That Time I Met Craig Finn at a Jen Bekman Event

That’s a google-bomb joke! But also true. For about ten years, my REAL NAME google was soiled by a single mention in [REDACTED’s] personal blog, something [REDACTED] did in hopes of getting that very result. I had said some mean thing about [REDACTED], so it comes with the territory. Also this was not a very good google-bomb joke. That also comes with the territory.

When I met Craig, it was at the very end (of the event). He came very late and was super gracious, and was basically like ‘Hey! I’m the famous sorta friend who showed up as a favor.’ It was Saturday afternoon, IIRC, late enough in the year that it wasn’t a sweaty mess. If you were going to write a short story that you were going to pitch to the Rumpus with the title ‘I met Craig Finn at an art show’ it was literally that. Nothing more, nothing less.

My mom. MY MOM today entered into the ‘Gen X is forgotten and ignored discourse.’ I can’t even imagine what narrow or shitty portion of cable news she encountered that gave her access to this slice of discourse, but there I was nodding along and giving non-committal answers – which is a shame because having real thing to talk about to an aging parent that isn’t just unfocused anger at the failings of your country or the impossibility of atoning for six decades of regret about life choices aren’t super regular, but the ebb and flow of that sort of interaction can be tricky.

I could spend some time with a council of men about what would be the precisely calibrated list of forgotten heroes of Gen X, and it would be the sort of futile, enervating exercise that seemed so essential right around the time Bill Clinton was using his stature as the ‘first black president’ to consign generations of his people to a newly invigorated system of carceral oppression because not quite fucking an intern was on his bucket list.

Craig would probably be way up that list FOR ME, but mostly because I haven’t thought about him much at all. I assume he’s entered into a ‘not quite the National’ level of success which means he probably owns real estate and has better health care than me. Never selling out as an attribute for your generation means gaps between you and your heroes are pretty thin, which seems like good praxis but also sort of mushy when you get into your cups vis a vis ‘I COULD BEEN A CONTENDER.’

My version of this was reading an interview with James McNew, probably in 1999. Around the time the Dump Prince covers CD came out. From what I recall, he was living in Sunset Park or nearby. Sunset Park in the late 90s was pretty nowhere, sort of a ‘convenient to three subway stops for first jobs in midtown because I make $35K’ types. Like, a step above a NJ transit place you vaguely remember. And he was talking about how he would get up in the morning and record vocals before he had coffee because he like how his voice was rough. I imagined him standing in a bathrobe in Sunset Park, warbling into a four track and I was angry at how simple and awesome that life was, one that I could not have (excepting his awesome musical talent and my complete paucity) because it was beyond me. But when I was reading that article, it was in an apartment on 2nd Street in the East Village and I was probably paying three times what he did in rent. It hit me like a wave, after years of feeling like I was chasing every rich kid artist I met at art school and liberal arts school and never getting anywhere, that to have the life he did, I would just have to accept a diminution of my own choices.

What does being Gen X mean? If I’m going to put a futile stake into the ground and claim any exception, it would be that we are the last generation of this iteration of social existence that could imagine with the same degree of verve that creating meaning in a historical way could have durable impact while also being fully aware that the likelihood that ‘history’ had any value was absurd as a consequence of some very bad choices we had all collectively, if thoughtlessly made. The fumes of Armageddon have wafted for well over a century, so perhaps (I hope) our thin postulating will look as silly as the Sorrows of Wether look a hundred years hence.

Anyhoo, blogs are dead. I tried to log onto [REDACTED] today, but it’s gone, just as sure as every Willy Dufrense outpost on Clinton Street. I was in a twitter exchange earlier today and I thought briefly I would like to be thought of as the ‘artisanal [REDACTED]’ but like, literally no one remembers who that is. No one. It’s been like two years. See you at Shark Bar.