Thursday, June 29, 2006

music, friendship, individuality, and love

It was a scene I would never be a part of, and it was a beautiful thing.

I grew up, the youngest of four, in a small city called Evansville, which is located on the Ohio River in southern Indiana. Although home to the University of Evansville, I wouldn't call it a college town. I lived there until I was 14, so to me it was always just the town where I grew up, where I was a kid. A place where I could ride my bike to the park and, if I was feeling ambitious, walk to the mall, and my parents didn't have to worry about me. It was a place where I lived in a castle and went to a red brick school and cheered for the Bulldogs and played the violin and grew at least one inch every year. And, in the 80's, it was a place where something really cool was happening, although I was not old enough to appropriate it or understand it.

I remember bits and flashes. I remember going to an outdoor summer festival downtown and dancing my little butt off on the hot black pavement while my older sisters' favorite local band sang, "I just want to be happyyyyyyyyyyy! I just want to have a little fun!" I was maybe 8, but that was a sentiment I could get down with.

I remember my sister Amy taking me to see A Christmas Carol at the Alhambra Theater, and thinking, "They're using an electric guitar as the chimes of the clock? They're playing all the parts and they put this whole show on themselves? These are my people!" (Or, you know, they would have been if I were older and cooler.)

My favorite memory was my sisters' joint birthday party at the castle. It was an Alice in Wonderland-themed tea party for punk rockers. They drew up flyer invitations for the party, copied them on white paper, and let me color them in with my crayons. Most important, they let me attend.

The invitation said "formal-wear optional" and so I put on my favorite dress. Matti dressed up like Alice with blue dress and headband. Guests showed up in ripped jeans, tuxedo jackets and mohawks. They were all really nice to me, and I felt proud to be somehow adjacent to something I knew was very special to my sisters.

As the 80's drew to a close and I struggled through junior high and my sisters entered their post-college early twenties, the scene changed. My brother Marty was naturally welcomed into the evolving family. It didn't matter that his asthetic and musical sensibilities were more metal than punk. He was in a band, he went to Bosse and, most important, he was a Larson.

I wonder sometimes if I would have spent my high school years in this unique scene, had I stayed in Evansville. I feel certain that I would have also been "grandfathered" in by nature of my family ties. (It sounds like admission into some kind of exclusive punk rock fraternity, but it's also true.) The friendships I made in my one semester at Bosse did eventually become sort of the "next generation." It seems likely I could have easily been a part of it.

But I moved to Colorado, and some of my old childhood friends took over my place. Even if I had stayed, though, I feel certain it wouldn't have been the same.

The fact is, me trying to describe this unique time in Evansville's local music history is limited only to my perspective as a child. I can convey the essence, but not the reality.

The reality, in fact was this:
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Isn't that beautiful? That's my sister Matti--her bleached denim jacket all covered with paint and patches and pins--and her friend David in our family's dining room, preparing to go out. In my mind, they're on their way to the Ross to see Stop the Car.
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This weekend, some of the old crew is having their 2nd annual reunion in Evansville. Matti is going. I love the idea that maybe, just maybe, when she's at the barbecue with her old friends and her family, her daughter Lucy will be able to pick up on that same essence that slipped through my fingers when I was a child. It was about music, friendship, individuality, and love. It was, and remains, a beautiful thing.


Anonymous said...

No need to 'grandfather you in'. You were there. Thanx for the extra youthful photo, now that I'm old, bald, fat, walk with a cane, and wear false teeth! Good to see you, and take care, David

Dinah said...

Thanks David! I always appreciated how you were always so nice to me, the kid sister, and I'm really glad you got to read this. I'm also certain you're just as handsome as ever. Besides, canes are HOT.

Julie said...

Hey Dinah! I was checking out your wedding page for updates and managed to find your blog. I'm training for the Tampa Bay Breast Cancer 3-day ( and my training partner, Julie, is from Evansville, too! She even graduated from Bosse - small world, eh? She remembers the Ross as the place with midnight runs of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Julie tried to leave you a comment but her pop-up blocker foiled that plan. I told Chris about the strange coincidence and then made him watch the 'Mengo' dancers - well, actually it was me who was watching while Chris insisted I turn it off. :) Hope you're doing well. Take care, Julie