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Obsession – by Tabitha

12 Jan

Like Beth, obsessions are for me synonymous with adolescence.

My first obsession was with U2.  I was briefly infatuated with INXS, right before U2, but I think I was actually just in lust with Michael Hutchence, rather than obsessed with the band, because it passed. In contrast, I dedicated several years of my life to U2. I mean, really dedicated.

It started when I bought Achtung Baby on cassette when I was in Year 7. By Year 8 I owned their entire catalogue, including most singles, on multiple formats. I subscribed to the official fan magazine “Propaganda”, and bought every single music magazine that featured them, even only in passing. I combed through back issues of old Q magazines and NMEs at Lawson’s on Pitt Street looking for further reference material for my archive. Like all good fanatics, I knew all the band members’ personal details, and drew pictures of them in felt-tip pen in my spare time.

My obsession extended to include any matters of only peripheral connection to U2. I remember having to order in a “Learn Irish” cassette from Dymocks. I remember looking up the word “swagger” in the dictionary because Bono had used it in an interview. I watched Wim Wenders films, and read William S. Burroughs, as they were connected to U2 in some way I now forget.

Looking back, the obsession is both incredibly impressive and massively embarrassing. Unlike Beth, who had the common sense to be obsessed with a halfway decent band (who, interestingly, I despised when I was a teenager) with an enduring catalogue, I feel entirely disconnected from U2, their music, and the person who was obsessed with them. I think even at the time I was more into the actual process of being obsessed than I was into the band. I remember distinctly feeling uneasy about their Christianity, their posturing, and some of their lyrics seemed even to a teenager to be, well, bad. I think teenagers just need an outlet for their natural obsessiveness, it doesn’t really matter what it is. They’re such good little researchers and archivists, they should be put to work in the law courts.

By the end of Year 10, the obsession had completely passed. I don’t even think I bought the album they produced after Zooropa. This was because I had replaced my U2 obsession with my all-encompassing Brit Pop obsession, which at least had broader scope.

My friend Jonathan has a pretty embarrassing tattoo from when he was sixteen. He says he’s a walking lesson in why sixteen year-olds shouldn’t get tattoos. When he said this, I realised that if I could have, I would have, at that time, got an enormous tattoo of Bono’s face. I remember seeing pictures of people who’d done just that in the fan magazine. Something like this:



Obsessions by Beth

9 Jan

Teenagers and obsessions go hand in hand. Here were a few of mine. Special thanks to my parents who either encouraged/didn’t discourage them leaving them to flourish.

Purple was a big one. Purple hair, purple stockings, purple velvet bags, purple shot silk skirts and oversized band t-shirts.

Music. I listened to the same Cure song (‘Like Cockatoos’ for the record) every morning before school and carried around a printed copy of lyrics to Cure songs I had transcribed in my pocket at all times. When I was 13, I hosted a 33rd birthday party for Robert Smith of the Cure in my bedroom where I burned 33 cones of incense and a lot of candles. I remember having to stick my head out the window for air and cursing my lack of hardcoreness. Other bands I obsessed over included The Smiths and Lush, and there were many other more minor musical obsessions.

Movies. I have seriously seen ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ a couple of hundred times. I can still recite chunks of dialogue from it. “He’ll keep calling me, he’ll keep calling me until I come over. He’ll make me feel guilty. Ok, this is ridiculous. I’ll go. I’ll go. I’ll go. Shit. I’ll go.” I also watched the 1980 BBC ‘Pride and Prejudice‘ and Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Season’s Greetings‘ an inordinate number of times. This is quite a strange combo but there you have it.

Alfoil. I had crushed alfoil all over my ceiling and my door for a long while. Also had it on a few folders. Last year my cousin showed me that they now have purple alfoil. The teenage me is still getting over the excitement. During the hardcore Cure phase my bedroom was wall-to-wall Cure posters. We were renting, so Mum made me take down all the posters every six months so the walls didn’t get marked. Then in 1999 Mum and Dad bought a house, and I went nuts. I think I counted 900 pairs of eyes staring at me at one point. The walls have never recovered.

My bedroom circa 1999

People. Being an only child I think I went in a bit hard when it came to friendships. I remember some girls were really mean to me in Year 7 and rejected me from “the group”. I took it badly and played a lot of sad music, burned a sample of one of their handwriting, sealed it in a coconut and rolled it down a very long hill and into the sea. This really did make me feel a lot better. I also specialised in long-running crushes that came to absolutely nothing. My mind boggles at the potential crazy-factor of teenagers having access to things like Facebook during this delicate obsessional time. I only had a landline and managed to spend up to 6 hrs a night on the phone. Things like BBSs were just coming in when I was in about Yr 10.

Later obsessions included documentary, Stereolab and breadtags. I think I could still muster about 50%  obsessional power in my adulthood, but what is really missing is the time to fully pursue said obsessions. I guess in my case the part of my brain that was able to think of nothing but an obsessional object is now taken up with 24 hour care of a small person.