May 2, 2007

Das Boots

In 1992, grunge became all the rage. I, like any other same member of society, grew my hair down to my ass and donned flannel shirts and ripped jeans. Anyone peeking into my CD player would have found Soundgarden's Louder Than Love, with it's droning Ugly Truth, Hands All Over and the always funny Big Dumb Sex. Of course there was also Mother Love Bone, Temple of the Dog a little while later, Mudhoney and Nirvana. I have to admit, I never found myself quite as enthusiastic about Nevermind as the rest of the world seemed to be. Alice In Chains arrived on the scene followed by Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam. Ten was in constant rotation. It's still, in my mind - and despite the slick production and excess reverb - one of the finest albums ever made, and certainly the best of the grunge era.

The same year, Guns N Roses released their last proper studio albums - Use Your Illusion I and II (I refuse to count the tragically bad Spaghetti Incident chock full of inane covers). I saw GNR on the Use Your Illusion tour, before the albums had even surfaced. They were fucking brilliant.

In 1992, I went to college. I lived in a dorm room with a psychopath named Joe who talked to himself, kept knives hidden around the room and used his parents' credit card to hook us up with a video game system, a VCR and a sweet big-screen television. We were entertained but he was still a freak so I spent the majority of my time in Room 100, a place where we'd break out guitars, listen to grunge, smoke and play hearts or spades until it was way too late to even ponder going to classes the next day.

In 1992, I met Beth. Early the next year, it would turn serious. When I moved out of the dorm, to get away from my psycho-freak roommate, Beth came with me. Joe never landed another roommate. Instead he just sat in his room, watched porn on the big screen and smoked pot. My apartment became the place to be. As we had in Room 100, we'd sit around with guitars all night, smoke, drink, listen to music and play endless hands of cards.

In 1992, like the rest of the flannel and ripped jeans-wearing world, I bought myself a pair of 10-hole Doc Martens. Life in 1992 was conducted wearing those boots. Fifteen years later, the boots, like me, are a little worn down, a little tattered but, in many cases better than ever.

Rediscovering something old is sometimes cooler than finding something new.

Posted by Chris at May 2, 2007 6:25 AM

I had a pair of 8-holes that were steel-toed (got them free working in a factory one summer) that I literally wore until I had to use milk bags in the bottom to keep the rain out. Those were good boots.

While I agree that Ten is one of the defining albums, especially of the initial grunge explosion, I would argue that Screaming Trees' Sweet Oblivion was a better overall release. It didn't get the radio play that Pearl Jam did, but it was an excellent album.

Posted by: SciFi Dad at May 2, 2007 7:18 AM

I'm jealous. GnR is the one band that I wish I had seen live that I haven't.

Posted by: Lisa at May 2, 2007 8:21 AM

I have docs that old too. The most hazardous thing to have on your feet in the winter. These were before the tractor soles.

There were so many amazing bands playing small venues then.
Lolopalooza when Perry was still with Jane's Addiction....or at least Porno for Pyro's.

Posted by: Pamalamadingdong at May 2, 2007 8:29 AM

My college experience was similar, replacing "hearts" with "euchre" or our own "ghetto-rules Uno."

Posted by: Nicole at May 2, 2007 8:32 AM

My first pair of Doc's were the cute little 3 holes. I wore them until there was no rubber left... and I cried like a baby when I had to chuck them. I wish I still had those shoes. :(

Posted by: Betty at May 2, 2007 9:05 AM

The oldest thing I own and still wear? Hmmm, it's actually a sweater I got 20 years ago and it still looks brand new despite the fact that I wear it all the time. It's the one I'm wearing on my homepage photo. I got it when I visited Guatemala.

Posted by: Maribeth at May 2, 2007 9:10 AM

Awww. I have a beat up pair of 8 hole docs (but the girly kind with the high heel) that are scuffed and worn and exactly the way I like 'em when I don my black lace skirt, fishnet stockings and relive my goth days from the early '90s for a day...

Posted by: suze at May 2, 2007 9:13 AM

I was just thinking on Sunday that I missed my old Docs (which I completely wore out) and wondering if I could get a new pair somewhere.

Glad to see I'm not the only one who still appreciates them.

