Unless you literally know absolutely nothing about me, you know that I have a special place in my heart for Craigery Owens, right next to Robert Smith’s property. But to me, Chiodos was never just Craig, so unlike all the fans who have been bitching and screaming about the audacity of Chiodos forging ahead without Craig, I’m excited about it. From the live videos and the Equal Vision teaser above, I think their new singer Brandon (formerly of Yesterday’s Rising) has proven to be a great match.
As long as Chiodos continues making music, I’ll continue supporting them! They’ve been too big a part of my life for the last five years for me to stop loving them now.
Henry wanted to get his son Blake out of the house on Sunday, so we decided what better way to be all familial for free than to go to the fucking flea market.
I had no coffee in my system; my head was thumping and a sour scowl was perma-etched on my face. Henry was all, “OK, this shit ain’t gon’ fly” so he went to one of the snack bars for a remedy, commanding Blake, Chooch, and myself to stay put where we were. As soon as he turned his back, we did what any other miscreants would and wandered off into the abyss of redneck unwantables.
“Who the fuck would buy this shit?” Blake mumbled as we pushed Chooch’s stroller past a table of romance novels and metal scraps.
“That guy,” I answered, as some loser handed over a fan of bills.
We continued strolling along, taking turns complaining about how gay everything was. Then we talked about Chiodos for awhile, which briefly lighted both of our faces, until it occured to me that we had been led too far astray and Henry was probably walking in circles, crying into a Styrofoam cup of coffee. So we hurried back to where Henry left us, but he wasn’t there. We then made the mistake of leaving the Abandoned Child Depot in order to find Henry, which was fruitless since he was doggy-paddling in the sea of beer tee’d bargain hunters, hoping to find us.
Fuck you, assholes!
We made it back to our spot right as Henry called Blake’s cell phone. When he finally made his way back to us, we were all, “What the fuck, we were here the whole time, asshole!” Henry looked dumbfounded.
“I walked right past here and didn’t see you. Didn’t you see me?” he asked, eyes squinted with confusion.
“Probably, but everyone here looks like you,” I said. I don’t think he heard me, but Blake did, and as soon as Henry turned his back, we laughed like children.
We walked past one table weighted down with incredibly worthless junk, just as a very manly woman with the roughest smoker’s voice barked, “How much you want for that bottle of Eternity?” It seriously sounded like a knife-fight was happening in her throat. Her interest in a bottle of perfume tickled me so greatly that I was falling into Henry’s back from laughing so hard. She was with some social reject who had a lipstick print tattooed to his neck. God, what an asshole.
Just when I didn’t think anything could top those two, some broad petrified in makeup from 1975 began advertising loudly for the shitty cat nip mats she was shilling. “They make extraordinary gifts!” she called out jovially and I lost my shit all over again.
“Oh, they’re fucking extraodinary alright. I hope I get fifteen of them for my birthday. Motherfucker.” Then I thought about how much hate I had boiling in my belly, and I smiled.
Around the bend, some dumb ass colostomy bag of a broad was selling CDs and at the very top of one of the stacks was The Cure’s “Disintegration”. Henry pointed this out, probably thinking I’d go all Pollyanna and realize that the flea market really was a place for extraodinary gifts, but instead I grew angry. I mean, I was practically roiling.
“You don’t re-sell a Cure CD!” I bitched loudly. “WHO DOES THAT? An asshole, that’s who.” And I know that shitty old lady heard me too. SUCK IT, bitch.
It wasn’t until we fell upon some old dude slinging the mother lode of incense and natural soap that my edges began to soften a bit. I wasn’t too interested at first, until he stood up from the perch he had on his van and started teaching us of the miraculous healing properties of some shitty soap that sounded like “doo-doo” but was really something else that I just didn’t give a shit about. That was when I realized he was awesome. At first, it was because I thought he had a British accent, but then I think he was just slurring really bad from prolonged use of psychedelics. How nice of him to come to Trader Jack’s flea market straight from Woodstock.
“Buy some of this shit,” I hissed at Henry.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because that is one cool asshole.”
And so Henry bought some shit, that scared little bitch. He bought a whole heap of incense and found out later it makes him sneeze.
“This stuff is made in India. This ova’ here is from New Yorkkkkkkzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzsnore.”
Normally, I would try to be a little covert with my mean-spirited picture taking, but by this point I had adopted the “fuck a bitch, suck a dick” attitude and began walking RIGHT UP TO PEOPLE, stopping in the middle of the aisles, and holding my phone all the way out at arm’s length. Henry was not pleased. Especially when, afterward, I would justify my actions by shouting, “What? That person’s an asshole. They deserve this, and worse.”
Yeah, you count that cash, you cock sucker. Bet it’s going straight into some yeasty g-strings, you sex addict. SUCK A DICK.”
