Monday, November 1, 2010

Over The Edge

AP:"Were there underground rooms? I mean rooms that are below the surface."
DC: "That I've heard, yes, but I've never seen them. There was one time that I saw a pig's head stuck on a stake. I don't know if was for a satanic ritual or not, but a head being on a stake, or a pigs head, well, that's kinda freaky."

Its October 1991. You're 13 years old. You live in a shitheal town in Colorado. You tape songs off the radio. You're in love with Brittany Hague and Mary Louise and Mrs. Turner. Brittany is obsessed with guys who threaten to beat you up and Mary is you're only friend Ralph's older sister and Mrs. Turner is your English teacher. You are just learning you can't win.

Walking home from school is making it through Vodka Valley where the older kids smoke pot, take speed, and get seventh grade girls to give them blow jobs. Life is supposed to be like the Wonder Years or Pete and Pete but its actually more like Over The Edge. This town is a combination of military kids, focus on the family Christian fundamentalism, and a liberal arts college with a small radio station that is keeping you alive.

You stay up every night to listen to the KRCC. The DJs know you by name. Every weekend you sleep over somewhere and sneak out so you can stand on a cold playground at 2am having your first cigarettes as the older kids drink peppermint schnops and feel up the girls you like. You spend a lot of time being chased. Your parents are busy. Your teachers are sadistic. And you are standing in the shadow of dark and beautiful mountains. They say Satanists live up there, across the highway in Manitou Springs.

You hate it here. You wish your parents would move back to Chicago.

Cause you're fucked in 1991 in Colorado. Garth Brooks is a sensation. John Elway is a god. And KILO rocks the rockies with the sounds of Foreigner. So you're fucked. What makes you cool now used to make you a target then. You're fucked. Carrying a copy of the Autobiography of Malcolm X with you everywhere you go, bringing your guitar to school to practice chords Mike Aho taught you, avoiding the lunchroom to talk to Mrs. Turner all period.

Amidst all this wreckage you are starting to create a plan. You watch movies late at night. You are barely awake for school. You are barely awake.

Brittany introduces you to a movie called Do The Right Thing and another called Drugstore Cowboy and a TV show she swears is a comedy called Twin Peaks. This and a string of John Hughes flicks becomes the reason you want to be a director. Even though you don't know what one does exactly. You make movies about Batman with a giant VHS camera starring you 6 year old kid brother.

You stop doing all your homework entirely with the exception of Mrs. Turner's class. You know what you want almost all the time. You keep hearing rumors about the Satanists and you and Ralph go to the 21st Street Ruins to see for yourself. You realize they're scary but not as scary as parents and preachers and teachers and the older kids. That same day a video comes on on MTV that confirms all of your suspicions and changes everything.

You start to fight back. You make new friends. You go wild.

There is no supervision anymore. Not at the arcade, at the mall, or after your friends parents drop you off at the Violent Femmes or Public Enemy concerts sponsored by KRCC. You forget about the older kids. You study the skateboarders in Acasia Park. You realize that the other side of life is where you belong. You start watching Fellini films and movies about Vietnam. You give up on Guns and Roses and admit that you like the Smiths. You learn how to play Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay on your guitar from a tape you made from the radio.

You are becoming the only person you'll know how to be. You are becoming too wild to control. Chicago will be your home but you are from these mountains and this awful awful place. You are from a town where kids don't sleep, danger is in constant periphery, River Phoenix is still alive, KRCC plays Jazz, New Wave, and Punk, 21 Jumpstreet and Twin Peaks are still on the air, there is no supervision, and there are Satanists in hills.

And although you'd never truly want to return to the horror of Colorado Springs in the fall of 1991. Its safe to say you've never really left.