Apologies for the delay in the appearance of this issue of Exiled on Main Street,. While I am proud of this issue and feel that it is a good read; I continue to wonder what could have been...
As time goes on, Wyman claims to dedicate more and more time to writing, yet his output seems to decline inversely in relationship to his time spent writing. In late July, I managed to secure an early-evening meeting with him at the CC Club in south Minneapolis. I arrived to find him in a corner booth, sporting a healthy tan and surfer-like blondeness while sipping on a glass of beer.
During conversation, I kept thinking of how the Summer of '99 was passing him by - my mentions of The Blair Witch Project; the rise of rapmetal; American Pie; and the return of The Teen Movie went by without comment. When I deliberately tried to draw him out, he was quick with words, yet did not launch into any rhetoric. All I got with the death of John-John (a sardonic "boy that one sure redefined the word 'tragedy' didn't it?"); Kathleen Soliah ("and they wonder why we hate baby boomers"); the latest royal wedding ("they never told us how the bride and groom are related") and gun control ("I've been listening to a lot of Nugent lately") were simple one-sentence statements. And he talked little of his writing. When asked, he shrugged and said he was "working on some stuff" - mostly he spoke in hushed tones of waterskiing and of his hamstring problems.
After prodding, Wyman did finally give me some rough drafts of some essays and poems. He insisted I read them there in the bar, that I couldn't take them with me. What I read was edgy, darkly hilarious, and brought his writing to a whole new level. I wanted to put them in an Exiled immediately - forget final revisions and edits. He said no, he had to work on some finishing touches.
After a few weeks of not hearing from him - he's always been notoriously hard to reach - one night he finally answered his phone. He hated the pieces he had showed me in the bar - many of them had been destroyed (some show up here, but in drastically different forms) - and he was going to start over with some new works. I asked him where that left me - because in the meantime, I had already assured folks all over Minneapolis and St. Paul how brilliant Exiled #20 was going to be. Wyman said that was great - in time, his unreleased work would be termed groundbreaking, and he would be considered a great artist. "I can coast for the next thirty years, and my legend will continue to grow ... and I don't have to do jack shit ... it's the Brian Wilson Way of Being Hailed as a Genius!" He giggled and giggled.
What a stupid fucker.
- E. Ruud, Editor. Minneapolis, September 1999.
the end of the nineties
It was a time when you would say things, but not mean them. Or you would say things you didn't mean, but meant them anyway. Or you would say things, but they'd have two meanings. Or you would say something, and mean it - yet not mean it - all at the same time.
Nobody dabbled anymore, they were all completionists. You didn't have a couple of albums by a certain adored artist - you had to have them all; and you tormented those who just dabbled.
Politics was okay when it was presented within the context of a movie or song; but you weren't supposed to adamantly voice an opinion on your own. Revolution was cool so long as your piece of the pie was left untouched.
Every gathering of friends centered around discussions that simply and endlessly repeated phrases from movies or TV shows. Nobody ever just got drunk and made outrageous destined-to-be-unfulfilled plans anymore - y'know, where you'd get six taps into the night and the beer talk would flow; cruising to Texas for a music festival or roadtripping to Graceland or head north to Canada to check out the strip bars.
It got exhausting - it wore me out. And the sad thing, the thing I regret more and more with each passing day, was that I was the worst sinner of them all.
In my so-called love life, I keep track of my various fuckups and near-misses, not to study them and learn from my mistakes - no, I track them because telling these stories over a round of beers is a great way of being entertaining when hanging with the guys. Self-deprecation can be vital in making others like being around you. They feel better about themselves and besides, nobody likes a braggart.
Okay, so all y'all have endlessly heard of the lovely young thing who as her kiss-off told me that "you'll never find a girlfriend who likes Metallica." But that whole mess has got a virtual novella's worth of misfires and patheticness to it...
...it was 1987 - that year when I first moved to town (insert Mary Richards analogy here.) That year when I bravely mixed in some Sign O' the Times and Pleased to Meet Me between listens of Appetite for Destruction, Hysteria, and Garage Days Re-revisited.
She had always told me how much she liked the Replacements. I distinctly remember enthusiasm in her voice when talking about them. Silly me, I should have been more suspicious. No girls I knew liked the 'Mats. In fact, no girl I knew had even heard of them. (Shows what kind of circles I was running in back in '87 huh?) I should have been more suspicious and asked some well-placed questions: Which songs do you like? What do you think of the Bob Putsch? Do you like the quieter songs? Is stardom for the 'Mats inevitable despite themselves? I could have delved into my theory about how Let It Be was the album where they broke more ground, but no matter what anybody said - Pleased to Meet Me was the stronger record.
