My high school is now a pop icon for oppression

Jimmy Eat World's "Work" Windows Media/Real Media

This 2004 video by Jimmy Eat World was shot at Madison West High School, where I went from 1985 to 1988. The video alters the song's meaning with snippets of real interviews, including a girl who calls high school a "beautiful prison." It reminds me of Hüsker Dü's "These Important Years," a tune that came out when I was a senior. I was pretty depressed then, skipping classes for weeks, and mostly hanging out in the library. I even started answering the phone at home to catch the automated skip notices. (Back when West High School merely mailed them out, my fellow freak Nick Andreano used to re-send the postage-paid cards to his friends with little notes on them. Somebody must have caught on, eventually.)

Turns out the video's director, Marc Webb, got his diploma at West four years after me, and based the video on his own experience. (Sole complaint: He didn't get Liz Phair to lip-synch her backup vocals.) The only reason I saw the video at all was that an old classmate emailed to say West is holding its 75th anniversary celebration and alumni reunion August 5-7. The school proudly displays the rock video on its web site. Well, this was the building where I learned the meaning of the word "irony."

Happiest memory: During class on the last day of school, somebody left a boombox in her padlocked locker, blasting a looped tape of nothing but Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." The "we don't need no education" chorus echoed through the halls for a solid half hour. They must have had trouble getting the locks off.

I'm grateful for the good teachers I had, but really, I should have been at Shabazz, the alternative school. Reunion weirdness, here I come. (Here's a page of links for things to do in Madison, Wisconsin, if you end up going to this.)

Also check out: Kulturblog's "Ten Reasons I Love Hüsker Dü"

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