Eighth Grade Was Wunderbar

Till Lindemann, lead singer of Rammstein, shooting flames out of his claw.

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Rammstein takes me back.

Back to eighth grade.

I’d realized something the summer after my 7th grade year

I was riding in the back of my mom’s burgundy mini van, ideally watching pine tress whiz by us on the expressway.

And I thought to myself:

“7th grade sucked.”

And sucked it did.

Looking back, 7th grade looses a bit of edge.

My main problem at the time was that I didn’t talk to people.

Avoided it like the plague.

I would sit in class, possibly reading Star War’s fan fiction, after speedily finishing whatever assignment I’d been given.

Group assignments were an easy fix. I would volunteer to do everything, every equation, every essay. Presto, everyone else in the group can talk amongst themselves, while I can remain silent.

Bullet = dodged

It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say.

I’d eavesdrop on all of the conversations around me, sometimes fading in and out during breaks in the classroom when the students were supposed to be doing “group work” but instead talked about South Park.

There would always be a break in a conversation, natural gaps into which I could bravely charge and communicate.

But I always missed my cue.

Before I could fire off a quick Ninja Turtles joke, the conversation had slipped through my fingers like a greased balloon, floating listfully away and leaving me silently wondering if I should:

A: Wait for another conversational gap to make my move.


B: Read Dark Force Rising (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, Book 2)

It was an easy choice.

Sitting in the back of my mother’s burgundy van, watching those pines blur by and playing with the little knobs on the dashboard besides me, I knew that 8th grade had to be different.

How 8th Grade Would Be Different

– I was going to talk to people

(some people.)

– I was going to stop wearing glasses.

(which I didn’t need but wore because I thought glasses would be a “neat” fashion accessory. )

– I was going to stop wearing my brother’s hand-me-down shirts

(multi-striped polos whose “outdated” style is now pushed in SoHo for $100+)

– I was going to stop parting my hair with Zippity Do-Dah! gel.

(Zippity Do-Dah: getting kids beat up since nineteen ought six!)

– I was going to stop reading Star Wars fan-fiction.

(In class)

– I was going to start watching MTV

For MTV, you see, was the gateway into the culture of my peers.

TRL was the monolith, the giant obelisk before which hundreds of sexy teens gathered around daily to shout and wave homemade cardboard signs that said things like:

Carson, I’m pregnent!

Bye Bye Bye 6th Straight Week #1 I LOVE YOU LANCE BASS!!!!

I was junior anthropologist, watching Carson Daly daily to study the latest trends. I remember the episode of TRL where Carson  first dyed the nail on his pinky finger black.

Everybody loves Carson Daly

I was thunderstruck.

Why the fuck…?

What does this mean?

Is MTV sending a subtle message to the tiny coolness day traders bustling inside the brains of  today’s youth to buy buy buy punk stock?

I had to know.

I had to seek out every inch, every iota of music played upon TRL so that I would have something, anything, to talk about with my peers.

I forced myself to watch Eminem’s video of My Name Is again and again and again.

Days later, someone mentioned the video at the lunch table of misfits I’d assembled at school.

I was so fucking excited.

Rubbing my sweaty palms together, I look aim at the conversation and, Robin Hood like, shot my thought-arrow straight and true to split my fellow student’s expectations in twain:

“I saw that video too!”

I had their attention.

“It was great. I liked the part with the guy, Dr…. you know… Dr…  Eminem’s friend, at least I think they’re friends… remember, Eminem  says “Dr… something… don’t just stand there, Operate. Yeah… that part was funny.”

Later that night, I would research Dr. Dre for hours, finding to my great confusion that there were two Dr. Dre’s.

There was so much I didn’t know.

Limp Bizkit released “Nookie” during that same fateful year of 1999.

After painstakingly analyzing the TRL stock ticker, I decided that “Significant Other” would be the first CD that I ever bought.

Limp Bizkit was the closest to Metal that I’d ever come.

I loved it.

To this day, I still think there are some hidden gems on this album.