But no, I was intrigued and infatuated. She had long blond hair and big gray eyes, had been to a Springsteen concert, and she laughed at my witticisms. Even so, I knew I was going to lose in this one, had known it since I first saw her. I was just hoping the losing would come later and not sooner. I pressed on because I was in awe of her and felt honored just to be in her presence. Funny how I used to think in those terms, funny how I used to have real feelings.
I had secured her confidences by that mysterious art of Being Myself. They always say "just be yourself" as their advice on how to deal with the opposite sex: When I was in my early twenties that seemed a lot easier. Easier to just drop the poses and postures and bullshit, easier to just relax. These days I'm convinced that I only feel natural when I'm home alone or maybe when I'm singing along to the radio when out in my car. It's much tougher to Be Myself these days, at least when I'm in public. It involves a lot of thought, calculations, and preparation ... which person should I be tonight? Only when I'm alone is Being Myself an easily manageable situation. I think the common wisdom about me states that I don't like being around people - it's the wisdom because I say it all the time - but it's really quite simple: by lessening the Supply of Me, I keep my price up.
Well back to '87 - the Replacements were playing a show in downtown Minneapolis, and blessed coincidence had the show falling on her twenty-fourth birthday. I scored tickets for the show and she agreed to go. It was a major coup - in the future, any time she would be listening to her band the 'Mats, she would think of the concert and hence she would think of me. In fact, anytime she had a birthday she would think of the concert and hence she would think of me. Stardom, sweet stardom.
It was a Sunday night, I went to pick her up. We were headed to the bar for pre-show drinks. Then she asked me: "so what songs do the Replacements sing?"
written by Chris O'Connor and Bill Tuomala
I was cheering for the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup finals, but after seeing #81 Miroslav Satan in action for the Buffalo Sabres, I have decided to dedicate my life to following Satan, and letting everyone know about the greatness of Satan. In fact, you could say that I worship Satan.
I spend my evenings spinning Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" backwards, just so I can hear replays of Buffalo Sabres broadcasts. Satan can do no wrong. And now that Dave Christian is retired, Satan is my Lord and Master for eternity. Satan rules - all hail Satan!
Y'know how in the paper they have the engagements and wedding announcements, with the cute couples and they're smiling? I look at those rarely, but once in a while feel the urge to check out the cuties. Usually she is getting hitched to some dorky-looking guy and I chuckle to find out that "Joe works for Blah-Blah-Blah Company as a blah!" or "Rick has a Ph.D. from some Prestigious School!" The implication being that the dude is hot property because of his social status, not because of his personality or character.
The brides almost always look great on their wedding day, while guys just look like guys. The photo reflects that to the gal, it's the biggest day of her life; while the guy either has 1) a deer-in-the-headlights look, 2) a now-what-do-I-do? look, or 3) a smile that indicates he's probably still thinking about the stripper from his bachelor party.
I figure I should be able to post my picture in the paper - they could have a Still Having Fun section with a picture of me posted in front of the TV watching a Sioux/Gopher hockey game, sweating bullets, guzzling a Schlitz while sampling a Domino's: "Wyman has never been married. He's stuck in a pseudo-slacker-oh-so-mid-nineties rut. Last week he said hi to a girl!" (Hey I could post this in the UND alumni paper too...)
Better yet, they should have a Separations and Divorces section. That is one I'd read faithfully. Fuck, post the happy couples wedding announcement (obviously, an "after" photo to go with the "before" one would be hard to obtain) and then next to it some text: "Jack and Jill have ended their marriage after five years. They listed irreconcilable differences. Friends say it's because Jack is a dull guy, while Jill is pretty much a controlling bitch."
Yet another great idea of mine destined to go nowhere. Damn.
A couple of years back (January 30, 1997 to be exact, in a filler-filled The Wyman Weekly #38), I declared that Lenny Kravitz' song "Are You Gonna Go My Way" sounded exactly like Foghat, even though the sad suckers in alternative nation had proclaimed said song to be sheer genius.
