I've had some flashbacks of years past recently. Being a bit younger and a bit more fresh-faced while amongst a crowd of friends that have long since left my life. I used to have friends that lived in my building whose apartments I'd go over to hang out. We used to play video games and watch Ducktales after school. There was an abandon lot near a hill we called Dead Man's Hill. It was our little hangout spot. It was like exploring a little jungle to us kids, filled with danger and surprise. One time, me and my best friend made it to the abandoned gas station there and saw these kids throwing rocks at the door. They said someone was in there and we just watched them throw more rocks and hurl insults. They left and eventually we saw a crazy homeless man come out. He mistook us for the perpetrators who were throwing rocks at him and he smashed me and my friend in the head with a big rock. This resulted in a police report and a brain scan at a local hospital. Other times were more pleasant. There was a big rope that hung from a tree over a ditch that you could swing on like Tarzan. There was another ditch filled with garbage that we lit on fire many times. One time the fire got particularly big and the fire department came. It was overgrown with weeds in the summer making it a perfect for playing manhunt. It's sad that I have no pictures from this time in my life. Eventually it became an apartment building and parking lot.
Then there was my foray into metal culture in High school. There's something about heavy metal culture. Metals-heads will wear the same shit everyday. They will utter the word dude as often as possible. New York metal-heads throw in a bit of hip hop slang in it too. It's a culture that is more preserved and less in touch with the times. Hip hop culture changes by the minute, but a metal-head from '89 might look exactly like a metal-head from '98. They were working class kids mostly from Astoria. Greek, Italian, Irish, Eastern European. Music was always a topic of discussion, which made me insecure since when I first started hanging with them, I didn't know much about metal. You could be publicly tested at any moment of your heavy metal knowledge. There was a game we played where we'd form a circle and we'd have to name a metal band based on the alphabet starting from A. When you couldn't name one you were out. Only the most hardcore and knowledgeable metal would be left standing. There was a strict feeling of conformity I remember. That's why high school is never a good time for most. I didn't dress like a metal head, and didn't know shit about metal. My first jump into anything rock at all was believe-it-or-not Marilyn Manson. Then it was Nine Inch nails. I got into Industrial Metal first since I guess it's an easier transition from Hip Hop. Then I got into classic rock and only just barely got into the Thrash and Death Metal. I guess I felt like an outsider most of that time. My best friend at the time was a die hard metal-head and I guess he was my door into the whole culture. If only I knew how to play guitar back then like I do now, I could've gotten more respect. I could've jammed in the studio. They would've used me, I could've been in a band..........Then there was drinking beer and smoking weed. The things that seem so alluring and yet so scary at the same time when you're a teenager. We liked to party. We could easily buy alcohol back them as I recall. I remember embarrassing myself quite a number of times. One time I passed out on the handball court after drinking so much Vodka, that when I had to pee I couldn't get up so I just peed on the floor next to me. And then I accidentally rolled over into my own piss later on. That incident was brought up in a few uncomfortable moments for years later. But eventually "the metal-heads" as I called them, broke off into smaller cliques as we stopped hanging out together. I remember my best friend at the time being really pissed about that, because he loved to always hang out with everybody. I on the other hand liked it because some of those guys I didn't like at all. Some of the cooler ones disappeared too. There was also this racist element about some of them too. There was an obsession with Nazism and Adolph Hitler. There was sometimes talk of niggers and spics and chinks, even though some in the group were Latino and there a few black people too. How stupid would I have been if I had ended my life over anything that happened back then? Especially when I consider that I don't see any of those people anymore and I have moved on to form my own social group. It is true what they say, when they say that teenagers are unable to think about the long term. I remember when there were times when I felt rejected by the group, that my whole world was over. And I remember feeling like killing myself or others. It's a good thing I never did anything that stupid. Now I can look back at all those times and laugh with the wisdom of an adult, at how stupid some of those problems actually were. I'm glad I experienced metal culture right before it almost vanished. There are very few metal-heads today when I passed by my old high school. Times changed and even metal culture gave in. The nu-metal of the late 90s was all about hate and anger. It was a sign of the times. I never felt a part of that and I guess felt out of place in the late 90s. When indie rock came back in 2001 I kinda felt that that was more my style. If only I got into playing guitar sooner I could've been in a band now. I could've done so much more to make sure that I didn't end up where I am now. But who knows, it could've been a whole lot worse.
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