I finally picked up one of those Moleskine notebooks this weekend, after looking for one locally for a few weeks, and finally running into a stash at a Barnes and Noble. I don’t know why I’ve regressed to the point where I think the right paper and the right pen will make the right words come out or something. I went through this in like ’94 when I was first trying to get started writing, where I thought an expensive fountain pen or a cool little booklet would make the words come faster or something. I’ve since learned that a Mead 3-subject spiral and a Bic pen stolen from work will do the job just the same. If anything, they’re cheaper and you don’t have to worry about the fact that most “journal” journals have margins and bindings and fucked-up lining that means you’ll burn through $20 of fancy-pants journal in the time it takes to fill a third of a college rule 8.5×11.
But I bought one anyway, thinking it would be a good place for the occasional piece of paragraph, since I’m currently using mini-legal pads and post-its and a lot of other shit. It’s not as easy to carry a spiral and write on it in the train. It works well if you get a seat, but writing a note or two when standing is a bitch. And since the days of depressingly writing for pages at two in the morning when alone in bed seem to have passed, I feel a need to make up for the words in other spaces in the day. And as far as Moleskine is concerned, it’s the nicest little journal I’ve seen. There’s some back-story about how Celine and Hemingway and Van Gogh used the same notebooks. I’ve since read that the history is bullshit, and the company basically started making the books like five years ago, but it’s the same kind of little book you’d expect Kerouac or Burroughs to be slinging around in a front pocket, so it has a certain appeal there.
I haven’t been able to do much writing lately, because it’s too god damned hot to even think, let alone think of plot and characters and textures and everything else. I’m still sitting on 104,000+ words of nostalgia that covers my time in Bloomington, but I can’t get nostalgic enough to really start carving that shit up to get it from good to great. I thought about posting a story or ten here, and maybe I will, but first I need to keep cleaning.
I was listening to Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction – on the way home from work today. I don’t know why, although I’m pretty sick of all 20 Gigs I have on my iPod and I’m too lazy to go buy some more new albums and rip them, because I don’t even know what I’d buy, let alone where I’d store them if I bought them. And that made me think about how strange it was that back then, I listened to this album like every day for about six months, and pretty much memorized it, and I did that with a lot of albums, and now, I can barely find an album I want to listen to all the way through twice. I wonder if music was better then, or if it was some kind of chemical-hormone thing in my brain that made me more receptive to music, or what.
I remember hearing about GnR during the summer of ’88, when I was in the Catskills. My dad’s girlfriend had a couple of nephews that were vacationing there at the same time as us, who were these typical Italian Long Island types, not total all-out guidos, but very machismo and partied a lot and everything. And once or twice, they talked about getting buzzed and staying up late and listening to Guns N’ Roses, but they weren’t like metalheads or anything; most of the time they listened to club dance music or whatever. So I assumed that GnR was some kind of stupid Poison/Bon Jovi bullshit, and went back to my Megadeth or whatever.
Then that fall, before “Sweet Child” and all of that hit the charts, I think Tom Sample, who had gone off to college in Goshen, told me I had to check out the album, and that it was more metal than Cinderella or whatever. I bought the tape from work – I worked at Wards then, and they sold a handful of tapes and CDs in the stereo department, and I would have bought my groceries and tap water there if they sold it, just to get the damn 10% employee discount.
I listened to that album constantly, or at least as much as I could between spins of the new Metallica – …And Justice For All. My first take was that I liked how a band could be so firmly seated between pop like Aerosmith or Motley Crue and still have almost as much of an edge as more “extreme” metal like Judas Priest or Alice Cooper. In a sense, it was almost crossover, but between glam and thrash. It was a lot dirtier and banal than the lipstick bands, with a certain amount of kick-ass edge, but it was still marketable enough to play it on U-93 or MTV. It was also real AOR in the old sense of the definition – Album Oriented Rock. (And it’s sad that I can’t type AOR without first typing AOL and then backspacing… fuck!) It’s amazing how many times I could start it at “Welcome to the Jungle” and 53 minutes and 26 seconds later, find myself at the end of “Rocket Queen”.
Of course, by the time the fall semester progressed, almost everyone loved Guns ‘N Roses, including all of the jock types at my high school. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” got played at dances, and “Paradise City” was blasting out of every mommy-and-daddy-purchased 5.0 Mustang GT in the school parking lot. I got a little sick of the radio songs, and found myself fast-forwarding to “It’s So Easy” after putting in side A of the tape. I zipped around the popular stuff for a while, then gave up on the album to spend more time working on that new Metallica opus, or whatever new tape of the week I was digesting.
Going back to the album now, I still hate the radio songs, and I think that sums up the main problem with a band like this. Because face it, if W. Axl bit it in a horrible car accident today, the news networks would be playing a five-second clip from “Sweet Child”, not the infinitely cooler “Rocket Queen”, or something more obscure and Stonesy like “Locomotive” or “Double Talkin’ Jive” from their double album. But those are the kind of tracks I love, the kind of bluesy, textured songs with depressing lyrics where Rose goes from the screechy catcalls to the lower, gravely lyrics that show the holes in his soul, topped off by the wailing guitar that Slash always delivered. When I was still using MiniDiscs, I had an 80-minute blank filled with my custom all-time, all-star G’NR album. I cherry picked the best of the Use Your Illusions, and fed in the top stuff from Appetite, and it was exactly 79:54, but I wanted both versions of “Don’t Cry”, so I had to settle for the eerie alternate lyric one and call it a day.
Actually, I’ve found myself listening to Buckethead’s Population Override a lot lately. It’s also solo guitar-god stuff, but this album is less goofy set pieces and whatever, and more Satriani-style compositions. It’s actually really good to write to, and it’s on right now. And hey, he played in Guns N’ Roses, too, on that abortion of a world tour a few years ago.
OK, time for a cold shower.