So a couple of reasons for this one.
- There’s a reunion of sorts coming up, of which I will speak on more later. It got me to thinking.
- The ’90’s, specifically 1990-1996, or more specifically to this subject like ’94-’96, are not always that far from mind.
- One of the protagonists from that time period said to me recently, and I may be paraphrasing, “Dude, it’s not the ’90’s anymore.” And I thought that was true, but also not.
- I talk to my daughter about a lot of things, probably too many things. Sometimes I forget that she’s only 12. She knows a lot of stories from those days, not everything but many things. She asks a lot of questions and I regale her with stories of “the good old days.”
It’s hard for me to believe it was only 2+ years that I lived with all those guys, on the East Side of Milwaukee (or the 414, as I’ve been referring to it). Two different locations, one year each. I can’t tell you much of what has happened the past two years, or maybe the two years before that, or before that. But most of what went on those two years, ’94-’96, burn in my memory.
I won’t lie and tell you it was all smiles and good times. But for this purpose, I’ll gloss over the bad stuff. I’m not going to get into the crippling depression, or how I’d sleep all day sometimes, and the guy mentioned above would try to pull me out of bed and I’d basically tell him to go F himself. Or how I’d lay in bed, wondering how I’d ever get out of where I was, how I’d ever have money, how I’d ever have a house and a family and a life that didn’t include boozing until all hours of the day and night. Or the drama, roommate and girlfriend and otherwise.
And even though we’ve all made it, all these years later, or at least as far as I can tell, and all the things I thought I wouldn’t have I now have, and even though all of those things, good and bad have helped to inform how I am now, I’m just going to focus on the good stuff. The fun stuff. So for no particular reasons, expect the ones I listed at the beginning, here are some of those stories.
- Like the time me and the guy and the other guy decided it was a good idea to have a food fight in the kitchen in the house we shared on Murray Ave. on the East Side. I don’t remember how many there were exactly, 5 for sure in the house but upwards of 10 that lived there at one time or other. But the 3 of us, probably after bar time, took everything out of the pantry and the refrigerator, and threw it at each other, and around the kitchen because we thought it was funny. I remember a soup can going through one of the two windows in the kitchen. I remember sticky floor and food everywhere. I remember taking a bag of flour (why in the world we would have flour I’ll never know. I don’t recall us baking a lot) and going into the intersection by the house and throwing it as high in the air as I could, watching it fall and explode into a white cloud. The flour stain remained in the intersection for weeks, probably until it rained a few times. And the one dude who was upstairs in his room, his room up the back steps and closest to the kitchen, throwing some glass bottle or something down the steps, presumably in anger or to join in the festivities I’m not sure. What a mess, but we thought it was funny then, and I still think it’s funny now.
- Or the time(s) we took down the dry wall in the basement, the one that separated the storage areas in the unfinished basement. We destroyed it, for no particular reason except we were destructive and it was fun. And then the landlord had them rebuild it. I don’t recall if she charged us for it, although out of the huge security deposit (somewhere around 500-1000$$) I think we got back 100$$ or so. So once it was rebuilt, we proceeded to tear it down again, probably with our hands and fake Kung Fu kicks. I think she gave up after that. In that same basement, in the corner across from where the band (a lot of those dudes were in a band, of which I was a hangers on, and of which most of our social life revolved) there was a pile of broken glass where we’d throw our beer bottles and 40-ozer’s (Old English only, please) until there was a jagged hill of death in the corner.
- Or when someone was in the shower, it was mandatory to get a container of cold water and dump it over the shower bar onto the person showering. You’d think we’d have taking precautions when we got into the shower, but naaa.
- The time when a squirrel got into the house, probably because we left the door open, or it blew open because we never locked it. We chased it all over the house. It was not amused, and we were too dumb to just leave the door open and let the squirrel escape on it’s own.
- Or the times in the middle room, where we had set up a bar, and we’d smoke weed and dance around. I remember listening to the band Ween specifically, which is a good band to listen to when you are stoned.
- Or sitting on the front porch on the couch the city made us get rid of, chucking beer bottles onto the lawn, and the neighbors hated it and put the bottles back on our porch. And we’d just chuck them back onto the lawn because we were assholes.
- Or the times I’d play catch with a couple of the guys, one in the yard on the side of the house, one in front and one across the street.
- And all of the times around North Ave., the bars that we’d go to, Vitucci’s or Von Triers or BBC or the Globe to hear the band and others play but especially the Landmark, which was kind of like our home base and especially on Tuesday’s, which was dollar import night. And especially the time where we almost got into a fight with an off duty cop. But never Judge’s or RC’s, because those bars were full of people who thought they were cool but they were not slacker X’ers like we were and we were so much cooler and looked down on them.
- And then down the road from Murray, down Oakland Ave. closer to UM-Milwaukee. There were just the 3 of us then but a lot of the dudes and gals still hung out with us when we lived there. We lived on the upper floor of a house. The garbage would pile up and we’d be too lazy to take it out, so there was the one time when we lit it on fire and threw it off of the back porch into the yard. And there was so much garbage in the kitchen, of which the porch was right off of, that the flames reached halfway up the house and the one guy had to go get the hose to put it out because it was teetering on becoming out of control and later we could not believe that someone, especially the guys that lived below us, did not call the fire department or the cops or both.
