Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When She Begins

Have you ever been nearly killed by your running music? I’m not talking about getting run over by a car because you were jamming the Black Eyed Peas too loud when you realized ‘Imma BeCRUSHED BY A CAR!!’ No, I’m talking about your favorite music suddenly becoming animated and actually attacking you.

It happened to me. My all-time favorite running song once jumped off the shelf and attempted to cave in my skull mid-chorus. But that was almost 18 years ago before I was a runner….

(queue flashback wavy lines on your monitor, doo do do doo do do /flashback wavy lines)

In the winter of 1993, I was doing what all college kids were doing: walking around with an air of undeserved superiority, critiquing Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment by mockingly detailing the stooge’s plot holes while vowing to do better myself, wondering how long the University of Michigan basketball’s era of dominance would continue*, and smoking far too many cigarettes. Kurt Cobain was going to be our generations John Lennon unless some crazy nut took a shotgun and blasted him in the head.

Oh, and drinking, can’t forget about that. Not “hydrating” – drinking. Back then, a liver could live forever. Or so we thought. Thanks a lot David Crosby.

A typical afternoon involved completing course work and/or reading in our disgustingly filthy living room, plants hanging above with dead brown leaves pathetically draped over the side because everyone was too lazy to water the damn things, while flicking cigarette ashes into the emptied 40 ounce bottle of Mickey’s Malt Liquor** on the coffee table. When the bottle became half full with butts, it was time to be thrown away. It was thrown away daily.

After an early dinner, a smoky stroll to the corner liquor store set up our evening. Gut wrenchingly bad beer, loud music, and more cigarettes. Annnnd repeat across four years.

There was a lot of music we’d listen to back then but few have stood the test of time and made it onto my current iPod. Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, The Pixies: Great bands but not currently shuffling to the top of my run music. One group still is however. And one song heads the list.

Social Distortion, baby!

“When She Begins” is a kick ass song and my favorite running song. Back in college (remember, we are still in flashback mode), my roommate and I had decided that if we were being pursued by the cops in a manic car chase (for some reason, this seemed plausible at the time), one of us would need to locate this disc, pop it in the car stereo, and crank the volume. If we were going down, it would only be to the soundtrack of Mike Ness’ croaky vocals and thumping punk rockabilly beats. No Thelma and Louise “Ballad of Lucy Jordan” for us.

Fortunately, it never came to that. However, we did blast this song on numerous occasions in our living room over horrible beer, lung-destroying Camels, and lots of sardonic laughter. The over-sized 40 inch tall, 80 pound speakers were balanced on a shelf over the armchair with the best view of the entire room. Despite how sure of ourselves that Dostoevsky fucked up Crime and Punishment, no one bothered to measure the shelf depth (8 inches) against the speaker depth (15 inches) let alone give the smoke choking plants a squirt of water for chrissakes.

I remember “When She Begins” thumping away – each thump gently rocking the giant speaker imperceptibly closer to the shelf edge – as I leaned forward to ash my cancer stick into the Mickey’s bottle. Just at that moment, the song launched its attack. It kamikazed off the shelf as Mike Ness yelled “oh, God, this must be hell”, nearly missing my exposed skull by a matter of a second or two. It smashed into the back of the chair and rolled into my back as I looked with wide-eyed astonishment at my roommates. Had I been still sitting back, ole Nitmos here would have had a dented head and possibly a vertebrae or two shifted out of alignment.

I love that song but it tried to kill me.

Of course, I did what any normal college student would do in that situation. I clenched the cigarette in my teeth, grunted the speaker back into position on the shelf, propped the front up with a notebook so it wouldn’t fall forward again, and restarted the song from the beginning. And what was I saying about Dostoevsky being stupid?

(queue flashback wavy lines on your monitor, doo do do doo do do /flashback wavy lines)

Now as a non-smoking, non-Mickey-drinking, non-plant-water-depriving, Dostoevsky lover, when that song comes on, I always run as fast as I can at that moment in my run. We’ve formed a peaceful truce. There are no speakers hanging over head ready to bounce into my neck…though, come to think of it, I’ve almost run into an intersection a few times...Hmmm.

