The second novel I wrote, called "Dishwasher," was my attempt and hope to write a gen X On the Road. I had dropped out of college after my freshman year in college and moved to Minneapolis, MN, to live a slacker paradise--$100 rent, washing dishes at an Italian restaurant, living in a house full of people who played in rock bands. This was probably one of the more vibrant times of my life--and I feel now like I’ve lived several lifetimes. It was 1990, before punk broke, in a very punk rock town. I lost my virginity there. I found my first girlfriend. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it but "Smells like Teen Spirit" was our song. It was becoming popular just as we were courting each other.
I have been formed in some part by indie/punk rock. I have also always been a little bit behind the times. When Black Flag was peaking in the mid-eighties, I was 12, 13 years old. I was still listening to Rush and learning how to play Led Zeppelin guitar solos--all of which I have forgotten. When I was fifteen I listened to a lot of Black Sabbath, smoking pot. My friend’s Mom let us smoke pot in the house. A hippie, a derelict, purely California--everything I wanted to be and couldn’t, having been raised by New York Jewish intellectuals.
So, fifteen, smoking pot. Shuddering, horrible, insecure. For me, marijuana is a nightmare. It highlights everyone’s embarrassment and insecurity. I am sure that in the sixties this sense of self-consciousness wasn’t as much of a problem. People were more forgiving of each other.
I watched an episode of "Seinfeld" where he is dropped by a woman because she sees him picking his nose. This is an extreme example, but tragically close to the truth. When there are so many people--and most of them are boring and/or irritating--you have to make quick first impressions. If I was more of a depressive I would find this incredibly sad--the way we, necessarily, have to discard people everyday. It cannot be very good for our psyches or sense of empathy. I should know. I discard people before I meet them.
These days, people eagerly look for flaws in each other. People are cynical first and then wait for proof. I can understand it--it’s a bit of a power surge to find fault in other people. I am better. Though there is now an epidemic of insecurity. It ties into our celebrity culture. You are nothing unless you are famous. The result is people start hating themselves and each other. If you’ve been following along, here’s the equation: celebrity culture = a bad high.
I had no intention of writing about pot-smoking when I sat down. Though I guess that’s what this blog is for, getting my life down. At one time pot-smoking meant something to me. I used to believe that if I could conquer insecurity when I was high, it would be conquered forever. I was sixteen and basically dumb. This never happened and finally I gave it up, realizing with a sudden vision that I never enjoyed it. Sixteen-years-old and self-hating, I found punk rock.
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