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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

4

#4. In high school, I had a denim jacket with four band names airbrushed on the back.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I say this not because it was ‘cool‘. Which it was, of course. But I bring it up mainly because I’m amazed at the trouble I was willing to go to to have it done. And the fact that I wore it. A lot. It was my music that set me apart in those days, and sometimes I forget just how damned proud of myself that I was.

See, back in high school — this is the mid-’80’s we’re talking about here — I had different musical tastes than most of my friends. I’d graduated from the Huey Lewis and Survivor and Heart crap back in junior high, and had moved on to rock with more personality. Rock that was innovative, and unique. Rock that had a soul.

So, instead of worrying about fitting in, as I’d pretty much done up to that point in life, I said, ‘You know what? Fuck it. My shit is better than their shit, and I don’t care who knows it.‘ So, I talked about music. I played my favorite bands for people. And, somewhere along the way, I had the jacket done.

It must have been around 1986 or so that I had it made. I found lettering, just the way I wanted, from LP sleeves and cassette inserts, and carried them to the airbrush place at the mall. I remember my mom helping me out with it, and probably paying for it, as I’m sure it wasn’t all that cheap. The artist at the store was a little iffy on the idea — apparently, denim doesn’t take ink well, and the colors would tend to run and jumble. Luckily for me, he liked a challenge, and promised to give it a shot. So, I left him with my instructions, and the text I wanted, and several dozen dollars of mom’s money, and hoped that it would turn out okay.

And it did. Oh, there were a couple of piddly little places you could pick over, but nobody was going to notice those. Not when faced with the blazing coolness of the thing. Not that anybody but me ever gave a damn, of course. But still, I wore that jacket around like a suit of armor. It was my shield against all that was formulaic and stale in the world. And, I’m happy to say, while the bands I chose didn’t universally maintain their ‘coolness’, they did remain innovative and different and special through all the years. And which bands were they? Well, I’m glad you asked:

U2: cool at the time, then very cool, then less cool, then cool again, and then just sort of sad and preachy

REM: pretty cool at the time, then way cool, then cool and preachy, then just preachy, and then just old (though still preachy, and kind of sugary-poppy)

The Cure: sort of cool at the time, then cooler, then broken up, then cooler, then broken up again, less cool, and then ‘are these guys really back together?

Husker Du: really cool, and then cooler, and cooler, and then messily broken up. And therefore super-cool.

So, that was my jacket. I spent a lot of time talking about those bands, and others, and listening to their music (back when they were all cool), and telling people to stop calling me a frickin’ dork. But still, it was fun, and I sort of liked wearing my allegiences around on my back for a while. And if you can believe it, I still have the jacket. Well, the back of it, anyway. The thing was falling apart a few years ago in my parents’ storage space, so my mother cut the back out and had it mounted in a frame for me. Which is pretty cool, even if I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to hang it anywhere, being married to a woman and all.

Maybe one day, I’ll have a rec room or something, and I’ll put the thing up there. And I’ll stock the stereo with songs from Candy Apple Grey and Head on the Door and Reckoning and October. On MP3, of course. Hey, just ’cause I’m nostalgic doesn’t mean I don’t keep up with technology. I’m a big boy now.

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