Smells Like the 90s

I’ve already written about my love for grunge. I told you about Nirvana, my favorite band, about the events I witnessed during some of the grunge concerts I’ve been to, and about the outfits, I was wearing at the time. However, I don’t think I’ve ever talked about the actual grunge clubs and concerts I frequented during the 90s. You know, Nirvana had a song called “Smells like teen spirit”, but have you heard of the phrase “smells like the 90s”? Well, let me tell you what that meant for the grunge clubs.    

Grunge clubs were dark, not sanitized, and salacious. If you measure them by today’s standards, they were not very technically equipped and they were very, and I mean VERY smoky and dim. Everybody was smoking in clubs back then. When you’d enter the club, you’d had to maneuver through a heavy white curtain of cigarette smoke before you could find somebody you know. A cigarette for most people was a part of their outfit and style. Standing or sitting in the corner and enjoying the music with a fresh cigarette in the mouth was part of our allure. The smoke was so heavy that the clothes we were wearing stank of cigarettes mixed with spilled alcoholic beverages. You had to wash the clothes immediately cause the stink was unbearable. But this is something that we rarely did back then.

On the stage, you could see a band, mainly guys, playing guitars and drums. The guys had long hair, they usually wore button-up shirts, baggy jeans, boots, or old sneakers. The shirts were in a different color, but the most dominant colors were different nuances of green, black, and red. And yes, we all had incidental (or not) cigarette burns on our clothes. The girls were in the front, dancing with their long hair and watching the band do their thing while waiting for a hookup. Everybody was in their own fantasy land, but we all tried to emulate Nirvana. That’s why the death of our idol was such a heavy hit. 

Quite opposite from now, isn’t it? Now we have well-rounded clubs, equipped with the newest sound systems. Cigarettes are not allowed, or if they are, the room is equipped with air purifier devices for cigarette smoke. Now we have our indie bands who sing about romantic failures. The clubs smell like synthetic perfumes with notes of strawberries, vanilla, and coffee. Everybody wears branded clothing. Everybody is nice and dandy. Everybody is well behaved. There is no smell of cigarettes and cheap alcohol. And it definitely doesn’t smell like the 90s. It’s the 2020s.   

What a Show!

Thanks for joining me. I have a cool subject. Is an ex-grunge addict still grunge? I ask this question on my own behalf. I was one of the most avid devotees of the genre and I still have a soft spot in my heart for the old bands. It takes me back. I don’t think you ever get over the music of your youth whatever it might have been. And I know now that you can be a productive member of society and still love grunge. Let’s share the memories. Grunge is alive!

Today, I must tell you about a show I saw recently that highlighted a traveling grunge band. They completely looked the part. I couldn’t believe the level of excitement this music elicits in the young. They still look unkempt and dress right. Maybe they are just acting like they do for the Rocky Horror Show. Then they go home and trade their torn rags for normal clothes before mom sees them. Ha! I was there with this new crop of aficionados along with a number of old timers reliving the past. We are the best kind of support group.

After the show, when nerves were on edge and emotions high, the attendees were getting out of control. Fights broke out because of silly arguments and I even saw one young man get shocked by a taser. It happened so fast that I didn’t even realize it at first. He dropped like a fly and rolled on the ground writhing in pain. I had never seen this device in action. How can such a little thing cause such devastation to the body? It must have considerable juice. Others rushed to help and someone called 911 although I doubt if it would have mattered. He would be up and about before they arrived. Nonetheless, despite the melee, I had a great time. What a show! It is important to tell you how much impact the music still has on me. It reaches my soul. The rioting is part of the experience. When I was a kid, I never told my parents about that part. They knew the music as I blasted it at home, and they hated every bit of it. I won’t be that way with my children. I will join in the fun. It will be weird if they come to despite grunge and prefer pop or soft rock. It will be disappointing to say the least. I am going to save all my old albums for them.

I will tell them about post-grunge or hard rock that was popular in the mid-90’s to bring back the sounds of Seattle bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. As you can see from this blog, it still survives today with the same dark material and appropriation from punk and metal. There is a lot to share. I like the idea of keeping up just for my offspring.

Not Every Guy Can Pull off Wearing Eye Makeup

You say there is a grunge party tonight. I am coming! I love to dress up as your favorite musician and tonight it will be Eddie Vedder. I am taking a friend who wants to be Joe Armstrong. What a pair we will make. Memories are flooding my mind of Kurt Cobain and Pearl Jam in the nineties. As you may recall, their first album, Ten (1991), became a mega hit on the strength of great tracks like “Alive,” and “Jeremy,” and their two follow-up records also went multiplatinum. Will we ever get over these guys and their impassioned vocals? Grunge may not be the music of choice right now, but it lives on in my heart. I love the hard-hitting, almost confessional style of Vedder. I can’t say enough about his band. I even remember his music in the eighties when he was part of Bad Radio, another progressive rock group.

