High School – 10th grade
In the Fall of 1986 my family and I moved to New Canaan, CT after a 5 year stint overseas in Saudi Arabia. I was 15 years old. New Canaan is the epitome of a small New England town. Small but uber-wealthy. David Letterman lived there at the time (maybe he still does) and he would even mention the town in his monologues and jokes sometimes. There was a town ordinance that prohibited any fast food franchises to setup shop there…an effort to keep out the “riff-raff”. I was so jazzed to be moving back to the States and I was head-long into the throes of my Metalness when we settled in NC. My enthusiasm would soon turn to disappointment once I was enrolled at New Canaan high school. It was beyond difficult to be accepted and make any friends for many reasons. There probably hadn’t been a new student there in a long time, much less one with a non-white name. It was a very closed and insulated environment. As humans we try to find and gravitate towards those that are similar to ourselves. There was no one similar to me. One of the most odd and baffling things I noticed was that the kids at school were really into The Grateful Dead and other 60’s era rock/folk music. I just couldn’t understand why or how young people were so enthralled with the music of their parent’s generation rather than being into what was current. The most Metal anyone got was maybe some dudes who were into Whitesnake and the like. I was an outcast with my whole “Thrash” thing going on. The school was really progressive in that they allowed students to leave campus for lunch, we were able to pick our teachers, and the order of classes (periods) would change everyday. I was teased and picked on constantly and I would wander the halls and sit in un-used stairwells during lunch. It was miserable.
I decided to get a part-time job after school and was hired at the local grocery store called Grand Union. I was there for just a couple of months until I noticed that the local CVS was hiring and paying more. I left Grand Union and got the job at CVS. My boss at CVS was a wonderful woman. She was really kind and friendly. I wish I could remember her name. I had a great time at that job and met lots of nice people. I remember an older girl that worked there full time during the day. She was probably 18 or so and was kind of a Metal chick…I thought she was so hot. There was also a cute Asian girl from high school who worked there. She had kind of a new-wave look about her…forget her name too. I got a bike and would ride to work and put my bike in the back store-room of the store. I spent a lot of time in that store-room drawing and writing excerpts from my favorite songs on the walls. No one minded. I opened my own bank account and at an early age I came to understand budgeting and the value of working for one’s own money. I pretty much always had a part time job from that point on and all through college. I just never liked asking my parents for money that I wanted to use to by records by bands with names like Possessed, Dark Angel, or Nuclear Assault. This little town had their own record store and I remember them having quite a bit of good stuff. Some of the stuff I got there was: Metal Church – The Dark, Flotsam & Jetsam – No Place For Disgrace, and the Metal Massacre 4 compilation. I also worked with another cute girl from school named Kristin. I’ll talk about her again later. I also met a couple of older guys at the tail end of my stint in NC at CVS. One’s name was Roger and he was home from college in the Summer of 1987.
Shows and Friends
I remember riding or walking to work one day and on the way I noticed some older dudes hangin out by their car and listening to some Metal…real Metal. I gathered up the courage to talk to them and one of them told me that Overkill was gonna be playing at a club in Norwalk called The Anthrax…how perfect. On a side note – The Anthrax is considered a legendary underground club on par with places like CBGB’s. In fact there is a book about it called “Everybody’s Scene” by Chris Daily. Before moving overseas as a pre-teen, I had been to a few concerts, but my Dad had always accompanied me and my little brother. Now at 15 or 16 years old, I really wasn’t into the idea of going anywhere near a show with my father. I asked my Dad if I could go to the show with these guys that I had just met and he started asking me a million questions. Who are these guys? Where is this place? Who’s driving? Will there be any drinking going on? I felt like a little girl. My parents have always been very protective and I can now see and appreciate where they were coming from. He was being a good father. We had just moved back from being in an environment that was largely free of crime, temptation, and vices. It wasn’t that my Dad didn’t trust me, he didn’t trust others. He was being cautious and was worried. Needless to say, I didn’t go to that show. I have always been a late bloomer and I was terribly shy and introverted as a young person. I always had a hard time making friends and getting comfortable with people. Moving around so much also didn’t help and whenever I finally did make friends, it was time to move again. This happened in NC as well. At first I was really excited when we got the news that my family and I would be moving to Houston after just one year of being in NC, but when I finally started making friends and actually enjoying myself, it made me sad that we had to leave. I wonder what things would be like if we had stayed in NC. I bet I would have gotten really involved in the CT underground Metal scene. It was small and tight knit and there were some really good bands making a name for themselves from this little state – Fates Warning, I.N.C, Liege Lord. I had gotten to be friends with a dude in my art class…don’t remember his name either. We had sat at the same table the entire year together and initially didn’t like one another. It was a huge deal to me when he asked me to come over after school and hang out with him and some of his other friends when school was getting out for the Summer and I would be moving shortly after. I was quite smitten with Kristin from work and we had gotten to be fairly good friends. She was so pretty, genuine, and kind. I remember kissing her on the cheek goodbye at the store just before moving. I had also established a good friendship with Roger. He was a musician and I remember turning him onto some of the Thrash stuff. He was so blown away. He had never heard anything like it. He even invited me to a party that Summer with a bunch of older college age kids. Roger wrote me a letter after I moved to Houston in which he told me he thought I was a very mature person and he admired my courage and sense of reality. It was really cool of him to say that. I got wind that Flotsam & Jetsam were playing at The Anthrax and asked Roger and Kristin if they’d want to go. Roger was integral since he was old enough to drive and had a car. My Dad didn’t have a problem this time around since it was people I knew from school and work. We headed off to Norwalk to see the show. It was a trip and a surreal experience for all of us. The club was a major dive, but I had heard a lot about this place on the college Metal radio show I used to listen to. Tons of great local and national acts would play there. Local Connecticut hero’s I.N.C opened up the show. What a kick-ass band. They put out two really great records back in the day on Giant Records – “Razorback” and “The Visitor”. That night they played their cover version of “Just What I Needed” and “Candy-O” by The Cars. Roger couldn’t believe it. Arizona’s Flotsam & Jetsam came on next and the place went insane. They were touring for the “No Place For Disgrace” record. It was the first time I was witnessing slam-dancing and stage-diving. People were doing somersaults off the stage and hanging from the ceiling rafters. It was awesome. I bought Kristin a Flotsam t-shirt that night.
Conclusion and Today
My tenure in New Canaan was only a year and a few months. A blip on the radar of my life thus far. It was a long time ago, but yet the memories are fairly vivid. It was a difficult and fun time. In the throes of being a teen-ager, hormones raging, feeling and acting different. A trying and impressionable time. A time of starting to establish and maintain a personal identity. I acquired tons of great music in New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, and Danbury. It was a monumentally important time in music. 1986 and 1987 were the height of criticality in the Thrash/Cross-Over/Speed Metal scenes. I still cherish all those records that I bought at that time. It was also a time of innocence and naivety. A time when the days, weeks, and months seemed much longer than they are now. The one person that I still think about is Kristin. I tried to look her up and called her in the 90’s when I was in Beacon, NY visiting my cousins. Her Mom said she was doing a study abroad program at that time. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I thought I’d try to find her on that pervasive and invasive website that we all know, love, and hate – FaceBook. And what do ya know…25 years later we’re back in touch. Pretty wild. And to make it even wilder, she’s got a pic on her page with her friend wearing that very same Flotsam & Jetsam t-shirt that I got her way back then. Pretty freakin awesome! How time flies, but yet stands still.