Rock ‘n’ Roll

The Third Mind

A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, among his own kin, and in his own house. Mark 6:4

Ridgerats tend to think we own Robert Pollard.

I knew him first as Missus Pollard’s oldest boy. She helped me refine my reading skills in kindergarten at John H. Morrison Elementary. Stout and tenor-throated, easy to laugh, a delightful woman. She was the celebrity then.

Take a sip:, y’all:

Then I knew him, and his brother, as Northridge’s best basketball players, ever, ever, evar.

Northridge boys don’t pick up a ball that some fool doesn’t start going on about Bob’s ’75 season, or Jimmy’s in ’80.

As star pitcher for Wright State University, Bob threw the University’s first no-hitter.

Some in Northridge still consider the Pollard boys to be the town’s pride — in athletics.

Bob was searing the indie charts by the time I graduated high school, in the early 90′s. We were just glad he let us shoot hoops on his backyard court. Sometimes he’d bring out the acoustic and strum while we played.

Later, I knew him as a fan. I caught GBV for the first time on Lollapalooza’s second stage in 1994. The Smashing Pumpkins headlined. They blew. GBV did not.

Then he was my sister’s friend’s Pop. Do the Collapse got me through law school.

Pearl Jam and Pollard cover The Who’s Baba O’Reilly. June 24, 2006, US Bank Arena, Cincinnati. Brian G. Miller and Dylan Maggard allege I attended this concert, though I have no recollection.

As life drew me across the continent, I came to expect “Oh, GBV?” as the usual response to “I’m from Dayton.” From Manhattan to Berkeley, it never failed.

I find it curious when folks in Dayton are unaware of Pollard, or the band.

At The Iowa Writers’ Workshop — epitome of the academic literati, far removed from my home in post-industrial, working-class Dayton — poet Ben Doller (nee Doyle) gushed about Pollard’s lyrics.

California novelist Josh Emmons dragged me to an Iowa City GBV show, where he was saddened to find I was already quite familiar with the band and its frontman.

Even In the last couple months, I’ve traded glib Pollard-related asides on Twitter with a pal who edits a Condé Nast rag.

Most recently, a cross-post on Disinformation brought notice of Thad McKraken’s lengthy, personal exegesis, at Redefine, treating Pollard’s creative processes.

I am a Scientist stars Pollard’s backyard half-court hoop-ceteria.

McKraken considers Pollard’s graphic art and the GBV oeuvre in light of the Burroughs / Gysin / Bowie cut-up method.

He writes:

“No single rock musician has pushed the boundaries of the human imagination in quite the same way as [Pollard], who will most likely go down as the single greatest songwriter in human history…”

It’s a thought-provoking, if hyperbolic, read. It’s also a great reminder to those of us living lives salted by proximity to the Pollard family, and who take for granted the Vampire on Titus might sidle up next to us at the Legion, or the Sub House. We’re in the company of an important mind, a significant artist, and a creator of worlds.

Originally published at on August 8, 2014.