My friend reminded me that Billie Joe Armstrong is also a legend in punk rock, having been a guitarist and vocalist for Pinhead Gunpowder. Don’t you love those grunge band names! He hails from California which has spawned many an American musician. I think my friend has made a good choice. So we get our outfits ready after looking on line at some old photos of back in the day. We even do up our faces with makeup topped off by eyelash extensions coated with mascara. Not every guy can pull this off unless going to a costume party. Because we don’t do this that often, neither of us had any mascara. We were too embarrassed to borrow any from a girlfriend or buy it at the drugstore or cosmetics depots. We search online, finding this web page – – and look at pages and pages of mascara with different names. Did we want jumbo, spidery, extra volumizing, lengthening, for eyelash extensions, or waterproof? Since we didn’t expect to cry, we went with maximizing. We felt ridiculous until we tried it out and loved how we resembled our idols.

We looked every bit the part as you can see on Instagram. We love the raccoon eyes. We looked like we never had any sleep and had been partying for weeks. Such is the nature of grunge. The problem was getting that thick darned gooey stuff off. My friend pointed out that you just take off the eyelash extensions and there you have it. No more mascara. Some did get on my eyelids and I needed a special remover. Mascara is supposed to stay put. Women like that it lasts a really long time through the day and subsequent evening. The mascara remover I selected did a good job. There wasn’t even a trace of the black stuff the next day when I went to work. I didn’t want any probing questions.

Gym Playlist

Nirvana as a Buddhist concept literally means the state of perfect happiness and that is what happens to me when I listen to Kurt Cobain and friends (yes, the drummers did come and go). I am completely in the zone when it is with me—be it the iPod or smart phone. And it is not just when I am relaxing on the couch at home eating my favorite snacks along with tossing back a few beers. These are the times that the speakers are roaring. It is frequent enough. It also is my music of choice at the gym to accompany my frequent workouts. It is on the top of my gym playlist.

Exercise and fitness are not really an obsession like Nirvana is to me, so you certainly won’t find a home gym hiding in my garage, but it is necessary and does me great good. So I persist with a little help. If I can combine my passions at one time, it is more than efficient and productive. The music allows me to even go to the gym at all. It lures me there, knowing it provides an hour of intense aural experience. I am not so sure I would indulge quite so often.

I do the usual stuff when working out: lifts with weights, sit-ups, crunches, pushups, a little sparring, and a little aerobics. I ride the treadmill with glee. I use straps for stretching and that big inflated plastic ball for balance and support. I lunge and squat along with the best of them. It is a thorough plan of action. But without the music, it is bland and dull. It goes nowhere.

Seattle born and bred, Nirvana is alternative music, but not to me. It is the staple of my listening existence and a number one priority. It is no wonder that it gets me pumped at the gym, letting me pump iron in style. People ask why? Try it for yourself and see what you feel. The remastered album is amazing, featuring the Live and Loud concert from 1993. YouTube videos are a great way to be acquainted. I am here to get converts and it isn’t hard! You go back to 1989 to experience the vocals, from quiet and soft, to loud and energetic. The music is a display of similar contrasts. In Utero was far from mainstream and garnered numerous followers, who are still on board. But Nevermind was the real winner for many years earlier.

Rock knows no parallel in terms of dynamic contrasts. I eat it up. Doing reps at the gym goes by fast and furiously as I absorb the sounds of Seattle grunge. Was it really that long ago? I ponder this question as I burn calories. I get visual images going back decades. They seem like yesterday. It was a landmark time in rock, never to be forgotten. I think people forget how influential Nirvana was, making alternative rock a permanent music genre. It has its place in history, but it is still alive for me.

Soft Water Hard Water

It’s time to get a new home water filtering system. I have been hearing the not so subtle hints. While I like my music hard, my girlfriend likes her water soft! No kidding. It’s time to make the shower and bath experience spa-like and pampering just for her. (Do men really care?) If I comply, I will no doubt be in good stead for some time. After all, there is some monetary outlay involved, so pleasing her has a price.

You can buy dispenser units for individual sinks and showers or you can buy an entire filtering system for the home. They bring in tanks and change the filters as needed. Cost is the underlying factor in making a decision. But no expense should be spared in the name of love, right? I am told, by her of course, that soft water makes your skin less dry and your hair more manageable. Who wouldn’t want that!