Speaking of sex addiction (a very serious plight not to be taken lightly), there seemed to be a LOT of porn there this time. Large cardboard boxes marked ADULT DVDS XXX in thick black marker were nestled smack in the middle of baby clothes and Care Bears. I desperately felt the urge to rummage and pilfer, but felt strange doing so with Blake with us. I’d like him to not speculate upon my sex life with his father.
Apropos placement if you ask me.
I saw a produce-hawker go apeshit on a pile of empty banana boxes. I don’t know what got all up inside his puckered sphincter, but he was hurling the boxes out of the back of his truck and plowdriving them into the gravel. His face was red and his fat lips were a’quake with obscenities. I stopped to gawk for awhile, savoring the terror that was arresting my heart. Violence makes me wet.
More flea market assholes, plus Chooch and Blake.
There was some girl there who was clinging onto her youth even more desperately than me. Quite possibly the oldest scene kid ever, and ridiculously so. As she pushed a stroller past us, she giggled and very coquettishly said, “I like your piercings!” to Blake. After she walked away, Blake mumbled, “Dumb bitch.” It was high-five worthy.
The only cool people there. Aside from Blake and me.
Sometimes, for no reason, I would growl. Say, for instance, someone in a Kenny Chesney shirt would push past me, in a huge fucking hurry to look at fake designer sunglasses, my arms would get all stiff and I’d just fucking growl. Ew, grr.
Henry wouldn’t buy me this awesome Jesus Loves Me hat. Now I’ll have to find something else to wear to the church fair. My garter belt and a Cannibal Corpse shirt, I guess.
Later that day, Henry was telling me that his mom asked him to take her to the flea market next weekend.
I laughed, it was an angry laugh, and said, “I think I’ll sit that one out.”
“You ain’t kidding,” he said. Supposedly I’m banned for life or something.
The night before we left, I had Henry look up lodging for Corey and me while I was at work, since I am helpless and had more important things to do. My only criteria was: close to venue and cheap.
He sent me info for Red Carpet Inn, which had rooms for $49+tax. It was located in New Jersey, and it was only 3.5 miles away from the Wachovia Spectrum, where the Cure was playing Saturday night.
I quickly emailed him and said I’d take it.
“You realize this place isn’t going to be nice,” Henry chided in his reply. The user ratings all said, “You get what you pay for,” and I was OK with that because the more money I saved, the more shit I could buy throughout the trip, like Slim Jims and crack.
“Don’t you dare even think about calling and complaining,” Henry said the next morning, as he armed me with directions and SoyJoy bars.
Corey arrived at my house at 10:00 and, between filling up the gas tank with liquid gold and taking out some cash for the turnpike, etc., I managed to spend $71 before we even left Brookline.
For the 300+ miles on the Pennsylvania turnpike, Corey and I mainly reminisced about past displays of family dysfunction, which included Corey’s favorite Father-Daughter fight in which I screamed in my step-dad’s face that I wish he’d get his head cut off by the log splitter we had in our backyard. Corey was laughing, and I was too but the whole time I was thinking, “Yeah, but this was a stepping stone in the rickety path of dropping out of high school.”
I forced Corey to listen to a special mixed CD I made just for the trip, and he sarcastically cheered every time Chiodos came on. However, he is now obsessed with Dance Gavin Dance, which is more than I could have hoped for. However, I ridiculed him every time he disagreed with my musical tastes, you know, like every other obnoxious music snob does.
My favorite moment was when Corey told me he was going through my step-dad’s cell phone and discovered naked pictures of my step-dad’s girlfriend all bent over the back of the couch. Ten minutes later and it was all, “Remember when you found naked pictures of Daddy’s girlfriend?” and then we laughed all over again.
I’m not used to being the responsible one in these trips. My role is usually to wedge my fat ass in the passenger seat, armed with my vacation journal, beverage and snacks, switching up the music like it’s my destiny. Also, flirting with truckers and being Annoying: Road Trip Edition. But this time, I had to pay attention to shit, like how the car was doing on gas, if all the tires were intact, all while keeping a general sense of where the fuck we were. Oh, the pressure. Corey was in charge of the directions, but every time I would ask him where we were, he’d stare ambivalently at the map and kind of shrug. So then I would call Henry and ask, “Hey, how much farther do we have?” and he’d get all mad because I wouldn’t be able to tell him where we were since I can’t read a map and then he’d have to go and turn the computer on (he was letting it rest while I was away) and by that time I’d be all, “Oooh we’re going through a tunnel! Bubbye!”
Directions-wise, it was smooth sailing until we made it to the Philly exits and had to get off the turnpike. Corey would play with my emotions by saying things like, “We need this next exit, No wait, next one. No wait this one!!” leaving me mere seconds to swerve onto the ramp. I screamed the whole way across the Ben Franklin bridge and somehow managed to take the wrong exit, which dumped us blindly into some small town called Gloucester.
