I am true to my word (which is the only thing a writer has, really), and I'm back after a month off. There's been much thinking, much puzzling, much crying (MUCH crying), much reading, much writing, much shaking of ineffectual fists to the heavens.
And yet very few conclusions have been reached (except that blogging twice a week was killing me, so I’m shifting to a Sunday Only schedule, and Enforced Secret Joy posts will be at the bottom of those entries.) But rather than wallow, let’s do something different, and do a memory remembrance from something that happened a few months ago. It’s got nothing to do with Wrestling With God, but it’s still super personal, sprinkled with bits o’ fiction stylizing. And song embedding! Look at me, embracing technology!
(So sad, the song got deleted by the copyright police. Ah well. Go to her website and buy it.)
I’m so stoked I finally got Kristy Kruger’s CD, “Songs From A Dead Man’s Couch” in my hot little hands. “Blackhole” has been burning a track in my brain ever since I heard her perform it live a few months ago. I haven’t been this excited since I got the Twilight Singers’ “Powder Burns” last year.
My friend Phyllis went to college with Kristy Krueger, and sent a group invite to her concert a few months ago. Kristy was the second act on a three bill night. Where was she playing? Somewhere on Cahuenga, I think. My memory used to be razor sharp about these kind of things. I could stumble back on it if I was in the neighborhood of it. It was the left hand side of the street. Across the street from Beauty Bar, which is where we ended up after the show, chatting up a group of trying hard to be hipster-ish young men, and swiftly ditching them when it was revealed they drove up from Hermosa Beach. (G.U., said Phyllis’ friend Dolores, “Geographically Undesirable.”)
Whatever the name of the place was that I saw Kristy, I do know that it seem very Lynchian. Very Twin Peaksian , because the walls of the place were draped in red velvet, with a black and white tiled floor. I expected that evil little dwarf to come scattin’ out and talk in backwards cryptic riddles. I think this place was deliberately trying to channel that vibe.
And Kristy, who’s maybe 5’1 tops, took the stage in the cutest pink foofy dress, just like David Lynch’s muse of the 90’s, Julee Cruise, who wore a white foofy dress in those aforementioned Twin Peaks episodes, singing “Falling, falling, could we be falling in love” while a doomed couple (was it Donna and James?
Laura and James? Laura and random drunk guy at the bar, or maybe that was the movie, not the TV show?) danced on the empty dance floor.
The dance floor isn’t empty here. Filled with groups of 10 or more who decided to have dinner first, and the rest of us standing behind them. Kristy isn’t singing about falling in love. She’s singing this song instead.
He says I’m such a downer.
But he’s the one who found her.
And I could make things worth my while
If I went the extra mile
But that don’t sound so appealing
She sang a bunch of other songs, and did amusing between song banter about Cuddleraping fellow band members after the breakup of her relationship. But none of them stuck out like this one.
I went to college at Florida State University. But I was born and raised in Northern Alabama. So my college career was punctuated by very long trips up and down I-65 (or US 231 when I thought no cops would be enforcing the speed limit around Dothan, which was notorious for ill tempered state troopers)
It’d be me, the biggest bottle of Mountain Dew I could buy at a gas station, a bag of Lance’s peanuts, my tunes, my car, and the open road. It’d be seven hours on the road (six and a half if I didn’t stop for lunch), and I did it without blinking an eye. Repeatedly. Like it was no big deal. Recently, I drove back from Laguna Beach on my birthday and nearly ran off the road, because my eyes were closing after forty minutes.
Those road trips now seem so etched in optimism, so YES! I CAN TAKE ON THE WORLD! ABSOLUTELY! THE FUTURE IS MINE, EVERYTHING WILL GO MY WAY BECAUSE I’M 20 GOING ON 21 AND THE UNIVERSE IS MINE FOR THE TAKING!
Punctuated by songs like Kristy’s. The mournful yet weirdly optimistic guitar slides, that contrasted my brazen perspective with my half-weary worldly nature. The future is mine, absolutely, if I can just get through the rest of my college career. Because we know here isn’t where my life is. My life will be in a far off place called Los Angeles, where I will claim the life I always knew I’d have, but couldn’t make the different elements (life, love, writing) work here. But it doesn’t matter, because here is not where my life is.
Yes, I thought I knew so much back then.
You can’t hit the bottom if there is no bottom.
Blackhole opens up, watch me go go go
Stars are in the universe, see if you can spot ‘em
I will never know how they glow glow glow.
When I was in college, it was all about how Broken People were so Beautifully Damaged. Don’t you wanna know them? Don’t you wanna be friends with them? Don’t you wanna talk with them until the wee hours of the morning, and convince them how life is indeed worth living, because if they could see that, they could see how YOU were the one that showed them that, and they would be yours forever for saving them? Don’t you wanna make films about them? Don’t you wanna, maybe, maybe, shhhh, shhhh, sleep with them? Because they are so Beautifully Damaged and you’re going on 21, and life seems so incredibly important, so incredibly urgent, every feeling seems not just acute (because it was this sharp in high school), but where you were stymied in high school from fixing things, here you are in college, where you CAN fix things, out from under curfews, and parents’ silent sullen stares, and yes you too can fix this Beautiful Damaged boy. All you need is a six pack of beer and a place far away from this crowded noisy party.
And he’s right there with me.
Though he likes to think differently.
But the lesson you learn is that the Beautiful Damaged Boy is not worth saving. Goes off to pursue his dreams on the East Coast, on the West Coast, in the Pacific Northwest, returns home silent and chastened, and drops off the face of the earth by Google standards.
If that Beautiful Damaged Boy looks back on those days, I suspect he’s too smart to see himself as a stud. But I’m pretty sure he doesn’t see the girls who tried in their own clumsy way to rescue him from his own earnestness. Because in my experience, the Beautiful Damaged ones, even if they’re older, wiser, or in anyway healed from their broken condition, never acknowledge the ones who tried to help. Because that would mean admitting that someone other than themselves had the answer before they did. And the only thing worse than admitting you were wrong is admitting that someone else was right.
But we both know I was right, don’t we.
Down a little deeper than I was before
I’m a real keeper if you didn’t know.
So I hope Kristy’s cool with this tribute. And I also hope she sings again at that club that I can’t remember the name of. My dream is that I get to sing with her. I’m an alto like her, I think it’d be cool. I could hold my own. But if that never happens, I’ll be fine singing in the back of the club, imagining the doomed dancing couples of Beautifully Broken Boys and the Ethereal Girls Who Think They Can Save Them But All They’ve Got Is As Long As This Song Lasts.
And this is all there is.