- And the times where you’d be sitting in the living room, playing the old Sega Genesis we had, and a bottle rocket would come whizzing across the floor and pop just before it got to you. Many a bottle rocket got shot across that apartment, and I have a hard time believing we never burned it down.
- Or at both places, when we’d sit on the roof and drink and talk and watch the world go by, and occasionally yell at passersby.
- Or the one time we had people over at the 2nd place, and we sat on chairs in the kitchen, which was carpeted for some reason, and drank and smoked and built a tiny campfire in and ashtray in the middle of the circle, which we may or may not have kept lit with lighter fluid throughout the night. And later, when we moved all the chairs and danced in a circle around the little fire. We may have been listening to the Meat Puppets, though I’m not 100% sure of that.
- And all the shows we went to, at the Rave or the Globe or Summerfest or the Unicorn or Shank Hall or wherever there were shows and bands to be seen.
- And the coffee shops we’d go to, before Starbucks was a thing. There were a bunch of them, but especially Fuel, where you could drink coffee and smoke cigarettes and talk about books and writing and hang out and be sober and not drink for a minute.
- Or the one time we piled into the one guys Chevy Blazer and drove straight through to NYC because his now wife had moved there and because it was an excuse to go for New Years Eve. And we drove all that way just for a long weekend and meant to go to Times Square for the ball drop but we were having too much fun where we were. And we ended up in a bar that we knew this girl from the ’90s MTV reality show ‘Road Rules’ hung out at and she was there and I talked/hit on her but I was really wasted (because it was New Years!) but she wasn’t having any of it and told me I should lay off of the alcohol (which she may have been right about but bitch, please, it’s New Years!). And I remember I was talking to this other girl, who helped me approach the MTV girl, and she was cooler than the MTV girl anyway and wanted to give me her number but I was too stupid to see it, and besides I lived in Milwaukee, and besides the girl I was dating (dating? girlfriend? I don’t think we ever really decided) had come with us but while I was talking to the MTV girl she was in the back part of the bar making out with the drummer of the band we hung out with. And I remember being a little upset about that, but not really. And then later, when we went to the subway to go back to the hotel we smoked something with some guys outside the subway which ended up to be a really bad idea. And at some point I got separated or separated myself from the group and woke up sitting against a pole in the station missing my glasses and my wallet. I wandered around sightless for a few hours until said drummer, who was staying with a girl he knew but not my sort of girlfriend came and got me. I remember being mad but not really but I probably smelled like a NYC subway for a few weeks after that, or thought I did.
- And the one time we were at a party, and I lit the one guys pants on fire, because we thought the holes in our jeans were cool, and the strings from the ripped part would hang loose, and his pants were on fire (just a little bit) and he jumped up and slammed his leg down to put it out and we all thought it was hilarious except for him, and he had driven to the party and left us there, downtown or wherever, and we were sure he was going to come back for us but didn’t, which was probably ok since I had lit his pants on fire.
- Or the little game we had, our little ‘grift’, where the girl I dated would distract some guy at the bar and the one guy or I would steal his money off of the bar while she was talking to him.
- Or how the one guy and I loved the after-bar parties, because wherever we were we’d inevitably make our way upstairs and get some kind of souvenir. It’s not like we took anything of real value, maybe just a pipe or some small amount of cash or whatever was laying around, just because we thought it was funny.
And the times, all of us or some of us would just hand out and talk or bullshit or whatever, and that something was always going on, day or night, and that for me, for once, I felt like part of a group, felt like I belonged, that I had a bunch of pals.
And it’s ok that it broke up. It had too at some point. If we were all still doing the things we did then it would be a little pathetic. I don’t regret most things. I led to this particular point and the things I thought I’d never have I have.
But those days are with me still. Sometimes I hang on to them a little bit too hard. I’ve learned to loosen my grip on them, and when I do squeeze it’s only to remember the fun and the good times. I’ve learned from the bad stuff, and I’ve been able, for the most part, to leave it there.
So this will be happening in about a month. The band that our world revolved around, Big Mother Gig, will be back in town playing a show with a bunch of the bands that they played with and were part of the Milwaukee music scene back in the day – back in our day. I told the one guy when we were talking the other day that I’m probably not ever going to go to any kind of school reunion, and that this show will be the closest I’ll come to something like that. And I can’t wait to hear those bands again, specifically BMG, but even more I can’t wait to see all the players. And I think that most of them will be there, but I know a few won’t, and the ones I’m not sure about will not be there, though I wish they would come.
But if you are in or around Milwaukee on March 18th, or can make it, you should come. Even if you don’t know my or any of these bands or any of these people. It’ll be a good time, and we’ll all remember the good stuff together. Even if you don’t know me or any of them I want you to come. Grab me and say hello – I’ll be waiting for you. Check out the link for the show:
Big Mother Gig has a bunch of new music out too, which I think is some of their best stuff. You can find both the new and the old stuff all over, from Spotify to YouTube to possible you local alternative radio station. Here’s their best new song below. I don’t think they’ll mind if I post the video here, and if they do it’s too late. I’m not sure why they would though. Rock on!!
Hope to see you Fragas there!!