Lately, the most unintentionally hilarious few minutes on the radio is Lenny's cover of "American Woman," which when done by the Guess Who in 1970 was sort of proto-Foghat. (The Fogsters not debuting until 1972.) Even funnier than Lenny's soulful 'n' deep vocals is that American Lenny probably doesn't realize that "American Woman" isn't actually about a woman and is in fact a sly Canadian statement by a socialist band that once had a song and an album titled "Share the Land."
Up next for Kravitz? A track-by-track covering of the Fool for the City album. Alright, Lenny!
Okay, so I wrote this big long essay where I talked about how much I love rapmetal, but the thing ended up dragging on forever and I got sick of writing it. And when I finally took a step back and looked at it more closely, I realized I had pretty much written 1,900 words just so I could cleverly point out in an aside that the Rick Rubin-produced Tom Petty songs "You Don't Know How It Feels" (guaranteed loudest drums you'll hear on KQ) and "Mary Jane's Last Dance" are really hip-hop songs thinly disguised as mid-tempo rockers. So there.
Why Monster Magnet's Powertrip album has become one of My Favorite Albums of the Late Nineties:
* I think Monster Magnet is pulling an ironic wink-wink-nod-nod we're Real Big Flashy Rock Stars Now move like U2. But what differentiates Monster Magnet's Rock Star Stance from U2's stance is Monster Magnet backs theirs up with killer riffs, torqued-up Les Paul solos, and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink delights that are part of a sonic attack that kicks the ass of all U2's nineties albums combined.
* On the cover, band leader Dave Wyndorf flashes that Texas Longhorns hand salute that Christian weirdos always think is satanic. In the photo, you can see through to his finger bones.
* Listening to Powertrip prior to perusing any issue of No Depression makes said magazine not depressing (i.e. funny in an unintentional sense - especially that one long article explaining how Elvis Presley had country music roots. No shit, Sherlock.)
* "things look pretty good from where I sit / in the United States of Who Gives a Shit"
* "19 Witches" has great Ennio Morricone-like guitar, and you don't have to watch three hours of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - includes one hour of commercials - on TNT some Saturday afternoon just to hear it. (Not that doing so is a bad thing.)
* A daily regimen of Powertrip makes me forget I ever knew words like "unplugged," "intimate acoustic performance," or "singer/songwriter." It also allows me to see that alt.country is for city slicks who've never set foot in a VFW; that lush pop is for little girls; that swing music is for your grandparents; and that the joy of Britpop disappears after a listen quicker than a Britpop band could clear out of Dunkirk.
* Is that an American flag burning on the cover?
* The picture in the sleeve where the Monster Magnet member in a hot rod convertible is about to run over the pope almost tops Sinead O'Connor's Saturday Night Live gesture. And when first looking at the picture while waiting for my car to gas up at the local Amoco on my way home from the record store, I laughed out loud - and I haven't done that while watching Saturday Night Live in at least fifteen years. (Then again, Catholicism is kinda goofy, making an easy target, and ya gotta give props to any religion that worships a woman - even if they do deny it. Besides - it's the Protestant work ethic that's gonna be the death of me anyway. I used to make fun of Catholics, but the turning point was when a former Lutheran pastor of mine got caught messing around with boys. Then I cracked that "molesting by the clergy: it's not just for Catholics any more!" No one thought that was funny. Tough room.)
* "got a knife in my back / got a hole in my arm / when I'm drivin the tractor on the drug farm"
* "See You in Hell" sounds like it's straight outta Nuggets: great cheese-o organ, fuzz guitar, and a reference to mescaline. To top it off, it contains the lyric "your punk rock band still sucks anyway."
* Unlike the albums by Paul Westerberg and Kristin Hersh that I've bought recently, Powertrip does not feature the sounds of babies or children. As goes life, goes rock albums: children should be not seen and not heard.
* Songs with unlikely titles like "Baby Gotterdamerung" and "See You in Hell" say more about life in these United States than anything Al Gore or George W. Bush will tell ya. Like the eighties indictment of the power structure, Master of Puppets, Monster Magnet's take will inevitably be lost on snobbish ears or misinterpreted by literalists. From A&M's Monster Magnet website, here's the condensed version by Wyndorf himself: "no matter how good you think you're doing, it's never good enough for Big Business ... you can't be happy with a lot, you have to have more, in fact; there's never enough. It's gone completely out of control."
* It fucking rocks, dude.
Recently, I overheard someone say "thank God for laptops," and I immediately said to myself "no - thank God for lap dancers."
