Rock ‘n’ Roll High School 6: Black Flag and Little House on the Prairie
I have amazing stuff this week from Stephen Akin and Chris Phillips. I’d planned to post their entries last week, but Stephen had some major excitement in his life with the arrival of a healthy baby boy, Charlie. Congrats to Stephen and his wife, Andrea. I thought it best to wait a week before making his life more complicated by posting his adolescent memories on the Internet. Stephen’s entry is fascinating to me–lots of Chapel Hill music folklore, some of it familiar because I’ve heard about it from my husband, Steve, and some of it new. Chris’s entry is fascinating in a completely different way–hillarious, illuminating, disturbing. I will never think of Little House on the Prairie in quite the same way. Please comment or send me an email at karen [at] karenbalcom [dot] com with questions or if you would like to participate in an upcoming installment of RNR High School. Rock on!
Chapel Hill High School, Chapel Hill, NC, Class of 1983, Currently: the Box Office Manager at PlayMakers Repertory Company
Band and/or song that reminds me the most of high school: Man that is tough, it changed like every month. So much happened. My friends and I discovered so much in that 3 year period, it was really that some new album blew our mind every week or two. The main bands that remind me of high school from Sophomore year are the Clash, the Specials, U2, the Police, XTC, and Devo. Then Junior and start of senior year add to that Psychedelic Furs, REM, the Jam, and Elvis Costello, and then the Pressure Boys because that’s is when they first played at the Junior Follies my junior year I think. Senior year was all about the Pressure Boys playing at the Station and Rhythm Alley. And the U2 albums and their show at Kenan stadium. That was also the year that me and Marvin Levi and Rob Ladd discovered hardcore and went through a phase that we only skateboarded and only listened to hardcore. So suddenly it was all Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Fear, etc.
Sorry I totally didn’t answer the question correctly. The thing is we loved all these different bands and we were seeing them live and listening to WXYC and learning about new bands all the time. Going to Schoolkids after school. I lived 2 blocks from Franlkin Street so I lived at Schoolkids’ basically, that’s why they finally gave me a job there. Actually it took longer than it should have because I was often working there for free until they finally started paying me. It was all so exciting to us. If I had to say just one band though it would be the Police because pretty much the whole school loved them, and almost the whole high school went to their show at Greensboro Coliseum with the GoGo’s on the Ghost in the Machine Tour 1982.
Favorite piece of music memorabilia: my Clash T-shirt from their show at William and Mary for the “North American Campaign 1982” that I ended up not even getting to go to the show because I couldn’t get off work, and all my friends went to the show and the Clash was my favorite band at the time so actually it’s kind of my all time least favorite piece of memorabilia because it reminds me of all that. I still have it, it’s too small for me now, but my wife wears it, so that’s kinda cool. So maybe instead I should say my huge Clash “Combat Rock” poster that I got from Schoolkids. That was pretty awesome and took up almost a whole wall in my room, and of course Paul Simonon is looking so cool in it.
Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: This is a good question. Actually sophomore year it’s easy, the Doors and Springsteen. Most of the juniors and seniors that year loved Springsteen and the Doors. We hated them and thought they were irrelevant to our generation. The River had come out recently and a bunch of them saw him at Greensboro coliseum and he “played for like 3 hours” or some shit. I would say “Fuck that I can’t stand him for 5 minutes, that sounds like torture” I didn’t want to hear about it. The book “No One Here Gets Out Alive” had just come out too and they were all reading it. Me and my closest friends thought it was total bullshit and wanted nothing to do with it. I actually like Springsteen now, but it took me a long time to get over my hatred of him based solely on the people who liked him in high school. I still haven’t gotten over that with the Grateful Dead but that happened in college anyway so it will have to go into “Rock and Roll College” when we do that one.
Best show or concert you saw in high school: Wow, again this is one that changed every couple months. I will again answer incorrectly with way more than one: U2 at Kenan Stadium, the aforementioned Police show, Elvis Costello and Squeeze at Carmichael, English Beat with REM at Page at Duke, Psychedelic Furs at Page at Duke, Circle Jerks with COC and No Labels at Fridays in Greensboro – senior year, that show changed my life.
Best High School makeout song: probably a tie between “Turning Japanese” by the Vapours, and “Dancing With Myself” by Generation X, since no girl would even touch me until the middle of my senior year.
Bishop McGuiness Catholic School, NC School Of The Arts, Mt. Tabor Public High School, Winston Salem NC, Class of 1986, Currently: self un-employed
Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: I want to say “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers because of the heavy story and hard hitting music. But I bought that at the local gracery store in grade school. So let me fast forward. Hmmmm…just thought of Journey, but thats more like junior high school. Still fast forwarding…wait a minute…Ive got it!
Clarence Carter – “Strokin” !!!! I think we can all agree that this poet merchant of love really tapped into a universal feeling here. He exploded beyond the bounds of Top Ten radio with this one. And what teenage high school student wasn’t singin’ this one in the hallways? Didn’t matter if it was girls or boys, jocks or preps. We were all just finally united against the man and singin’ that song! It was a song of Freedom and revolution.
Or was that “Six Pack” by Black Flag that united us against the man?
Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) in high school: I could never be unfaithful to George Clinton, who autographed my original copy of the very first Parliament record. I thought he was the absolute bomb. And he was. Plus he had that freaky wig. Although now that Im thinking about it, I was pretty into my Dr hook poster. But I think I thought he was a gay pirate or something and disavowed him.
Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: It’s a toss up between Foreigner or Aerosmith. Both totally useless streams of information. Volcanic fecal flow (thats gross I know). If I was a music critic and I had to review either one of their records my review would read as follows: Why?
Best show or concert you saw in high school: Heavens to Betsy thats a hard question. I can tell you my favorite food is pizzahamburgerhotdog, and my favorite color is brownyellowgreen. Favorite concert…..? I remember the Replacements being very transformational. Like when I left the movie theater after seeing “Rocky” and ran around swinging fists and running up and down stairs convinced I could be the champ. Like Jimmy Walker in Uptown Saturday Night. The Grateful Dead and Corrosion of Conformity were two other bands I saw often and probably influenced my general demeanor or lack there of. Black Flag was always good, but Roger Waters was even better. Molly Hatchet was good but not as cool as the Butthole Surfers. Where are all those concert ticket stubs I saved anyway?
Optional bonus question: Best high school make-out song: This one is hardly optional for me. I was the make out king. I would make out with anyone and anything. Dogs, kittens, hamburgers, sluts, prostitutes, fancy ladies, you name it – I did it. What was the secret weapon you ask? Ill tell you. Right now. It’s a little song called “Puttin’ On The Ritz” by Taco. Perhaps you have heard of it? I tell you no lie, Taco is a magic man.
As an addendum, I will also tell you another little known secret. The theme music from Little House on the Prairie was always good for making out and setting the mood. When you put that music on, you never knew what was gonna happen! Something freaky for sure though.