I know I’m a couple days late on this, but for the record: There has never been a band I started out liking less and ended up loving more than My Chemical Romance.
While they might not be the greatest technical musicians ever to step onto a stage, they’re one of those bands that came out of a very specific set of circumstances and creative inputs and, yes, market forces.
I don’t even think MCR meant to capture the post-college, post-9/11 combination of “Fuck it, we’re all gonna die in a terrorist attack anyway, so let’s party” and “But wait! We have all of these life maps and clever ideas and this was NOT the deal you Baby Boomers promised us” as well as they did. And that’s probably why the band eventually worked so well.
Like them or not, I genuinely do not think we’ll see something exactly like MCR again, ever.
And that makes me a little sad.
PHOTOS: MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE (in 2011) http://denver.metromix.com/music/standard_photo_gallery/my-chemical-romance-experiments/2550648/content
Zion and Las Vegas March 2013.
I used to write things for the newspaper. For those who care, this is one of my favorites.
I was Christmas shopping in downtown Santa Cruz and a light rain was falling. It was early evening and not yet cold enough to keep folks inside, and so a lot of people in long coats and bright scarves walked on both sides of Pacific Avenue, weaving through street performers and panhandlers and girls handing out flyers advertising sterling silver jewelry at 40 percent off retail prices. I leaned into a breeze with a slight edge to it and felt very metropolitan.
The windows of bistros and coffee houses were starting to fog up. I’ve never been able to figure out how that happens in places as temperate as Santa Cruz, but for some reason I like it very much. I had too much to do to go hole up in a cafe, though, so I stopped at a cart and bought some coffee and kept going.
After a few blocks, I noticed that the power had gone out. Each shop and restaurant had gone dark, and people gathered near the doorways and smoked or chatted. Even some lit frontage signs had faded. A surprising number of people still sat at tables in the dimness, many of them couples holding hands across tabletops, seemingly unconcerned.
Inside a large bookstore near the end of the street, camp lanterns had been set on the shelves at irregular intervals, and small groups huddled around them trying to decipher the price tags on volumes they’d recovered from the dark space beyond. I was pretty sure the sight of light sources teetering on top of piles of dry paper (not to mention customers groping around in the dark) would catapult the shop’s insurance agent into deep shock, but I thought it was great. I felt my way through the stacks, sometimes unsure of which section I was even in. Every few minutes a sales person would come by with a flashlight and ask if I needed help, and I’d wave them off and keep selecting presents by feel and feeling. Faith-based holiday shopping is a serious business and I didn’t need any distractions.
Which, in a roundabout way, brings me to the recent discussion of Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas. A lot of very qualified folks have already leapt headlong into the politics of this issue, so I won’t, except to mention that it is actually possible to celebrate a holiday other than Christmas in December without being a godless Communist.
The thing that confuses me about the holiday uproar is this: Faith is faith. Faith is believing in something you cannot at this moment objectively prove, and that’s all. Sometimes it means believing in a benevolent god, sometimes it means believing that your work is worthwhile, sometimes it means believing that someone cares about you when most evidence is to the contrary.
We are all people of faith at some point, and it is usually a hard sort of person to be. So it seems to me that people of faith should be trying to hang on to each other and keep that faith burning rather than ridiculing each other and trying to snuff it out.
When I was small, my parents read a lot. Often to me, but sometimes just quietly to themselves, which made me crazy. Sometimes, I’d clamber onto the offending book or newspaper and try to obscure as much of the text as possible with my squirming and irresistibly cute little body. I’m told that it was absolutely adorable for the first few times and then somewhat less so as time wore on.
One Sunday morning, as I sprawled contentedly across the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, my dad used a term that stuck in my mind: “companionable silence.” It means, roughly, “Let’s enjoy each other’s company, but softly, while I read ‘Doonesbury.’”
At the time, it sounded suspiciously like “Take a hike.” But in the years since, I’ve come to understand it for what it was: a lesson in faith.
It meant, “Just because I’m not playing with you right now doesn’t mean I won’t play with you in 10 minutes.” It also meant, “Just because I’m not saying ‘I love you’ this instant doesn’t mean I don’t.”
It’s a difficult concept when you’re 3 and even harder when you’re 20. A lot of young couples constantly, almost compulsively, reassure each other of their undying devotion every time they part and every time they hang up the telephone. Those are the relationships that are doomed, and the same is true for friends and families: If you can’t trust that someone likes you unless you hear them say it every 24 hours, something is wrong.
In the coming week, I, like many others, will see people I haven’t seen in a while. I haven’t talked to some of them in months. I haven’t told any of them “Hey, thanks for raising me,” or “You’re a stand-up guy, buddy,” or “Wow, do I miss you.” And I don’t expect to. We’ll just clap each other on the back and exchange electric razors and watch the 49ers lose yet again. But somehow, the point will be understood. If that’s not a show of faith, I don’t know what is.
It was Christmas Evening/ In the drunk tank/ An old man said to me/ “We won’t see another one”/ And then he sang a song/ A rare old mountain tune/ I turned my face away/ And dreamed about firstname.lastname@example.org.