“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.
[Red Spiral Notebook with the following band logos drawn on the front:
U2, Bauhaus, PWEI, NIN, The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy, Christian Death]
September 13, 1994
“Into the flood again…” – Alice in Chains
I’m back in school and just as I decided I would no longer continue my diary, we have to keep a log for creative writing. Great. Well at least this is my free space to do what I wish. Went to Anita’s on Sunday and watched “Faraway, So Close!” (the same name as my fanzine. Though the movie and song came first). What a great movie. I wanted to pause it every other minute to write down what they were saying. I still think I like the “prequel” “Wings of Desire” better. It was more…philosophical.
I’m eagerly awaiting my next trip to the village, don’t know when I’ll get the chance to go. I want to get some more written material on U2 for my ever-expanding collection. Got an idea spinning around my head for that short story due Friday. Think it’s pretty good. We’ll see.
“Wish there was something real in this world full of you.” – nine inch nails
Funny, because as much as I grumbled about it at the time, the red spiral notebook I kept as a journal during my junior year of high school ended up being one of the most comprehensive records I have of any period of my life. Yes, it’s full of frivolity and quotes and stream of consciousness entries written for the sake of completing the minimum number of entries required by the class, but it’s also a personal time capsule that chronicles a pretty pivotal time in my life, when I was discovering not only music and movies and other sources of inspiration, but also developing what would be one of my greatest passions in life: writing. The creative writing course I was lucky enough to be in that year is the single most amazing class I took in all of my high school (and even college) years. It not only gave me an outlet of expression for all my turbulent adolescent thoughts and feelings, but it made me want to be a storyteller, to put down words and refine them and share them.
What made the class so stellar was our teacher, Ms. Donaldson. She not only offered the perfect balance of freedom and guidance with respect to our writing, she was also incredibly insightful and damn cool. Ms. Donaldson resembled Jodie Foster, had multiple ear piercings, and rode a motorcycle. She shared hilarious stories from her younger days (“did I ever tell you about the flaming diaphragm?”) and created an atmosphere in her classroom that was nothing short of illuminating. And it wasn’t just me. I recently met up with a couple of classmates who had the same reverence for Ms. Donaldson that I did.
“We all had a girl crush on her,” one said. “That class was magic.”
Despite the different shades of teen angst I’d continue to experience at 16, it was an inspiring time. That summer, I saw Wings of Desire, a movie I loved so much I made my best friend Anita watch it with me the very next day. The Wim Wenders masterpiece instantly became my favorite film, and still is to this day. The story of angels watching over the people of Berlin circa the late 80′s, shot in black and white, sepia, and color, in several languages, was unlike any film I had seen before or since. If a movie can be a muse, then this would be mine for a long long time. In college, I saw it in revival houses several times, once with an orchestra providing a live soundtrack. It is the only movie I have ever purchased on DVD. I would tell people it’s the closest thing I have to religion.
That summer I also discovered Greenwich Village, which was already starting to get gentrified, but at the time still retained much of its bohemian charm and was filled with tiny record stores/memorabilia shops that Anita and I frequented. The East Village in particular still had an alternative grit to it, since starving artists/musicians could still afford to live there. The Village became a Mecca for me, where I could satisfy existing musical obsessions and cultivate new ones, where I could ogle the outrageous hairstyles, piercings, and outfits that would inform my future style, and where I could escape the blandness of my Brooklyn life.
Something else that helped me escape that blandness was in fact a new musical obsession. But that’s a whole other story, for another time…