Hard water is loaded with chemicals, some harsh, such as mercury, lead, chlorine, and the like. While we wouldn’t dare drink this, we do bathe in it, at least most of us, without a thought as to health detriments. I think it is more cosmetic, actually, since no one has died from hard water exposure. Nonetheless there is a principle involved here.

The newer water softener systems are salt and potassium-free and low maintenance, which is a plus (yes I am making a pro/con list). They don’t use magnets (when did they?) The units now employ what is called reverse osmosis so it is safe and eco-friendly. They say it costs “pennies a day.” Mmm. It does save on bottled water if you keep your new kitchen faucet tap water cold in the fridge. But we are talking showers here, not hydration. They also say the filtered water is “odor-free.” Is that a benefit? I guess so. My girlfriend thinks so!

The moral, then, of this blog, is not just a primer on a home water system, but on how to keep your lady happy, and soft. Take heed and do it, it will pay off in the long run. We want the highest standards in water usage, right?

Eighty five percent of US homes have hard water, so the statistics say. I think this would be a good business to own. Hard water means high mineral contact that leaves scale and residue. Hard to clean faucets and crusty shower heads. This stuff corrodes metal. Your dishwasher doesn’t clean as well and your soap doesn’t lather. Crisis! Towels and clothing feel scratchy after washing and look dingy. Hard water also takes more energy to heat whether it is the water heater, the dishwasher, or the washing machine. In addition to limp hair, you get more razor burns, and itchy skin. For the ladies who color their hair, it fades faster.

Now I get the total picture and see through my girlfriend’s eyes. I am not going to say another snide word about soft water, not one.

Nirvana: Fun Facts Little Known Things About the Band


When you’re a die-hard fan of Nirvana, like I am, you learn some behind the scenes info that most people don’t know.  I was, and still am, consumed with Nirvana and have scoured through the net, hard copy magazines and every other available records in order to find out all I can about the band and its members.

Did you know that Kurt Cobain and Kourtney Love had a little girl?  Yep!  Her name is Frances Bean.  She was born in 1992.  She was named after the Scottish guitarist of the The Vaselines, Frances McKee.
“Bean” came about because Kurt thought she looked like a kidney bean in her ultra-sound debut photo.  Kurt died in 1994.

The group wasn’t always called Nirvana.  At first they were the ‘Angry Samoans’.   Then, Kurt decided to pick a name that was serene and beautiful instead of angry and mean.  Thus, the name ‘Nirvana’.

Something else I find kind of cool is that Kurt thought that the name of his band, “Nirvana”, should be spelled in all caps.  Wonder if he knew that stands for yelling.  Probably he did!

Kurt’s name was once misspelled as ‘Kurdt’.  Kurt liked it and adopted it as the spelling of his name as a reinventing of himself of sorts.  Some think it was also to put a bit of distance between his on stage personality and his private life.  Looking back at the way things ended, I am inclined to think that might be so.

Kurt’s funny looking guitars were patterned after a group that was popular during the 60’s surf era.  He also had a nickname for his Fender Jaguar.  It was named “Little Baby” and as you can guess, he was quite fond of it.

Krist Novoselic is Croatian.  Although some people think it’s like ‘Kurdt’ and is just a tweak of his name, it’s the real deal.

Kurt and Krist attended the MTV Headbanger’s Ball in elaborate yellow robes.  They were quite a hit and seemed to have had a blast at the affair.

And last but certainly not least, do you happen to know Kurt’s middle name?  It’s ‘Donald’, of course.

It’s the inside information that reminds me that Nirvana was just a group of guys who bled red blood, just like me.  They were great, alright, but they were human too.  Kurt went through a good bit of problems with his marriage and fatherhood too.  His little girl was temporarily taken away due to his and Kourtney’s bout with drugs.  That’s pretty human.

Sometimes I wonder if Kurt had realized that it was those human things we have in common that fans love about him, if he would have stuck life out.  I think it was a lot of pressure to live up to the pedestal we all put him on.

I keep digging and digging, hoping to find more out about the band and the lead singer who went to rest way too early in his life.  The music lives and from time to time a new fact surfaces that gives us yet another piece to the puzzle and another look into the lives of the humans who made up the superhuman sounds of Nirvana.

I’m a Huge Fan

I’m a huge fan, and I don’t mean the kind that blows cold air. (You actually might describe me that way from time to time, but it is not in order to cool off a room.) When it is hot and stifling in the summer, I do utilize a ceiling fan that does the job quite well, but I am referring here to that other kind of totally devoted music fan, and for me it’s all for Nirvana.

