Tuesday, March 23, 2010

type o negative nation

type o negative nation
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc

I can't imagine that anyone wants to read another entry about Type O Negative less than I want to write one. But you're here and I've got the stub, so what are we going to do?

Try to be patient....

My friends were accustomed to my stupid obsession with those four dicks from Brooklyn by this time.

In fact, when the band came through D.C. on the "World Coming Down" tour (the second time), my bass player, Mark, was kind enough to dial into WHFS and win a pair of tickets for us. Awfully nice thing for him to do, especially since my guitar player, Greg, and I spent a lot of our downtime hazing, mocking and otherwise abusing Mark as the odd man out in the band.

(He brought a lot of it on himself, but that's a different story altogether).

Despite Mark's kind gesture, I'd predictably bought myself a ticket as soon as the show was announced.

And this posed something of a problem, because my gigantic boner for this band had basically turned every single person I knew off from them; I knew we'd have trouble finding someone to go with us. Mark - who didn't even like metal - was along for the ride, but he sure didn't know anyone who wanted to go.

Inspiration would strike one evening as I left work.

I was working at an ad agency located in a beautiful converted granary in "old town" Gaithersburg, MD. (How can a city that's only like 75 years old have an "old town"?)

In addition to our offices, the granary conversion had yielded an auto mechanic's shop, a bar, an army recruiting station, and a hair stylist. Often, when walking to my car, I'd wave to the cute young girl who worked at the front desk of the hair salon. Every day, she'd get a great big smile on her face and wave back to me. This was often the best part of my day.

For weeks and months we never spoke....we just smiled and waved at one another. I remember one evening in particular when I was so excited to walk past her that I forgot to bring my car keys...which meant I'd have to walk past her again as I backtracked, then a third time on the way back to my car. Fighting off the mortification, I simply pulled the keys out of my pocket, pointed at them and shrugged as I walked past.

She broke into a full laugh, and I saw out of the corner of my eye that her head had turned to watch me as I continued my walk across the parking lot. This sort of thing did not happen to me very often.

She was adorable, and I was absolutely smitten... yet, I didn't even know her name.

I probably never would have, either, if she hadn't taken the initiative of scheduling her smoke breaks for the time at which I tended to leave the office. One evening as I was headed home with a stack of CD's a friend had lent me, she decided to break the ice.

"What you got there?" she asked as I was still fumbling to come up with a greeting.

It was the first time I'd heard her voice. It was playful, and vaguely impish. She reached out and grabbed Jeff Buckley's "Grace" out of my hands.

We stood in the parking lot for a few minutes, getting to know one another. Her name was Morgan, and up close she seemed much more beautiful than I'd ever noticed: She was tall, with long legs and an absolutely phenomenal smile. Together with her gigantic brown eyes, her ever so slight lisp and her upbeat manner, she was sort of like a beautiful little puppy.

Conversation naturally gravitated towards music, and lo-and-behold she told me about the metal bands she'd seen - Powerman 5000, Pantera; you know: kid's stuff.

It was settled: I'd ask her to the show the next time I saw her.

And wouldn't you know it? A few days later I had her number and we had a date: That Sunday night, after we'd wrapped up band practice, Mark and I would pick her up at her home in Germantown, and we'd all go see Type O Negative together.

"That was easy," I thought to myself. "I should do this asking-girls-out thing more often."


I wanted to call her immediately, but I waited patiently all weekend, not calling until Sunday afternoon, right before practice started. I wanted to get directions to her place, and confirm the times with her.

There was no answer. 

With my bandmates looking at me expectantly, I shrugged it off and we started one of our marathon four hour practices; I had all afternoon to reach her. (This is how it was done before cell phones and text messages, kids).

We took a break from rehearsal, and I tried again. The woman who answered the phone sounded decidedly older than I'd expected. That's about the time I realized she was living with her fucking mom.

"Of course," I grumbled to myself. "Why did I assume she'd have her own place? In fucking Germantown?"

I left a message, and her mom sounded skeptical of who I was and what my intentions were.

Practice ended. I still had not heard from her.

I called again. Her mom answered again. I left a message. 


Mark and I looked at one another. Time was getting tight, and this had become embarrassing.

Twenty minutes passed, and I made one final attempt to call her. Her mom told me point blank that Morgan wasn't home, and that she wasn't going to be home. Her tone was firm, and I felt very foolish.

Even Mark - who was ordinarily merciless about my bad luck with women - took pity on me. It was getting late enough that we were in danger of missing the show, so the decision was made: It was time to hit the road and make the best of the evening.


