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Friday, January 08, 2010

Astoria

This week's edition of the A.V. Club's Q&A is on pop-culture pilgrimages. As I read it today, I thought of a funny little pilgrimage that relates to something I've never shared here. Nevermind the Bottle Rocket tour I took a few years ago or the desire to hit up the Texas town where The Last Picture Show was filmed. No, this is something completely different.

Back in 1996, while on family vacation in London, I expressed an interest in checking out the London Astoria club. Sure, I wanted to see the Tower of London, Big Bend, and so on, but this was a personal desire to see this place.

The reason why? A few months before, Metallica played a warm-up gig at the Astoria before playing a huge festival. I didn't want to go to a show there. I just wanted to see the venue, take a picture, and leave. Yes, my fandom of Metallica led me to have such a desire. (I also picked up their new record, Load, at the Tower Records in Picadilly Circus.) My sister didn't understand why I would ever want to go there and see this, but there are many things she will never understand about me. Thankfully, my father was kind enough to accompany me to the club.

I remember it was quite a hike to get there and I think I spent maybe a minute looking at the place. I took a couple of pictures and moved on. What I find so funny is that many years later, I found one of the pictures and looked at one of the bands that was on the marquee: none other than Jawbox.

I never got the pleasure of seeing Jawbox play live, but the coincidental nature of being so close to seeing the band live seems like something out of Donnie Darko. It's like my present self somehow caught a glimpse of my future self, and it was no mere accident.

I, as usual, could be reading way too much into this, but it does make for a good story. If I did see Jawbox at the Astoria, I highly doubt it would have a huge impact on me because I really got into their final record at the end of 1996. If I didn't have the desire to see them in summer of '96, I would not have had any desire to get any meaning out of seeing them.

This is why I argue about choosing to get into something when you feel drawn to, not when other people think you're supposed to. I could have read Stephen King back in middle school, but getting into his stuff now has made a much bigger impact on me. The same goes with Richard Hawley's music. I don't get to choose when I get really attached to a band, author, of film that I want to devour as much as I can. This stuff happens, and I argue that it happens naturally.

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