A music fan has a limited number of groups to follow, otherwise you would be too eclectic. And within these groups there are probably a half dozen albums that merit reverence. A true fan singles out what is special and worthy of adulation. You don’t just like everything. That would describe an ovine follower of the crowd.

A fan of Nirvana knows their history: when the group was formed, concert tours, best-selling albums, ups and downs. He or she knows about DGC records, the tragedies and final days in 1994, the drug use, and the survivors and posthumous releases. The group may seem like a blip in time in Abdereen Washington starting in 1988 with the Sub Pop label, but a fan keeps the memory alive. A fan marks the anniversary day of albums that went gold like Nevermind on October 12, 1991. This was not an anomaly. There were others landmarks if not so great like In Utero (after all Nirvana sold over twenty-five million records in the US alone and I believe over seventy-five around the world).

Some say that Nirvana is a bottomless well of nostalgia and that Kurt Cobain is a spokesman of a generation. I like that description. A true fan only matures years after the hysteria anyway. At first when a new group arises, you are an observer, then a participant, and finally a full-fledged fan. To talk about grunge and alternative rock is to say almost nothing. Your association as a fan goes way beyond mere words.

I consider myself a fan of the first order. If you were comparing me to either a desk top whirring kind or a big giant ceiling job, I would be the latter – one of the biggest and best ceiling fans lol. My blades would extend from the core or center (symbolizing the group) out into the atmosphere as far as the eye could see. I would be seen to have influence and reach in the form of my blog. Thank you for joining in!

You now know that Nirvana has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year—in its first year of eligibility. You know that fans of the group will keep them in the limelight as long as they are physically around (and we are still young!). If I were the best example, you should be optimistic indeed. As the flagship band of generation X, Nirvana has found a permanent place in the pantheon of music stars, thanks to fans like me—and you. It might have been a struggle to build a fan base at first, but when they did, it was forever.

Green Day: Remembering the Times of My Life


I make no bones about saying Nirvana is my favorite band ever.  I am quick to tell how they wrote the songs about the story of my life.  But somewhere in the mix I have to give credit where credit is due to Green Day too.  They have done a great job of my life story too.

Back when Grunge came out, I was a lost kid.  I was, like most of my “Generation X”, going nowhere fast.  The music was as dirty as our clothes and hair.  It was a careless time when nothing much seemed to matter.

I was a loser and heard it all the time.  No one had to say it, it was just an understood fact.  My parents held hope that I would become a renowned criminal attorney like my dad.  But I think they knew better.  I sure did.  I wasn’t attorney material and didn’t care to be.  My one and only passion was music and not just any music, Grunge was my thing.

I spent a lot of time writing music.  I even wrote blogs before blogs were cool.  In fact, I’m not even sure the entries had the name, “blog”, yet.  But I wrote on much to the chagrin of my teachers and parents.  They thought it was a waste of time being so obsessed with the bands who they said had “serious undertones”.

That’s where Green Day comes in.  They caught a lot of flak too.  In fact, that’s how they got their name or at least that was the word back then.  It was said that the boys were told by a school principal that it would be a cold day in hell before they made anything of themselves.   Thus, the name Green Day.  I held to that in some really hard times, especially regarding my love for music as a career.

Turns out the story wasn’t true.  The name came about because they liked smoking weed.  They were puffing away, watching Sesame Street one day and the kid song “Today is a Green Day” came on and the name stuck.  It’s funny and typical of the era but I like to believe the original story instead.

The group has done well through the years.  “When I Come Around” is a great song and catchy like many of their tunes.  “Time of Your Life” is another classic.  It was even chosen as the closing song for the last Seinfeld show.  It is a great song for a slide show, wedding or just to reflect upon life like I do when it plays.

Their musical rock opera, American Idiot, hit Broadway.  That’s something, for sure.  They’ve had other cool endeavors too like the documentary at South by Southwest Film Festival. Billie Joe Armstrong’s new work “Like Sunday, Like Rain” which is an independent film.

Billie Joe Armstrong has been quoted as saying, “You can take us out of a punk rock environment, but you can’t take the punk rock out of us.”  I happen to feel the same way.  I am a bit cleaner now and more motivated for sure, but a punk rock Grunger I will always be!

