Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Excuses": A story based on "No Love Lost" by Joy Division, as suggested by musician Aaron Beam of Red Fang (12/100)


The autumn I tried to start smiling with more teeth, I got caught stealing cigarettes from the gas station and then went on a big family revival kick, deciding that I needed to visit all of them, every aunt uncle and cousin I never see. It was a bust like it is anytime someone tries to do something like that, but I was so caught up in all of it that I ended up not shaving between Thanksgiving and a week into the new year. I was out of a job and the majority of my savings when I finally got around to shaving, so I had time to do it in stages over the course of several days: chinstrap beard, then chops and a goatee, then the Frank Zappa, etc. My only option for the last day seemed to be a Hitler mustache. So, I shaved it in and walked around my house with it for a day, forgetting I had it until catching my reflection in a window or mirror.

I left it for another day. That’s when I started acting like him. On purpose, of course. I was bored and kind of curious about how much it takes to get caught up in an idea, fake or not. It started with standing on a chair in my kitchen and yelling in German, which amounted to a lot of harsh vowels strung together with throat-clearing noises. It was nonsense, but in my head I was speaking of freedom and infestation, the things that hold my people back. I would move slowly around my room on my desk chair as if in my dictator’s car, saluting people who stand up for me, idolize me as a savior of their beliefs, a savior of their morality.

I left it for a while longer. As I became more removed from the initial shaving-in, I became more removed from being Hitler. I felt as if I had moved from being the man himself to being a look-alike, someone designed to throw his detractors off his trail. I was shaving daily but leaving the mustache, trimming around it. I still had it a week later, by which time I was just a loyal soldier, herding the people through the camps, standing in front of my bed with my chest puffed out, holding my mother’s old color-guard rifle and pretending to oversee the abuse of the prisoners. I was watching the rapes and beatings with pride, knowing that bringing the world back up from its forlorn condition involves a cure that must be achieved and instituted, country by country, starting with mine.

Days passed and I lost sight of Hitler completely. I went from the camps to the crowd, staring out my window at cars driving by and pretending Hitler was in one. I wouldn’t salute. I’d just stare, hopeful. It all trickled down though, and I ended up becoming myself one morning, some guy with a tiny square mustache looking into the mirror and wondering how and why it all felt so natural. The things that came out of me surely were not in me. That night, when I tilted my head under the light and picked up my can of shaving cream, I set it back down and walked away, slowly, with a stride that said, “I’m going nowhere.”



Joy Division was a band. Then they weren't. Then (a version of) they were New Order, which played up every Joy Division fan's secret desire to dance and be sad all at the same time. Like INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence, Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis died from hanging himself. Unlike INXS, Joy Division didn't have a shitty reality show to find a new lead singer, though Rockstar: INXS runner-up Marty Casey pretty much kicked ass when I saw him singing with LA Guns on the back of a flatbed truck in the outfield of a softball field in Farley, Iowa.

Aaron Beam plays bass and does vocals in the band Red Fang. They are based in Portland, OR, but instead of holding that against them, I will instead say that they are an awesome band in a place I don't think I'd like very much. Red Fang's music is pummeling rock and roll. There's really no other way to say it, and you should order their album through Sargent House records, because Sargent House fucking rules. Aaron is actually a Midwest boy, much like myself. However, he's from Iowa instead of Wisconsin. Still, his music is a throwback to the days of bearded men playing giant riffs, so I will not hold that against him either. The Red Fang burger at Kuma's Corner had bacon on it, and though I am unsure of the other toppings, it looks delicious. I also find it highly unlikely that they are not named after the Native American football player Chief Xavier Downwind.

"Prehistoric Dog" from Red Fang.

"Sharks" from Red Fang.

"Reverse Thunder" from Red Fang.

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Ode to Billy Joe" by Bobbie Gentry, as suggested by writer Jenny Diski.

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