in my feelings (but that’s alright) (tom taught me)

Had basically no time since 10/1 (another date that gets to be engraved in my solar plexus, a row of unscreamed shit: 9/11, 7/7, 3/11…surely a next one) to unpack anything about how music’s big uncle died. not when it feels like someone took my city and thwacked it, hard, disgorging conspiracies, pain, solidarity, 360 degree numbness — #VegasStrong on billboard and huddled semi-hostile teenagers in tshirts, flags at half mast. a life at half mast. nobody ever gets to be the same, but everyone has to pretend to. life in 4 dimensions, time being the cruelest. did me a favor unlocking some tears over the man, and it seems just about everyone has a Tom story and i have at least three. one is too long and amorphous (a southern birth to a southern father who favored denim cutoffs and tallboys means a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers education was de rigeur), one is private and meant for only the parties concerned, but one i think feels right for Right Now hip deep in the shrapnel of Bad Men

here’s a near obscenely-old clip — Billy Corgan has hair, for god’s sake — from the MTV Awards in 1994, just about a year after I finally received, after much begging, permission from my mom to subscribe to and watch MTV (my granny did first, so that was that). it’s tom winning something called the Video Vanguard award which was easily as made-up sounding then as now:

i’m actually not sure if this is the right clip, writing this as i am sans headphones with mute in a silent household — but there you go, there I am, nine or something, definitely watching something adult and hip and they give this award to someone that looks to me then like a mummy, like someone one hundred million years old especially around the dough faces and youthful fuckery of the pumpkins and alanis and whoever else

being a newly avid watcher of MTV, i of course had seen “You Don’t Know How It Feels” video about 900 times that month but in that land of 1994, they repeatedly censored the chorus “Now let’s get to the point/let’s roll another joooiii— “

at that time, bc of what i thought was perilously advanced age i thought he was slurring, but at the MTV awards where he was emphatically underlined as the man, a legend already, A+ the coolest cat there, he stepped up took whatever BS award trinket from corgan and said

“This is great. Though I never did hear the rest of the line right…”

he made it weird for mtv. real weird. he sat with it. a few people got it and started laughing. you could feel the suit anxiety (this in the era of DARE, this in a barely-escaped time after Nancy Reagan and Tipper Gore and Dee Snyder testifying to Congress) the social gulf breeze that accompanies real shit colliding with fake shit. (See this video of Courtney Love outing H*vey W******, she actually sways in the torrent of that breeze: at a Comedy Central, a Viacom Company, roast)

he pointed to a at-the-time reaaally subtly done censor job. maybe a bunch of people thought he just stroked out there. that wouldn’t, couldn’t stand not at the same time they were so puckered to kiss his ass

i instantly went to my dad for the full business on the line. what’s a JOINT (marijuana) why do you ROLL it (to smoke it) does he smoke too MUCH (probably)

so that’s that third tom lesson. there’s one to be proud of, one on how to hurt and pine and limp around hating everything, and there is one about the necessity — the pride in talking shit.

the song was about joints enough to be in the chorus and repeated about a trillion times. it’s about numbing out and repetition of rituals to make yourself better, because nobody knows how it feels. mtv and viacom weren’t gonna get away with burying that on his watch. shouldn’t have invited me, said that sly grin. you know i get rowdy at parties.

he bit the hand that fed him respect. he pulled a bender rodriguez— “yeah baby i know it” at the time i didn’t know you could do that, not entirely, let alone a guy that frankly, didn’t look really cool in his texas tuxedo and lady’s hair. now everybody knows, as nick carroway says to jay gatsby: “you’re worth the whole damn bunch of them put together.”

there’s a lot of music of his I haven’t heard despite the profound influence everything i have heard has made. the incredible thing, the magic i find in it, that everyone seems to, is that i have time. there’s no hurry. everything comes to you in time.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.