Monday, November 24, 2008
Okay, so I started my Tour de Childhood on Saturday and we will return to that today. Our next stop is Fargo, North Dakota, which is a deeply, deeply weird place. The band Southern Culture on the Skids came one summer when I was in college and I heard through the grapevine that they said Fargo was the weirdest place they had ever been. This is a group that throws fried chicken at their audiences. They know from weird.
So, December 1982. I am four years old. We pull up in front of our rental house and I immediately threw up. This rather inauspicious beginning is easily credited to traveling from New York to North Dakota in December with a 2 year old sister, a 4 month old brother, two stressed-out parents and two freaked-out cats in a Dodge Aries K. Frankly, I'm surprised we all didn't throw up.
I spent the rest of my childhood in Fargo, only leaving when I went to college. The thing that is bad about Fargo is that it is so isolated. But the thing that is great about Fargo is that it is so isolated. It allowed people to become genuinely weird and creative people, and gave them the space to try things that a bigger city would not allow. There were so many strange band venues. I saw Bikini Kill at the Elks, and Calvin Johnson at the bowling alley. There was also an old skating rink called the Purple Pickle or something, and local bands would play there too. Some guys started a theatre/coffee house/hangout place downtown with carpet samples laid out all over the floor and walls. It lasted about 4 months, but it was great. It was so unabashedly itself.
There was also a lot of ignorance and closed-mindedness and I'd be lying if I said I didn't fantasize about leaving from approximately age 13 onward. But I feel some real tenderness toward a place that lets people leave their cars running, unlocked, in the parking lot while they go grocery shopping. It makes you start thinking a little bit . . . weird.
2. How do you not mention the Frisky Goat when you speak of your youth in Fargo?
I have a special chamber in my heart for Fargs, always will.