Through the Trees (Rest in Peace).

Part of what influences me (almost as much as literature) is music. I'm pretty sure that isn't exactly a ground breaking revelation, but the crux of what I'm getting at is that throughout my life I've always had a problem finding my place. Where do I fit in? Did I ever fit in? Was it actually at all important that I fit in? Why did I ever actually feel that need to find social acceptance?

It's something we all go through, and it's kind of funny how we all find ourselves ten years down the line. For many of us, the problem somehow just seems to slip from mind. We find our core group of friends, or something just tickles our fancy in such a way that that in itself becomes our identity.

We might get lose touch though, with ourselves and whom we once were. When I was in Elementary School, I seem pre-destined for the society of the wallflowers. I got good grades, and I kept pretty much to myself. My friends were books, and I spent recess in one of two places: either in a quiet corner in the Library, or on the basketball courts playing ball.

I had a few friends, but the area that I grew up in, Eloy/Toltec, Arizona (we considered it Toltec, although technically it would be considered Eloy. The difference was in Toltec it was much quieter, and crime was much less of an issue.) But the school I went to, Toltec Elementary, consisted primarily of Eloy residents. Why is that an issue?

Well, I was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My mother is white, and my father was an illegal alien from Mexico. Flash forward to a time and place where we are living in Eloy.

In Eloy, the minority is Caucasian. And you know what, I just don't give a swirling shit about race. The whole god damned thing is so minute and fractured, it really has no place as a measuring stick. But the truth of the matter is, not many people share that view that I have. And back then, many people were explicit about their opinions of my mixed ethnicity's.

I would get beat up when I went to the bathroom by Hispanic kids because I wasn't Latino enough. At every turn of the corner, the white kids would mock me and my parents (I have a step father who is a tremendous and inspirational man.). Several times when I would have classes in that Library, I would go to the bathroom and come back to my seat and sit down, and some prank would be pulled.

One time this kid, Joey Wozney stuck a sewing needle in the cushion of my chair. The thing is the chairs were navy blue, and seeing the pin was just nearly impossible. When I sat down, the pin went so deep into my right ass cheek that it actually got embedded into the bone. I had to go to the hospital, and it took needle nosed pliers, and five stitches.

So why did I strive so hard to fit in with these kids? These same kids that pulled those humorous larfs I also bent over backwards to try and appease. I would try so hard to befriend them, and I still cannot understand why.

One day I, in 1994 I discovered this album, "Dookie" by this then up-and-coming Green Day. During the time, people were still staring at their shoes, revelling in their grunge-y haze, and hating lives.

Dookie went on to sell over 10 million copies. It brought punk rock to the mainstream attention once again, with such a bullet point that hadn't been seen since the heyday of the Clash. It was brash, snotty, it had an attitude, and some how it was just dug at the emotion that most people have buried deep within them: angst, nihilism. A "FUCK YOU" from deep down in them guts.

Revolutionary. It was a sonic invasion, and an aural salvation. It began my life long love. It was a gateway drug to something so pure, I could never top that with any substance or chemical (and I love substances and chemicals.) For once I was lost...and at the tender age of 9, I was found.

And these other amazing albums I discovered through Green Day's "Dookie", that were so very influential on who I've become: Green Day's "Insomniac", Smoking Popes, "Destination Failure", Rancid's "Life Won't Wait" and "...And Out Come the Wolves", and Jawbreakers, "Dear You".

And as I grew and progressed with punk rock music, and music as a whole, so many other albums stuck with me: AFI's "Sing the Sorrow", through "Alkaline Trio's "Good Mourning".

And of course, my favorite album of all time: Alkaline Trio's, "From Here to Infirmary". Not only did this album effect me in a way that no other album had since Dookie, but this album came at a time in my life when I was entering high school. When everything I had become accustomed to had begun to change. The lyrics dealt with feelings I was just discovering, and making sense of ones I'd given up on ever trying to decipher.

Punk rock has saved my life. It's given me a voice I never would have realized in a small town, in a community that has one of the Nations highest rates for teen pregnancy, and meth addiction. A small town that people never seem to leave, and everyone knows everyone. Where you will live, and where you will die.

So why are these albums important? Each one of those albums, while they were extremely pivotal to my cultural DNA, helping me forge forward and identifying a purpose in my life: to write.

But why are these albums important? Well, it's not much whats within those tracks, but what they all have in common.

On August 12th, 2008 Jerry Finn passed away after being taken off of life support. He suffered a massive brain hemorrhage in July 2008.

He showed little signs of improvement during the 31 days of being on life support. For the rest of his life, he would have lived as a vegetable.

What those albums shared in common is that, in some way, Jerry Finn had some hand in their conception and sound and how they eventually turned out. He had an ear for capturing a sound most big name producers and mixers couldn't even fathom.

I always felt he had so much of a heavy hand in how pop-punk/alternative rock garnered attention in the mainstream, and I feel he was somehow always over looked.

Make no mistake about it: in an age where fashion is everything in music, and substance is so hard to find, Finn's resume always reflected that of a man who RESPECTED an area of music that is always over looked and constantly forgotten, at least until it becomes viable for consumption once again.

For Jerry Finn's friends, and his family I express nothing but good thoughts and well wishes. The man had such a hand in how I have come to view life, and how I've grown to become comfortable and okay with life. From Here to Infirmary flat out saved my life.

Thank you, Jerry Finn. While it couldn't have happened without the talent of those artists, the outsider perspective you gave helped those idea's and ambitions reach a whole new level. Many of the records you touched turned into classics, and for a bigger name producer to consistently work with smaller independent artists, to notice their potential instead of just jumping on whatever fad was happening at the time: be it rap/nu-metal, pop music, eyeliner core...you stuck with what you so obviously respected. And for that, I respect you.

What makes this equally tragic is that in this day and age, not many share that vision and passion you had. More or less, it's JUST about the money, it's JUST about getting in and out before you fall-out.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. THANK YOU!

I hope you're at peace, Jerry. I hope you don't hurt, and I hope wherever you are, you can at least listen to the music you love.

Jerry Finn (1970-2008).


Velvet said...

"She...she screams in silence. A sullen riot penetrating through her mind."


You were 9 when Dookie came out?? Jesus H. I'm ancient.

Also, I would like to go back, find the kid who put the pin in your chair now that he's an adult, and stick him with pins all over his body. Like a voodoo doll, only I'd be going straight to the source.

Bonus Cupped said...

Cheers mate. It is a real shame that he's passed on. I too got into punk rock, it's culture and it's way of thinking originally through Dookie. My school friend Rob bought in a tape his sister's boyfriend made with Dookie on one side and Lagwagon on the other. We played it so much in those pre teen years, right up till last year when my mate sold his car with the tape deck in. I hope he kept that tape. Anyway yeah it would be cool to keep in contact and exchange thoughts.

"We'll nuke the bridge we've torched a thousand times before. This time we'll blast it all to hell."


P.S Apologises for any errors in the lyric recollection!

Justin said...

He actually didn't pass away until yesterday.

Ryne said...

What a great write-up.
Even though I wasn't too big of a fan of albums like that, it was very interesting to read how they tied into your life.
Great non-fiction essay.

Aaron Hale said...

In response to Justin, I mean, the dude was taken off of life support. Barring some sort of interference with the almighty, he was dead. I don't think anyone really held on to any type of hope, honestly, like maybe he'll get up and go produce the next big thing or something.