Too Much Grunge

Just let me hear some of that rock and roll music
Any old way you choose it
It’s got a back beat, you can’t blues it
Any old time you use it
Gotta be rock ‘n’ roll music
If you wanna dance with me…

So said the Beatles, who spouted eternal truths. I know they were referring to the fifties, but for me it’s all about 90’s grunge with Nirvana in the front seat. Remember back in the day…

I was a teenager then in looks, age, and spirit–dirty hair, ragged clothes, not a care in the world. Unkempt meant cool. What, after all, was grunge? It didn’t boil down to things as simple as a poor appearance. It was a philosophy about life and music that suited a disenfranchised group on the edge of adulthood and all its alleged disappointments. It was rebellious, ingenious, threatening, and anti-social. In other words, it was awesome.

You couldn’t just stop washing and cutting your hair. It was deeper than that, which is while it still lingers in my soul. Thank God the toenail fungus I had isn’t still there. It was a mark of my social rejection and downtrodden lifestyle. In that regard, it was too much grunge!

Nirvana was the first great band I ever heard, and it may be the last. As fans, we know who we are. It hit you in the face as a kid and dug deep into your soul. Michael Jackson and Madonna couldn’t touch the feeling it evoked. Heavy metal was just sound—too polished and laden with eyeliner and sequins. It was all party music, nothing emotionally introspective like what was to come.

Reminiscing is great. I don’t have to reach too far back since for me the era is still part of my current reality. It was a landmark musical style that almost became too popular for its own good. I kind of like to be underground, not mainstream. I suppose it comes with the territory. The new and avant-garde are always pre-empted eventually by mass taste. It’s a good thing, however, as it keeps the music alive. No matter that it became inaccessible to some in the long run, too edgy and too abrasive.

The media spotlight was always on Kurt Cobain when he was alive, and still is in death. He was the exemplar of grunge critical success. It is like yesterday in my mind. Kids retain what truly impacts them forever. Now you can ironically call me old-fashioned since I hark back so far in the past. These were formative years for rock, which had much deeper roots, but nothing at this level of distortion and novel dynamics—and it came out of Seattle. Trends wax and wane no matter how important they are.

So the kid with the toenail fungus has a memory for that great alternative music in his younger years. He keeps it going and moving forward as the epitome of youth, aggression, non-theatrical authenticity, and raw emotion.

Grunge: What It Is and Why I Like It


Grunge was the first music I ever really got into.  I could relate to it.  It was the music of my generation and it summed up how I was feeling, what I was thinking and what I was doing…or not doing, you might say.

To me, Grunge was kind of like the hippy movement, revisited in a way.  The dirty guitar and distorted sounds of Grunge tells the tale of “Generation X”, unsettled and rebellious.  I dressed the part with holey jeans and clothes that looked like they hadn’t been washed in a week.  It didn’t matter.  I wasn’t going to be doing anything or going anywhere anyway.  That was part of the deal too.  I was totally unmotivated, except for getting down with my Grunge music, that is.

Times have changed a bit.  I finally got up off my butt and went to school, got a job and grew up some.  But I never have outgrown Grunge.  I probably never will.

Nirvana is King of Grunge as far as I’m concerned.  Love the way they put their own touch to the movement and made it their own.  To me, that’s what it’s all about.

Soundgarden is another favorite.  They were and still are the Seattle sound.  Nirvana somewhat stole the show when they came onboard but they have an undeniable presence too.  “Black Hole Sun” is their best song in my opinion but “Outshined” was a good one too.  I think “Outshined” summed up the way Nirvana did exactly that, outshined them.  Their crisp sound with awesome range set them apart though and the fact that they broke up and got back together showed they really were about giving fans what they wanted.

Pearl Jam, Green Day, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains…I could go on and on about the Grunge groups I grew up with.  They understood my lost generation and in some weird way, I think they helped us find ourselves in the darkness or at least kept us entertained through it all.

Looking back, Grunge music was something we could hold on to.  Lots of it, especially Nirvana tunes, were about despair and depression but that was where we were.  Happily, the bands have progressed to a more upbeat message, or maybe it’s just me.

Some Grunge has weathered the storm right along with us.  Green Day is one.  They just came out with a new album, “Demolicious”.  Love the acoustics of “Stay the Night” in Billie Joe Armstrong’s solo performance on the record.  Some of the content is the old stuff and some has progressed but Green Day has been around since I can remember so they’ve been like a rock for me, I guess.

Grunge and alternative music defines who I am now and who I used to be.  It was there with me when I was nobody doing nothing.  At that time, the most passionate I got about anything was when it came to my music.  But, at least something made me come alive.  I have grown up a lot as many of my generation have.  Still, I like to go back to the glory days where everything was dirty from our clothes and hair right down to the music we listened to.  I wouldn’t trade those days, nor the music, for anything.   They helped make me who I am today.