Today's lesson in Being a Hero:
Sometimes, it goes like this: you joke around, you crack wise, you fill your part of the conversation with put-ons and put-downs. Occasionally, someone - usually female - is put off by your thinking that life itself is a joke, and wants to get behind the screen and asks you how you really feel about something, or asks some probing question into those areas of your psyche that you have marked OFF LIMITS. Then, you put her off with something witty, and the rest of the table laughs. If she persists in being in your area that is OFF LIMITS, you act contemplative. You get silent, maybe mumble most of your words. As she presses more and more into OFF LIMITS territory, you bait her along with your silence and mumblings. Then...then as she gets into some hokey topic like commitments or love or "true feelings," you come up with your wisest, wittiest crack of the night. The table erupts in laughter, you are once again a hero. Sure, your inquisitor won't want to talk to you for a couple of weeks, but it'll be worth it.
Here's another one: if you're out with a group of friends and you're being quiet because the booze hasn't kicked in yet or the table is talking about investments or computers or cell phones or vacations, someone - usually female - will ask you why you're so quiet. If you say that you don't want to talk about what's on your mind, that guarantees that she will want to talk about what's on your mind. This is a good way of getting attention, and the beauty of it is that it works whether something is actually bothering you, or whether your feel great about life in general - but just want to be the focal point of a conversation.
Hanging around just the guys is more difficult. If you actually reveal your true feelings, there will be an awkward silence. The only time you should actually reveal your true feelings is when you're in a one-on-one conversation with another guy, and you're a drink or two away from passing out. This way, your true feelings will either be forgotten or will be written off to the booze and the three a.m. atmosphere. If you're in a group situation with the other guys, and you actually talk about sex (uh-oh) or relationships (groan) or love (ugh), you'll usually get outscored by someone else and the conversation won't be too much fun for you. Fortunately, the likelihood of actual feelings being discussed in these situations is scarce-to-none. If it does happen, either 1) start making fun of whoever brings up the subject - the pack mentality will surface and everyone else will make fun of him too and he'll shut up; or 2) begin to quote The Simpsons or Seinfeld or the latest popular slapstick / grossout movie. If all else fails, take it upon yourself to be the center of attention and talk about how you screw things up on your dates or in your relationships.
Like the time that tall blonde wanted to take you out for drinks, but you insisted on staying home to watch the Final Four with your roomies and that offended her (and for months you were thinking it was just because she didn't like basketball.) Like the time your honey called you that Saturday and wanted to go out dancing that night, but you were going to be watching Maine vs. Lake State in the hockey title game; and you told her that before she called you, she should turn on ESPN and see if there was a break in the action.
Sometimes you can become a hero to your buds for doing nothing but being single. It's interesting tracking the status of Being Single over the years. A sample of friends' comments:
Age 16: Just wait until you fall in love. Age 20: It'll happen to you someday, it's the greatest feeling in the world. Age 23: I can't wait 'til you end up married-with-kids like me. Age 27: This me-against-the-world trip you're on isn't very healthy. Age 30: Someday you'll change your mind and you'll want to settle down. Age 34: Don't ever get married, man - you're my fucking hero! Lemme buy you a beer!
Crucial in all of these interactions is lack of emotion towards anything remotely mushy. Emphasizing your loyalty to sports and movies and bands and television always helps in conversations with your buds. Your act may wear thin after a while, at that point be sure to drop out of sight for a bit.
Being a hero can be this easy, believe it. End of today's lesson.
A weekly staff meeting in the early nineties. Some brutally nondescript small office in downtown Minneapolis. It's a Friday. Usually, Turk and I sit across from each other at the conference room table and kill time before the boss shows up by 1) playing three-penny hockey, 2) playing triangle-paper football, or 3) exchanging good-natured barbs.
Today, the boss has shown up, but after setting his planner and cup of coffee down, has bolted to go get a phone call or maybe get some more handouts. As we always get quiet after the boss shows up, all eight or so of us in the room still sit quietly - because even though the boss has left the room, he will return at any sudden moment.
Across from me, the over-caffeinated Turk is beginning to twitch. He likes it when meetings start on time, he likes it even more when they end early. I'm finding it hard to believe that he hasn't started to speak in the boss' absence, that he hasn't started ribbing me about my hockey team or about how I'm going to end up face-first in the bean dip at some point during my upcoming weekend of fun. No, Turk is silent and he's starting to twitch more rapidly. He wants to say something, but it's not coming out.