The car ride was very quiet. I was trying to be a big boy, but this one stung; it wasn't like I wasn't used to being turned down (or worse, stood up). But it was totally foreign to me to have a girl agree so enthusiastically to a date, only to bail like this.

Mark and I parked somewhere down in South East, near where Nationals Stadium currently stands. The box office was just about closed by the time we arrived, so we had to do some coaxing to find someone to get Mark his ticket.

It all worked out though, and we got into the show just as the band was getting ready to take the stage.

I don't remember the details of this one too well, but I remember that they opened with an abbreviated vamp on Pink Floyd's "On with the Show."  After a song or two, Peter Steele welcomed the crowd by announcing in near monotone, "We are Type O Negative from Brooklyn, New York. We were here a few monts ago at da Nine-Toity Club. Dat show sucked. Dis show will rule."

He was more or less correct on both counts.

(God, Nation was a great venue).


I was so disappointed about the whole incident with Morgan that I'm pretty sure I either worked late or left out of the office's back door for a few days so that I wouldn't have to face her. I was angry and embarrassed, and, frankly, I didn't want an explanation. I just wanted to be done with her, because that was so much easier than admitting how outrageously happy it had made me that she agreed to go out with me in the first place.

Halfway into that week, I stepped out of the office for lunch with my coworker Sean - a chubby African-American guy who was convinced that he was the second coming of Billy Dee Williams.

As we stood at the front door to the office, chatting and waiting for a third coworker to join us, Sean's tone suddenly changed.

"Well, well, weeeeellllll," Sean cooed. It was his trademark phrase for when he saw a girl he liked.

I looked up to see Morgan standing halfway out of the front door of the salon, maybe twenty yards away. Her mouth was partially open, as though she had started to say something then suddenly decided against it.

She had been waiting for me.

"I'm not talking to you," I shouted to her.

I smiled to let her know that I didn't mean it, but I'm not sure she understood. In a tiny voice, just loud enough for us to hear at a distance, she said, "You have to."

Her voice cracked as she said it...She was pleading with me.

While Sean looked on, puzzled, I trotted over to her.

She explained to me that her friend had a serious illness, and had been taken to the hospital over the weekend. She told me that if I'd given her my number she would have called, but instead she was back and forth from the hospital all weekend.

I stood there, trying to determine if I should believe her, and feeling so ugly for being petty about this whole situation.

We talked for a second or two, and I told her not to worry about it. I guess I wasn't mad so much as I felt small. Her little voice made me want to try and protect her, and that urge made me uncomfortable in ways that I didn't understand.

On the spot, I chalked it up to yet another missed connection.


For the next few weeks, Morgan and I repeated our ritual of smiling and waving, but it wasn't the same. We chatted every once in a while, but never made plans again.

At some point later that year she ran outside and stopped me to let me know that she was moving to Cleveland. Her sister would be going to college out there, and she thought it would be good to tag along and have a change in scenery.

I took a second to process that, and I guess she saw the confused look on my face.

"I'm only 19, you know."

Her voice dropped a little when she said it, her tone confessional. I should have picked up on it earlier, but her guilty voice indicated that she'd made some effort to disguise this fact from me. All of the awkwardness of the past few weeks started to make a little more sense, even if it was no less embarrassing.

Jesus, I was 26. I didn't want any part of a teenager.

I wished her well and we said our goodbyes. No hugs, no kisses, and no exchange of contact information. I guess if it had all happened ten years later, we'd still be Facebook friends, but that's not how it worked back then.

I never saw her again, and to be honest, I'm not sure when the last time I'd thought of her was, prior to coming across this ticket stub.

I do wonder what would have happened if we'd gone out on that date. I'm certain that I would have plied us both with plenty of alcohol, and from there its kind of a crap shoot. I was in a weird spot those days, slowly waking up to the fact that the nice guy routine had been an abject failure in advancing my pursuits with the fairer sex. As a result, I was on the verge of entering into a kind of reckless, mercenary point in my life, and I'm not sure either of us would have made any good decisions.

As long as she did ok for herself in Ohio, it's safe to say that she was better off without my influence.

Which is kind of a cop-out. Sure, I was making a lot of bad decisions back then, but it was fueled by the anger and frustration that comes with chronic loneliness. Truthfully, I was ready for a good girl in my life, and an awful lot of potential matches were fumbled r
ight before my eyes. It was painful.


What does that have to do with Type O Negative?


I look back and I tend to remember all of the great times from my 20's. But I also easily forget that most of those moments were tied together by long bouts of loneliness and feelings of rejection and a sense of utter failure that followed me around through every single doomed romance... no matter how many ways I insisted to people that I was neither angry nor lonely.

