My son made me a proud papa.
Sure, all my kids are sweet, smart, polite, kind, and all that other stuff parents brag about on bumper stickers that they place on the family minivan. But this goes beyond all of that. This is like a next level proud parent moment. Even more so than if one of my kids came to me and told me they had the power to control and manipulate metal, travel through space and time with just a blink of an eye, or had gifted me a collection of first pressing mono recordings from Blue Note. No, this goes beyond all of that.
Yesterday my son told me he made a horror playlist on Spotify.
I know, you’re thinking “What the hell is wrong with you?” But there’s a lot more to this than just him making a playlist. Way back in the early days of 2016 I had some back issues. In mid-February of 2016 I found out I had a herniated disc in my lower back. It was pressing against my spinal cord which was causing numbness all down my right leg and the top of my right foot. I couldn’t walk right because of the foot drop and there was a lot of pain. So for all of March I was on pain meds waiting till March 31st for my discectomy.
All of March was spent limping around work like Igor and not lifting anything over 10 lbs. I pretty much felt useless, but was grateful I could at least keep working until right before surgery. At night I’d come home and after my son got home from school we’d head downstairs and play classic arcade games on the PS2. Rolling Thunder and Rally X were our games of choice, and I’d let my son pick out a record to play to accompany the retro video action. He would always choose the Turbo Kid S/T by Le Matos. He really grew an attachment to that record, and in turn so did I. It was a great album to listen to as we’d get mad while dying to this antiquated video game. Also, between January and March I’d amassed quite a few soundtracks and horror-themed records. Jodorowsky’s Dune by Kurt Stenzel, Law Unit, Slasher Film Festival Strategy, Voyag3r, Turbo Kid by Le Matos, In The Wall by Clint Mansell, The Terminator by Brad Fiedel; as well as a few others I can’t remember at the moment hit the Hubner abode in those early, frigid months of 2016.
Since I didn’t really feel up for doing much else, my time was spent spinning records and getting into Batman graphic novels. These two things, the soundtracks and the comics kept me grounded and kept my mind from not getting overwhelmed at the thought of surgery, and it turn brought the boy and I closer together. I got the bright idea to start making mixtapes with an old cassette deck I’d gotten from my parents, and my son was thrilled. Dubbing vinyl to cassette, just like I did in the early 80s. He helped me out with them, picking Rizatti, Frizzi, and Carpenter tracks for me to include, and since we still had a cassette player in the family van he was even more thrilled.
Each week in March there was something hitting the front porch from Mondotees and we were taking weekly trips to Chimp’s Comix to grab something for us to get into. February and March were our Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale months. The Long Halloween, Dark Victory, and Catwoman: When In Rome were shared between us. We also watched Clive Barker’s Nightbreed together, and went and saw Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice a week before I went in for surgery. I imagine this is how a dad feels when he and his son(or daughter) bond over a sports team or player. This was what it was like for us. Instead of chatting over game scores or player stats we were talking about who was the greatest Batman villain, Joker or Calendar Man; or which was John Carpenter’s best score, The Fog or Escape From New York?(The Fog, of course.) Even that first week after my surgery he was my helper(everyone did a great job of helping me out post-surgery, btw), getting me whatever I needed and was always up to flip the record when the side was over. We watched horror movies on Netflix and read quite a bit. Lucky for me that was spring break week, so everyone was home. That was the best thing that could’ve happened for me.
Eventually I healed up and things got back to normal. I haven’t made a mixtape since then, but we still listen to those mixes in the van all the time. And we hit up Chimp’s at least every couple weeks(he’s been into Suicide Squad and Daredevil as of late.) Horror movies are also a priority, and he’s the first one to want to open those cardboard boxes when they arrive from Austin, Texas with the “Mondo” stamp in the address.
So the other night my son asked me if he could download Spotify to his iPod. I said sure. I mean, who am I to deny a child’s yearning to listen to music on their personal device? Well, the next day the boy tells me he made a horror playlist. What? A horror playlist? Turbo Kid, Sinoia Caves, Dance With The Dead, as well as the Maniac S/T and the score to his favorite new Netflix show Voltron. Even tonight he was sitting on the couch with headphones on tapping his fingers on the iPod screen like he was playing a keyboard as the music played in his ears.
Yes, I’m a proud dad right about now. Oh, your kid made the winning shot in the JV game? Yeah, well mine just made a horror mix on Spotify and I couldn’t be prouder. So there.
I feel like those months of pain and isolation happened for a reason. Well sure, they happened because I was an idiot and picked up things I shouldn’t have over the years until my back gave out. But those painful months served as a reminder for me to put things in perspective. What you think is important really isn’t. If I could go back and make it so I never blew out my back I probably wouldn’t change a thing. I’m better for it all.
Plus, I got a couple cool mixtapes out of the deal.
Yes, I’m aware he named it “Awesome Mix” and not “Horror Playlist”.