dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Throwback: Return To Innocence

Late winter/early spring 1994 was a period of constant activity and naive, youthful fun. D'luv was halfway through his final semester of community college, and was in the midst of being the managing editor of the student newspaper, The Cube.

There was a clear-cut changing of the guard at the paper's office for the first time. The older students who were in charge moved on by early '94, and myself and the editor in chief, Tony, were kind of the rogue upstarts who, quite frankly, were pretty wet behind the ears. But we still had a strong vision for what the publication should be.

The two of us had attended a college journalism convention in Dallas the fall beforehand, where we picked up some ideas. When the next semester began and Tony and I took over, we implemented some changes; one of them being that, for the first time in the newspaper's history, writers, photographers and illustrators would actually be paid for the their work.

Bang! All you had to do was say "paid," and suddenly the Cube office went from the same six people doing everything to being a constant hub of freelancers hanging out on breaks between classes, doing actual work while philosophizing about vastly important matters in the way only 19- or 20-year-olds can.

"Reality Bites, the defining movie of our generation? More like the defining movie of horseshit!"

"What do you mean Ace Of Base have no soul?!?"

Anyway, one song on heavy rotation in those months, both on the radio and in the eternal jukebox of my mind when I think back to then, is Enigma's oddly stirring hit, "Return To Innocence."

"Return To Innocence" was always on somewhere in the background at that point—on the local Pittsburgh Top 40 station, on MTV or the newspaper office stereo.

I guess I didn't know it then, but it was a poignant song for the fleeting, simple pleasures life held at that age. Here are few exceprts from my journal from between March 12 and March 19, 1994 (which, incidentally, was spring break at my school):

  1. "Went to Eat N' Park with Nick and talked for an hour + 1/2. I came home + my Dad and I put transmission fluid in my car. Then some other friends picked me up and we went back to Eat N' Park till 1 a.m."
  2. "Today Tim and I went to Taco Bell, Pharmor and the pet store."
  3. "I went to Carrie's house. All we did was watch TV. Then I went to Tim's house. We started watching For Love Or Money, but it was boring so we turned it off. Then we tried to decide where he could go to college next year. It didn't work."
  4. "My dad and I drove to visit the IUP campus this morning [incidentally, where I'd end up transferring to that fall and graduating from three years later]. Then Nick and Carrie picked me up and we drove to Pittsburgh. We ate at some pizza dive then went to see Short Cuts."
  5. "It snowed a lot today. I got Carrie, cashed my check, then we came home to eat at my house. We drove to the Beehive in Pittsburgh, drove back to get Jen, then went to Eat N' Park. After we ate, we all went to the Regal to see What's Eating Gilbert Grape."
I always thought the most powerful, tearjerker part of "Return To Innocence"—aside from the excellent video, which begins with an old man dying under a pear tree and then proceeds to goes backward in time to when he was born—is the second verse:

And if you want, then start to laugh
If you must, then start to cry
Be yourself, don't hide
Just believe in destiny
Don't care what people say
Just follow your own way
Don't give up and lose the chance
Your return to innocence

I played "Return To Innocence" several times last night while thinking back to those days which, in this post 9/11 world of grim economic collapse, now almost seem unreal.

And if I didn't know any better—or perhaps if I didn't have my fraying old journal or a time-worn album of photographs to bring a bittersweet smile to my face—it was an era that I could almost swear to you must have been fiction.

* Coffee, Drugs, Death And Ace Of Base
Pet Shop Boys' 'Very' At 15: How Can I Even Try To Explain?
* These Are Days You'll Remember

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  • At 2:22 PM, Anonymous lady stardust said…

    Aw, that is a misty post! Those days were chock full of such a carefree lifestyle that, I don't think was taken for granted, but definitely shouldn't have been taken for granted. If only the dramas of today were to decide if we should invite Binty to Eat 'n Park or not, wow, life would be oh so simple! Let's return to innocence!

  • At 2:46 PM, Blogger Brad said…


  • At 5:48 PM, Blogger Paul said…

    true story - i am slowly printing these posts off and making myself a little D'luv biography complete with soundtrack cd.

    Side note: I still think Sadness Part One would make a brilliant soundtrack to a Tudors (the Showtime series) montage...

  • At 6:19 PM, Blogger Joshua said…

    I LOVE LOEV LOVE LOVE this song. All I honestly remember of it for my childhood is that it ALWAYS played as part of the "Pure Moods Vol 1" infomercial while I watched some Kidz TV show on TV, but I recently actually rediscovered it - like half a year ago, and went on a crazy download spree for all the remixes, and now listen to it regularly on my mp3 player while at the gym. have you heard the original version of the ancient Taiwanese chant they use? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uROdVAV1zQo It's very ~*~profoudn~*~

    Happy Friday!

  • At 7:07 PM, Blogger Moogaboo said…

    Lovely, evocative post that makes me yearn for the halcyon days of '94, too... even if I spent most of the year running down my own innocence with a garden tiller.

  • At 10:43 PM, Anonymous paul c said…

    Which CCAC campus did you go to? I have a book about Hitler from South Campus that someone else took out on their card in high school and I never returned. It makes me feel shame every time I look at it. I could never let that go.

    And, did you know the guy from IUP who started YouTube? He makes me sick with envy.

  • At 6:46 PM, Blogger K.I.A.T.W.F. said…

    oh i love this song - mainly memorable for me 'cause it was featured in a 'my so-called life' scene that still gets me weepy every time i see it.

  • At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Pranav said…

    This is a GREAT post. I was in the 7th grade when this song was released. And as you mentioned, the powerful element of the video is the old man at the beginning of the video AND the child being born at the end - it is almost like a music video interpretation of the "Curious Case of Benjamin Button". This song and "Sadness" are the best songs Enigma put out.

  • At 10:24 PM, Blogger D'luv said…

    Pranav, never thought of it as Benjamin Button, but that's indeed a great comparison, lad.

    K.I.A.T.W.F., which, in the grand scheme of all things '90s, I've never seen a single episode of, if you can believe it.

    Paul C., I actually attended BCCC (Butler County Community College), which was about a half hour from the Cranberry CCAC campus. A bunch of kids from CCAC went with us, though, to the college journalism convention in Dallas mentioned in the piece, as my communications teacher also taught at CCAC on certain days. Chad Hurley was at IUP my last two years, I believe. I'm told he used to sit by us in Cafe Curio, the coffee shop on campus everyone killed time in. Though I have no recollection of this. I have many photos from that coffee shop, so maybe I'll dig out my maginifying glass and see if I can identify him. Incidentally, he's on the cover of IUP's alumni magazine this month.

    MoogaBoo, how could I forget to mention—I met you this month in '94, as well...15 years ago!!

    Joshua, thanks so much for that link...I've now watched Difang over and over. My dad got a kick out of it, too!

    Paul, the bigger autobio is yet to come, in a store near you ;)

    Brad, THANKS! I love writing them, though admittedly typing out the last two paragraphs got me choked up.

    Lady Stardust, we were never being boring.


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