How do I explain a spontaneous, playful, 5-person social media thread that balloons into an event that would reunite me with a decades old past? How do I explain how this impromptu notion wound up with its own web site, media attention, five live bands, thousands in raffle prizes, (netting 8 thousand for charity!) and turned out hundreds of former classmates whose smiling faces and sweet embraces took me RIGHT BACK back to those coming of age ties that bind us forever? How do I describe a timeless 30-year walk back in time? How do I explain why it’s been a week and I am still high as a kite about it all? Not sure I really can, but i will try.
As you can imagine, this requires a back story.
So, you remember the Flintstones (no, really, stay with me). The cartoon? The stone age family? Recall that their word for Hollywood was Hollyrock (you remember everything was “rock” oriented). Well…apparently, way back in the mid 70’s in East Brunswick, NJ, some guys who went to my future high school were partaking of extracurricular activities one afternoon around 4:20 pm and their restless, creative adolescent minds came up with the idea of dubbing their school Hollyrock High. The idea took off to the point that those words ended up ON THE SCHOOL in spray paint overnight — lo and behold a tradition was born as each new year would pass:
This prank was pulled off successfully for about 6 years. No sooner would one class year’s HOLLYROCK get sand blasted off then the succeeding year’s would get painted on.
In my EBHS years, not many (or any!) of us knew the origin of Hollyrock, it just was. And we really did rock. We had the good fortune of WNEW, WPLJ, WPIX (Jim Kerr’s Sunday AM show anyone?) the Rutgers station…we cut our rockin’ teeth on the most progressive, the most intelligent, the PUREST rock music on the planet. We were fed radio sets that included Pink Floyd, Bruce, XTC, Lou Reed and Patti Smith while other kids across the country got stale top 40 and over-produced deejay shit. Our parents had cool records, or we KNEW someone whose parents did. Our older siblings had cool records, or we KNEW someone whose older siblings did — we ROCKED — ALL OF US ROCKED.
Our population 48,000 central-Jersey bedroom community of NYC was also a hometown that produced National Merit Scholars who followed Grateful Dead shows, children of fortune 500 execs who sold nickel bags of Columbian Gold, a girls’ basketball team that blasted “Exile on Main Street” on a boom box at practice, the world’s first ever computer nerds who sneaked off to Frank Zappa or Clash shows, an art teacher who played Abbey Road to “inspire” the water color assignment.
No matter who you were, where you were, what you did best, what you did worst — you simply ROCKED. So when a coupla guys decided on Hollyrock, who could argue? We were raised on the Flintstones AND we rocked. It just worked.
OK, fast forward 30 years. Remember the social media thread? Well…the anticipation of the event was almost as exciting as BEING there, as those of us who had reconnected chatted via pixels about how great it was going to be to see each other after nearly 3 decades. Here we were in our middle age, finding ourselves through others — and they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on. In fact, some of us who were virtual strangers to each other in our youth were now virtually connected! We marveled over each others’ accomplishments, complemented our classmates’ gorgeous and growing families, remembered good times, supported each other in our daily trials and tribulations. Best friends, acquaintances, crushes, teammates, frenemies, band members, neighbors, friends of siblings, admirers, etc — no matter what we meant to each other THEN, we were together again, NOW. And the anticipation of “consummating” that new connection was (virtually) palpable. We talked about what we would wear, when we’d arrive, where we were staying, planned a pre- and an after party and just kept chatting about how great the night was going to be.
But none us us had any idea.
The big day arrived. And as simply as I can put it, it was as IF someone had simply called me and said “party at the Elks tonight: Harold got a bunch of bands together”. We showed up, one by one, group by group — some of us at a pre-dinner, others straight to the venue. The weather was perfect, the energy was good and the past met the future as if they’d never parted ways.
And on this night, the future was magical.