We stopped at Coastal to get gas and when I started to get out of the car, an elderly employee came over and started pumping it for me. I learned later that night that it’s like, some weird law that all New Jersey gas stations are full service, and you would think that with me being such a fucking princess, I’d have really embraced this small display of pampering, but instead I panicked because I didn’t know the protocol — was I supposed to tip him? Cheer him on? Wait silently in the car and pretend it’s not making me feel like an entitled White Person to have a Mexican work for me? I kept asking Corey but he was all, “I don’t know, this is weird and I think he hates us and I want to go” so we sped away when he was through.
I had to call Henry once again so he could get us to our motel (at this point, I didn’t even know the name of it) and our conversation went something like this:
Henry: What are you near?
Me: A black lady in really high boots.
Henry, sighing angrily: What are you near?
Me: A chocolate covered pretzel store.
While Henry was busy trying to find out where we were, I pulled over and Corey ran into the chocolate-covered pretzel place to ask a local for help. Henry kept asking me for street names, and I would answer him with very important information, like:
“Ew that guy just looked at me!” and “I hope Corey buys some delicious confections while he’s in there. The sign says they’re the best.”
Corey returned with directions at the same time Henry found us on a map. To keep Henry’s ego from deflating, I chose his directions and proceeded to doubt him the entire time, saying that I should have listened to the pretzel lady’s directions instead, which caused him to yell back and say things like, “I AM NOT THERE. I AM IN PITTSBURGH. I CANNOT SEE WHAT YOU ARE SEEING.” Then he was all, “Fuck you, find it yourself,” and hung up on me.
Both sets of directions ended up being right. The pretzel lady said we’d know we were there when we saw the Pennant night club and Weber’s burger stand, and by golly she was right.
II : Red (from blood stains) Carpet Inn
“It looks like a concentration camp,” Corey groaned as we pulled into the Red Carpet Inn. It was the kind of place that people retreated to after their slum lords evicted them; the kind of place where people crept off to have lunch break affairs; the kind of place that had mattresses broken enough for people to appropriately OD on. Corey and I just may have been the only legitimate travelers staying there.
If you can, try to remember back to the last time you emptied fifty-eight ash trays in the center of your living room and then steeped it with Pine-Sol and the musty stench of your Aunt Mary’s baby doll collection. Yeah, you remember? Well, that’s what it smelled like it in the closet-sized check-in office.
We had to wait for a man in front of us to check in, which provided us with the idle time necessary for a complete giggle breakdown. It started with Corey, who had to bring a fist to his mouth to stifle the laughter. The old woman on the other side of the bullet-proof windows shot us dirty scowls and I tried to bury myself in a Chinese take-out menu that I lifted from the counter. Corey tried to hide his laughter by turning to look out the window, nearly knocking over the “Free Use for Guests” 1980’s-model microwave off it’s shaky stand.
After receiving no pleasantries from the clerk, not even a nicotine-ravaged “Welcome to New Jersey,” we had our key handed to us and found that our room was the last one in the row, and luckily for us the door wasn’t visible from the lot. A small vestibule with a flickering overhead light had to be entered to find our door. It was the perfect setting for a late night mugging, stabbing, gang rape, tranny hooker wardrobe change.
Once inside, I was relieved to find that the room itself wasn’t too bad. It seemed to be clean, as promised by the hand-written note left on the desk, declaring that some broad named Lillian cleaned it with her own bare hands. There were some stains on the towels and sheets, along with the standard array of cigarette burns dotting the shower curtain.
The lone window in the room gave us a view of the lustrous grounds behind the motel. I looked out and, oh good, saw two shacks — just perfect for stowing murder victims, a troupe of Romanian sex slaves, and bricks of cocaine. Personally, I liked to hope that the Holy Grail was in there somewhere, shoved in the anus of a drug mule.
The bathroom light seemed a little short-winded, so I walked back to the front desk to request a new bulb. On my way there, one of the residents — a young guy in a brown t-shirt — emerged and sat in front of the door, lighting up a cigarette and staring me down. Probably he was trying to gauge if I was a potential client, maybe trying to size me up for my preference — coke, pot, meth, grande-cocked Mexicans. Hopefully he was checking out my boobs, too.
Back in the office, I had to ring the bell multiple times, praying that I wasn’t interrupting some underground cock fight or sex party, before the no-nonsense old desk clerk came out of the back room. When I told her the bathroom light wasn’t working very well, she impatiently shook her head and said, “No, it works. You gotta leave it on for about five minutes, let it warm up.” I started to thank her, but she had already turned her back on me.
“I don’t think that old lady in the office likes me,” I whined to Corey, chaining the door shut behind me.
“Well no shit. We were practically laughing in her face when you were checking in.”
A few minutes later, a domestic dispute broke out in the parking lot.
When Henry and I arrived at Club Zoo last night, one of the doormen cracked a big smile and called out, “Hey! How ya doin’, buddy?” in Henry’s face. Henry has no friends, so of course I was a little suspicious. And amazed. I whispered, “How do you know him?” After puffing out his chest a little and grunting, Henry informed me that they became fast friends at the Chiodos show, when he was outside pouting because there was too much gutteral screaming emanating from within. I wonder what they talked about that night? Bandannas? Judas Priest? Sixteen-year-old girls in tight jeans?
