Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bongo, Blowjobs and the Barney


Ostensibly this is a post about the release of the Joshua Tree, see it was 24 years ago today that it was released and though i was a fan of the band at the time it was really just another cool band to add to the list of cool bands that i listened to in order to impress high school girls, it was roughly the same time period that i got into the Smiths and New Order and those two bands have stayed with me through the years, are still listened to regularly and have had a profound effect on me, i do remember watching the video to With or Without You and wishing i had a girl to listen to it with... U2 was a bit more acceptable in my white-bread working class high school mainly because many of us had just discovered the wonders of cable television and they always seemed to be on, then this record hit and they blew up in the States and even the squares started listening... this is when it seemed that Bongo dropped that whole flag waving Red Rocks thing and began dressing like some boho-semi gay cowboy in leather vests and no shirts and the Edge looked like he could've stepped out of a Peckinpah film, in short it was cool to a sixteen year old me and i ran out and bought the album straight away...

It was around this time that i was coming out of my hardcore phase and had begun wearing the Barney, a haircut patterned after one Bernard Sumner, all shaved on the sides and up the back and with a nice floppy lock hanging side parted and hanging down the front, a very British hair-style , a haircut reserved for the cooler kids in city schools who snuck into the clubs i'd soon be going to when i was of age, it was this haircut and of course my new found fondness of Bongo and the boys that helped me score a girlfriend, a girl on the fringe of the cool crowd who had broken up with her parted down the middle feathered back boyfriend of two years and took a liking to the basketball playing weirdo who secretly pined for the theater chick who's daddy ran a morgue and since the theater girl wouldn't talk to me i did what any horny young boy would do and dated whoever showed some interest and that my dear readers was one Wendy Grech, known as a rabbit among the mothers, a fact my mother let me know that she knew, a girl who was most likely dating down by dating me if we go by the high school hierarchy of cliques but who told me she liked the fact i was different and didn't give a shit, i took it as a compliment...

The Joshua Tree was the album that Wendy and i bonded over and by bonded i mean fuck, she was the first girl i dated who really understood the art of fellatio and i mean that as a compliment, we spent many a drunken weekend night parked in the high school parking lot in her dad's light blue Chevy Caprice that was rusting around the wheel wells, screwing our little brains out, sweating and looking for cops and laughing when we saw the condoms still there on monday morning, what bliss for a 16 year old boy, of course we didn't make it til the end of the school year and when she dumped me it wasn't as traumatic as it should have been for juniors in high school, though my memory is foggy i'm pretty sure the dumping had to do with an infidelity on my part, no actual penetration mind you just some drunken make-out session with a girl who was an incredibly bad kisser and who's best friend was the one i was really after but Wendy was not amused and as she stood there in my friends room after one last go round on his water bed she looked old for someone so young, she then proceeded to pop in a tape and play With or Without You and dump my silly white ass... i, for one, thought it was cool that i got dumped and laid at the same time and did alot of shrugging and smiling and was told that it wasn't going to work and that i was just a fucking weirdo and a loser and not a part of the In crowd, in short i wasn't Jake from 16 Candles nor did i want to be...

So what does this have to do with the Joshua Tree? fuck i don't know but what i do know is that i listened to it quite alot the summer of 87 and was more than stoked when One-eyed Bobby's bigwig radio dad came through with 4 tickets for us to see the band at old Cleveland Stadium, it was October by now and i was still trying to impress the theater girl and she was still doing her best to pretend i didn't exist and by this time U2 had become a bit passe among the prehistoric hipster kids, not to be confused with today's modern hipster kids who act much the same, and i was glad With or Without You wasn't my favorite song on the album due to it's new found relationship to my failed uh relationship yet i was the quintessential bedsit boy, a dreamer who dreamed endlessly and my favorite song off the record was Running to Stand Still (as well as Red Hill Mining Town), a song i associated with the theater girl who to me seemed utterly mysterious and tortured and oblivious to me, when i reality she was just shy and quite possibly intimidated that a moron like me could be so smitten with her...

