Always But Not Forever or The first person who won my interest.

What if I told you that a leading man has died? Would you roll your eyes at the mere mention of it, “like, Who”?

It might have you wondering on the grand scale of the Kennedy’s or of war heroics. The speaker for a generation. The Lone Ranger, perhaps. Do you already know that spot in your heart I’m talking about, just by announcing that someone important is missing from the Earth?

Everybody’s got secret places like this. Whether or not they’re meaningful depends on your definition of meaning, and this will ultimately decide if you’re going to care before discarding this one as curly-telephone cord-teenage-nonsense. Something is going on, right now, and you happen to be invited.

Even in elementary school, I knew I behaved a little differently and that it set me apart. When the girls sang school bus songs, I’d peek over the brown seat from the rear and wonder how they’d all gotten to bond before I boarded and how they knew these weird chants. When we sat in the cafeteria with our lunch trays my fellow students substituted every other bite with a word on which New Kid On The Block was the cutest. (I was usually scarfing down the pizza and thinking about the next recess possibilities outside.) Out of the loop, not interested in any fad besides the Skip It! and happy to be in my own little world, I watched my friends emulating their older sisters. I was utterly clueless in the ways of Cool while I was growing up.

I knew that the entire concept of cooties settled uncomfortably with me because it never seemed a natural part for my life, no matter how much more popular it became. It was easier for me to establish bonds with the males in my school than it seemed for the girls, to, and I never really did walk with a group of females with the same ease as when I could be in the company of boys.

I remember being at the hospital’s gift shop with money in my pocket. Bored, I browsed all of the magazines and found one of those teen-pinup collections of musicians and actors. As unlike-me as it was to pay that stuff any mind, I eyed it with determination to find out what all of those starry-eyed deals were. What was so gorgeous, about people and why were they desired so damn much? So I bought the thing and can still picture the gray carpet and the sight of my arms turning those pages in a waiting room. It felt a lot like when someone watches a sports game and wants to select their favorite team; I quickly observed that some of the most interesting material centered around the publication’s favored star, Jonathan Brandis.

He had to have been around 16 years old when I found out about him. Clean-cut, blue-eyed and always posing in wholesome, innocent posters, it was only a matter of weeks before I could spout off his favorite movie (Terminator 2) and all the other things he was interested in. I put the magazine’s pinups on my walls to the point where I was removing puppy and kitty images, making room for Mr. Brandis. If I was going to have a crush, it was to be an impressive one.

When it came down to it, Jonathan had the most to show in shrines, calendars, and every single teen magazine cover. He reigned over the glossy pull-outs with a modest dominance that makes today’s favor for Harry Potter look like spam in comparison. Accomplished enough in image alone to live on the millions of photo shoots and feature articles, not even my mother could argue against the fact that Jonathan Brandis was sirloin.

On the 12th of this November, Jonathan Brandis was found dead at 27 and suicide has been suggested.

Now you have to go back with me and walk in reverse for a few years. Put the graduation hat back on the head, out from the assembly hall and backwards from the football bleachers. Go back to a point where you couldn’t quite imagine remaining in school for years yet, and stop right at the place where you believed that perfect pictures lasted forever and everything was possible. Stop right there, run over to my house really quick, and follow my voice down the hall to the North East end. Walk right into the room. You can’t miss that pink carpet or the girl clutching the stuffed animal. That’s me.

She knew all companies in the years following, but the only guy who’d make it up on the wall was Jonathan. The world would suggest that she become suspicious and never really trust a person fully – if she went against this warning it would be proven good advice the hard way. But at this little point in time, before all of that, the walls are papered with the model of a young man who symbolized the ultimate ideal for access to her heart. Safe in snapshots and captured in iconic glory, his smile was a little longer on one side than the other. I just broke the news to the fan inside, that her Jonathan has died.

Now she’s sitting here, looking at the guy grinning beside my old, ruffled canopy and everywhere else. Her piles of magazines are vanishing from inside the dresser drawers as you read, silent handfulls at a time. In an amplified ending that will not allow her to dwell, an oscillating fan peels her posters from the corners and this time she is not reaching up to press the tape back to the wall. Realizing just how good she has had it in memory, there are tears in her eyes because she knows that the guy in her pictures is not smiling, anymore.

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Punk Opinion

Does no one perform backup checks on their subculture, anymore?