The crowd at this show was a little older than what we’re used to, with only a handful of scene kids scattered in the mix. I pointed this out to Henry, hoping he would feel less sore-thumbish, but he countered with the fact that he still had a good twenty years on the majority of the fans. And he was right. And I laughed.
Henry and I hung out upstairs for awhile, pretending to like each other. Then I got upset because he wouldn’t look at me when I was talking to him. Because I’m ugly, that’s why!
Before long, the opening band, the post-hardcore Pelican, took the stage. I was curious to see them live after hearing some of their stuff over the years, and made sure to remind Henry that they don’t sing, so that I wouldn’t have to field his predictable questions once they started. For the next thirty minutes, the venue was blanketed with the intense droning that could easily be mistaken for murder’s soundtrack, or Armageddon’s dinner bell. It was loud, dramatic, powerful and I loved it. It made me feel a lot of hatred in my heart though. Henry complained at one point that they sounded like a slowed-down Black Sabbath, that he felt like he was on downers, that it all sounded the same.
But Henry is also a thousand years old and really lame.
We went down to the floor after their set to prepare for Circa Survive. “When they come on, can we at least go a little closer?” I begged Henry, who doesn’t like bumping bodies with people half his age. (Though that’s how Chooch was made, oh!)
“You’re going to throw me right into the middle of that crowd, aren’t you?” he grumbled, but obligingly followed me a little closer to the stage.
My view was gloriously unobstructed until halfway through the first Circa Survive song. First, a midget meandered over and stopped a few feet in front of me. Then, his tall female friend with a mushroom-shaped head of blond curls planted herself right in front of me. She looked old from the back, like she was his mother. I kept calling her Penelope Ann Miller, even after she turned around and I learned she was really just a teenager. Some other guy who was with them took her place obscuring my line of sight with his ultra-thick neck and proceeded to drink his water like it was a can of beer. I hated him, too. Times like this call for a sickle.
I was able to see enough to know that Anthony Green was definitely fucked up and I desperately wanted whatever it was he was on. It was like he was possessed up there, he was arching his back, undulating, and throwing up his arms; it was almost like watching someone have sex with air. It’s like his body is going to blow up with emotion. I don’t know how you could stand there and witness that, and still walk away not liking Circa Survive. It just scares me, because every time I’ve seen them, Anthony has seemed so wasted and unpredictable (not always in a good way); the first time I saw them, he spent the majority of the time singing from a supine position on the stage. I just worry that something terrible will inevitably happen. (I’m looking at you too, Jonny Craig.)
My throat closed up as soon as those first words left his mouth, my eyes burned with tears, and I thought I was going to die. I guess this is how fanatical God people feel when they’re doing that gospel shit.
They mostly did material from their latest album, but when they treated us with songs from Juturna, everyone went crazy. They played two of my favorites, “Great Golden Baby” and “In Fear and Faith,” and my heart felt so battered. I used to hole up in the cemetery and listen to that song over and over back in 2005.
I’m sure Henry enjoyed standing behind me through their set. He still doesn’t like them, but at least he doesn’t hate them anymore. (He doesn’t like Anthony’s voice, at all, and he’s not alone. People either love it or hate it. Personally, it’s like a drug to me.)
When they left the stage, I momentarily yearned to kill myself, and then we hung out by the merch table and made fun of people. I caught Henry texting his work boyfriend, Dave, and I was all, “Ooooooh, Henry’s work boyfriend, Dave!” and it made him angry. I kept trying to see what he was texting, but he shrugged me off and took a few steps away. I’m sure whatever it was, it was spelled wrong.
I think Henry was hoping we could bail after Circa Survive, but I was really anticipating Thrice, too. I’ve liked them for a really long time and have managed to miss them every time they come through Pittsburgh. My kid is essentially named after their drummer, for Christ’s sake. I didn’t think Henry would mind Thrice too much, because their new material is on the mellow side, and even their old stuff is less screamo, more rock.
They started off quietly, softly; I’m sure Henry was thinking, “This isn’t too bad. It’s ok,” but then it was like BAM! Bright orange lights flashed on and the band just fucking exploded. It was INCREDIBLE. Their guitarist, Teppei, is one of the most talented and distinctive guitarists ever. They kept a good balance between new and old, mellow and heavy, but the highlights for me was definitely when they pummeled through material from their album The Artist In the Ambulance. That album helped me block out a lot of idiocy when I was working at Weiss Meats.
Toward the end of their set, a young boy ran up to me and very excitedly whispered in my face. He had his hood up over his head and I’m pretty sure he was high. It really freaked me out because:
I don’t like it when strangers talk to me
What if he had a bomb in his backpack?
I felt like he was going to stab me
Or OD at my feet
I’m pretty sure he was like, 12
Evidently, what he was saying was, “I’m hiding!” because before he had the chance to repeat it a third time, security swooped in and chased him out the door. I have no idea what he did, but I’m glad he didn’t get the chance to involve me further.
