Biology & Rock ‘N Roll ‘Literature’February 14, 2008
Way, way, way back in the early 1970’s when I attended Orrville High School I had a pretty good time (more on ‘good times’ another time soon) and for the most part the academic end of the high school experience came somewhat easy for me considering I never took a book home after my freshman year. I got decent grades, in some classes damn good grades, but there were two subjects that I just couldn’t get into no matter how hard I tried.
One was math, and the other biology. During my sophomore year biology was a required course and the lecture part of the class was taught by John Wiant who was a brilliant and extremely intelligent teacher but I just could not get into it.
After the first couple weeks it became obvious that I’d rather read my rock n roll magazines during class than listen to Mr. Wiant and take notes. A buddy of mine, who sat to the left of me, was Bug Jones and he shared my apathy for the subject.
To the right of me was a girl named Brenda S., a very pretty cheerleader who was pretty hip, too. She got Bug and myself through that course.
You see, why we laid back and read the newest issues of Circus, Creem, Rolling Stone, Rock Scene, Scene and the rest she was busy taking notes and when quiz time came around would pass her paper over to us to copy. Of course, we’d always miss a couple to get that ‘C’ grade as Brenda always got ‘A’s’.
The lecture class was held in the school auditorium and we sat back far enough that Mr. Wiant never realized, or let on, that while the majority of the class was doing the right thing (once we set a chair on fire, nevermind…..), Bug and I were reading about the latest exploits of Led Zep, Mott The Hoople, T.Rex, Rolling Stones, Montrose, David Bowie and the Spiders, Alice Cooper, Slade and all the rest.
We made it through the whole year reading rock n’ roll magazines and I passed with a ‘C’ on the year….thanks to Brenda S.!
I recall a lot of people used to borrow my rock magazines especially in study hall (hello Beth C.!). I tried to use study halls to do whatever homework was required for the following day because when that final bell rang for the day school never entered my mind until the next morning.
Throughout the 1970’s, until the end of the decade, I had complete 1970 runs of Circus, Creem and Rolling Stone with stacks and stacks of Hit Parader, Rock Scene, Crawdaddy and any others that came along that featured hard rock. Including stacks from the mid-to-late 1960’s.
I also purchased, when I was able and could find them, music newspapers/magazines from England like Melody Maker and New Musical Express, among others. Those two were, and probably still are, the top music rags in Britain and the newsstand store at Rolling Acres Mall in Akron back in the 70’s carried imported magazines including NME and MM, among the occasional other rock publication from the UK which I dutifully would buy.
I devoured all of those magazines from both sides of the pond and I think it was a huge influence after high school when I published Bangagong Magazine.
There were places around Orrville to buy the magazines, like Buehler’s grocery store, Bigler’s, and Dick Zarle’s drug store uptown (good ‘ol Dick once told me, I swear to God (!), “Hey, kid, this ain’t no library!”) and it seemed like the magazine rack at the Three Sisters Restaurant always had a good selection and often got them sooner than the other places in town, plus they were always open for breakfast as I headed for school (and sometimes stopped for breakfast, too).
Wish I still had all of them!
And rest in peace Lester Bangs!