April 05, 2009

Requiem for a Music Geek: A Serious Case of the Teenage Retro Virus

Good morning newbies, my name is Dr. Demento, and I'll be your instructing Resident today. Sorry I'm late. Okay, so if everyone's caffeinated and scrubbed in and ready, we'll begin with today's patient. It appears that this morning, that person will be...aha, here it is—his name is Mr. Keir DuBois, and he checked in last night displaying telltale symptoms of the Teenage Retro Virus. Apparently, Mr. DuBois was complaining about substantial side effects stemming from an overdose of that wretched Facebook meme known as "Senior Year," but our patient's history indicates a previous dalliance with this particular retrovirus—indeed, his dangerous abuse of something called "Shorter Senior Year" in the aftermath of his 10-year high school reunion had landed him in our hospital in summer 2005.

Now, I cannot emphasize that every music geek I've ever operated on gets bitten by the retro bug in some form or another, but if you delve deeper into his file, you will find that our current case is particularly exceptional example. He has snapped up Elvis Costello discs galore when writing lyrics for his first band, he has collected Pixies albums after seeing a Frank Black show, and he has plowed through old R.E.M. stuff as a UCSB freshman when Morninglory Music had good deals on used CDs. You will also note that he caught up with old Dylan and Neil Young because smart friends of his kept insisting he do so; he jumped into previously hated 80's bands like the Smiths, the Cure, and Depeche Mode in order to understand the details of his wife's own musical obsessions; he absorbed classic blues and surf recordings when joining the aforementioned first band on bass guitar.

However, it would appear that our patient's biggest single retroviral rock binge occurred in the year spanning March 1994 to March 1995—a period ending immediately after a certain phenomenon known as "Air Guitar"—and evidently Mr. DuBois was not alone in his behavior. His enablers are three in number, and their names are listed in the file as Jon Green, Nick Clemente, and Kevin Hessel. Their controlled substances of choice were many, but five in particular showed up most often in the contemporaneous toxicology report: the Beatles' "Past Masters II," Creedence's "Chronicle," Van Morrison's "Best Of," Jimi Hendrix's "Ultimate Experience," and the Rolling Stones' "Hot Rocks." Keep in mind, students, that everyone their age was at this time supposed to enjoy flannelly grunge or gin-and-juice G-funk. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but these boys wanted something a little more fermented, shall we say.

Please note the point in our forensic timeline when it was discovered that our subjects mainlined these substances using the most powerful delivery system for Loud Classic Rock they could acquire—namely, Mr. Hessel's greased-lightning death trap of a Honda Civic, and its two massive stereophonic speakers. It should be noted that Mr. DuBois, a constant back-seat passenger of said vehicle, was under dangerous levels of exposure to those humongous motherfucking speakers (as were Mr. Green and Mr. Clemente), especially when the Civic would tear out of the Dana Hills High School parking lot blaring something like "Paperback Writer" or "Gimme Shelter" or "Voodoo Child." Admittedly, newbies, that is some seriously cool shit—and note that extensive testing on Mr. DuBois' eardrums also shows that the car stereo was sometimes hooked up to a CB/loudspeaker contraption, accessible to the shotgun seat. This device was most often wielded by Mr. Clemente, and no one was safe from his amplified verbal harassment—neither innocent bystanders nor hopeless wankers nor unbelievably hot chicks.

Okay, at this point the transcript will note that the Nurse is motioning for our attention because the patient, Mr. DuBois, is now exhibiting severe cerebral-verbal flashbacks. Let's listen in, shall we?

[...Here the tape cuts to a microphone recording the patient's hazy babble as he slips in and out of a hallucinatory, delirious fog...]


"Lady Madonna, some people really hated high school, but Jackie Wilson Said I...I didn't. I mean, what's to hate, right? Especially senior year, man—that, well, that rocked. Kev drove us to the movies and the pulp fiction of football away games at Aliso and Capo. Hell yes, the cheerleaders! Put a spell on you, jump jump shake that booty, baby please don't go. You say you want a revolution? Hey Jude, pull the deflated beachball out of my pants, blow it up, scrawl "Vote for Nick" on the bastard, and let it go, and it stoned me to my soul. I mean, it's Homecoming, just a shot away, so why not? And hey, there's Clemente down there right now—snatched the megaphone away from Ali and away he fucking goes, man! All along the watchtower, to the next run through the jungle, where Kev drives through crosstown traffic into a fog bank on Niguel Road on the way to Adrienne's house—where she and Alexis and Tara present Nick & Jon with Under My Thumb champagne, and me and Kev with...Mother's little helper sparkling cider? Hey Joe, what kind of wild night is that?"

[...the transcript continues...]

"Fuckin' A, dude—you can't always get what you want—it won't always be all fortunate son Christmas caroling in the rain at Kathy's, or anarchy in Ms. Sheehy's class, or senioritis in Butera's room, or late night AP test prep with the late great Mr. Buchheim. No, sometimes it's a Happy Fuckin' New Year that destroys Jon's house and his mom bans us from the premesis, or off nights with the 6th Man Club when Meyers and Marston can't quite eke out a W against Trabuco, or inexplicably missing out on The Paper/Your Mom and Sherrill's mad Baja runs. Even so, you gotta take it when you can get it, like honkey tonk women's volleyball, like getting off-campus to JC's for lunch, or even better down to Stuft in the Civic. Like a 24-couple-strong Winter Formal party, dude—sure do clean up nice, don't we?—and when you can't get no satisfaction, you can always fall back on Air Guitar! Fuck yes: spray-painted black hair for Kev/Bill and JC/Keef, sharp threads for Doobs/Charlie, a padded cell for Cros/Jonesy, and tight silver lamé pants for Clemente/Jagger..."

Ahem. Demento again here, newbies. Okay, so you can clearly discern the dangers of unadulterated retro-rock binges, and—hey, give the patient some chloroform, and maybe he'll shut the fuck up—there, that's better. Now, where was I? Oh yes—the retrovirus. Well, there appears to be no cure—it will always flare up again in each infected case from time to time, but several treatment options are available, at varying degrees of strength and intensity. Our patient here, however, is obviously well beyond anything beneficial those various treatments could bring. No, Mr. DuBois is an irreversibly terminal case, and unfortunately I'm afraid there's nothing more this hospital can do for him, folks. He is doomed to suffer periodic relapses into crippling nostalgia and retroviral hallucinations. May Elvis have mercy upon his soul.

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