Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Joy Division

I hope Thanksgiving treated all of you United Statesians well. I didn't stop all weekend until Sunday as the YS was in town and I spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday (until I dropped her off at the airport) with her. Mom was home for Thanksgiving but then hopped on a plane Friday morning for Hawaii (which I didn't even know about until last Sunday when I asked her what time sushi was on Friday and she said "I'm not going to be there." "Why not?" "I'm going to be in Hawaii.") Everybody else knew, just not me. She's harassing the LB and his girlfriend, so more power to them.

I've decided to tell you all how I got so into Joy Division, since so many of you have never heard of them (which, sadly, is not surprising).

When I was 15 I got a job at the local Burger King, probably ¾ of mile from my house. I met great people over the course of the six painful horrible horrific years I worked there. The work was all those bad words, the people, for the most part, were lovely. Just making sure you knew that wasn't sarcasm.

There was an automotive plant across the street from us which gave us a ton of business. We'd see them coming and yell to get ready. We just ran our feet off Monday through Friday lunch time. It was insane. After a couple of years I had to "moved up" to opening the store (back in the days before BK served breakfast) along with a couple of other people and Joe D. Joe D is the only one I remember, however. There was an old fashioned record player there, for some reason, and Joe would bring in records to play. The favorite for way too long was Pink Floyd until I finally begged him to bring in something else. Dear God, I hated them. I don't hate them now, necessarily, but every single day for months was just too much. Joe next brought in T. Rex which I liked better than Pink Floyd, but still after a while I got tired of that too. Joe finally brought in Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures album, and that was it. It didn't get nearly the playing time that the others had gotten, sadly, but I definitely liked it immediately.

Joe was my age and lived in my town, but I went to Catholic school and he went to public, so we only ever saw each other at work. He was a good guy, but he didn't take stress very well and he would get really cranky when it was stupid busy and we'd have to wait on food to "push" orders. We actually liked each other, but in the heat of a rush, we became known for saying, "I hate you, Kathleen." "I hate you, Joe D." I'm pretty sure he started it. ;-) Anyway, some fellow co-workers actually thought we were serious, but while it wasn't really said in fun, it wasn't meant. If that makes sense. Joe was a great guy, just not meant for the fast food life, not that anybody really is.

I stopped working at Burger King while in college, but still stopped by on occasion and kept in touch with numerous people. In 1985, Joe joined a punk band with another former BK-er (although he was pretty short-lived as an employee). I forget the name of the band, but I keep thinking it had something to do with dead kittens - classic punk rock attitude there.

One day I was driving past the old BK and decided to stop in. There had been some discussion of catching the band at their next gig and I was looking for information. I walked in and somebody saw me (don't remember who it was for the life of me) and she went to get Ruth (the manager). Ruth came out and said (this is total paraphrasing, as 22 years later I don't remember exactly what was said, and probably couldn't have told you five minutes after she told me), "Oh, Kathleen. I'm so glad you stopped by. Joe was killed last night." I couldn't believe what she was telling me, but he had been driving eastbound on Plymouth Road in Detroit where they were doing construction and they had the eastbound traffic merged over next to the westbound lanes, so instead of the usual two lanes in each direction and a left hand turn lane, there was now two lanes, one in each direction. Somehow Joe crossed the line and hit a SEMTA bus head-on.

Ruth gave me the funeral home information and that night I went up to the funeral home and as I walked in I heard Joe's former girlfriend say, "I wonder if Kat knows." There was much crying, as expected, and many memories shared about our days at Burger King, as a good many BK-ers had shown up. They had an open casket and although I'd have to say the funeral director did an amazing job, considering, it didn't really look like Joe. I visited his gravesite a few times, but it has been many many years since I've been there.

A little after the funeral I asked my friend Daiva at college if her boyfriend Dave would make me tapes of Joy Division, as I knew he was a huge JD fan. I still have those tapes he made for me 20+ years ago, along with every CD Factory Records has put out of Joy Division's over the years, including the reissues earlier this month with an extra previously unreleased live concert CD in Unknown Pleasures, Closer, and Still. I even bought the reissued LPs even though I don't own a record player. Could that be a sign of obsession?

