They sat in a one bedroom apartment in Houston off of Gessner watching a movie on the VCR and eating frozen pizza. Only one of them had a job at any given time. None of them were in school. The movie ended. Dan went off to the mattress in the bedroom to sleep. The other three sat and talked about Pigs on the Wing. It was all coming. Something. They could feel it. Then Justin looked at the door. Mark and Larry followed his gaze. An ominous darkness filled the room. Justin pulled a shotgun out from behind his chair and sat with it on his lap. They sat in silence. It was 1988.
“The faces all around me they don’t smile they just crack.”
These were bright but rudderless kids. There was a feeling that they should be doing something. They had passions and things that they would like to be successful at someday but had absolutely no idea of what the first step toward those goals might be. Life was just a long night of staring at a door that everyone was too afraid to open.
“Waiting for our ship to come but our ships not coming back.”
This night might always end with one of the three throwing the door open and standing aside… Just in case.
“We do have time like pennies in a jar. What are we saving for?”
If there had been an ounce of sanity in the room, maybe one of them would have asked what the hell they were sitting there for. What exactly were they expecting to be on the other side of that door? If any of them had been thinking clearly, it might have occurred to one of them that really what all of them needed to do was get up, grab everything that they absolutely needed and get in one of their shitty cars and drive to Austin or California or New York or… Mars. Anywhere but sitting in a living room in a crappy west Houston apartment with a shotgun pointed at a door.
“We sit and throw our roots into the floor. What are we waiting for?”
There was a general agreement within the walls of this apartment. Life is full of disappointments. There is absolutely no winning in this life. All of the cards are stacked. The game is fixed. There is nothing and no one to believe in. Especially ourselves.
“I need something to believe. Cause I am living just to breathe.”
One would die a few months later. One would die 15 years later. Somehow karma tied these four together for this night. Somehow it seems right that it should mean more than it did. Perhaps there is some kind of existential question that remains unanswered. Perhaps not.
“Something’s always coming you can hear it in the ground.”
If you pack too much meaning into every event… If you find a way to make everything mystically significant… If you change everything about your life just because of the lyrics of a song… If you sit too long in that chair with a shotgun staring at that door…
“I am hiding from some beast
But the beast was always here
Watching without eyes
Because the beast is just my fear
That I am just nothing
Now its just what I’ve become
What am I waiting for
Its already done”
So much had to happen to make everyone scatter. So many tragedies. So many dumb Texas punk rock deaths. So many unspeakable things that no one even wants to make art about. No one wants to commemorate this senseless time in any of their lives. They just want to segment those parts of their brains and go on surviving. Fucking “pennies in a jar”. Who knows what fiction I am talking about? Is it all fiction? “What are we waiting for?”
This song just reaches up and grabs me by the throat. Before I started trying to figure out what I was going to write about tonight, I was sitting here struggling with anxiety. I have the flu and it’s holding on as long as it can. So I was feeling kind of helpless. Then… BELIEVE! The instrumentation is dense. There are a lot of layers and a whole lot of movement. And it doesn’t seem like any of them let up the whole time. But I can imagine when an entire group manages to release themselves from staring at the door and get up and write something like this, then well… you must have some energy that needs to be released. It sort of reminds me of the The Eels and the Smiths. But it also has a unique energy all its own.
You can spend your entire life staring at the door. You can spend an entire life holding yourself back. You can spend an entire life being afraid of death. You will be vindicated when death finally gets you as it will. But your life will never be satisfied by its end. Life in defiance of death is pretty weak, but it sure beats life in fear of death.
“And I need something more
To keep on breathing for
So give me something to believe”
Maybe it’s time for all those conversations you have been avoiding. Maybe it’s time to be okay with wanting something satisfying out of your life. Maybe there are fates worse than death and you are living one of them. Maybe a lot of really bad things have happened between now and then. Maybe none of these things are true. Either way, you should stand and be counted. Put the gun down and open the door.