An overview of the author as a bespectacled, boxer-wearing geek.
After countless years of doubt and torment, I've finally become comfortable with my status as an unrepentant geek—embracing it, now, like a cherished lover. This reassessment comes in the wake of a tome I've recently perused: the transcendent Geek Chic by Neil Feineman. It presented itself to me at Seattle's Eliott Bay Booksellers, and I picked it up in anticipation of laughing at the various manifestations of geekiness throughout history. But, to my horror, I discovered that I'd actually liked and/or loved many of those hallmarks of geekhood without fully realizing that I was, indeed, a geek! For one thing, my first computer was an Osborne 1, followed by a Mac 128K and a Commodore 64—each the quintessential geek's choice. Furthermore, despite an early predilection for punk, I was a huge fan of Depeche Mode, the Smiths, and the ever-angsty Cure—bands now universally recognized as gargantuan geeksters. As if that weren't enough, Blade Runner is—in my considered estimation—the greatest movie ever made, Andy Kaufman was the world's preeminent mind-fucker, and William Gibson's Neuromancer remains one of my most beloved novels... and if those choices don't scream GEEKINESS, nothing does. To make matters worse yet, I have an undying crush on Tina Fey, and an abiding passion for Vampire: The Masquerade, wherein I'm known as Vitaly della Malva, a cultured Ventrue originally turned by Grigory Rasputin. And, unsurprisingly, I wear glasses and boxer shorts, and I adore women who wear glasses and boxer shorts.
Back in the late Seventies, while Lydia Gash and I were still married, we regarded ourselves the pinnacle of cool. After all, we'd rocked out to the Sex Pistols and Crass, spouted anarchist politics, and dressed like a pair of spree killers. But when we saw Gloria Mundi, Danse Macabre, and Bauhaus at London's Batcave in 1981, we were unexpectedly confronted with something we'd never seen in the States: Mohawks had given way to pale, high-contrast makeup, Doc Martens had retreated to make room for black-and-purple Renaissance-era flourishes, and not a single kid was pogo-dancing—they were all "swirly-dancing," Lydia observed, lyrically floating around with hands tracing patterns in the air.
"Well," Lydia said, rubbing her elegant chin, "punk has been dead for over a year now, ever since Karl Lagerfeld produced a sack skirt with safety pins. Maybe this is the new thing. Anyway, the music is great—no?"
So, in our continuing effort to reach ever newer heights of hip, we bought a bunch of frilly blouses and Walter Raleigh thigh-boots in the King's Road, took them back to Seattle, and proceeded to thoroughly scandalize the local rock scene. However, in time, other kids began to ape our style, and our beloved Vogue soon became indistinguishable from the Batcave. Naturally, we thought we were the last word in au courant—especially since my wife and I occupied seats at the apogee of our local scene—but we utterly failed to realize that we'd simply crawled aboard the biggest geek bandwagon in the history of Western culture. Yes, goths are geeks—purely and simply; and there's not a single observor who'd dispute the point.
Of course, the Illusion of Insouciance we'd cultivated was only reinforced by the advent of industrial music, goth's harder-edged cousin. Lydia and I had always dug art-provocateurs Throbbing Gristle and Killing Joke, but we became hopelessly enmeshed in industrial with SPK's Leichenschrei and Cabaret Voltaire's Dadaesque Dream Ticket. Like any self-respecting goth, rivetheads wore unrelieved black, though of a decidely more futuristic bent and dripping with metal appointments. Merde à la puissance treize! we thought, never realizing that we'd uncritically fallen into a crater of geekiness more expansive than China. The New Romantic queens realized it; the hardcore German skater kids, listening to Die Ärzte and Blut + Eisen, took us for geeks, the Phil Collins and pastel-wielding Miami Vice crowd identified our geekiness with no trouble. But we considered ourselves the last word in postmodern culture. We completely failed to realize that, from Boyd Rice to Maurizio Bianchi, from ambient to techno, we were the biggest goddasmned bunch of geeks imaginable. But, since we ran only with our crowd, we were content with our self-aggrandizing mythology and never failed to compliment Gwen's massive beehive, Stephanie's leather trench coat, Guido's piercings, and Erica's newest tattoo. Damn it, we were fucking cool! Nobody looked as frightening as we did!
Now, I'm forced to reevaluate that era through the lens of Geek Chic, and realize just how geeky we were. And today? These days, I wear horn-rimmed glasses, a black-on-black fez or bowler hat, and drink buckets of S. Pelligrino. I'm still Steve Jobs's best customer while holding down a complete collection of Farscape DVDs. And a shimmering admiration of Stephen Colbert and Sarah Vowell only underscores my resident, inescapable geekiness. Eh, bien. Being a geek indirectly absolves me of onerous responsibility (onerous, incidentlally, is a really geeky word); I don't have to be competent at anything except writing, reading graphic novels, and watching Mystery Science Theater 3000. My most important task, as I see it, is to run all these godforsaken Seattle hipsters out of the geek scene; they're in it strictly for the chicks, and wouldn't know a Kraftwerk tune if it crawled up and bit them on their butts. I'm just the man to do it: Cecil Funk, Über-Geek, Stalwart Four-Eyed Defender of Trash Culture and The King of Comedy. And let's face it: If you've read this far, you're probably a geek too. So walk with me, my friend. Take my hand, and let's march proudly into the future with our smartphones and game consoles, ready to claim the happy mantle of GEEK! Weezer demands it! Beck insists upon it! And Summer Glau will love us forever!