The show ended shortly after that potentially dangerous episode. We walked past Henry’s doorman friend on the way out, and he was all, “Hey! Have a good night, buddy!” and Henry smiled all big and goofily and stammered, “You too.” I allowed us to get a few feet out of earshot before I started teasing him.
“Stop it! This is why I don’t have friends, because you get so annoying.”
Or: Henry’s son Blake and my friend Sarah are good sports.
Blake wore a Chiodos shirt and I was happy.
At least I didn’t have to worry about their stilettos getting slurped into the mud.
Blake was atop a train for this and I was so nervous that a) he was going to fall; b) someone was going to see and call the cops. But then I was like, well, if he falls, maybe he’ll be knocked out long enough for me to steal his Chiodos shirt.
"Sarah, I only see you once a year, but I’d love to take your picture." And she didn’t think it was weird at all, which is why we’re friends in the first place.
"I’ve never seen the line this long before," Henry exclaimed when he called me from Club Zoo. "And we’ve been to a lot of shows down here!" He and his kids had left earlier than Christina and me, so we decided we better hurry up and get down there.
When we arrived, I saw that the line of dual-toned shellacked hair, skinny jeans, and black eyeliner was sort of long, but not nearly as bad as Henry was wanking off about. As we walked toward the end of the line, I called to alert him of our arrival. He told me that he and his kids were on the ramp near the doors, and that we should just cut. I hung up on him and while I was bitching to Christina about how I hate when people cut in line and surely was not about to do that myself, a burly man in a security t-shirt called out to us before we even made it to the end of the line.
"You guys got tickets? Then come with me." He escorted us all the way to the front of the line, past all of the bristling scene kids and Henry.
Inside the club, I called Henry and told him since they had tickets, they evidently didn’t need to stand in line, but he said it didn’t matter. Not wanting me to feel special about the random escort, he quickly added, "He probably just chose to let in you two because you’re OLD."
Finally, we were all inside together. Henry’s oldest son, Robbie, introduced me to his girlfriend, Bree, but she didn’t seem to like me.
And Blake swore that the girl he was with wasn’t his girlfriend, but she should be because they were really cute together.
During the opening band, The Color Fred (featuring Fred from Taking Back Sunday), Christina took pictures of the scene kids around us, Blake and his non-girlfriend ran off to the arcade (Club Zoo is an 18 and under club on nights that bands aren’t playing), and Robbie and Bree never said where they were going. Meanwhile, Henry leaned against a railing with his arms crossed and bandanna too tight, looking surly and awkward. This was the first time in two years that he wore a bandanna and I was like DO NOT LIKE, DO NOT LIKE all night long. Why did he have to tie it so tight? Jesus, it made his face look near-explosion.
It had been about four years since I was at this particular club, so I wasn’t used to the balcony area being VIP only. "But why? That’s so lame," I whined to Henry. He shrugged and said that there was a bouncer sitting at the top of the steps behind a rope.
"Do you really want up there?" Christina asked. Of course I did, it was off limits. Some older man in a security shirt and a hat walked by, and Henry pointed to him.
"That’s the guy you want to talk to," he said. I don’t know how Henry finds this shit out. It must be old man code or something.
So Christina goes up to the guy and the first thing she does is accidentally knocks his hat off. He doesn’t help us get in, but then she sees the original security guy from outside, whispers something in his ear and he motions for me to follow them up the steps. He whispers to the VIP guy, who obediently marks our hands and unclasps the rope to grant us entrance. Henry, Blake and his friend Stephenie were standing on the steps, looking betrayed and left behind, like we just snatched the last safety raft on the Titanic. But our security friend had retreated by then and the VIP guy wouldn’t let them through. Later, we lied and said they had to be 21 anyway, even though we never bothered to ask.
Henry waved it off and told us to stay up there, it was OK. What he meant was, "You’re so selfish, you little stuck up bitch, fuck you for making my favorite kid feel like shit!" So, I felt a little guilty. Not guilty enough to surrender my newly acquired VIP status though.
The VIP area was pretty boring. A couple of black couches scattered around and some slutty girls leaning against the balcony and pretending to give a shit about the band playing. We sat on a couch and acted like idiots for awhile, before deciding to go back down where the action was. "We’ll come back up for Chiodos," I said, and Christina agreed.
I failed to mention to Christina that I located Henry through the power of texting, so she somehow got left behind as I did my signature "I’m always in a hurry" march over to the doors. Apparently, she ran into Robbie (after MacGyvering a way for Blake’s friend that’s a girl to be able to see better) and asked him if he knew where his dad was. "Over there, looking like a creep," he answered. Possibly my favorite moment of the night, and I didn’t even witness it first hand.