The seconds of silence drag on. By now, Turk is virtually vibrating, the rest of the people in the conference room are noticing. Suddenly, his mouth opens. Out loudly and rapidly comes:
When in doubt I whip it out I got me a rock 'n' roll band It's a free-for-all
It was June 7th before the Sleater-Kinney show when in the balcony at First Avenue you declared: "It's not even summer yet, and I'm sick of summer."
Summer is all about retreat, about survival, about beating the heat, drinking lighter beer because the dark ones don't go down so good, by nine-thirty in the morning it's usually too hot and sunny to enjoy a good cup of coffee. Summer means looking like a dork while wearing shorts and a teeshirt, your lack of tan and scrawny limbs exposed for all to ridicule silently. Summer is nighttime air conditioning sucking out your moisture, you wake up dehydrated and wheezy in the morning, only to go through a day that is dehydrating, the air full of wheezy pollens.
The sun bleaches everything, blinds any experience of color into heat. You don't see the greens of the trees or grass, you don't see the blue of the sky. All you see is heat, just like all you smell is heat, and all you hear is heat.
It was supposed to be the Summer of Poetry. You were going to hone your craft, dedicate your writing time to writing and revising poems. You just wanted to be pure, not writing for an audience, or writing as a wiseacre. Just writing for the sake of writing, working within the words, not worrying about where they lead to or what type of product would be the result. But the best poem you came up with wasn't actually a poem, just a couple of jotted lines managed during some endless sunny miserable ninety-plus day:
got the shades drawn got the air conditioning on
July - you sit in the dark during daylight with the Emerson Quiet Kool wall module at its highest setting, an afghan wrapped around you. Black Sabbath's "Snowblind" is cranked on headphones, it's the third time this afternoon you've listened to it. The song isn't about the snow that falls from the sky at all, but Sabbath reminds you of winter and long nights under candlelight, sprawled on the floor postmidnight, with a pen and notebook, sipping on dark beers poured in a glass. "Snowblind" is as far away from Brian Wilson and summer and harmonies and "fun" as you can get. "Snowblind" is exactly what is needed.
Fuck summer - is it fall yet?
it is so not cool, baby
what am I doing here in a coffee shop, drinking a Mocha Java Blah Blah Blah at nine o'clock at night? I'm young, I'm lazy, I should be in a dive bar somewhere slouched in a booth, pumping coin into a jukebox drinking Grain Belt taps smoking cheap cigars sneaking glances at the dart girls
yet here I am in a coffee shop in my ears annoying music with some smoky vocalist, muted horn, brushed drums is this "swanky"? if "swank" means "annoying," than this be swank I don't want to hear some other era's music I don't want to hear "a standard" because you see I am not standard
keep your standards, keep your retro-prerock trends, keep your radio stations that advertise NO RAP NO HEAVY METAL you can always tell a radio station I DON'T WANNA HEAR because it boasts what IT DOES NOT PLAY NO RAP NO HEAVY METAL? Who's yer program director - Tipper Gore?? I don't want a standard, I don't even necessarily want a song What I want is noise created by loud guitars 'n' drums, with some fucked-up singer (who can't carry a tune, and considers "Louie Louie" a STANDARD) pouring his guts out while pleading his case for a riot
I want feedback I want distortion I want cheap guitar, cheaper organ and some tune hashed out between cigarette breaks by some band one afternoon removed from the garage I want anthems, I want statements, I want ripoffs, knockoffs, one-shots, fakery posing as the Real Thing, and I want the Real Thing only if it's been dropped in the mud a few times, knicked and dented, then hauled across state lines in the trunk of a rusty Pontiac
I want noise gimme noise
Everything written by me, except where noted.
Thanks to: Dan "The Common Man" Cole, The Donnas, Kid Rock, Leek and Trowbridge Lakes, T.D. Mischke, Chris O'Connor, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, University of Minnesota orientation leaders.
Accessorize: Print subscriptions of Exiled available - six issues for $5.00.
Monetary contributions to this effort are ALWAYS welcome.
If you want to be on the Exiled email distribution list, send a note to the email address below.
3400 Harriet Ave. So. #205
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Send grammar and spelling corrections to someone who cares.
[Exiled on Main Street][Writing][Poetry][The Wyman Weekly][Raves][Links][Blog]