give that girl – the heisman!


This entry is going to bore the fucking snot out of you if you didn’t go to Chapel Hill in the glory years (1986-93) but Tessa and I were recreating several nights that happened to us in the balmy, wired-for-excitement springs of 1989 and 1990. She was dating Marvin Levi, the fabulous drummer for The Veldt, and I was busy being a Man About Campus, doing a lot of writing and cashing in my big-fish-small-pond notoriety to catch girls.

Both of us were quite enamored of the years 89-90 because we were having the most fun, she was falling in love, I was smashing furniture with Salem, and the scene was terrific. The Sex Police, Dillon Fence and the Veldt were making sure everyone in a five-mile radius was having a good time, and I was able to polish off a four melonballs without a hangover the next day.

Quick aside: when I was social chairman at my fraternity – yes, I said it – one of our deliveries got screwed up, and instead of sending us two bottles of Midori melon liqueur, they sent us something like twenty. Instead of returning the greenish liquid, we just starting making everything with Midori, and half the Lodge developed a low-level Midori addiction. Grasshoppers, melonballs, sours, we did it all. Secretly, I still crave it.

Anyway, one night at a Johnny Quest show at the Cat’s Cradle, the band was working our sweaty, undulating throng of a crowd into a drunken froth of ecstasy. Somehow, I ended up on stage (along with forty other people) and danced, the kind of dancing when you close your eyes and don’t care about anything except your own joy.

I opened my eyes, and this gorgeous girl was right in front of me, dancing right along, and suddenly she kissed me, long unbelievably sweaty beautiful kisses that lasted for a minute or more. When she leaned back, she said, “Your writing has made me happy for three years, and I’ve wanted to do that forever.”

As she was pulled away, I screamed for her name. “Nivee!” she yelled, or something like that, and in an instant, she was gone, and I never saw her again. That one moment was the greatest college experience I ever had, and I swear to god, it erased ENTIRE YEARS of misery from my childhood of loneliness and self-loathing. When I die, and my life passes before me, I hope I get a few seconds of that along with everything else.

Tessa and I discussed getting a time machine to spend one day back in Chapel Hill in that time frame, but we’d have to pick a really good day, one where we were having a party, where a good band was at the Cradle, and hopefully, the Heels would be playing too, so I could watch Dean Smith coach one more game. We couldn’t run into our past selves, so as not to freak us out, but observe and take it all in, the smells and delight of those springs. The “good old days” most likely sucked as a whole, making our romantic memories somewhat pathetic, but going back for just one day wouldn’t hurt anybody, would it?


me and Tessa, November 1989 – not on a date, just two friends at the same party (photo work by Lars Lucier)

0 thoughts on “give that girl – the heisman!

  1. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Wow, you both look like babies! What would you have thought, back in 1989, if someone had said, “Hey, you are standing next to your future spouse!”?

  2. Greg from Winston Dorm

    One summer I got to help my buddy Larry (forget his last name, but he did work with the comedy improv group, Selected Hilarity on campus) film Dillon Fence playing at The Cat’s Cradle. I had the camera at the back of the club for the wide shots. I think Larry turned the footage into a video for the song, “Frances”. I still love that song. You probably already know this, but some time in the mid to late ’90’s, Dillon’s lead singer joined up with some other local castoffs and became HOBEX. Best concert moment of my Chapel Hill was at a DU all-campus party. I was listening to some band play SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO by The Clash. I was jamming along singing beside this girl holding a 12 pack of Beast Light. She held up the pack and let me have one and then we leaned in and belted out our best kareoke-version of the song, leaning in to “sing” into my can of beer. Never got her name and never saw her again, but that was one helluva cool moment.

  3. CL

    “Your writing has made me happy for three years, and I’ve wanted to do that forever.”
    Damn. No wonder you’re still writing!

  4. scruggs

    Dillon Fence was my favorite of those 3, but I just loved it whenever I’d run into Robo around town (SP’s trombone player). Cool guy. Ended up seeing DF at a show they did in Charlotte at the Visulite a few Christmas’ ago. I’ve still got Rosemary, but can’t find my cassette with Frances. I’ve seen Hobex a few times and have their cd. They are actually in Atlanta this week, but try getting a sitter around here during holiday party season!
    I actually caught my husband playing his archers of loaf cd this weekend.