Another favorite moment that I wasn’t present for was when Christina asked her security friend if she could leave to get her cigarettes from the car, so he marked her hand with a black "21" and sent her to the bar next door, where she felt obligated to order a $5 vodka and cranberry and drink it near a group of ten people who were all friends with each other and looking at her like she was an outcast. Only then was she able to retrieve her Camels from the car. I wondered why it was taking her so long. I mean, I know she’s Mexican, but I didn’t think she’d walk THAT slow.
We hung out with Henry for awhile at the back of the club, just in time for Drop Dead Gorgeous to come on. Christina made friends with two mothers, completely out of the blue, because she practically wears a neon sign that flashes "TALK TO ME, I’M APPROACHABLE." It’s obnoxious, really. Every time I turned around that night, she had someone sidled up next to her, telling her about their recent $8,000 boob job, or the fact that they were presently spying on their daughter and have an affinity for harder music, like Pantera. I guess no one talks to me because I either look: angry, boring, or superior. I’m betting on superior.
Henry was completely in pain during Drop Dead Gorgeous’s set. "All they’re doing is screaming! They suck! It’s like they’ve been playing the same song eight times in a row!" I liked them, but I have a lot of aggression brewing inside of me, so screaming in music is something that appeals to me.
I made the eerie observation that there were at least twelve other boys there that looked like the spitting image of Robbie. I swore I kept seeing him with a different girl every time, and then I would realize that it was some other skinny kid with a pierced labret. There was one instance where I walked past one of his doppelgangers and slapped his shoulder, only to realize it wasn’t him. I shared this with Robbie, the authentic Robbie, at the end of the night, but in true teenaged ambivalence, he half-laughed and then shrugged, and I felt lame.
We ditched Henry for the VIP area during MxPx’s set. Leaning against the balcony and looking down at the kids below, I realized that I didn’t feel very VIP. Where was the champagne? Why were there no hotties in my lap? I wanted to be down where all the action was, otherwise I’d feel like a fairweathered fan. And that’s something that I definately wasn’t. Fairweathered friend, maybe. I looked at Christina and said, "Let’s blow this joint." We flipped off the VIP area and went back down into the bowels of sceneville, where we found Henry outside socializing with security and parents. He tried to make me jealous by bragging that he saw Craigery of Chiodos, and I was kind of glad that I wasn’t there for that, because what would I have done? Cried and then felt shitty for the rest of the night, that’s what.
I decided that night that I want to do a photographical study on scene kids. That’ll be my next Craigslist ad.
While we were waiting for Chiodos to come on, Mike from MxPx strolled past. A small handful of kids clung to him, begging for pictures to use as default MySpace pics, and I urged Christina to do the same. "You really like him," I reminded her. "Go ‘head!" I implored, shoving her forward. There she was, standing next to him, and both of their faces seemed to display the same pained, frustrated expressions. I had no idea what they were saying to each other, but I took the picture anyway.
"That was the most embarrassing moment of my life!" she yelled, stalking back to me and Henry. "I had no idea what to say to him since I WAS PUSHED INTO THE SITUATION, but I wanted to find something that we had in common. So, I was trying to tell him about how I saw them when they were on tour with my friends Dan and Chrissy but I couldn’t remember the name of their band back then, and he had no idea who I was talking about, so he just said, ‘It’s nice to see you again, though.’"
"Element 101," I said. "That was the name of their band." Christina slapped herself in the head and I was doubled over in laughter. "And they’re not even my friends!" I reminded her, furthering her pain. Look at her face in that picture! Whenever I’m feeling down, I just look at that, and feel so much happier.
Just then, Fate dropped the perfect example of a scene girl down right in front of us. Christina was acting all shady, attempting to take her picture in secret, but I stepped forward and said, "Why don’t you just ask her, so you don’t look like a pedophiliac stalker?" Christina agreed that this was a great idea, and made up some story about how we thought her hair was really terrific and would like a picture for our cool hair scrapbook (the scrapbook part is what I would have said, because I’m better at lying than Christina is). The coon girl was all, "OMG I did it myself too so that really means a lot!" and vogued in the standard Internet profile pose before quickly retreating with her friends. It warmed my belly to know that we made her feel good about herself, because I know how nervous I was all the time back then about fitting in. No, seriously. I was all, "Are the bands of my braces the right color this time? Is it lame to drink 2 percent? Should I not be shaving lines into my eye brows? OMG suicide."
A tall man with long wavy hair walked past and Henry proudly boasted, "That’s my new friend. He likes Pantera." I guess Henry’s bandanna deluded that guy into thinking that Henry was worthy of chatting with outside the club. I told Henry that Christina had also befriended him earlier in the VIP area (seriously, I turned my back for five seconds to see if I could spy Henry down below, and next thing I know, my spot is lost to some tough-skinned man who surely owns a Harley, and Christina’s talking to him like he’s her favorite uncle). Christina tried to act like he was better friends with her, but seemed crushed that he only told Henry he has a prosthetic leg.
Seconds before Chiodos came on, Christina arranged for a photo-op with her favorite bouncer, who for some reason really took a liking to her. The spell she casts on people can be very annoying at times.
