Titans Rock

Mezzanine Owls: Lightbulb
From Slingshot Echoes (2006)

This is a somewhat autobiographical post, off the typical Soul Sides track but indulge me for a sec…

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown increasingly curious about what my high school classmates are up to. (I graduated class of 1990). One reason for this is that I attended a very affluent, very competitive public high school (San Marino, if you must ask) in Southern California and one byproduct of both its affluence and competitiveness is that most of my classmates were aspiring professionals. I might be painting with a very broad brush but I’ve always gotten the impression that most of my classmates ended up as mid-level professionals – one big mass of corporate attorneys, dentists, ophthalmologists and junior VPs.

As a result, it’s been far, far harder to locate classmates who went into artistic/creative work. I’m hardly a bohemian as a professor and music writer but from what I can tell, that’s rather “black sheep” for my alma mater. In any case, in the last few years, I’ve taken to randomly Google-ing classmates to see if I could find anyone who was NOT a corporate attorney, dentist, ophthalmologist or junior VP.

It is, to be sure, a very short list. Of course, I didn’t methodically go through 250 names (the size of my graduating class) since I barely remember even a third of that but for the most part, I only turned up a teeny handful of creative types, including Phat Phuong (awesome name), a digital artist who works for Pixar and more recently, I discovered that the drummer from my junior high school marching band (Huntington Foxes, holla!) is now the drummer for the Mezzanine Owls – a group of some renown in the L.A. indie rock scene. (That’s their photo above. Pauline is on the far right).

I checked out their music – it’s definitely more along the lines of something Music For Robots or Stereogum would plug (and that’s meant in a complimentary way).

I wasn’t close friends with Pauline growing up, though in hindsight, I did always think it was cool that she, as both female and Chinese American, was into the drums so it’s really nice to see that she stuck with it and was lauded, in some place I read, as the best female drummer since Sleater-Kinney’s Janet Weiss retired (sniff). And hey, it could be that she’s actually an ophthalmologist by day and just rocks Silverlake clubs at night but as one of the first practicing musicians I’ve found from SMHS’ “mighty class of ’90” – I’ll take it.

Speaking of high school…like a lot of Asian American kids growing up in the suburbs of L.A. in the 1980s, I listened to a lot of modern rock (before I discovered hip-hop) and as any of my flock will tell you, New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” was the anthem for Asian Americans in that generation. I still can’t completely explain why though my friends Todd and Hua both have had their theories, likely connected to AZN anomie in suburbia or something like that. So it’s with a heavy heart that I learned that Tony Wilson, founder of Factory Records which was the original home to New Order/Joy Division, just passed today, at only 57.

The movie, 24 Hour Party People was a semi-fictionalized bio-pic of his life and times (a thoroughly enjoyable film, especially if you know the music). Here’s a favorite scene from it, which seems appropriately titled: Tony Wilson meets God. RIP!

And on a similar note: I had meant to mention this earlier, though folks had posted in the comments section…but guitarist Eddie Fisher, a favorite of this site, passed away last month. I had the privilege of meeting his son in San Francisco when he dropped off a copy of Fisher’s amazing Next 100 Years CD reissue and his father will be sorely missed. RIP as well.