“No matter where you are I can always hear you when you drown” – SP [Smashing Pumpkins]
Went to the circus yesterday. Didn’t feel well most of the day. Finally on the way home I opened the car door and puked 3 consecutive times. Puked again later that night. What a lovely feeling that was. Had a dream two people lent me two different Cure tapes (or something like that).
I’m watching “The Crow” right now. Liking it a lot. The music in it (Cure, NIN) is very cool. Just going to try to keep some liquids down today.“You got a head full of traffic You’re a siren song” – U2
I remember that circus outing quite well, especially its aftermath. I think my parents were more excited to go than I was, because it was the Moscow Circus, which they had probably seen as kids in the motherland or something. I was still looking forward to it; after all, my favorite movie featured a trapeze artist, and I figured if Russians were so good at producing Olympic athletes, they probably put on a good circus.
Mom made me an omelet for breakfast that day, which tasted strange, sweet. I asked what was in it and it turned out she had mixed some orange juice into the eggs because we were out of milk. How she imagined that would be a suitable substitute is beyond me (in later years I think she also used flavored coffee creamer at least once; we’re a family of Russian kooks, what can I say). I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I didn’t make a fuss at ate the whole thing.
At the circus, I started to feel unwell, breaking out into that ominous sweat that leads to very bad things. The acrobats and clowns were impressive, but my churning stomach made it difficult to enjoy. It could have been a stomach flu that I caught some other way, but I blame those eggs. I still remember the ride home, too, and my father stopping around the corner from our apartment to get something from the corner deli. When I opened the rear door to be sick, I did not see the little boy watching me from a few feet away until I was done triple-puking. The poor kid looked vaguely traumatized.
As for The Crow, I remember news stories reporting Brandon Lee’s accidental death on the set of the film in 1993. He was only 28, engaged to be married, and died at the beginning of what many said would be a promising film career, following in his father Bruce’s footsteps. For whatever reason, I didn’t see the movie when it came out in theaters, because despite the cool leather clothes and dark make-up, it still looked like a shoot-’em-up action movie geared more toward guys.
When I did finally see The Crow on cable, I was taken in by the tragedy of the story (on and off the screen), the music, and of course the gloomy aesthetic. Yes, it was gritty and violent, but at its core it about a man avenging the death of the woman he loved and I found the whole thing to be brutally romantic.
I was still too passionate about wearing color and listening to a variety of of music to classify myself as a goth, but the foundation was being laid. Between my obsession with Nine Inch Nails, my growing appreciation for The Cure, Joel-Peter Witkin, and Clive Barker, and now movies like The Crow, I enjoyed exploring these darker themes, the drama and intensity of them.
But it’s not like I was about to dye my hair and all my clothes black or anything. That would come later.
“I send a heart to all my dearies and when your life is oh so dreary DREAM” — Smashing Pumpkins
I think I saw the worst movie ever made last night. It was “Boxing Helena” and awful isn’t severe enough to convey how truly bad it was. I don’t even know why I’m writing about movies so much. I’m more into music anyway. I listened to the Nine Inch Nails bootleg Claudia taped for me. It was a great concert. I still want to know where the song “Keep Calling Me” is from. My short story is progressing. I hope I’ll be able to continue writing on demand.
I’m afraid this long may be boring because at the moment I am refusing to put down anything personal. I’m not going to pour out my emotions here, the closest I will come to that is with my choice of quotes.
My trip to Ireland is less than one year and 10 months away. I hope they don’t paint over the grafitti at Windmill Lane Studios by the time I get there.“Nothing much to say I guess Just the same as all the rest…” – U2
We were encouraged to be prolific in creative writing, and had to write half a page a day in our journals. I was still resistant to keeping a proper diary wherein I’d pour my heart out, so I filled the red notebook with song lyrics and pop culture minutiae.
I wasn’t going to say much about Boxing Helena, focusing more on my burgeoning nine inch nails obsession, but in a way the two compliment each other. Jennifer Lynch’s dreadful film is a good example of how the macabre can be turned into something trite and poorly executed, whereas Trent Reznor took the macabre and turned into something compelling and beautiful.
It’s funny how much controversy surrounded Boxing Helena and how forgotten the movie has now become. There was so much buzz about the movie leading up to its release. It was the first feature from David Lynch’s daughter, so of course everyone wondered if she’d follow in his genius weirdo footsteps. Then there was the plot of the film, in which a crazy-possessive (emphasis on the crazy) amputates the arms and legs of a woman he’s obsessed with. And then there was all the buzz about the female lead: Madonna dropped out of the title role, and then Kim Basinger dropped out and got sued for breach of contract (and initially lost, filing for bankruptcy). This made for some juicy Entertainment Weekly fodder, let me tell you. Finally Sherilyn Fenn got cast as the lead, which was unfortunate because she went from being a bombshell on Twin Peaks to flat out bombing in Boxing Helena. All the drama surrounding the movie was way better than what was actually shot on film, which was a mess of bad writing and boring storytelling. It’s it’s gotta take a lot of work to make a movie full of sex about amputation boring and yet… Considering Basinger went on to win an Oscar and Fenn went on to star in The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, it was probably worth the bankruptcy to opt out of such a disastrous career move.
And then we have creepy done right. Here’s the thing about me and Nine Inch Nails: I hated the music. I never went in for that scream-y type of singing, except maybe when Bono’s voice cracked once in a while. I used to turn off or cringe through “Head Like a Hole” and “Wish” when played on the alternative radio station (WDRE, oh how I miss you). Then “Closer,” the first single off The Downward Spiral, was released. And I didn’t like it. And I found the video disturbing. And I mysteriously found myself going out and getting the album anyway (on cassette no less).
I remember hearing the first sharp thuds of the opening track, “Mr. Self-Destruct,” and getting a feeling of being on a roller coaster, climbing up, up, up, and then being plunged into a noisy abyss. I never experienced music like that before, a sound that shook something inside me.
My fascination with Trent Reznor and his music quickly snowballed. I bought all the albums and every magazine he was featured in. Whenever the “Closer” video came on MTV (which was often), I stopped what I was doing, utterly mesmerized by the gruesome imagery, the impassioned lyrics, and the torment Trent exuded. There was so much anger, melancholia, and sex wrapped up in Nine Inch Nails. This was an intoxicating and revelatory combination for my 16-year-old self.
It wouldn’t be long before I figured out “Keep Calling Me” on that bootleg was actually “Dead Souls,” a Joy Division cover from the soundtrack for The Crow. By that point, I was mainlining every Nine Inch Nails album, b-side, interview, video, and random tidbit I could get my hands on. By the end of the year, my bedroom door was plastered with pictures of Trent Reznor. My father grew concerned that I was listening to music that “sounds like a factory” and wondered if I was becoming a Satanist. Hardly. But I was exploring a new channel for my inner turmoil and obsessive tendencies.