I beat myself up a lot for being so obsessed with Type O Negative back then. But those emotions were exactly what Type O's best music was all about....feeling worthless and channeling those frustrations in stupid, macho, self-destructive ways. Songs like "Burnt Flowers Fallen" "Can't Lose You" and "...Bacchus" were, in fact, forcefully simple and romantic and honest in confronting that dreadful feeling that you may, in fact, be a failure as a man.

So, yeah, maybe I got a little silly over this band.

But its even sillier to deny that it spoke to me....especially at a time when I was truly struggling under the weight of my failures.

Or should I say....Frozen?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ten Bands I Just Don't Get

(sorry for the double post - didn't post chronologically due to a blogger formatting issue)

It isn't a personal attack. Try not to pee yourselves, nerds

Black Flag
- Yes, I read "Our Band Could Be Your Life". No, I still don't get it. Sorry.

The Clash - I guess if I were ten years older and had been an existential pussy during the 80's, the Clash would give me as big of a boner as it does for everyone in their 40's.

But I just can't get excited for this band. "White Riot" has always struck me as a really awesome punk song, and "White Man in Hammersmith Palis" is as close to reggae as I can come without punching a hippie or a frat boy. So, I'll give them that.

But "London Calling"? Just shut up before you launch an entire generation of annoying politically-minded bands.

Anything Involving Richard Hell - Yeah, yeah, you lived in NYC in the 70's when it actually meant something. You're a part of the blank generation. Now take your "New Pleasure"-singin' ass and get the fuck outta here.

Spoon - My God, could the music critics at NPR be any more in love with these guys? Enough already.

AC/DC - Metalheads hold this band sacred, but all I have ever heard in AC/DC is a salute to being white trash. I will give you "Hells Bells" and "Ride On". I'll even throw in "Highway to Hell" if you're gonna make a fuss about it. But I gotta draw the line somewhere, and "Dirty Deeds" is the last song I'll even consider letting in.

I can't stand these fucking guys or their dumb fans.

((...Great, now I can't ever go back to Baltimore)).

Fugazi - Speaking of fans I can't stand, go ahead and lynch me. But before you do, you ought to know that I get it: Fugazi is an immensely important band for all the things they stood for and all the things they did for independent music. Not only do I get that, but I appreciate it. All of it.

But that doesn't mean I have to like their music. Because Ian MacKaye has no fucking concept of pitch and
I'm tired of him getting a free pass on it!

Fuck - even Lemmy shouts halfway in key. (Sort of).

The emperor has no clothes. Get it together, MacKaye.

Nice rhythm section, though....

- I keep waiting and waiting for the hooks, but they never come.

I mean, they NEVER fucking show up. Where are the goddamned hooks with this band?????

(And don't you tell me to be patient. I've been patiently listening to this sickly little fourth grader snivel and moan since "Creep").

Siouxsie and the Banshees - I dated two different girls who thought this chick wrote "The Passenger".

Depeche Mode - Not only do I not get what people love about Depeche Mode, but I outright resent them.

It all goes back to one moment of epiphany I experienced my senior year of high school. I was standing on the side of the stage during down time for rehearsals for "Guys and Dolls" (yes, fuck you very much, I was in the stupid drama club), listening to two fellow students discuss Depeche Mode.

One was a new girl who had transferred in only a few weeks ago. Her name was Amy. She was pretty and friendly, and the five or six straight boys in the drama club were all scoping her out pretty hard.

The other was a kid a year behind me, named Bill.....a tall, gangly, goofy, immensely intelligent and funny kid (who went on to have a fairly amazing adulthood as a writer).

They were engrossed in a conversation about Depeche Mode. I was standing perhaps five feet away, and I knew I had absolutely nothing to contribute to the conversation. I also knew that this young lady would not turn around and ask me about the Rolling Stones or WASP.

I seem to recall that Bill and Amy may have had one of those three-week romances that are all the rage in high school. They seemed like an unlikely pairing to me, to say the least.

But deep in my little brain, something clicked: I realized that there was a small number of women who would give guys like me and Bill the time of day. And I also realized that they all seemed to like Depeche Mode. And as my college and post-college life developed, this fact became indisputably true.

And because I could not bring myself to get behind that stupid band, I lost a boatload of opportunities to have something in common with them.

Meanwhile, Bill is probably still pushing drama club girls and English majors off of him.

Man, fuck those guys....

The Dead Kennedys
- Gah. I guess you had to be there