14 July, 2009

Today is the fourteenth. (Bastille Day.)

Foo Fighters - Foo FightersWell, ten days ago fourteen years ago when I was fourteen, the Foo Fighters released their first record and I bought it.
First of all, this is the only Foo Fighters record I even like.
Secondly, I think it still holds up.
Thirdly, when I first heard it, I was dismayed at first that it didn't sound like Nirvana. But then I got to the fourth song ("Alone + Easy Target") and I thought that was really good.

OK, "another sheltered childhood" joke, there must be something about the Old Man I can goof on...
Fourthly, when I first heard it, I had also decided that I was going to make my own literary decisions, as eighth grade was over and high school looked to be a place where book reports were a phenomenon of educational relic. (What? Like I've said before, I was a sheltered child. All I knew about high school was Saved by the Bell.) So instead of having to put up with whatever crap a teacher would insist I read (see The Great Gatsby, The Member of the Wedding, and there was some other book I hated so much that I burned the fucker), I decided I was going to try my hand at reading Dante's Divine Comedy. Not Inferno, no, I was too superior for that. When I found out that Inferno was merely the first part of a trilogy, I was bound and determined to read the whole fucking thing. Because I was that superior.
By the way, you know how I even found out about this? I saw Inferno in an old Looney Tunes short, then I went and looked it up in an encyclopedia. A real, tangible encyclopedia. Because you know what? The internet was a rich person thing in 1995 and it was all dial up. Not only could most people not afford the internet, but it was just faster to look stuff up in books even if you did have it.
This has been another sidebar with Old Man Charlie.
Of course, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Consider, first of all, that Dante's Divine Comedy is written in verse form, not prose. Consider also that it was written over the course of thirteen years. In Italy. In the earliest part of the fourteenth century. And on top of all of this, the first third of this book is full of jokes about people ripping themselves open. You read that right. The word "comedy" in the title is not ironic, and fourteenth century Italians didn't fuck around with their visions of Hell.
Now, don't get me wrong, seeing a bunch of nearly six hundred year old bas-reliefs of people with their heads enveloped buy locusts, bees, and mosquitoes while demons boil them in vats of dogs eating their genitals is scary for somebody who grew up not wanting to go outside based solely on the idea that "outside = sunburn". So, the scary part? That's held up well. The jokes, though? Well, Dante was into fart jokes. How in the hell do you go about turning Hell into a gigantic fart joke?

This shit's fucking hysterical.
Somehow, I was convinced that I could read this fucking thing over the course of fourteen days. You're getting where this plan must fail, right? At that point in my life, I had no reason to crack open a book that wasn't a reference manual or a comic book because in the U.S. education system, apparently teachers know what's best for you to enjoy a lifelong love of reading. So, at that point in my life, I still had not encountered a book that I'd enjoyed, how could I possibly associate reading with enjoyment? (And then when I tried On the Road in freshman year of high school... Man, fuck Kerouac.) So, you get this, right? I'm going from books I hated so much that I don't remember them to a translated six hundred year old Italian epic fart joke poem about wading through melting flesh to meet the Judeo-Christian God.
But my god how I tried.
It was a cool summer day and I lay on the floor up in my bedroom in Custar, OH, bumping the first Foo Fighters' record and reading Dante's Divine Comedy. Somehow, these two things became ever intertwined with each other and my brain associates the two. So when I stumble upon the occasional Alighierian verse, I start hearing that record, and when I hear that record, I see those freaky-assed bas-reliefs and woodcuts. Which is what I'm sure is exactly what Dave Grohl was looking for when he made that record.

C'mon in, nigga! Foo Fighters just wrappin' up their sound check!
So, anyhow, I'm in the shower (of blood and fire) this morning, and "Floaty" from the first Foo Fighters record pops into my brain for no discernable reason and I get one of the more famous of the woodcuts in my head, but I'm also thinking of digging into ye olde cassette collection and bumping this record today.
As I was making coffee and sitting down at the island counter to pound out today's post, I was wondering, "What the fuck am I going to talk about?" Failing to find a subject, I decided to look up July 14th from 2007 to cop out and do another classic post. Turns out that there was no July 14th post from 2007, so I decided to look up 2008's July 14th post and there wasn't one that year, either.
So I figured I would do a quick write up about the first Foo Fighters record, but I couldn't do that without bringing up Dante's Divine Comedy because these two things are forever fused with each other. You win some, you lose some.

I didn't take a half hour to stitch this together to not post it.

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