I think of myself as having two hometowns. There’s Toronto, where I was born, and where I’ve now resided more than half my life, but there’s also my Thomas Wolfe/Bus Riley hometown, the one where I grew up, went to high school, and presumably can’t go back to, the hometown of everyone’s imagination. That would be Georgetown, a small town—really small when I was a kid, still relatively small today—about 45 minutes northwest of Toronto. When I finished university and moved out in 1984, I figured that, beyond the usual family get-togethers, I was clearing out for good. Not so—I found that I continued to return there in some of my writing, first in Nerve and then (especially) in some fanzine pieces. (I eventually physically moved back there for a few years at the age of 30, when I started teachers college. Unexpected, humbling, awkward.) Obviously I had left behind some things that I hadn’t quite resolved, things I wasn’t even aware of until I started writing about them. Most of what lingered concerned high school.
[from the introduction to “Rain Gray Town”]
… this* gets as close as anything I can think of to what it was like to be in high school in my hometown of Georgetown in the mid-‘70s. Dazed and Confused, if you will, except it’s not a movie—this is the thing itself. I feel like I should recognize most of the faces, but other than what I think is one of the Bratkin sisters around the 3:20 mark, I don’t recognize anybody. I’m about five years younger than the people here. And this wasn’t my life in a literal sense, in that my friends and I did our drinking and drugging in our own little universe that mostly ran parallel to the one documented here. (Adam Goldberg’s triangle in Dazed and Confused makes for a rough analogy.) But in a much deeper sense, I lived this exactly. I’ve tried to write about that time on many occasions, in Why Music Sucks and elsewhere. I think I caught some of what it was like, but I just can’t write well enough to put into words what’s above. What the Dead Sea Scrolls or a newly unearthed Robert Johnson recording might be to someone else, that’s more or less how I feel about this footage. Not to over-dramatize or anything…
[homepage entry, 2009]
* Note: For technical reasons, the YouTube clip referenced in this passage is not available in the print version of Interrupting My Train of Thought.