At any rate, I thank Joe D for introducing me to Joy Division all those years ago. I love you, Joe D.

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At Monday, 26 November, 2007, Blogger Sal said...

My Mom did something similar when she went on her Mediterranean cruise, only she gave us all different departure and arrival dates. Isn't it amazing the impact a coworker can have on you, hopefully our friend Kathleen won't think of me as the guy who played "I Know What Boys Like" to death, she didn't seem to like anything I played. Oh, and, I'm impressed that you visited Joe's grave, I haven't been to my father's since they planted him.

At Monday, 26 November, 2007, Blogger Beth said...

Oh my gosh, Kathleen, that's sad. Brought a tear to my eye. The blogs have been hitting me today. Is it that time of year?

I've never heard the Joy Division. Yes, I feel old again.

At Monday, 26 November, 2007, Blogger Chavala said...

Dead Kittens sounds so familiar. I know that's not the name of the band but I think I've seen them.

At Tuesday, 27 November, 2007, Blogger fermicat said...

Great post, Kat. Thanks for sharing this part of your life.

At Tuesday, 27 November, 2007, Blogger Kathleen said...

Sal - I love the song "I know What Boys Like." ;-) You're so funny. I feel like a slacker that I haven't been back to visit Joe in a very long time.

Beth - It brings a tear to my eye, too. Early 20s is much too young to die. I'm ready to mail you a Joy Division CD to put you out of your misery. ;-)

Chavala - Welcome and thanks for stopping by. Joe's band was in the mid to late 80s, so unless you're old like me ... ;-)

Fermi - Thanks for reading.

At Tuesday, 27 November, 2007, Blogger Heather said...

Such a sad story...but it brought great music into your life. I think I've read that before...have you talked about Joe before?

You really got tired of T. Rex? I don't know that I could...I hate Pink Floyd, by the way. :)

At Tuesday, 27 November, 2007, Blogger Kathleen said...

Heather - I quite like T. Rex, but you have to understand that we were opening the store EVERY DAY! Oy vey. Sadly, JD didn't get played nearly as often as I would have liked. Hmm, not in recent memory, but it's definitely possible if you were with me in my diaryland days.

At Tuesday, 27 November, 2007, Blogger LL said...

I suppose you'll see him on the dark side of the moon...

Now I still don't have any idea what JD sounds like, but if it fits you... well... may you always find joy in it's melodies.

At Tuesday, 27 November, 2007, Blogger dr sardonicus said...

Somehow it seems appropriate that Joe introduced you to Joy Division. It's sad how Joe lost his life - it's a bit similar to how our nephew was killed a few weeks ago.

Here in Nashville of all places, we have a very eclectic radio station, Lightning 100, that will play "Love Will Tear Us Apart" once in a great while. I've heard all the Music Row people listen to that station. The majority of country music industry people never listen to the crap they create to make a living.

At Wednesday, 28 November, 2007, Blogger Kathleen said...

LL - I guess you missed the post where I embedded about four different youtube videos of JD, eh?

Dr. - Yes, you're right, it is kind of appropriate that Joe introduced me to JD. The only eclectic radio station in Detroit is my iPod and at only 8GB, it's not as eclectic as I'd like it to be.

At Wednesday, 28 November, 2007, Blogger LL said...

Yeah... I guess I did...

But then last night I went to the Tube on my own and listened to a few of their songs.

Gotta say... not my kinda thing.

At Wednesday, 28 November, 2007, Anonymous Suzy said...

Wow, what a story - and so movingly told. It's nice to know Joe isn't forgotten. I'm sure he appreciates it. XO

At Thursday, 29 November, 2007, Blogger Kathleen said...

LL - It's not a lot of people's thing, but the movie is still worth seeing.

Suzy - Thanks. And thanks for the article about the movie. You're so sweet to mail me things like that.

At Wednesday, 05 December, 2007, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

That's one of the saddest things I've read in a long time. I hate it when people die young.

I've only heard Joy Division in Goth Clubs and of course at Badman's house. They're good. As you know, I like Metal, so not my cup of tea. But I can recognize talent and they definitely had it.


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