Posted by: bad penguin at May 2, 2007 9:37 AM

Can I tell you how much I wanted a pair of those boots? And my mother flat-out REFUSED to buy them for me. God, she was SO MEAN.

Posted by: Fraulein N at May 2, 2007 9:43 AM

oh, man, i was right there with you, Chris. the flannel. the doc martens. the stone temple pilots. the pearl jam.

i still have about 4 pairs of doc martens at my mom's house. i haven't worn them since high school...but i can't seem to give them away either. too many memories, maybe.

Posted by: ali at May 2, 2007 9:50 AM

I love my docs. I did not buy mine until 1995 when I was making my own money and felt frivilous. Ah..the life..

Posted by: Steff at May 2, 2007 9:55 AM

I still have Ten in constant rotation.

Our last move consisted of a HUGE purging effort on my part. My Docs went by way of the trash; a move I still regret to this day. What great times we had. *sigh*

RIP my dear friends.

Posted by: s@m at May 2, 2007 9:59 AM

Oh my god! I still have my original pair of Doc Martin 8-holes too!! Purchased in 1991, they have been to more concerts than most people have been to. I fear to know whats been spilled on them over the years or how many hours of "skanking" (me= ska girl in the 90's) have been put on the soles.. I REFUSE to ever throw them away.

Posted by: Stephanie at May 2, 2007 10:09 AM

I finally gave away mine...which weren't mine to begin with. A size too big but I got them for $10 at a garage sale in 1997. I did love them while I had them, but tripping over your own clown shoes got old after a while. :)

Posted by: oakley at May 2, 2007 10:59 AM

I always wanted a pair of Doc Martens, but the principal for whom I worked complained that I already didn't dress enough like a professional teacher since I wore a lot of black and my hair was spiked. Bastard.

Posted by: wordgirl at May 2, 2007 11:25 AM

I didn't have Docs - but I still have my 1st pair of Vans from nineteen-eighty-I-don't-want-to-talk-about-it...

Great post!

Posted by: Sue R at May 2, 2007 11:31 AM

Gawd, I loved the 90's!
I cried like a baby when I had to toss my boots. I wore them until they fell apart.
I still listen to Soundgarden, STP, and lots of Nirvana. Ahhhh, my youth.

Posted by: Jenn at May 2, 2007 12:12 PM

I wore through the soles of my first pair of Docs after about 5 years because I wore them all of the time. I loved those shoes so much that I bought another pair just like them that I've had for 10 years, but they're still going strong because I just don't wear them as much any more. Totally worth the extra money, but hard to believe it's been 15 years!

Posted by: Beth in StL at May 2, 2007 12:32 PM

By the time I realized I wanted some docs, they were no longer cool amongst the crowd I was hanging out with. I'm always a day late and a dollar short when it comes to trends, lol. The day I get on Facebook will be the day that everyone decides to move on to the next thing. But I do still like Nirvana.

Posted by: alison at May 2, 2007 12:45 PM

I still wear my maroon docs that I bought in '95. They really are worth every penny.

Posted by: smoness at May 2, 2007 1:00 PM

I LOVE THEM!! I had to wear mine to teach 2nd grade today! I asked a wandering 6th grader if she knew who GNR were...and she said NO. OMG...are we THAT old? Love you Chris..You ROCK MY WORLD DUDE...BLOG ON!

Posted by: Cheryl at May 2, 2007 1:31 PM

OK, first the hat post and now the shoes. Dude, I read your wife's site too, and you are supposed to be culling the items in your closet! Stop spending quality time with each item before deciding what to do with it, the task will never be completed if you do that. Believe me, I know, we moved last fall.

Posted by: Tracy at May 2, 2007 1:44 PM

My parent's live just 3 miles away... in the house I spent my whole life before college... and a few years after college. They have just sold the house and are closing on May 30th (or a few days sooner). This has forced me to go through tons of "stuff" that is just there. Stuff that would've stayed there if they weren't moving. Boy... did I save a lot of crap. But, it sure has been entertaining to go through it all and discover what memories came up from just finding stuff I forgot about.

Posted by: Colleen at May 2, 2007 1:48 PM

My first pair of doc martens was a pair of 10 hole boots covered in flowers. I still have them. I love them dearly. Those were followed by two pairs of sandals. Soon after, a pair of brown ones joined the mix. I called these "Baby Shoes" because they look exactly like baby shoes for big people. I then realized I need them in black, so I got those, too. I've only recently parted with some of them (I was over the big platform, big buckle sandals) but dont' think I'll ever be able to part with the first pair. :o)

Posted by: Emily at May 2, 2007 2:19 PM

God. Ten is one my most fave albums of all time. And I too, was not as much into Nevermind as the rest of the world. And I too, met my mate in 1992.

Posted by: aimee/greeblemonkey at May 2, 2007 2:37 PM

I love it when you post these sort of things. I also discovered Ten in 1992, graduated highschool, started college and wished for a pair of docs. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Posted by: sarah at May 2, 2007 2:42 PM

I had a white pair!

Posted by: Janet at May 2, 2007 4:23 PM

Ahhh sweet memories...12th grade, Troy in the coolest Doc Martens, grabbing me on the dance floor at the school dance to dance to Alive by Pearl Jam. *sigh* *tear*

Posted by: Felicia at May 2, 2007 5:11 PM

I recently came across my old, beat-up tapestry chucks (converse chuck taylor's) from my college days (1993-7). They are so worn, that I could barely get them on without getting my toes caught on all the ripped lining. But it felt sooo cool to put them on again. I wore those to hundreds of shows, bars, band practices, and road trips.

Posted by: Jen at May 2, 2007 5:49 PM

I love finding old stuff. Ahhh memories.

Posted by: Tuesday at May 2, 2007 6:33 PM

Wow my docs look like yours too, and I've had mine for 15 years. Funnily enough, I went to one of the many shoe stores in our Mall, and the docs they have out now are NOTHING like they were 15 years ago. I didn't like the new ones nearly as much and left feeling a little bit disheartened and depressed.

Posted by: erica at May 2, 2007 7:32 PM

I was a few years behind you, but I still have my original Docs and still jam out to the grunge music on a regular basis. I have, however, given up on the flannel shirts.

Posted by: dee at May 2, 2007 9:34 PM

My Docs are '93s, still alive and kicking.

Posted by: Sphincter at May 2, 2007 9:39 PM

I had to trade my old ten-holes in for a newer pair of Doc Mary Janes a couple of years ago, because they were in my car when it was stolen. I missed the boots way more than the car, dammit.

Here's to memories and rediscovered treasures.

Posted by: Sassy at May 2, 2007 10:24 PM

I think it does something weird to your brain (i mean, my brain) when you are 11 or 12 years old and listening to the same albums on repeat.

I blame my Dad for not wanting me to listen to rap.

However, maybe not as weird as my friend, who at the same age, had a Pavement shirt, a Velvet underground shirt and who was already listening to Nick Cave. And Tom Waits. But Nick like 12?

Also, although Ten is great, I've always preferred Vs.

Posted by: Jenn at May 2, 2007 10:26 PM

Awesome metaphore: boots=you. You both get better with age!!! :)

Posted by: Haley-O at May 2, 2007 10:51 PM

I have a sweater from college that I feel the same way about.

Posted by: Maria at May 3, 2007 6:52 AM

Just recently (like, last month) I finally convinced myself to part with a pair of 8-hole Docs that I got in college (1994ish) but hadn't worn since 2001. They saw a lot of good times back in the day.

Posted by: Amanda at May 3, 2007 2:24 PM

Spaghetti Incident was doomed from the moment it was conceived, if only because it ripped off its name from a pretty cool David Bowie/Rosanna Arquette movie called Linguine Incident, and tried to pretend it didn't by changing the pasta type.

Only slightly related, I recently heard a Mogwai cover of "Don't Cry" that kicks serious butt. You should download it.

I recently had a similar discovery related to my Doc Martins. Well, not so similar. I discovered my dog eating them. Big chunks out of the soles. I was THIS CLOSE to putting them on and letting the dog discover the true experience of being kicked with steel toed Doc Martins. Lucky for him, I'm not mean like that, and he's cute.

Posted by: krystyn at May 10, 2007 11:58 AM