When we were young, we knew we were born too late, grew our hair long because we didn't bother cutting it, borrowed our dads' flannel shirts, dyed our hair, grew up on the ever-present classic rock which gave us a love of total 70's unhipness.
We tried to find meaning in the last gasps of the alternative era, realizing that Bush and Creed and Staind really weren't all that good and worked our way backwards through labels like SST and Dischord and Sub Pop wishing we could have been around back in the day when you could see good bands cheap at the Euclid Tavern and we had to content ourselves with reunion shows with replacement singers and new bassists and watching clips on Youtube.
We mourned when Layne Staley died, got each other obscure 80's punk band shirts and Squirrel Bait records for Christmas, and when my friend touched Mark Arm's hand at a Mudhoney show it was like he touched the hand of God. We created our own scene, which was one elaborate inside joke that nobody else got involving jokes about Ross Perot and Stabbing Westward.
We'd argue over our favorite Led Zeppelin albums and whether or not Rush was awesome, and give each other a hard time for our guilty pleasures and were obsessed with the documentary Hype! whose soundtrack we rocked out to on the way to prom because nothing sounds more romantic than the Melvins or songs like Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick."
We wanted to be DIY and start our own record labels, wanted to do what we saw on the east and west coast here in our dying rust belt town as the towers fell on 9/11 but everything here had already tanked as it was. We were nostalgic for an era that had its own share of disposable pop music and generic rock bands, but we ignored them.
Our bands weren't anything special, our shows at school gyms didn't happen because the guy in charge of getting keys got busted for weed, and some of us went on to become scenesters and substance abusers, some of us moved away, some of us grew up and quit music, and others of us only sing at church or on karaoke night.
Now we're the same age as our fallen heroes. Those of my friends who joked about being dead by 27 are now heading towards 30. If we can't be Kurt Cobain, we can be Eddie Vedder. The thing that's hard about this age is that we've got enough life behind us that mistakes we made in our youth will follow us for the next four decades and yet we're still young and dumb in a lot of ways in a culture that makes it easy. We've branched out too, finding out that there are other amazing and undiscovered sounds that came out pre-1967 and weren't created by suburban white guys with guitars.
I get the feeling that Generation X is going to inflict our cultural consciousness with Tupac, Nirvana and "indie rock" the way that their parents beat us over the head with Woodstock and the Beatles, but it looks like my younger cousins don't know who these people are and think Green Day is this cool new band, and some of my little sister's friends have jumped into the straight-edge scene so it'll be interesting to see how all this plays out. The classic rock station is playing "Enter Sandman" now so I'm assuming Jane's Addiction won't be too far behind.
Dying young is far too boring these days...