Yesterday while wandering around New York City I saw a bunch of wheatpasted posters for Chinese Democracy, the latest sign that the seemingly apocryphal Guns N’ Roses album is, indeed, coming to a Best Buy near you (and me!) in six days. MTV News’ James Montgomery took the occasion to go back in time and remember what the world was like back on Sept. 17, 1991–the last date that an all-new studio release from GNR, the twin-disc Use Your Illusion, hit stores. George H.W. Bush was President of the U.S.; Color Me Badd had the No. 1 single; Britney Spears was nine years old; Emily Valentine was just arriving at West Beverly High. There are many more tidbits in Montgomery’s piece (including a nod to the hotness of Sonic The Hedgehog, which, uh, some of us still are trying to finish, albeit on a different system), but I figured I’d take the reminiscing in a more personal direction. Join me, won’t you?
In September 1991 I was 16, and in eleventh grade at Hicksville High School in Hicksville, N.Y. I lived in the house where my parents still reside today; I had a dog who was a huge white fluffball and a room with walls that had blue paint. I had just started theater classes at school (in part to get out of taking regular gym; drama nerds got physical-education credit for learning stagefighting) and was playing viola in the school orchestra. I had no idea where I was going to college, although I definitely wanted to leave New York. I got most of my news from Newsday and the New York Daily News, and some from TV.
I worked at a bakery in the center of town, right across the street from a church, and made five bucks an hour for sitting around, eating cannoli cream, and watching the one TV station that the bakery’s three-inch TV could bring in, which aired a call-in show hosted by bilingual tarot card readers all afternoon. The occasional customer would come in, although our busy times were really after Masses on Sundays, and on holidays. More importantly, I worked next door to a used-CD store and got paid in cash. (You can probably see where this is going.) And I listened to WBAB and WDRE, taped Headbanger’s Ball like it was a weekly Mass, and generally wanted to Hoover up any music I could. So it was not surprising that the owners there loved me; they especially loved me on Sundays, when I would spend pretty much my entire week’s income on CDs. (As a way of showing thanks, they generously discounted each disc by around a dollar.) My favorite bands at the time were probably Soundgarden, Jellyfish, Skid Row, and Faith No More, and the two owners of the store often had recommendations for me (mostly of promo CDs that were traded in).
I also used my dad’s CompuServe account, like, a lot, frequently going over his account’s monthly hours-limit and causing much consternation. Usually I just poked around, wishing that the music forums were less stodgy and full of people who liked Real Rock, Man. I did, however, e-mail Adam Curry at one point during the duration of that account’s existence, although I doubt he’d remember it at all today (the nimbus of his fame, etc).
So yeah, a lot of patterns being established back then, although things really took a turn for the kinda-crazy later that year, when Spin put out its year-end issue. What about you?