Jeroo started getting really good on the guitar. By 14 or so he had surpassed my ability to teach him anything. Remember … even though I was The Music Guy at Emerald, I had retired from rock ‘n roll at 18! From a musical development perspective, I was pretty stunted, although I did know an impressive number of songs.
Jeroo got some of his friends interested in starting a band. I helped them. Wow, was that fun! When they started getting serious about getting their music heard, however, I was at a loss as too how to help them. The days of music labels and disc jockeys and top 10s had passed. Everything seemed to be happening on the Internet, and I didn’t speak that language. When the band decided on a name, however, they paid me, their mentor, the ultimate compliment by deciding they would be … (dramatic pause) … The Spawn of Grendel.
I shouldn’t have let them do, but I was so damn flattered. What were the chances that anyone would ever make the connection:
My life had finally taken a different path. After paying my legal dues at Daddy’s law practice, I threw my hat into different arena, running for political office. Before I knew it I was a rising star in the small world of Rhode Island politics! Who’da thunk?
Life was chaotic, but great. The kids … there were now three … were now ensconced adolescents. Cassandra was a full-time Mom, but also a powerhouse in community events and my campaign manager.
On a very different note, Emerald’s time had passed. The hippie culture of the late 60s had given way to a much harder edged world where the mellow playfulness of marijuana gave way to the exposed nerves of cocaine and methamphetamine. We tried turning the other cheek, but guns were starting to enter the picture, and law enforcement was becoming much more evident. We were concerned for Jeroo, too, but going to public high school and playing in the band were keeping him out of harm’s way.
The band was getting really good. They were playing outside gigs– school dances, battle of the bands, but they were definitely spreading their wings!
‘Sythia and I came to the same conclusion … it was time for me to become invisible again.
One day I’m going past Wendy’s–she’s now 15– bedroom, and I hear something that strikes a chord, a very weird resonance. All three kids are gathered around her computer staring at her monitor, which is showing bizarre images to an oddly familiar tune. What the fuck? I screamed downstairs “Cassandra, get up here … fast!”
I got Wendy to play it again, and again, and again. It was very disorienting. There was a lot of distortion and special effects, but I recognized the song as through a long forgotten dream. “What’s the name of the song?” I asked. “Tried Girls,” said Wendy. “And who’s the group?”
“The Spawn,” she replied. “The Spawn of Grendel.”
Cassandra and I … were … gobsmacked.
I was so excited that I stayed up until 1 a.m., well past my bedtime, to try to learn more. This was the early days of the Internet, before Google, so doing research online was pretty cumbersome, but I was able to learn a few things, notably that the name of the group performing the song was Spawn of Grendel. GRENDEL! Another link. This was beyond believable. I found a few pictures of the band–typical young punks. The song was credited to someone named Jerusalem Mann.
There were some people at work who I knew would be able to find out more. Because of my political office I had some high level contacts in the state police, and this is one time I didn’t hesitate to abuse my power. I gave them what I knew and asked that they look into it further.
A few days later, my assistant came back to me with some additional information, but not much. The song, now titled “I Tried Girls” was very popular, however that was defined in those days. There were some written interviews about the group in music magazines and on various websites, but there was very little tangible information. Interviews with the group inconclusive and contradictory. The state police had been able to find out that Jerusalem Mann did have a driver’s license, no criminal record, and a permanent address in a town called Comptche, California. And one more tidbit. The address listed is for a commune named Emerald, and that part of California is known to be a hotbed of the underground marijuana business.
You Just Don’t Get It
The next night at the dinner table I’m explaining to the kids why it was so exciting for me and their mother to hear the song by The Spawn of Grendel on the Internet. “Grendel was a band for a little over two years, but they were really important years, when you start changing from a kid into an adult.”
I spewed on for a few minutes, about Del and I first getting together, and C-Am-F and G, and how I stayed up until 2 am doing Internet research on The Spawn of Grendel, and The Little Prince, and …
I looked out on glazed expressions of “He’s having a ‘Dad’ moment.” Finally, Wendy did her patented eyeball roll. “It’s just a song,” she said.
“But it’s a song with a lot of meaning,” I protested. The background sound was her playing me like a fiddle. “You don’t even know what the song is about,” I blurted out without considering how I was going to introduce the subject of masturbation at the family dinner table.
“Oh yes I do!” She shot back. “It’s about how love is love is love. And you can’t love someone else unless you love yourself first. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, where your parents come from, what church you go to, or sex you choose to be. LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE, and you just don’t get it.”
She got up abruptly, turned, and stalked out of the room, leaving a lot of awkward silence in her wake.
“Homework time,” said Cassandra calmly. Vera and Chuck took their plates to the kitchen. After a few moments of staring at each other across the table, she added “She’s got a point.”
Eventually, I turned Wendy’s tongue-lashing into a song written from her perspective: