I had arrived at college as one kind of stock character, the former student council president still in love, long-distance, with his high school sweetheart, and in less than three months I’d morphed into another: the lost freshman boy who slept all the time, a pale arm sometimes extending, cautiously, from under the comforter to write on the wall.
Wedged in the slime, they say: “We had been sullen
in the sweet air that’s gladdened by the sun;
we bore the mist of sluggishness in us:
now we are bitter in the blackened mud.”
So said “the souls of those whom anger has defeated” in Canto VII of the Inferno. I know it’s the passage I wrote on my wall because I underlined it in my Signet paperback, including a note in the margin that says, “I wrote this on my wall,” as if it would be on the midterm. I had two roommates and only one wall to myself, and I vandalized it.
There had to be somewhere else to write away anger and defeat. Turn it outward, blast it at a bunch of people with cups in their hands. If it’s loud enough and you mean it enough, and if in the process of being loud and meaning it you suddenly find you’re happy, they will buy it. Maybe not buy buy, like with money, but they’ve all been strung along and they’ve all been drunk and they all like Nirvana too, which is fortunate since here—two years later now—we’re playing a cross between “Heart-Shaped Box” and “Rape Me.” Of course it’s only a complete coincidence that this song was written the same month that In Utero came out: It’s not a rip-off, it was the zeitgeist! The singer is stinkin’ dee-runk. The entire band is a little off, a little uncool, and so all the more credibly unhinged: Justin goes atomic on his solo. Jamie’s running his 1987 keyboard through a flanger pedal to make it sound like a jet plane. And there are conga drums. Allies. They let it build into the second part, secretly known, to me alone, as “Part II: The Temples of Kajahbada,” an extended instrumental jam wherein I imagined my Peavey Predator shooting laser beams. Straight through the wall.
This was Larry. In time, at the end of our shows, they would chant Larry, Larry, Larry.
Tie a yellow ribbon round my neck, make sure it's tight. Hang a carrot right in front of my nose, but don't give me a bite. A few months in limbo wasn't so bad, just hanging around. Then you pulled my string and I came crashing in flames to the ground. You string me. You string me on and on and on and on and on.
The other day you strung me up on St. Abelard's Place. Then you cut me down and gave me a hug and slapped a pie in my face. And then you asked me what it is I'm so sad about. Well, I've got 4,947 reasons to be bummed out. You string me. You string me on and on and on and on and on.
from Thunderegg History Unit, Volume 1 (2012),
released March 6, 2012
Originally on Larry (1994). Jake Fournier, bass; Will Georgantas, guitar and vocals; Jamie McElroy, keyboards; Tyler McGlashan, congas; Justin Weyerhaeuser, guitar; Keith Woodfin, drums.