Have you seen Kevin Curtin’s latest? No, but due to big life changes, I’m backsliding – Music


I’m different: Kevin Curtin (l) sells door-to-door security systems, while Kevin Curtin (r) brings food to your car on roller skates (Photo by Todd V. Wolfson)

For every day of my life for the past 12 years, I’ve always done this thing.

Smoked grass.

No that’s not it.

I wrote.

Late at night, early in the morning, and more often in between, I dove into this process of channeling my thoughts through my fingertips to tell stories in the most interesting, fun, or inspiring way I could find. . Almost entirely, I did that in the music business. What a blessing it has been overall. My wildest dream job, really.

But I must admit that I wanted to do more creative writing.

I hope you don’t mind if I indulge myself with a quick page.


Kevin Curtin screamed for more than 15 seconds – screaming in terror as if he was in the front seat of a car falling off a cliff. He was doing the dishes, but the plate he was scrubbing is now shattered into pieces in the sink and on the floor. Opposite him, square 2 feet away, is a rail-thin young man with spiky leopard-spotted hair and a chain around his neck fastened with a small padlock. Curtin recognized his guest right away – it was himself at 19, appearing before him in a flash of green light. The current Kevin Curtin, a 38-year-old man with the same adventurous eyes but a world-worn face, continues to scream uncontrollably until he hears his toddler start crying from the bedroom of the bottom. It’s 3am. He covers his mouth with both hands.

Young Kevin: You have a child? WHAT!?! What a fucking guy, wow…oh Gaahhhhhd! Can I… can I… meet him?

Today’s Kevin: Shit no, man! I do not know you.

Young Kevin: I am you!

Today’s Kevin: No, you’re not, because I haven’t traveled back in time.

Young Kevin: I think I’m on a different timeline than yours. Remember our quirky hoarding neighbor in Lansing – Greg? He invented a way to time travel.

Today’s Kevin: Mad! How many time travel adventures have you had?

Young Kevin: It’s my first.

Today’s Kevin: Shoot, well, I’m kinda honored.

Young Kevin: Listen man, I have to be honest with you…I’m not a time traveler…I’m a hallucination. You are on drugs.

Today’s Kevin: Ah OK. Makes sense.

Young Kevin: Dude, your house is a lot smaller – and just generally shittier – than I would have hoped for at your age.

Today’s Kevin: My girlfriend, Molly, owns it. And, hey, apparently it’s worth like a million dollars. It’s a bit long to explain, but basically, we’re in Austin, Texas, and the housing market here has gotten absurdly expensive since she bought it.

Young Kevin: Molli? That girl with the green dreadlocks I just met in Lansing?

Today’s Kevin: Yes sirrrr.

Smiling, both versions of Kevin share a punch.

Young Kevin: I see we’re still doing the dishes.

Today’s Kevin: No man, I’m actually the music editor of The Austin Chronicle – we’re like the second largest alternative weekly in America or something. I still play in bands, but I’ve been writing about music for over a decade and making a living from it. Also, I haven’t had to work for the Man since our time at McDonald’s and Walmart.

Young Kevin: Hallelujah, man! Being a music columnist in a local newspaper is literally my dream!

Today’s Kevin: Well, you’ll be glad to know that I was, in fact, the the Chroniclemusic columnist for seven years.

Young Kevin: Great job old me! I can’t believe you fixed your things… or, I guess, fixed my things. You are truly living my highest aspiration. So… does this sound like a dream to you?

Today’s Kevin: In fact, it’s something that’s stuck in my head. Can you excuse me for a few minutes?

Thirty-eight-year-old Kevin negotiates his way around his past in the comically compact kitchen and enters the converted garage he uses as his office. He sits down at the booth in the restaurant where he writes everything down, turns on the window AC for white noise, and starts typing.

Dear readers,

To my surprise as much as anyone else, I’ve come to find that spending time with little kids – just becoming a huge goofball, going on adventures, eating snacks and riding a shotgun in their exploration of creativity – is preferential to the adult world. So I will try to be a child again. I will do this with the help of our 2 year old son, Quinn, who we all call ‘Quinny’, and our second son, who is due in November.

When you have children, your home begins to look like a group. And, of course, that’s exactly what I needed: a fourth band, but it turns out we’re tearing it up…and we need a bass player – hence the new baby.