But let's now get off track now this is about Bongo and the Boys and on this fine October eve, a day that was the first day of basketball conditioning for my senior year, a season that would end up being the best in my school's history, i ran my sprints and then sprinted home to shower and change and head downtown for the big show, now since we were all underage we couldn't score any booze but we did scrape together a joint or two and we all blazed up, we being One-eye, Steve-O, Spaz and myself, my best friends in high school at the time and began walking up towards our seats and the ushers kept telling us go further and before you knew it we were roughly ten rows from the fucking stage, we got our seats and all stood there goggle eyed at how close we were and then Los Lobos came out and completely bored the shit out of us high school kids and then the wind picked up and the clouds started moving in and we started coming down, then in what would become a pattern repeated throughout my life i found someone with drugs, it was a brother and sister sitting next to me and when i smelled that wonderful aroma i looked enquiringly around and the brother, who was probably a year younger than me smiled and his sister who was probably two years older grinned and said, wanna hit it? i of course said yes and they were nice enough to pack one for me and the boys and we thanked them and One-eye tried to woo the sister but she just kept smiling at me and we began to talk and then the lights went down and out walked the Bongo and the Boys...

Bongo had his arm in a sling, seems he had fallen off the stage the previous show in Pittsburgh but he persevered and belted out the tunes and at one point it began to rain and then since it's right on the lake and it was October it even snowed a little, i was pleasantly stoned and in awe of the show, being that close i was pretty much speechless and blown away, at one point some cute girl was standing on my seat and holding onto my shoulders and it was pretty much a brilliant fucking night, i remember Bongo saying something like the weather reminded him of home and he thanked us for it and of course we all cheered like imbeciles as we stood in the intermittent snow and sprinkles of rain... and then something even better happened for the tall boy with the floppy hair, the lights went down and the stage was blue-lit and he started singing So she looked up/ looked up from where she was/ lying still/ she said i/ gotta do something about where we're going... and fuck if i didn't freeze as a hush came over the stadium and those words cut through the air and hit me right in the fucking gut words from my favorite song on the album, words that i heard this morning on the radio and suddenly some 24 years later i was shipped back to those days of laying on my living room floor and watching a video, of the sweaty and awkward fumblings of a Chevy Caprice, of the girls i had chased, of the smile of strangers and the passing of bowl, of basketball practice and Bongo's arm in a sling, those words brought back the wine of my youth and even at 10am, on a cold and rainy day, in a dead end job, it felt good, if fucking tasted good... and maybe that is the point.

7 comments:

nursemyra said...

I have my U2 memories too..... loved reading about yours

daisyfae said...

it's one thing to remember what happened, or even what someone said, a decade or two ago. but it's something entirely different when you remember what you felt.

for me, it's music and scent that can send me tumbling over a memory cliff like that. most of them from the high school years aren't that pleasant, though...

Sausage Fingers said...

Great story, these feeling will stay for a lifetime especially when you are reminded by the radio. Do you ever feel remorse for chucking the used condoms out the car window?? Poor bastard of a janitor must have loved that.
Cheers, Sausage...

sybil law said...

I guess my high school boyfriend will think of some great times whenever he hears Led Zeppelin (I know I do). Nice. :)

Rassles said...

I never had anything like that in high school. Most of my memories from high school make me cry, they make me angry, and I don't know why. I don't remember a lot about high school, probably because I was a depressed insomniac and I hated myself. Never got the confidence gene. I got the courage gene, but never the confidence.

Kono said...

Nursie- gracias

Daisy- i will agree, certain smells can do the same thing, and i'm good at remembering what i felt, maybe too good.

SF- don't worry, they never cleaned the parking lot.

Sybil- Side 2, Led Zeppelin IV

Rassles- Most of my memories from high school make me laugh, i was a dumbfuck basketball playing stoner with a predeliction for "alternative" music, i don't know if i got the confidence or the courage gene but i got the stoopid gene.

Jayne said...

I'm liking that tall boy with the floppy hair. He writes damn good for getting the stoopid gene. I remember Neil Young as the one playing in the background. For a looooong time. (U2 wasn't yet making records when I was in HS)