Chiodos. Oh, Chiodos. I don’t even know what to say, really. Of course Henry refused to follow us into the undulating wall of kids, choosing to keep his feet firmly planted at the back of the club by the red-haired merch girl who had shitty signs perched on her booth, making Christina decide to leave a comment on Chiodos’ MySpace, alerting them to the rudeness of their merch girl and that whoever’s dick she’s sucking, it’s not worth it.
I’m too old to be getting all up into the pit, too vain to be suffering a broken nose, and too aggressive to be warding off flailing limbs without landing myself in jail, so we opted for a spot with a great view and sufficient personal space. It was perfect.
Every time Craigery threw back his head and arched his back into a gutteral roar, I laughed, knowing that somewhere behind me, in the darkness of the club, Henry was grimacing and rubbing his temples. He’s admitted numerous times that he enjoys their music, but hates the screaming. I love it. I also harbor more aggression than Henry does though, as evidenced today by the bloody knuckle I left the house with.
The sound was so fucked up at the beginning that I couldn’t even tell what the first song was. They quickly got it straightened out and it was pure insanity from there on out. I had goosebumps up to my scalp and was on the verge of tears the entire time. Eventually, they played "Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute on the Creek" and I lost it. Completely fucking lost it and I let the tears fall. It felt good. Clearly I wasn’t hugged enough as a child.
Toward the end of the show, a young kid who looked like Gerard Way pre-MTV exploitation decided to stand behind us and scream things like, "CHIODOS SUCKS! NEVERMIND, CHIODOS RULES!" and then he’d go on to chat with his friends like he was in a fucking coffee house about how he couldn’t believe he had to go to school the next day and all he wanted to do was go home and take a three hour bath. THEN GO DO THAT, ASSHOLE. Eventually, Christina turned around and said, "I paid $25 to hear this band play, so if you want to talk how about standing back there?" It was an awkward moment, the two of them staring at each other, before Christina finally turned back around. He stood there dumbly, with his mouth half-opened, like he really wanted to say something shitty but couldn’t think of anything. I figured at the very least, I’d wind up with some gum or a cigarette butt in my hair, but there was no backlash.
By the end of the set, I pretty much wanted to kill myself. I can’t explain what it is about those guys, but they make me feel so emotionally fragile. They make me want to simultaneously break a lamp over my head and hug a kitten. They make me wish I could run away instead of being a lowly data processor. They make me want to paint pictures with my own blood and then hold hands with someone I love.
Today I realized, "I would give up my tickets to the Cure to see Chiodos again" and it was a monumental moment in my life.
[I know not everyone is a fan of screaming, and this was the only song of theirs sans screaming that I could find a video for. See how I cater?]
There’s something you need to know about me: I’m still the fifteen-year-old girl who turns to music when a boy breaks her heart. I’m still the sixteen-year-old girl who locks herself in her room and blares the stereo after fighting with her parents. I’m still the nineteen-year-old who sobs into cherry wine while listening to The Cure. I’m still the seventeen-year-old girl who thinks every emo song was written for her.
I’m the twenty-eight-year-old girl who gets in a fight with Henry and runs off to the cemetery to scream along to the lyrics that your little brothers and sisters are cutting themselves to.
Not too long ago, someone asked, "Aren’t you a little old to be getting excited about this kind of music?" If I ever stop getting excited about it, stop feeling it in my heart, then I’ll know I’m dead. Exactly what kind of music is someone elderly like me supposed to be listening to, anyway? Should I be donning loafers and sitting back with some John Mayer?
Last summer, when Henry and I were going through a rough patch, Chiodos was there to keep me alive. Their music inspired me to paint again and their lyrics inspired me to keep writing when I really wanted to give up. When I missed their set at Warped Tour, I didn’t care that I was essentially the mama amid a churning sea of other surly fans who missed them due to an unusually early start time.
Yesterday was going to be my first time meeting them. For me, it was worth the three hour drive to Columbus. I wanted to thank them for doing what they do, for making music that means so much to me. But by the time we arrived at Magnolia Thunderpussy for the in-store signing, my heart felt weak and my legs were spaghetti. (Marinara sauce, please.) Very few people were there; I anticipated a line full of unwashed hair and star tattoos serpentining out and around the store, but there were only a handful of messy haired kids loitering quietly among the racks of CDs.
I sat outside for awhile. I was thirty minutes early and Chooch was unable to be contained within the tiny record store. Henry let him play in snow while I tried to make idle chatty with two young people who sat on a retaining wall. I admitted to being freaked out, hoping to bond with the girl of the pair. She laughed, but it wasn’t the encouraging kind. I think she was suspicious that some old broad was trying to make convo. Later, she asked me if I had come by myself, and I took that as her way of including me. She kind of looked like Rachel Bilson. Then I started thinking about The O.C. and realized, "Holy shit, I really am young……Oh well."
