Monday, October 19, 2009

Older and Responsible

I still go to record stores. This is where I buy my music. Luckily, I live in a city where these places still exist. I've bought stuff online but it just doesn't feel right. Part of the pleasure derived from record (or cd) shopping is the discovery of a new band or rediscovery of an old treasure. And this, I’m sorry, can only happen while browsing through the dusty dollar bins of a record store. Lately, I’ve been buying all the shit I used to listen to when I was a teenager. Shit I had on cassette. Forgotten bands, like Madder Rose, Bettie Seveert, Pale Saints. I’ve been revisiting the music of my youth for a couple of reasons: 1) because the shit that came out of the early 90s was so incredibly good; and 2) I’ve been missing my youth.

As a kid, I was obsessed with creepy things like bugs and horror films. By my teenage years I was obsessed with AIDS and Lyme Disease. So, of course, I’d become obsessed with the dark, lovely songs of The Cure. In the summer of 1991, I was hanging out with my cousins watching some modern rock (pre-"alternative") video show on Chicago local access TV. There were videos by R.E.M., Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Depeche Mode, but it was the Cure's video for the song "Lullaby" that changed it all for me. In the video, Robert Smith is lying in bed, looking a little like Delta Burke, from Designing Women, with his chubby face all painted up. Robert is trying to fall asleep, but he is unable to because he is being tormented by his doppelganger: "The Spider Man." At some point in the video, Robert is eaten alive by a giant hairy spider. The spider mouth looked like an enormous hairy pussy. Horrifying.

In 1993, I would see the Cure. My first concert. I had to go with a cousin of mine because she was "older and responsible." And she could drive. Well, this older and responsible cousin invited like 8 or 9 of her not so responsible friends. They were all smoking dope and tripping balls. First time I'd seen that sort of thing. I, being the 15-year old dork I was, just said no to all the drugs offered to me. One of the dudes was a dealer. He was selling E or X or whatever Ecstasy was referred to as back then. I remember watching the dealer friend of my cousin sell a handful of Ecstasy to some old guy— “old” to me meant “in his 30s” —and the dealer made him take the whole fistful right then and there. I'm sure that person is dead now.

This play is about all those things that excited and scared me back then. Whenever I listen to the Cure or dive through the dollar bins at a record store, all the hopelessness and hope, the fear and desire come rushing back.

- Kristian O'Hare, TELL IT... playwright

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