I discovered this descendant at the end of February. I was at the Chronicle office and Molly texted me saying, “I have a surprise for you, come outside.” I was excited because I assumed she had brought me tacos. She had a pregnancy test with two lines on it. We shone together in the parking lot for 20 minutes, then I walked in and asked our music columnist Rachel Rascoe if she was up for being the paper’s music editor.

So now it’s time to share what’s been in the works for months and months: I’m quitting my job as a music editor and going freelance. Technically, I quit; spiritually, I am entering a sabbatical period; but in reality, I am restructuring. My writing will always be in the the Chronicle I write for the Music, News, and Culture sections all the time (I’m unlikely to be on the Food pages unless they do a special potato chip article), but I won’t be leading the spectacle.

Long negotiations around my exit from the ranks of the Chronicle the salaried staff reached the following agreement: I leave them a pre-written obituary of Willie Nelson. They grant me permission to sleep on the old green sofa in the musical staff section of the office for a period of three years.

A trio of squeaky hinges fit together distressingly as the garage office door swings open. Kevin, 19, bursts in, shattering his eldest’s focus on writing his “retirement column.”

Young Kevin: Hey, Kevin, sorry to interrupt you. I was just thinking… do you have any helpful advice you could give me?

Today’s Kevin: Don’t try to do too much. I’ve done this before and it’s horrible. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m almost done. You can entertain yourself with this. I broke the one you had on stage at a show, but this one is better.

2022 Kevin hands 2003 Kevin a 1953 Martin A mandolin and waves him away. He resumes typing.

In his 1873 poem “A Season in Hell”, Rimbaud wonders:To whom should I praise myself? What beast should I worship?

In all the time I’ve been writing, I’ve saved $23,000 – an unimpressive reserve, but it should be enough to avoid full-time work responsibilities for about a year. During this time, I plan to spend most of my time playing hide and seek with an adorable little baby and bringing our growing family across the country to meet old friends and relatives, but I also have new plans. that I anticipate with delirious excitement.

I’m about to start writing my first fictional feature: a dark comedy about the Beatlemania-like effect of a new drug called OxyContin in a small town in the 90s (a cultural phenomenon I witnessed up close). I will be sharing new music through a collaborative project called Grease Jordan which deals exclusively with themes of nostalgia, family and crime. I’m also preparing to turn my longtime fake business – Manville Non-Material Deliveries – into a real LLC. It will be a writing, consulting and public speaking service with prices that fluctuate widely depending on my level of giving.

Of course, you can be sure that I am ready to go further in making silly video sketches, because making my friends laugh remains a primary objective in my life.

It’s been a lot of fun being an editor. To use a basketball analogy, I approached the position as a pass-first point guard, distributing the ball to the writers so they could score.

I’m especially proud of the new voices I’ve brought to the section over the past 14 months – 10 writers have debuted during this time. Our most valuable player, however, remains Rachel Rascoe, who – let’s be honest – will be an upgrade when she takes over from me in this role. There are people who have things under control and then there are those who are two steps ahead, that’s her. I believe Rachel has a fresh, youthful vision that will take our music pages to new places and I look forward to telling her stories.

My last day as editor will be September 23; until then, I can be found at my desk, inserting Oxford commas into any necessary sentence.

As Kevin closes his laptop and unplugs the window unit, the familiar crowing of his neighbor’s rooster signals that it’s not late – it’s early. He smiles and lays his head in his arms on the old coffee table, quickly falling asleep. Slowly and silently, the door opens and Kevin, 19, tiptoes in. He looks at his future with pride and contentment… then takes his wallet from the table, empties all the money and runs away.

End scene

Whew, this “creative writing” stuff really tickles my soul! I have to admit that time travel was fiction and – damn it – I would. never start a column with the words “Dear Readers”, but the rest is true. Especially the part about the importance of being a kid.

I think humans tend to view childhood as a prelude to adulthood, but based on my experiences over the past two years, I truly believe that being a child is the best time of one’s life because the world is so wonderfully interesting to you. These little ones, they are visibly delighted to be alive and witnessing it inspires me.

So I will be leaving the staff later this month to be the best I can be at something my 19 year old self never thought I would become.

A dad.


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