul Weller (not to be confused with the Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone doing on a trip-hop album? Two words, which should hopefully clear up the confusion: Portishead remix. By placing this song on your tape, I've also included 100% of what I consider the true vocal tracks on "The Trip-Hop Test."

8. "Ono Soul," Thurston Moore
Thurston Moore, if you're not familiar with him, is the lead singer for a New York art-rock band, Sonic Youth (1981-present). He's also put together a solo career in the 90's, which regrettably, I don't have a quote for (damn Spin Alternative Record Guide publishing deadlines!). I do know, however, that this song is from his '95 release "Psychic Hearts." Think maybe I heard it first on WCBR...Anyway, yeah, I'll shut up now. But just remember this: "Thurston Moore: He's one tall motherf**ker."

9. "The Kids," Jamiroquai
Okay, deep breath, just five more to go...So check this out. I'm sitting at home, writing up my psychology notes for the final, right? and I'm listening to the 33 record of Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life." I'm on what must be the fourth side (it's a double album) when these stringed instruments kick in, at first only vaguely familiar, and then my God! It's "Gangsta's Paradise" right there on the record, thinly disguised as a ditty called "Pastime Paradise." Okay, forgive me if you knew that Coolio copped off Stevie, but it was a shock to me. By the way, I'm allowed to mention this in the Jamiroquai space since I've a) already talked about them, and b) alluded to Stevie Wonder in the midst of that discussion.

10. "Tomorrow," Morrissey
Although I've liked this song for a while, its presence on your tape is a sheer coincidence, only here because I found the album at the Romeoville Fountaindale Library a few days before I recorded everything. Interesting tidbit: D0ug Beaver won't admit it (because it may infringe upon his masculinity), but he's a Morrissey fan, or at least Liz once said she bought him the "Suedehead" single for his birthday because he liked it. Kind of odd, actually, when your Morrissey's your guilty pleasure, and Bush is the band you go around advertising on your chest.

11. "Overcome," Tricky
I feel it necessary in this space to mention that, because Tricky was once romantically involved with Bjork, and because Bjork's "Post" was Marie Rutk0ski's #2 album of the year, that Marie Rutk0ski's #1 album of the year was "Glow" by The Innocence Mission. Now that that's out of the way, here's another person who doesn't like Tricky: BHS alum Becki Aske1and ('93), who just kind of cringed when she asked me if I liked that "letter from the government" song. Maybe I should write an article for the paper about who did the original versions of songs, since people seem to have little if any clue. I'd start with "Gangsta's Paradise," then proceed with "Black Steel," (Public Enemy/Tricky), "Sweet Jane" (Lou Reed/Cowboy Junkies), etc. It'd be a nice little service to the community.

12. "Teenage Loser Anthem," The Dambuilders
In thinking about this song, I've realized how wrong I was earlier regarding why people buy CD singles. I guess I understand the logic now: maybe you just hear something somewhere and you're unfamiliar with the band and you don't want to take a risk with the entire CD. Like this song for example. Had I not known who the Dambuilders were when I heard it for the first time (JBTV), there's a pretty good bet that I wouldn't have bought the album. Then I got to thinking. Here's a list of 10 great songs I've heard, but whose accompanying CDs are absent on my shelf:

"Hell of a Hat," Mighty Mighty Bosstones
"Bonnie & Clyde," Luna
"Ticking," Loud Lucy
"Dive Bomb," Number One Cup
"Idiot Son," Red Red Meat
"I'm On Fire," Motorhome
"Underground," Ben Folds Five
"Man-Sized Rooster," Supergrass
"Fluffy White Clouds [sic]," The Orb
"Red Right Hand," Nick Cave & Bad Seeds

13. "Valley Girl," Frank Zappa
And then we're back to Frank. What a great 80's song this is, sung by his daughter Moon Unit. Every time I hear it, it reminds me of someone, although I can't quite place who exactly it is. I was thinking Mary O'Connor for a while, or at least Mary's impression of her bitch-punk sister Erin, but that's only the voice. Can't place any faces. But oh well. At least I got it to fit on the tape; that's my genius at work. It fit in its entirety, without such previously-used [last name omitted] methods as splicing or fading. And that's why you've got to give me props.

3 We actually never saw the movie together. I saw it the following summer on video.

4 Six months later, commenting on this entry, I said: "both couples quite unlikely at this point ... that they ever have, that is." Rumors, rumors.


  • haha, 'child actress christina ricci'


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