  5. Annie

    Just Andrew’s post brings up a terribly important issue for those of us who will be meeting on NYEve for the wedding of our dear Chip-tastic friend Chris. Not only are Dave and I having a joint birthday party on the 29th (Andrew, if you’re still around at 8pm, come over! Ian, we’re hoping you & Tessa might be in town by then…) BUT ALSO: not ONLY are the Sex Police AND members of the Veldt (playing under new name, Apollo Heights) playing on NYEve at the Cradle, but aforementioned fave HOBEX plays the very same night at the Pour House in Raleigh!!! An embarrassment of riches!!! What to do?
    Interestingly, the Sex Police/Apollo Heights bill boasts a repeat performance the next night (NYDay) in Winston-Salem, which Greg (of Hobex/Dillon Fence, also my brother) plans to attend.
    I remember meeting Ian (as well as Tim Roven–*sigh*) for the first time at a Veldt show in little frat court (which house it was, I don’t know) in the spring of 1990. And Dillon Fence was playing across the way. Those WERE the days, weren’t they?

  6. hilary

    it can be downright painful to remember this time. my one regret was not taking a fifth year to graduate, since i only got three undergraduate years total in chapel hill, being in south america for one of one them (the apparently awesome year of 89-90, actually…oh the stories i heard, while i was gone). I’d love to snap my fingers and catch that sex police show, with my beloved “breakers,” but alas, it’s not in the cards. when i was a junior in high school, my mom let me visit Chapel Hill with a young friend of hers who was an intern at her newspaper, and she of course took me to my first college party. i’ll never forget the visual of this totally hot and interesting guy wearing a bowler who, to me looked like daniel day lewis, dancing with this tall thin woman with long red hair wearing a dark purple hat. two years later, when i was a freshman at unc, i saw that self-same totally hot and interesting daniel day lewis guy up on stage, performing with the sex police. i freaked out and have always been too shy to introduce myself. it was nice to see him on that adobe flyer. glad to know we are still physically intact, for the most part.

  7. Andy

    Greg – Larry’s last name is Weaver.
    So many bands, so little time. I seem to remember seeing Dillon Fence playing a show in Chapel Hill with a then-unknown band called Hootie and the Blowfish. Did that actually happen? I want to say that Hootie was the opening act. I still to this day play my Dillon Fence CDs and my 6-year old daughter knows the words to “I’ve Got Something For You.”

  8. cullen

    Talk about then-unkown and now-defunct, WE drank like fish and saw the former Phish among others at Cat’s Cradle; they musicalized the vacuum cleaner at 1 show I saw out of one eye due to a black-n-blue shiner I had attained somehow foolishly. That milieu would be a great Back to the Future duck-in; much of mine is off-limits.
    By the way, I think that same loose co-ed with Greg’s beast beer and who loved Ian’s writing was all over my business too. She seemed so innocent to me. Tar Hellians.

  9. Andrew

    Having put much thought into it, I would go back to April 5, 1993 [Carolina 77 Michigan 71]. And I hope that Ian’s fantastic time machine would erase my memory of what the final score would be.

  10. Greg from Winston Dorm

    Andy–Thanks for reminding me of his last name. I have Larry Weaver’s CD and I just saw it recently when moving my cabinet of more than 600 CD’s into the living room so that my wife could put up the Christmas tree. Since I live solely by the tunes of my iPod (my first wedding anniversary present), I rarely “dust off” old CD’s. Interesting thing about Hootie is that I sort of resemble[d] Darius Rucker back in the day. I went to see them perform in Charlotte at some club that was in an old warehouse district. Between songs I was yelling for them to play some DILLON FENCE music. (Darius was not amused) One of my classmates from law school (actually, she was a year behind me) was married to the HOBEX drummer, Steve, who used to play with (forgive me here if I get it wrong) either the Sex Police or Johnny Quest.

  11. DB

    I’d have to say Trader Vic’s, 1991. I wouldn’t worry about running into myself–I probably wouldn’t have rememembered. Or maybe I’m thinking of TV 1992. The entire thing is hazy. Or perhaps the Lodge party where JQ were playing and then DF AND the Veldt came in for guest sets. Probably the most fun dancing I’ve ever had.
    Then again, in the words of Bran Van 3000, I liked the days “when I did nothing/absolutely nothing”. I was just thinking about the time (soph year? junior) when I was watching Pitino’s Cats play the Heels on TV and Digger came by and said, “Come on, I have tickets, we’re going to watch the Heels come back in the 2nd half.” We were down by double digits at the time, and, sure enough, we not only won, but KING RICE RAN THE 4C’S FOR THE LAST MINUTE OF THE GAME. The crowd went nuts. That’s a knowledgeable audience for you.
    I wish I could nail down the time, but, unfortunately, Digger was there the whole time I was…
    Thanks for the study break. Law schoolers with kids don’t have too much time to party…

  12. A goat

    My time machine moment was similar to the Jonny Quest show, in that it was sweaty and undulating and that Ian was there.
    It was different in that it was pretty quiet and Ian was being initiated into a fraternity at the time. Changed my life, too.

