I’ve recently been watching old MTV 120 Minutes videos on YouTube, and just last night watched their 10th Anniversary show which was advertised as a “best of”. I’d argue it was not. But it was hosted by Henry Rollins. Very cool. Very sort of strange. And you can bet there was a song performed by his band.
I woke up this morning to the song that Nirvana performed, noisily working its way around my brain, and lying in bed allowed myself nostalgically to be transported back to middle school, when I first heard the music and saw the t-shirts of such bands as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Metallica, Alice in Chains, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Helmet, etc. I wanted to go back to that time and observe myself and others around me and relive that period of my life again, but as a sort of third-party. I wanted an experience deeper than my memories. I wanted to stand out on the corner on a frosty morning across the from the house I grew up in while waiting for the school bus to pick the group of us up. I wanted to sit in the never-warm-enough bus on the too-firm seats that were a bit like sitting on a pice of styrofoam and which sometimes had rips and tears in the green, pebbled vinyl that wrapped the yellow “cushion” as we drove around my neighborhood picking up still more groups of kids or the occasional one standing alone, or perhaps with this mother (though probably not in middle school), before bouncing our way eventually to school. There is one boy who I associate most closely with these memories of grunge and the route which our bus would take. I don’t remember his name, and I only think my memories of him are so strong because of the peculiar place where he lived, which was a smallish house with a dirt and gravel drive on Ritchie Highway—a busy, extremely so nowadays, road which runs from Annapolis to Brooklyn Park. The bus would drive all this way and do a U-turn to get to this boy’s home, seemingly so out-of-the-way. He had long, stringy, often dirty and oily looking blonde hair, a la Kurt Cobain, and wore the standard grunge uniform day in and day out: Airwalks or Vans, baggy jeans or long shorts, a t-shirt of some sort of 90’s alt rock band (Nirvana, Pearl Jam et.al.), and a plaid flannel left unbuttoned over that. To be sure, there were plenty of other kids dressed the same, but the remoteness of his location in this single solitary home on the side of a busy highway, and the fact that it was he and he alone who got on and off the bus there is what makes him such a memorable character to me.