Why is self-improvement so god damned hard?
The first thing that hit me was the smell: the pungent mixture of stale sweat, old equipment lockers, and floor mats mixing into a sickly aroma that immediately took me back to High School. I could feel the sting of those red rubber balls as some huge kid hurled them at me over and over again; the stitch in my side as the instructor yelled at me for two more laps. I could feel my flesh crawl as I passed the locker room, sensing the steam and masculinity pouring forth.
This is my own personal hell.
I haven’t been in a Gym since my last PE class in High School, and with good reason: that was the one place where the rules of the playground extended into the classroom. The bullying that I normally suffered from between classes was entirely foregrounded in PE, where it was even school-sanctioned in certain ways: the huge, tough, mean kids were often rewarded for being such in PE, while people like me (who normally do pretty well in school) are reminded that if you don’t look like and act like a man, you’ll never be one. PE is one of the sorting social mechanisms in school that galvanizes cliques and establishes how one feels about their own gender. It’s a pretty brutal experience, even for people who are athletically inclined.
For this first time since I started going to PSU, I’m taking a class that meets in the campus rec room, a building I’ve intentionally avoided all this time because of what it stands for in my mind. But I decided to sign up for a yoga class this term, and found myself (yet again) wandering around in a building, lost, while huge, muscular kids ran past to the equipment room, or the showers, or what-have-you.
It was almost enough to make me drop the class. Almost.
As a huge fan of Pump Up The Volume, I was completely stunned when I finally saw the movie it’s based on, the 1979 seminal classic, Over The Edge. I have to claim virtual ignorance regarding this film until The Chairman (from Drats!!!) rambled on and on about how his band was releasing a concept record based on the movie. The album was great, but for some reason I kept missing the movie for one reason or another. Even after my friend Marcus hooked me up with a copy, it sat in my collection, unwatched, until a few days ago.
Why, exactly, I waited that long, I’ll never know. Just about everyone told me that I’d freak out when I finally saw it, and for the record, let me say: I did. Not only is this one of the single greatest teen movies ever made (with the possible exception of Badlands), it is pretty much the blueprint for all punk movies, and was directly copied (almost note for note) in the aforementioned Pump Up The Volume. I don’t want to give too much away (in the event that there are others out there who haven’t seen it), but trust me, you need to see this film.
If for no other reason, you will suddenly understand and appreciate Nation Of Ulyssesthat much more. Trust me.