I have a deep, dark, secret shame — one that, until recently, I’ve kept fiercely guarded.
When company comes over, the incriminating evidence is quickly covered with a blanket (or more likely, given the state of my apartment, whatever lingerie is currently hanging from the lampshade). I furtively dial down the volume on my iPod as strangers pass, in morbid fear they might overhear the faint whispers of my secret musical disgrace. I can’t sing in the shower in the gym, lest I be marked as a freakish outcast.
Hi, my name is Sarah Klein … and I really like Journey.
I suppose this wouldn’t be a particularly earth-shattering revelation, depending on one’s feelings toward ’80s cheese rock. However, I dwell in certain subcultures — most of my wardrobe makes a hell of a lot of noise in the dryer — where this sort of thing is simply unacceptable. It’s just not cool to like Journey.
Or is it?
Tired of the lies and guilt, recently I tentatively ventured out of my Journey closet, only to discover — gasp — there were others just like me! That tattooed rocker dude in all black? Journey fan. That cool chick in a plastic mini with pink dreads down to her butt? Totally knows all the words to “Faithfully.” Inexplicably, I’ve even found goths who, after a couple of drinks, will sheepishly fess up their fondness for Steve Perry, the embarrassment literally dripping from their three-inch labret spikes. Recently, I stood up in the wedding of a pierced, tattooed and formerly blue-haired lass and her rockabilly beau. Their wedding song? “Open Arms” — and during the newly wedded couple’s dance, the bridal party held their lighters high and proud. It was beautiful, man.
Someone recently tipped me to perry-tales.com, a fan fiction site for the man with “the greatest voice in music,” according to the site (which features Perry in a suit of armor atop a horse on the main page). Here you can read Journey poetry, a Steve Perry romance (entitled “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’” — duh), and a story about Steve Perry summoning the Great Pumpkin. Dude, I am so not making this shit up.
So it seems Journey is traversing the stratum of coolness. On the one end, we have the essence of cool — like the White Stripes and BlackBerry; at the other end lie New Kids on the Block. and LARPing. Journey seems to fall somewhere between Starbucks Chai and Kenny G.
Maybe this is a reflection of the greater trend where it’s now cool to like uncool things. Jesus, just look at emo. Who ever thought sweaters and thick-rimmed glasses would be trendy?
Recently, my father remarked that, in the ’70s, the Rat Pack era was seen as totally square. But today, lounge is bigger and hipper than ever, and Frankie and the boys have gone from cool to uncool and back again.
Further evidence: The wild success of the Sims has made popular the once hyper-geeky realm of role-playing games; and Napoleon Dynamite, a film about the uncoolest kid ever, had the hipster crowd flocking in droves. Across the nation, punksters and scenesters are beginning to embrace their inner dork.
And I, in turn, can profess my undying love for Steve Perry, the man for whom I would swim through the polluted, murky dregs of the Detroit River (aka South Detroit).
Yes, I know that you should just like whatever the hell you like and not give a rat’s ass about what anyone else thinks — and I do. But still, I hope that one day, we mohawked and low-rise hip-hugger-wearin’ closeted Journey fans can rise above our collective feelings of dirty, dirty shame and proudly rejoice in a united front of Journey acceptance.
Until then, you can find me at karaoke night, two-and-a-half sheets to the wind, vocally slaughtering “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Hold on to that feeling.Sarah Klein is the interim art & culture editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]