So, 1997 was the year Mag Earwhig was released. It was a different time…clearly. I was unhappily working a stable-yet-uninspiring-corporate-job in an ill-fated attempt to survive capitalism (I was doing my Kafka thing). If I had been deployed and fighting in World War III (which, fortunately for me, did not happen at that time), I would have been staring at a well-worn Laetitia Casta pinup just prior to being irradiated to dust. Instead, I was looking at a lot of the “early” internet via what I assume at the time must have been dial-up services like AOL and Prodigy.
Honestly, I don’t remember a lot about my life at that time. It’s kind of blocked out. I know that was a period when I self-identified as an “artist”, spending much of my free time producing esoteric art for myself (Somewhere, there is a very large box overfilled with audio tapes of God knows what. I shutter to think). Yet everyday I grew less and less interested in sharing that art with the outside world. Less interested in seeking acknowledgment, recognition, “glory”. Because, as a survivor of childhood bullshit turned cynic, I just couldn’t see the point. Human interaction was going to disappoint. Either they were going to let me down, or I was going to let them down. My ego was misaligned. I was down on life, down on love. Just down. And there were no answers, just more unanswerable questions to dig up. To this day, I struggle to keep that guy out of my head. He wasn’t wrong, but you can’t think like that and be happy…or content…whatever that is. I guess the hard learned lesson (for assholes like me) is to stop fighting the ocean and choose to be happy with the absurdity of life…but I wasn’t there yet.
ANNNNYYWAY, as we established in the prolog, I was a big Guided by Voices fan for a couple of years at this point. Their art inspired me in so many ways. There is so much fighting spirit in that catalog, and it’s catching. They stand out, along with my Beach Boys record collection, MST3K on TV and Austin Powers at the movies (?), as lifesavers. The memories I have of those things remind me of laughter, joy, and belonging. A bulwark against “The Many Moods…of Ken Powers”. These things inspired me, helped me tune in to some more uplifting thought patterns that brought better situations and people into my life.
Those people, where are they now? I don’t know.
Raymond Carver wrote a poem, ‘My Boat’, about a boat he was having made. He starts listing all the friends he wants to take out on this boat. “People are going to have fun, and do what they want to do, on my boat.” The boat in the poem has “plenty of room” for all his friends (even though the actual fishing boat he’s describing, 1978 Olympic Hardtop, would comfortably hold maybe six). The boat, to me, represents a sort of heaven of the imagination, where you are reunited with all the people that you remember fondly and would like to have around you, but can’t because…life.
So to the people of 1997 who made a difference, thanks. You matter. You saved my life. You did. Congratulations.
End of Part 2
…to be continued