Monday, April 11, 2011

The Descendents - "Hope" from the Album Milo Goes to College

The Descendents Milo Goes to College album coverThis is another one that gets tied up in my head with a science fiction story. In this case the story is "Push No More," by Robert Silverberg, a novelette which first came to my attention when it was collected in the author's excellent late '80's collection, Beyond The Safe Zone.

The sci-fi element, or the fantastic element, actually, of Silverberg's story is the conceit that the sexual frustrations of virginal adolescents can trigger a telekinetic ability within them.

Our awkwardly teenaged hero, Harry Blaufield, isn't sure exactly whether he is a poltergeist, or is just a host for one, but he prefers the theory wherein he's not been "possessed by a marauding demon." He prefers to think that his "hot core of fury and frustration," sexual on both counts of course, is what drives the whole moves-things-with-his-mind thing.
Why can't you see
You torture me
You're already thinking about someone else
When he comes home you'll be in his arms

And I'll be gone
But I know
My day will come
I know someday I'll be the only one

So now you wait for his spark
You know it'll turn you on
He's gonna make you feel
The way you want to feel

When he starts to lie
When he makes you cry
You know I'll be there
My day will come

I know someday I'll be the only one
Call me selfish
Call me what you like
I think it's right
To want someone for all your own

And not to share her love
But I'll have my way
You won't have a say anyway
Cuz I've got you

You don't stand a chance
So now you wait for his cock
You know it'll turn you on
He's gonna make you feel

The way you want to feel
When he starts to lie
When he makes you cry
You know I'll be there

My day will come
I know someday I'll be the only one
My day will come
I know someday I'll be the only one

So now you want perfection
I see your self destruction
You don't know what you want
It's gonna take you years to find out

I'm not giving up
And when you've had enough
You'll take your bruised little head
And you'll come running back to me

You know that I'm gonna be the only one
Neither I nor The Descendents talk much about psychokinesis, and aside from the ending pathos--bet you can guess--the power in Silverberg's story comes not from the supernatural window-dressing but from the stuff the sexually mature always condescendingly say is "only" natural.

But in digging through my memory and through Milo Aukerman's cognitively dissonant lyrics, the hot core of fury and frustration part of it is certainly reflected.

Robert Silverberg Beyond the Safe Zone coverI remember reading the story when I was still a virgin and thinking to myself that here was tangible evidence of Silverberg's great writing ability: he wrote so convincingly of the bitterness and the jealousy of the high school virgin, yet you just know the talented and suave motherfucker was getting laid left and right when he was in school.

A petty thought that was, don't you think, and one which almost perfectly encapsulates the bitter jealousy of the virgin-too-long, and one that perhaps pulls a few triggers with me even now, even as I sit here and type in my underwear midway through my 46th year. Of course, the first thing you gotta wonder given that advanced age of mine is how relevant anything by the Descendents is going to be these days. They were always riffing on their "Parents" and about their teachers and about burger joints and, yes, about girls who wouldn't give them the time of day, or heh-heh anything else.

Subject matter that you'd think is not too illuminating for me at my age, and in my station, where it's the boss and the bank, and not the teacher or the parents, who have control over me, and my nights in bed with Melanie are more likely to be possessed of the tension caused by snoring than by tension of the sexual sort.

Well, Milo--able to get away from his research biochemist gig--sang with the band as recently as last December, and he's gotta sing the stuff.

And he has two kids beside the biochemsitry job. And somehow he pulls it off. Or I guess he does, anyway.

Regardless. Make of it what you may: in hearing the chainsaw pop of "Hope" the other afternoon during lunch, it still felt like the song in its love 'em/hate 'em duality was pushing some buttons with me. My frustrated sexuality for so long may have been moved into the "resolved" column, but I guess some of this junk is <sigh> always with us.

Harry Blaufield and Milo Aukerman polished their insensate libido until it was the most powerful thing they had, resolving it into a mean and petulant song like "Hope" and into the ability to somehow push a Schlitz can into orbit through thought alone. Christ.

Extraordinary schmucks and klutzes, but schmucks and klutzes still. Just like me, just like I'd been. Mind you, nothing I ever formed from my untended libido ever resolved into anything more than a messy puddle, but these guys, fictional and not so much, were and are in resonance with the kernel of inept adolescence that still to this very fucking day no doubt lies deep within.

I remember early one morning Mike and I were putting out the Sunday paper at the Town and Country mall and we came across a young, prettily made-up Latino girl who had been ditched by her date after the movie. She'd gone to pieces, was wracked by tears, the whole bit. And I don't remember everything about the incident, but what I do remember is that Mike agreed in the face of her desperation to give her a lift back to her nearby house or her nearby friend's house or whatever.

And I remember that I had serious issues with Mike's decision to lend a kind and helping hand there. With The Herald, there was no eight-hour shift: you went home when you were done, so any detours from the route were gonna cost me some Sunday morning personal time, and I suppose that only makes sense for whatever fifteen minutes were worth. But I also took the whole thing personally. I remember telling Mike in some great dudgeon that if the roles were reversed, this pretty young thing wouldn't have even glanced in our general direction. I forget how Mike replied, I suppose it was something like yeah, whatever. Anyway, he dropped the girl off at her house, and then we went back and resumed the paper route.

Milo Aukerman sings with his band The DescendentsTrying to remember back, I recall more episodes of sadness over the whole don't-have-a-girlfriend thing than anger, but the thing with Mike that morning seems to indicate that I was walking around with a chip on my shoulder when it came to girls, just as a matter of course.

A frustration that shaded into anger might be the best description of my sometime emotional state back then and it's that, again, cognitively dissonant state in the characters behind "Hope" and "Push No More" that resonates with me.

I spent much of my teenage years and at least the first half of my twenties pining after first one, then another, girl of bounteous, overflowing boobs and prodigious butt--which is, you know, the sort of thing I like--and I felt victimized when the platonic relationships with these girls I found attractive failed to become sexual.

But looking back, I can see now that both girls had at one point given me the favor of a sexual opportunity, which I of course each time then flubbed in my terror and in my complete lack of confidence. Though it's obvious now, I couldn't see this then, because it would have detracted from the victimization construct I had, from the assembly of fury and frustration that fit me so well.

First you gotta help yourself, and I suppose that's the lesson I eventually took sometime around my 29th birthday and the one that we can take most from Harry and Milo.

After which things get more pleasant, and less dissonant, and at least a little more settled.

The Descendents - Milo Goes To College - Hope.mp3

File under: Chainsaw Pop

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