  13. scott

    lots of good memories with the local music scene, and i still have all the DF cd’s–even the Christmas cd, which i was spinning in the car this morning.
    it was also a good time in a bigger sense. although i dread the idea of being dated and joining our predecesser boomers who get wistful in various documentaries about “a time when the music meant something”, i can’t forget seeing the “smells like teen spirit” video for the first time and talking about it with others while standing in line at the cradle. we agreed that it felt like things were about to get interesting, but none of us could quite put a finger on it.
    we were waiting to see some ghastly heavy metal band. i asked who the openers were. he looked at the flier, shrugged and said “they’re called ‘soundgarden’ “.
    interesting times. (and yes, they kicked ass.)

  14. joan

    I just moved back to Chapel Hill (well, Carrboro actually), for grad school, 8 years after moving away, 9 years after graduating. I’m married and own a house this time around, but it’s a bit like a time machine.
    The Rev. Gary Birdsong is still in the Pit screaming about the whores he says are the women of Carolina. The College Republicans are still complaining about being embattled minorities, all the while somehow having incredible funding and backing of national conservatives. And there’s a woman writing feminist columns for the DTH that sound like mine from the spring of 94. (She’s much cuter, though, it seems from her photo.)
    And, I’m taking advantage of every possible opportunity to go see games at the Dean Dome. I stumbled over there at 7am a few Saturday mornings to wait in line (ticket distribution is different, and better, these days). Roy was there giving out huge boxes of Krispy Kremes. What a classy guy. Anyway, I did not go to enough games the first time around, but this time I’ll go to every one I can. (My husband accused me of wanting to go to grad school here just for the basketball.) I’m absolutely convinced we’ll win a national championship since I (along with 20,000 others) was here in 1993. Well, having Ray, Rashad, Jawad, etc helps a lot too.
    Even with all the crazy construction, and a fancy Lenoir Dining hall (have you seen it?!), and a newly spiffed up Undergrad, it’s still so much the same. Different at 31 than 21, but being back here has done nothing to squelch the strange love I feel for this place. I’m in awe when I walk across campus sometimes. Do all schools inspire this in people? I wonder.

  15. flaco

    awesome, brings back great memories…
    Dillon Fence @ the Lodge on a warm windy
    spring afternoon w/ a woman singing, who was she?
    As for parties, how bout that one with the
    smokin Easter Island statue? :-)
    Multiple Scruffy the Cat shows at the Cradle,
    getting kicked out of the cradle for having a flask.
    Jonathan Richman & Modern Lovers
    Pressure Boys, OMG the Pressure Boys
    Elina was born Dec 13th @ 12:26 am
    a little halal (new cresent moon) baby
    She is wonderful, perfect!!
    Mom is doing well, just came home tonight
    Thanks for walk down mem lane, cameron ave,
    and the Cradle (two locations ago)

  16. Ruby Sinreich

    Hey Ian, how you been? It’s great that the Internet allows us to stay barely in touch – just enough. ;-}
    One of the closest things to the time machine you desire is to watch Norwood’s “Young Rock” video compilation. You should really try to get it, it will take you weeks to wipe the grin off your face after seeing your friends goofing around and trying to look cool on camera.
    Even though I never left Chapel Hill, I have nostalgia for those days too. Dancing and sweating at the old Cradle (esp. to the Veldt and Sex Police), beeing a near-groupie to Dillon Fence (I still run into Scott Carle around Durham), occasionally visiting your frat (I had a huge crush on one of your ‘brothers’).
    Still, I’m glad I finally got old. I always wanted to.

  17. eric g.

    ian, this post brought back virtual tidal waves of nostalgia. i went looking for my polvo cds. it’s funny, as i was packing up my house for my umpteenth move a few weeks ago, i ran across a picture of justin mcguire and me at the very same pledge formal. i haven’t seen scoops lately, but i’ll bet we were both about twenty pounds lighter that night than we are today. see you in durham.

  18. Annie

    If anyone is still reading these comments–WAY unbelievable as it may seem (and possibly inspired by this very blog entry) Dave and I rented “Immortal” this weekend–yes, the Chapel Hill indie film which pretended to be a bad vampire movie but was really a vehicle for the filmmakers’ band to be featured rockin out next to the likes of much-invoked-here Archers of Loaf, Dillon Fence, and Polvo (as well as the less-celebrated Reverb-a-ray, June, and any other bands in which Joe Caparo played).
    We couldn’t finish it (too bad) but it was a hell of a time seeing the old Cradle and shots of Franklin St. ten years ago…best I must admit was still the movie-within-a-movie starring my brother, shot out at our farmhouse (“…I still wish I knew who that was inside my apartment…and why she was trying to kill me…and why I fell in love with her. I did know one thing, though–it was gonna be the best summer ever!”)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.