Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Revisionist History - Podunk Summer pt. 11 (the not so electrifying conclusion)

 And so Podunk summer went strolling right along, the days melting into each other in a stoned and drunken haze so that after a while it became nothing but a blur, the only points of demarcation being those days i didn't have to get up and drag my hungover self to some dorm to sleep away the morning. In fact there were only two sojourns outside of Podunk that summer, a July 29th trip to Cleveland and an August 16th trip to Pittsburgh. Google those dates and you'll find that Lollapalooza was rambling across the country, the second edition with Pearl Jam, Lush, Jesus and Mary Chain, Soundgarden, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the real highlight... Ministry. Of course seeing Ministry and JAMC in the sunlight was a bit weird but when one takes enough illicit substances one can make up for odd start times... 

Strange how things float back into the mind, i'm not sure if the Pittsburgh show was added late or not but a bunch of us had plans for the Cleveland gig. I can honestly say i wasn't the biggest Pearl Jam fan back in the day and i'll admit being blown away by how good they were both times i saw them that summer, before Eddie Vedder began his jaded rock star schtick that then morphed into the wise old sage act. They (we) were young and up for it and came out swinging, aiming to blow the roof of the place... even if it technically was roofless. Going back to Blossom was like a homecoming, having been the scene of the first Lollapalooza the previous year but also having spent some of the best nights of my youth there. Two songs into Pearl Jam's set and it began pissing down rain. We all know now what happens when the rain starts and the fields become mud pits and the grown kids become children again, covering themselves from head to toe in mud... granted i avoided this shit, instead preferring to be soaked and not covered in mud but it made for a fun spectacle for us tripping kids to watch the many goofballs continually slide down a muddy hill. I often wondered what their cars looked like when they got home and what a fucking mess it would be to clean that up. I remember thinking it back then which was pretty rational for a guy on acid. Oddly enough since none of us were huge Chili Peppers fans we started making our way to the gate during their set which proved to be a brilliant move as we'd later learn that some people never made it out of the parking lot until the next morning, the lot turning into a muddy swamp and cars sinking and getting stuck. 

Other than the rain the first show was rather uneventful. Was it good? fuck yeah, Ministry was brilliant that day, i think the rain and mud inspiring Al Jourgenson, but it was the second show that would etch itself into my head, another tale of fuck-ups and lost love... because i always loved the women more after they told me to get fucked... funny how that works. 

Once again a bunch of us piled in a couple cars for the two hour trip south to the old Starlake Amphitheater, this time there would be no rain just a bright sunny day which would turn into a starry night. The bands were all good, with once again Pearl Jam kicking ass, Ministry being, well, Ministry and the JAMC being both beautifully melodic and noisy as is their hallmark. As per my usual regimen i was on my usual couple hits of paper and in general wandered around with my friends doing what a young Kono would do, mainly looking for girls. Of course nothing came of all this wandering other than a few funny conversations and there was one point where i lay in the grass and occasionally hit a joint that was being passed by people i didn't know, those friendly days of the early Lolla's, where all the kids in the know felt like we were in on something secret. A scant two years later i would write a paper basically outlining how Lollapalooza was the first domino to fall in the subjugation of alternative culture being absorbed and accepted by the mainstream... call it the birth of Hot Topic... 

It escapes me now who played before the Chili Peppers but the Poet, (my soon to be roommate and an excellent poet) were strolling along the grounds of the place when who should i practically run into in my wastedness? It was MJ, my girlfriend from the previous summer that i had spent working in Ocean City. The story of MJ, told years ago here on the lounge, could probably use an update but for those lounge scholars keeping track MJ was the girl i spent most of that summer with. She was thin and wore glasses and had long, shiny, dark brown hair. When i first met her i was working in a warehouse in West Ocean City or what one would call the shittiest gig in OC. She was working in one of the t-shirt stores i delivered to, a store i'd end up working in after she quit (the illegal Israeli who worked the store was a pig who would hold her check and ask for a kiss, a hug, or whatever, shit that was wholly inappropriate and while our boss would tell him to knock it off he really didn't do much about it, maybe the real karma was that Tiran got to soon spend the rest of the summer with me.) 

She was the highlight of my day back then. The second to last stop before i could quit for the day and since it was the smallest store it was the easiest delivery. I was so broke i used to use a piece of rope for a belt that summer, something that made her laugh the first time she asked me about it. From the start there was an attraction and we'd subtly flirt with each other until one day i finally got the nerve to ask her if she wanted to hang out sometime. She said sure and explained that a bunch of guys she knew lived right below me and that they were having a party that night, i told her i didn't know when i'd be done but that if she felt like it she could stop up and hangout, i said i was a bit leery of the second floor and their parties cuz they were ripe to get busted and the paranoid and budding smackhead who lived down the hall from me liked to keep all the doors tightly locked when they partied to keep the cops out. 

I lived on the third floor, oceanfront, above one of the stores i delivered to, a prime spot if ever there was one for migrant summer help. It cost me $800 for the summer. My room was frighteningly white walled and i replaced the light bulbs with blue and red lights so at night the place was gorgeous, especially for those inclined to eating acid and once again one can consult the archives about this summer and my acid eating. It was around 10ish when there was a knock on my open door... and there she stood. She had an almost demure way about her, and once i got to know her more what i would call ( to steal a line from a song) that she was born with an amount of inherited sadness. The dissolution of her family dong a serious number on her and a stepdad who was a raging asshole. She came up that night, stayed the night, and never really left. 

