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July 25 1998, Saturday


on't you think it's a little early for a folk-grunge revival? This band called Creed that all the modern rock stations are overplaying sounds more like Pearl Jam than Pearl Jam itself. One of the problems here, I think, is that even the lyrics are the same old existential ya-ya, simple rephrasings of original Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilot lyric sheets written back in 1992. It's overkill. High school kids can't help but be reminded of boring old drug and sex-free elementary school. It's not the nostalgia you want out of your core record-buying demographic, guys. This demographic problem is what normally stands in the way of hasty music revivals. I think the music of a true folk grunge-revival will come out in 2005 and sound exactly like Pearl Jam, but the lyrics will be about cheerful hair-rock-by-way-of-rap subjects, with words such as "All the girls want me bad don't you know it, I got my seed, so I'm'a gonna sew it." (Picture Eddie Vedder wailing those lyrics and you've got the idea.) All of the bands playing this kind of music will be restricted to the fraternity tour circuit. And fraternity kids in 2005 will look exactly like today's emo kids, though I have no idea what the downtrodden hipsters fomenting the next mainstream fashion wave will look like then.


y father and I went into Staunton today to see my mother's sculptures. I had no idea what to expect as we pulled into the campus of Mary Baldwin College, which sits high atop a strategic hill wedged between Staunton's downtown business district and the affluent neighborhoods you'd expect abutting a cloistered women's college.

Mary Baldwin has always titillated me, if only because of the high concentration of nubile young women. Back in early 1990, I used to come to Mary Baldwin to use the primitive 8086-based AT&T workstations in their computer labs (my Dad had made arrangements so I could do some of his environmental work there). I was always struck then by the profoundly deep-southern nature of the accents of the students, almost all of them healthy young white girls. They all sounded like they were straight out of the big house off some plantation in Georgia. I remember concluding at the time that these girls had all been sent to Staunton (a cultural desert) in hopes they'd be safe from exposure to such unsavoury things as drugs, pregnancy, hippies, punk rock, and (worst of all) jigaboo cock. Ironically, though, Mary Baldwin has developed quite a reputation for its unabashed lesbian activity. Back in the late 70s when my parents used to go out on the weekends, they were forever making comments about the many Mary Baldwin lesbian couples they encountered in Staunton's bars. That was back when the drinking age was still 18, of course.

It was orientation week at Mary Baldwin. Blue and yellow balloons were flying and people had been assigned to direct traffic. I'm sure my scruffy old father and his beat up old '69 Chevy pickup clashed noticeably with all the Volvos and Lexi, but the parking guy asked if he was there for orientation all the same. "No, I'm just here to see an exhibit of art by my wife," he said.

My mother's sculpture was but a small part of a fairly large tour being given amongst all the creations made by a series of different art classes that had been largely attended by art teacher. It was all fairly dull, really, especially given the lack of vino and finger food. But it was interesting to see how intensely the members of the various classes had bonded to each other. My mother's class had consisted of only three students, and she'd formed such a strong relationship with her professor that he'd actually been buying her drinks last night.

My mother's sculptures were fairly rough and abstract, you might say, though I guess it's kind of unfair to judge the sculptures created by a week-long class. Sculpture is a difficult, physical process, and it takes a long time to get anywhere, especially if the medium is wood (as it was in this case). My mother's least abstract work was a little owl. She'd glued little shavings of wood to it to give it feathers and used a goat dehorning iron to brand eyes into its face.

When the show was over, I carried a big carved juniper stump that my mother was calling a "deer's head" back to my Dad's truck and he and I headed home. We stopped on the way so I could pick up a 750 mL bottle of 100 proof Aristocrat vodka.


n the stream today, I continued to work on the dam. I incorporated another huge rock into its structure and then shored up the bank, where the stream has been eroding beneath a crucial fence post.

In the evening I made myself vodkatea using peppermint harvested from the shore of the stream, which I chopped up and added to vodka.


  got an email from Wacky Jen today. It was chock full of news from my old scene. People are coming and going, sloshing to and fro between heroin-rich streets in Philadelphia and the clean dull streets of Charlottesville. What's more, Jen, Jessika and Deya are looking for a house together. To me it all sounded like some bit of static-obscured news teletyped from across an ocean, like its relevance to my life was nonexistent. Things have changed a lot since I last had a real conversation with any of those people.

Predictably, I guess, Jen said that Kim "sure is pretty, but she's really normal looking." That was the insult I'd been expecting, though I'm sure more biting words await me from the likes of Jessika. Kim has no weird piercings, no crazy colours in her hair, and her tattoo doesn't show up in any of the pictures I took. She's normal looking, and my old friends are wild and crazy. The Gus has sold out, gotten old and settled down. That was the message. Of course, I'm not proud of the shabby psycho-sexual game I played with Wacky Jen, so I guess I have this coming. But I didn't know how that was supposed to turn out or what she really wanted from me. Nothing is ever very clear when it comes to sexual matters, and most of the vibes I've gotten from my Charlottesville friends have been to the effect that I should be some sort of asexual monk. I'm tired of that crap. It's time to move on. Like everyone else, I'd actually kind of like the idea of being in love. It's really strange how hypocritical people can be, wanting to find love for themselves while expecting all the friends around them to remain somatic tissue, worker bees supporting a genetically unrelated queen. It's time to move on.

one year ago
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