Tom Goulter - Student, Christchurch

Monday, April 05, 2004

A city of stars

Disclaimer: There is nothing you* can say that I haven't thought before. And, more pertinently, vice versa.

* Wow. Some of these are really fucking bad.

Of course you remember the death of Kurt Cobain. It's like saying "I was old enough to know we'd walked on the moon. I was old enough to know JFK had been killed."

JFK killed by person or persons unknown - the Complex and the Beast and the Commies and the Mob and everything you were paranoid was outside just beyond your vision, all went through Jack's mind and blew his head open. Back and to the left, back and to the left.

If you're thinking what I think you're thinking, stop.

Now we're us, and it's not everything out there that's conspiring to kill our kings, it's everything inside. Your neuroses? Your Conditions, your Disorders? They're just a front, just a patsy. A convenient way to explain it all, tie it up clean.

The premillenials, the cool kids never had the time, you can make a case for it defining the generation. Too young to claim Gulf War One as any kind of personal Vietnam, and too old for it to be anything from the Eighties. ("I'm gonna live forever / light up the sky like a flame / I feel it coming together / Baby remember my name". Quite).

The Powers That Be, they worry your neuroses, your patsy, Lee Oswald in your head, they worry they'll talk. They send Jack Ruby in, strongarm him into administering therapy and drugs that suck you up and leave you thinking your emotions, your eyes bleary and dry, your mouth and gut feeling not quite right, your heart never getting round to actually letting you feel anything beyond this dull sensation that's not quite sinking, never floating. They force you into this state, cause if anyone were ever able to crack the whole case open, God only knows what they'd find.

Which is why, a week after the whole thing was in the papers, kids with their fuckin' G 'n' R shirts who'd never be caught dead with a record by a bisexual junkie, they all owned the collected b-sides and rarities.

Bury the files. Burn the fucking things. Put a bullet in the mailbox of anyone that suggests you might be going about things the wrong way. Suppress all evidence of a conspiracy between forces within and without. Anyone who suggests foul play, every year that goes by it gets easier to call them a crackpot.

Layne Staley. Bobby Kennedy. Mark Sandman. John Lennon. You get this wave effect. It happens everywhere - and it's a pattern, and there's got to be something to it, but there can't be, because any similarity you suggest, any suggestion that there's any common thread, you're getting close to opening up this impossible hidden cache of connections and secrets and truths that They can never let you learn.

James Earl Ray, Mark David Chapman, Sirhan Sirhan, they live on the outskirts of your brain. They've all got your frontal lobe in their crosshairs.

And it was that whole big thing, what the hell kind of music can the kids be listening to, what kind of lives can they be living, what kind of dark depressing shit can they be doing locked up in their rooms that their grand high unwilling leader would rather blow his own head off than be their figurehead?

Keep taking the pills. Keep on with the Journalling and the Visualising and the weekly hourly visits. Those are the only things stopping them spilling the beans. Or pulling the trigger.

The official evaluation of Generation X thing. Suddenly anyone in a flannel shirt was a slacker, anything with guitars in it was nihilistic, anti-everything suicide note music. Slipstein, Linkin Bizkit, angry frustrated impotent middle-class bullshit music, yadda yadda, nothing new there. But the Warren Commission misses the pertinent facts, it glosses over them in the manufacture of the most palatable truth.

Easy Truths: Heroin-Related Misadventure. Crazed Lone Gunman. Flawed Unwilling Messiah. The Price Of Power. The Price Of Fame. Courtney Did It. The Commies Did It.

Or, it's in the files and we won't see them until they've been put through the wringer and Garrison's good and dead: It's all in your head. The people that got you where you were, those demons you tried to hunt and kill, they didn't appreciate your doublecross. You thought you could control them, but their business is control.

That was my dad on the phone - he said not to buy one more vote than I needed.

Just because you're paranoid, don't mean they're not after you.

Ten years on, a glut of introspective brooding, the-kids-aren't-alright navel-gazing, and several discs' worth of well-meaning tribute songs with The Worst Lyrics In The Whole Fucking World, touching in their earnest refusal to acknowledge just how trite the whole thing's become. (Have I reached the point where I can use the phrase "#4 With A Bullet" without damaging my credibility? By virtue of having run dry of credibility somewhere around "Mark Sandman, John Lennon", I'd say so). File next to dusty, dog-eared conspiracy-theory literature and the copies of Illuminatus! and Catcher in The Rye that lend your bookshelf Colour.

This cacophany of interpretation-fatigue. Turn it up until it reaches critical mass, burning point. Sing along, shoot your gun, et cetera.

It's all in your head. And ten years on, it's buried deeper than ever.