“…if you start me, start me, start me, you can’t stop me, stop me, stop me…”

Do YOU have a favorite “Go To” running song? And has it tried to murder you?

Happy trails.

*Answer: It was already over. You remember the Fab Five, right? Most people don’t realize that only one of the players took cash but all of their reputations were destroyed.
** Three Mickey 40’s for $5 at the local store. None of us had jobs.

I recommend running to Social D’s The Story of My Life too. Also, It hasn’t attacked me. Yet.

And, yes, I did title another post, that you long time readers may recall, with a twist on a Social Distortion album name. Sue me. It won't be the last time either.


Turi said...

Hard to argue with Social D.

Although "Story of my Life" was on the usually crappy soundtrack at my 24 Hour Fitness the other day. Kind of lowered it a little in my mind...

Anonymous said...

juwon howard, jalen rose, and the infamous chris "whaddaya mean we have no timeouts" webber, can't remember the last two.

PS the refs should've gotten him for traveling before the timeout - he dragged that foot halfway to china I believe.

Viper said...

Good thing I had earphones plugged in when I arrived at today's offering. Social D would have jerked my officemates out of their sleep. Cheers!

Razz said...

Chris King and "some other dude".

Your video was blocked by my school's website and now I might get fired for it. Thanks a lot.

Razz said...

*Jimmy King and Ray Jackson

I'm done now

Al's CL Reviews said...

I know D has Social D on his list. Now I will have to go listen to it to see if it will make it onto mine.

Elizabeth said...

great post. I was almost killed by Wave of Mutilation by the Pixies. It was at one of their concerts in New York City in 1991. It was their opening song (the really slow version), and all 3,000 people went nuts--all stage-rushing and mosh-pit making.I was all of about 98 pounds and got pushed down on my knees and people were all falling on me and shoving me and I couldn't get up, so my then-boyfriend-now-husband had to pull me up and out. We spent the rest of the show safely by the bar at the back of the club--I was too a-scared to go back into the crowd, but I will always LOOOOOOVE that song, and my husband.

GeorgiaSnail said...

I feel like you are telling my story, 'cept it was "Old English 800 Malt liquor" ($0.99 a forty)...

Ironman By Thirty said...

Are you sure the speaker didn't fall on your head? A dented head would be one helluva good explanation for this blog! haha

Loved the post as always.

As a side, my high school physics teach (huge nerd) was the towel boy for the fab five. I'm still not sure if he took money or not.

Marathon Maritza said...

That is such a hilarious story and unlike any I've ever heard! I bet you had it coming, right? What did you do to the speaker, not dust it?

I recycle my music so much, I don't think I've had one on my playlist as long as you have.

Aileen Ruane said...

This might be my favourite post yet. Social D and Dostoevsky. Love.

Marci said...

I manage to almost get myself killed without music (yes I am one of *those* runners), but I think if I did, Stairway to Heaven may surely be my calling.

Robin said...

While at my first Tenacious D concert, I was in the front row, passed out from the lack of air. I was told when i came to that Jack Black called out for the red-haired girl who just passed out to meet him and Kyle back stage. True to his word, we met him afterwords. That night is referred to as the night robin died and met the D.

Beth said...

Boy am I a nerd! I don't know any of these bands and was an accounting major, so my college days were waaayy boring! Maybe when my kids go to college I can make up for it and take up smoking, drinking, and dead plants.

Mel W. said...

Nitmos and Georgia- my story too, except make it Boone's Farm "Sangria." I had a job in college, could afford the good stuff (Benson and Hedges smokes too! Of which I am reminded the final .5 mile of each and every race I've ever run).

Jess said...

This is such a good story and post. Now that I know that you didn't run in college I want a post about how you became a runner (although you've probably already written one of those).

Anne said...

Great story...pretty dangerous song, no wonder it makes you run so fast! :)

Reluctant Runner said...

I don't know what disappoints me more -- the fact that you smoked, or the fact that you were in college in 1993. Damn, I feel old.