Inside the store, I was mindlessly flipping through used CDs when I looked up and saw three of the band members slipping behind the counter. There was no grand announcement or applause — they managed to slink by unnoticed by most of the kids. A short trucker-capped employee with a voice too husky for a girl came out and determined where the start of the line would be. I had the good fortune of being close by, so only fifteen or so people managed to be ahead of me. Henry and Chooch were still at the front of the store; the growing covey of fans made a barricade that he wasn’t trying to attempt to break through.
I turned around and wheezed, "I think I’m going to die!" to the girl behind me. She laughed. I liked her. She had nice glasses and she let me cut in front of her when I got caught up in the mad scurry to get in line. But I wasn’t kidding — my palms were getting sweaty and I was seeing double.
A trio of tiny girls wearing varying shades of grey and black and olive green huddled in front of me, giggling about what they were going to say to the band. One of the girls never removed her oversized black sunglasses from her pale face. Another had braces. The third looked around and disgustedly observed that there were so many scene kids there. "Oh wait, I am one," she added with a laugh. I wanted to punch her. I wanted to punch her and say that I liked Chiodos more. Then I wanted to steal her purse. Not because I liked it all that much, but because maybe it seemed like the right way to end things.
It was my turn way too quickly. I was barely prepared and my hands shook a little (a lot) as I unrolled my poster and slapped it down on the counter. The first person in line was Derrick, the drummer. He gave me a friendly smile and I felt slightly brave enough to speak. I started to tell him that I had come from Pittsburgh, but the girl in front of me had made it to the end of the line and wanted a picture of all of them. He held up his finger to me and moved in close to the rest of the band. But by the time he turned his attention back to me, I had lost my nerve and started to slide my poster down to the guitarist, Jason. I could have told him that I used a magazine clipping of his eyeball for one of the paintings I made last summer. I could have told him that there used to be a bar outside of Pittsburgh called Chiodos and my mom beat the shit out of the Chiodos daughter because of a guy. I could have told him these things but I didn’t because it probably would have come out sounding like something articulated by Corky.
Henry was standing off to my right, behind a wall of posters. I silently hoped that he wouldn’t embarrass me, because if those guys thought I was old….
Henry chose that moment to release Chooch who in turn came running toward me. Derrick shouted, "Aw, look how cute he is!" When Chooch reached me, I used him to my advantage and picked him up so they knew he was with me; it suddenly didn’t matter that I was "too old" to be there or that I couldn’t find meaningful words to say to them.
The band collectively said things like, "He’s adorable!" and "I like your shirt, little man!" Derrick looked at me and said, "You know, we need a mascot…" Everyone laughed and then he gave Chooch a high five. Even the scene kids in line broke down their steeled pretensions long enough to say "Aw."
Henry doesn’t like Chiodos at all. I mean, he wasn’t glaring at them and flashing Crip signs from behind the protective cover of a rack of Ramones t-shirts — he just doesn’t like their music. I thought that maybe after meeting them he would change his mind. Maybe their boyish charm and ruffled hair would inspire him to give their music another change.
"Do you like them now?" I asked, once we left the record store. (I’m kind of like the Verizon Wireless Guy — I re-ask him with every disc rotation.)
"No! They didn’t do anything but stand there." His standards are too high.
Thank you Chooch, for revitalizing some of my maternal courage and giving me another reason to add to the "no" column of "Was Having a Kid a Mistake?"
Then we went back to the hotel where Henry started snoring and I made him sleep in the car.
Sorry for getting all serious. I promise to resume my regular asshole-y writing style in time for the next entry.
I’ve hit a dilemma for this weekend. We’re supposed to go to Columbus to see a Chiodos in-store appearance. I love Chiodos (apparently because they’re hot and not because they’re good) and they’re probably my favorite band at the mo’. They write the kind of songs that I would write.
If I could write songs.
Which I can’t, in case you were wondering.
But then today on the way to work, I heard a radio ad for World of Wheels which is apparently taking the Convention Center by storm this weekend. I started to tune it out, because car shows are stupid. But then I heard the excited announcer proudly shout that Mater from "Cars" is going to be there. Immediately I start picturing my kid, happier than an orphan being spoon-fed porridge by Santa’s arthritic hand, hugging a real life version of his beloved tow truck.
But Chiodos is more important than making the kid smile, I reminded myself.
I started to tune it out once more, but the announcer came back at me with a secret weapon — Drake Hogestyn, better known as John Black from "Days of Our Lives." HENRY’S FAVORITE SOAP PERSONALITY.
I dialed Henry with the urgency of an ER after a meth lab explosion.
"We have a problem!" I yelled, out of breath from all the excitement.
He loves it when I make calls like that while I’m driving. Loves it.
I quickly told him about the car show, about how Mater is going to be there. "And there’s someone else," I teased. "Someone that you REALLY LIKE."
"Who?" There was trepidation in his voice.
But I think there’s a chance we can do both. I really might die if I don’t get a picture of Henry and John Black. I really might die.