The place she was staying was the typical summer hell hole, a semi-basement shithole crammed with four beds for the four girls staying there. It was a bit Mean Girls to say the least with two of her roommates being almost openly hostile towards her and one being somewhat okay, she scored the place because she was a last minute replacement and she was also the youngest of the group. Needless to say it wasn't the best place to stay so after a few days i basically gave her a key and said she could stay at my place. She'd stop back at hers now and then only to be met with derision for now "not being around" but she didn't really care. Our summer was bliss after that, her keeping me out of jail once or twice for being a drunken shithead and our days and nights spent naked and in bed. I left early that summer, the last week in July, mainly cuz i could hitch a ride back with my parents instead of taking a bus. MJ stayed two more weeks before leaving for school. I remember the look of sadness on her face when i left, that this summer bubble we were living in was now popping and we didn't know what would happen next. 

The hope was we would keep it going as she didn't live that far from Podunk but the reality was i was a dick. Once i got home we talked a few times on the phone, mainly she was sad to be back home and missed me and after a few calls of this ilk i told my mom to tell her i wasn't home when she called. I was out hitting the clubs, being felt out by someone named Cherry and in general on the lookout for a new girl. Someone with a modicum of class and decency would have told her it was over but not the shithead here... 

Her first visit to Podunk was brilliant and though it started a bit awkward we soon fell back into that summer vibe, i remember her beige skirt and her sweater and how after talking about things we easily fell back into bed. Of course our hero here could fuck up a one car parade and it didn't take long for the Cro-mag to appear. By her fourth visit, on her arrival, i basically grunted and led her back to the bedroom. As Mr. Dulli once sang, i gotta dick for a brain, and my brain, is gonna sell my ass to you. Once sold the tables were flipped and i ran the show... or so i thought. Afterwards we sat in Wendy's eating and i had a strange feeling something had changed. She didn't say it then but it was hanging in the air like the smoke from a stale cigarette. When we finished eating we walked out to her car, she gave me hug, and then drove away. I walked back to my place feeling slightly odd about things but seeing as i had just gotten laid didn't dwell on it too long. Then next day i got the call.

The call was simple and quick. She was done. I was too fucked up at this point, taking her and basically tossing her in bed while reeking of booze and weed, grunting away like some fucking animal (hmm, sounds familiar) and that with all the shit going on in her life she didn't need another problem... and i was a problem that could easily be solved. She stated that there was a guy she had went out with once, who was stable and not half (or maybe full on) crazy, who wasn't wrapped up in being wasted and who treated her really well. I was served my walking papers. I tried to mount a defense, a case for why she shouldn't do this but really there was none. My voice was hushed as i stammered through excuses but there was no softening on her end. I always loved them most when they were walking out the door... at least when i was a younger man. Granted i did my best to make women take that door and i could look in the mirror and ask myself why but one could only guess. At the time maybe destruction, to the self or anything i loved was how i coped. Now to that strange night under the Pennsyltucky stars... 

It was the end of the night, the second to last band had just played and for the life of me i can't remember who... there would be a break before the Red Hot Chili Peppers took the stage and a friend and i were roaming around trying to find our ride, strange how things worked pre-cell phone, we wandered, the last of the drugs kicking out of my system, the acid wearing off, pleasantly stoned, we were towards the back of the field on a sidewalk when we practically ran into each other... she stopped, smiled and said "oh my god!" I immediately swept her up in my arms and kissed her, we stood there kissing under the stars as if we were the only two people in the world... when we stopped we began talking, asking what we were up to? how we had been? she kept hold of my hands and her friend leaned in smiling and said to her, "is that him?", she smiled back and said yes as her friend gazed at the wild man. We talked and laughed, i never thought that maybe she was there with a guy (turns out she was, the same guy she had dumped me for)... then her friend tugged her arm and they said they needed to get back cuz they wanted to catch the Chili Peppers, we made plans to meet up after the show but we never did, in fact we talked briefly on the phone after that where we both admitted to not showing up at the spot we were supposed to meet. It was cool. It was over but at least it wasn't the shitty finale i had helped orchestrate with my lovely behavior. 

The final phone call was the last time i thought i'd ever talk to her. Once my last year started i made a futile and half-hearted attempt to get her back and i thought i'd never see her again. Lounge scholars can look up the story of our hero wandering the parking lot of a suburban mall waiting for a ride to Ocean City when who should pull in but MJ... strange world... by the time she ran into this the tall guy with his hat pulled low ambling towards a Denny's to order the cheapest thing on the menu and drink coffee while waiting for his ride, that tall guy had just spent a brilliant final year in college. Graduated and was off into the Wilderness, i never told her i was wandering that parking lot because my dick had led all the way back from Maryland just to try and sleep with her hated high school rival... strange world indeed... and so that Lollapalooza was the summer's kiss, in a week or so after the semester would start and Podunk would liven up a bit... or as much as a sleepy small college town can liven up... but a summer in exile was over... and truth be told... it wasn't all that bad. 

1 comment:

looby said...

Wow, a civilised ending all round for once :) It's just astonishing, reading the little details in your stories, how it was possible to live on not much money then in a way that'd be very difficult now. So, glad you made the most of it!