Track 8: Don’t Go Off Wandering uses stringed instruments to effectively set the somber theme  of the song.

Track 12: No Sex the mournful wah-wah of Wes Borland’s guitar always cut me to the quick on this one. Being a thirteen year old virgin, I thought the song No Sex was about me. Fred Durst knew my pain.

Needless to say, I always ignored the lyrics of Limp Bizkit, instead focusing on all the pretty music that was happening behind Fred Durst.

I would later throw my copy of Significant Other out the window of a speeding car

I wanted the moment to “signify” something, mainly:

-I wasn’t in 8th grade anymore

-I could drive, allowing me to reach perfect “throwing speed”

-Fred Durst was now the  director of  such acclaimed motion pictures as:

The Education of Charlie Banks

(winner of the Best of NY category at the Tribeca film festival)

and The Longshots

(starring Ice Cube)

Limp Bizkit led me to Korn which in turn led me to Nine Inch Nails which led me to Slipknot which I fled from to find Godsmack which I listened to while weightlifting.

I had begun to lift weights, you see.

It was part of a crazy, foolish plan to join the Reed City High School Football Team my freshmen year. The football team, thought I, was my daily numbers ticket to a popularity jackpot.

Thus, did I accidentally get into shape.

I was lifting weights in my basement with my friend’s Lael Demott and Nathan Hewer when I first heard Rammstein’s Du Hast.

I loved it.

The guitar riffs were aggressive enough to rob a bank, and the lead singer’s voice made me want to grab a sofa, set fire to it, and dance around it like a pagan.

Rammstein was an integral part of my “pumping iron” mixed CD, which I slung to my fellow classmates in the weight room like steroids.

During my anthropologist period of listening to popular music, my oldest brother Phillip had introduced me to a lovely little couple, Mr.Napster and his lovely wife Mrs. CD-R Burner Drive.

NAPSTER: Remember us? Now we CHARGE for music. Come on! It’ll be like old times, I promise…

Once I realized the unlimited amount of music that Napster laid daily at my fingertips, my first instinct was to use this digital well-spring to get rich.

Also, it gave me an excuse to have conversations with people who I normally never would have spoken a word to.

Business is always a good ice-breaker.

My fellow students started smuggling me playlists, and I started charging $5 a pop for my patented “mixes.”

Thus did I acquire the song “Britney Spears Vs. Metallica” on my hard drive.

Thus did I subsequently get banished from Napster forever when Lars Ulrich launched his personal crusade against the site, earning Metallica legions of enemies that, if confronted by the sight of their burning tour bus, would save all of the band members except for Lars Ulrich.

Him, we would watch burn while listening to a recording of Du Hast that we downloaded illegally from IMESH or Kazaa.

I still have my “pumping iron” mixed CD with Rammstein’s “Du Hast”collecting “Du Dust”in my closet.

Of all the things I purged in my move to Brooklyn from Michigan, I couldn’t bear to part with what is still a really solid pumping iron mix.

Two days ago, my friend JR regaled myself and Ginnard with a memory bulb that had flashed  in his head at work.

Someone had mentioned America, to which JR’s mind answered Rammstein.

This word association seemed puzzling to me.

JR then showed us the video for Rammstein’s “We’re all Living In America”

Which burrowed itself immediately into my frontal lobe on merciless repeat.

Rammstein brought me back to weightlifting.

Which brought me back to 8th grade.

Which brought me back to Limp Bizkit.

Which brought me back to Carson Daly’s black pinky nail.

Which brought me back to 7th grade.

Which brought me back to Dark Force Rising (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, Book 2)

Which brought me back to my Mom’s burgundy van, racing past trees, brooding over 7th grade, and vowing that 8th grade would be Wunderbar


What was supposed to be a “video of the day” post turned into a slip n’ slide down memory lane.

Now, watch Rammstein’s “We’re all Living in America” and let your mind wander.

Maybe you’ll draw a picture of Till Lindemann shooting flames out of his claw

Maybe you’ll burn something

Who’s to say?