Sunday, October 15, 2006

Paul Collins on the closing of CBGB

at Slate: go and check it out, it's a good one (like everything this guy writes):

Like most rock musicians, I gave up being a rock musician years ago. A couple of months after my first kid was born, I looked out over a club drum riser in San Francisco and asked—What am I doing here?—came home, tossed my kit into the basement nook next to the water heater, and never rode shotgun in an Econoline again. I'm a historian now, and when I see the address 315 Bowery, I don't hear feedback or a squeaking kick pedal; I hear the clicking of mice and the whirring of microfilm through public-property deeds and old newspapers. After all, CBGB is just one measure of that land parcel's long, dissonant, odd-time composition.

I had a funny conversation with my brother J. a few years ago when a band he was playing in at the time had an opening gig at CBGB. It seemed to me that this was the equivalent for him of a landmark event for me a year or so previously, having my first novel reviewed in the NYTBR. If you could say to your twelve-year-old self "You will play in a band that plays at CBGB" or "You will publish a novel that will be reviewed in the Times," your twelve-year-old self would be able to, you know, sit back and relax in the foreknowledge that life would turn out pretty much how it should.

It is almost certainly impossible to say this without sounding annoyingly smug or self-satisfied, but I feel grateful every single day that the life I have now is exactly the life I hoped for from the time I was about ten years old. I have a virtually infinite supply of books (also a cat) and no constraints on obtaining more when I want them (my mother was a good sport about this when I was little, but during the summer especially I would pester her to take me to the public library which was beyond walking distance for a very young person & would get there and check out the maximum of twelve books & by twenty-four hours later would have read them all, even though I knew I wouldn't be able to go again for at least a week, it was awful & displayed a signal lack of self-control), I spend almost all my time reading and thinking and writing, I get to go to interesting talks and know lots of writers and scholarly geniuses of various kinds and keep completely irregular hours when I want to. Seriously, my ten-year-old self would have been extremely relieved to know that in future existence there would be nobody to tell me not to read at the table! And Amazon (and enough money to buy what I want there, within reason) and my particular favorite BorrowDirect would have sounded like a science-fictional dream come true.

1 comment:

  1. Amen! Grad school might not be the pinnacle of life's perfection, but I can tell that once I survive, life in The Academy will be!