It was the mid-90’s, and Green Day’s break into mainstream popularity had exposed me to certain aspects of the punk rock subculture. Lead singer and guitarist Billie Joe had revealed in interviews that going back home after the fame had resulted in rejection, explaining how the scene is traditionally supposed to be kept secret from the “masses of senseless zombies”. From my position, I understand such reactions to “selling out”, but I disagree that anti-labels should reject the possibility that the average youth has outsider qualities. Saying that being able to define punk rock is an indication that it is obsolete, is another preconception that I believe ends up hurting the punk movement. There is an enormous ignorance to what punk rock was, punk rock is/isn’t, and those who wrap up the definition too quickly miss out on its mixed state of alive and dead.

Rejected individuals forming unity have often believed in controlled chaos as means of self-expression, whether it be a demand for change or flat-out bitching about not ever wanting to belong. Tattoos were for losers rather than for machos; many people in the punk subculture branded themselves as a way to beat society to the punch of rejection. There was morality behind the DIY (Do It Yourself) method of things, and the rebellious music of the 70’s is full of politics.

A large part of today’s angry audience is unwilling to pay attention to the past. Without the knowledge on the birth of the mean spirit, broken promises and problems of the world are far from ever being resolved. These same people will go on to write the new history books, and an era of information will be completely left out. I’m not looking to argue over the exploitation of the safety pin; good music is good music, personal morals aside. I just think that listeners – especially if they think they’re a fan of punk – would get more out of it by being exploring the whole movement.

Jahovess

Storytellers like to talk about the rain and I hate that. What’s so clever about water falling down from the sky when you’re trying to get to the point? I don’t wanna hear about how it made the sky look or what kind of sounds it was making as it hit something. That’s just the kind of thing to completely lose my attention and have me looking for something less boring.

But then she showed up, again.

It could have been drowsiness from the Codene I had taken or just that entire spaced-out loopiness I have to break out of after every nap. Half-asleep, I moved from the living room furniture to the front door and saw her standing, steady as ever, with the usual religious material in her hands. The Bible under her arm.

I leaned against the doorway and numbly kept pushing the cat’s head back with the one sock on. My arm was showing the band aids over cotton balls. Their van sat in the driveway and I thought about how long it had been since she came to visit my front porch. Same long, black clothing without much design or accent. Same blonde hair. Same tiny pupils adjusting to everything dark under the awning.

“Your father told me you’re sick, huh?”
“Uh, yeah. I ran myself down, and then when I caught a cold, it hit me pretty hard.”
“Oh? How’d you wear yourself out?”
“I was doing too much. I haven’t seen you in a while, have I.”
“Well I came by last week and you were out, I think. I think it was some…

Didn’t mean to, but I tuned her out. Nonsense babble, anyway. At least she wasn’t flipping the book open to something like she usually does. I’m sorry I didn’t come to your Easter party, but you know how you recruits can be. You’ll only be nice to me because you believe it’s serving a higher purpose, and I’m really not looking for anyone who uses excuses to start a relationship, whether it’s for God or Dracula. But you are very pretty and I would take you up on this funny mission of yours if I only had the time to spare.

Cause I wonder what she’s really thinking, behind the door-to-door cause. How old is she, anyway? She looks my age. I wonder if she’s married. I wonder if she goes home and casually swears. I wonder if she’s on a point system and gets so many rewards for her successful distribution of spiritual magazines. I wonder if she’s impossibly sweet and a fool enough to consider that I actually open the goddamn things before tossing them away.

“It’s really rainy and cold, isn’t it!” she suddenly pointed out, startling me. I hadn’t noticed; the chilly breeze was feeling good against my fever. If I looked out past her shoulder to notice, it could have been to amuse her or just in reaction to my state of grogginess. Actually, the most likely reason for setting my gaze to the weather was because I saw her comment as opportune chance to invite her to step inside, but declined to offer because it would have hurt too much to know that she brushed off the bottoms of her shoes afterward. Someone told me they do that to discard negative energy. So I just mused at the stupid fucking rain for a moment, when I heard it.

The song in the water. The piece of music cued from someplace high up. I shit you not; it was something else. I gave her some typical response about how Michigan is always finicky and that it’d turn around soon enough, and she gave me the newest installments of soul-saving literature. Whole thing took about a minute. She wished me better. I smiled.

Love is love is love.

Poem for Mandi

Eventually to become the saddest stories ever told
Inseparables will separate, and hot streaks will run cold
With her, though, it was never about fantasy or ideals
She’ll take the answers as they show, alongside Tommy Steels

Having been sheltered, there were lots of things I never knew
Like what it meant when that car’s license plate said N02
And even though I caught on to the wood grain, torque, and wheels,
I could not keep up in the game with her and Tommy Steels

I fretted for my life the day her current took me in
She pushed me into troubles deep and showed me how to swim
Unable to recapture how a real adventure feels…
What am I missing on these nights of her and Tommy Steels?

-Autumn May-