Dinosaur Jr. was my favorite rock band in high school, and not just because they provided the soundtrack to the first real love of my life. I deeply loved this girl for several years in high school before she finally gave me a lil shot, during which we drove two hours north to St. Petersburg, Florida to see Dinosaur Jr. on the Green Mind tour (with opening act My Bloody Valentine, supporting Loveless. Beat that!)
J was also in a complicated relationship at the time, having ousted creative powerhouse bassist Lou Barlow, who went on to prove his worth via Sebadoh. He’d almost pushed out drummer Murph by that time too, playing drums himself on all but three Green Mind tracks. Despite his creaky “singing” voice, J’s loud, wild guitar style really turned me on.
Back in high school, when concerts still felt novel to us, we always showed up to them several hours early. In St. Pete, we stood around outside 2,000-capacity outdoor venue Jannus Landing, staring at the tour buses. We thrilled to the sound of loud amps being tested inside the venue. We watched MBV’s Kevin Shields sit down in the dirt among some surprised kids.
Then minutes later, J Mascis himself moseyed out of the venue. J listened silently but intently to celebrity radio psychic, Gary Spivey, the guy with the giant grey brillo pad attached to his head (photo below), who seemed to be advising J as they walked down the sidewalk together.
We freaked out. His deep convo with Spivey did not deter us from running up on J and telling him we loved him (which I’ve since learned is the last thing you should ever do to someone you admire). For just this occasion, I’d brought along a purple marker, which I shoved at J, along with a flyer for the concert.
Mascis stopped but said nothing to us, just stared in a way that let me know he was exactly the weird, emotionless person that his music made him seem. He sighed slightly, took my flier, and wrote in a crooked scrawl:
The most lazy, J Mascis-esque move. So funny. My girlfriend, even more excited than I, begged him to sign her shirt, a thin, white v-neck t-shirt that made me pant. Just below her collar he scribbled “J”.
As we walked away, my girlfriend turned to me over her left shoulder — beaming so hard that she didn’t realize J Mascis and Gary Spivey had continued walking beside her. She cried out to me: “I’M NEVER WASHING THIS SHIRT!”
I looked past her and Spivey to J Mascis who, unbeknownst to her, leaned forward a bit to make eye contact with me and, with just his furrowed brow, seemed to say, Wow, your girlfriend’s kinda dumb.
But then, which one of us was hanging out with Gary fucking Spivey?
EPILOGUE : Though that girlfriend never loved me like I wanted her to, during that night’s moody, loud rendition of Green Mind’s “Thumb,” she and I shared what remains one of the best long kisses of my long life, and I was sure I loved her even more than I loved Dinosaur Jr.
Also, in 2006, I caught the Dino reunion tour with Lou Barlow back on bass, and ran into newly-reinstated drummer Murph in the French Quarter. He seemed annoyed that I recognized him.
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