SlashWhat a wonderful world of instant information we live in.  Thanks to the series of tubesthat make up the internets, every bit of information seems to be accessible.  I find this to be helpful more times than I can count over the course of a month, and while I know not everything out there is accurate, I don’t typically do broad searches for things that require high levels of detail.

One example of how beneficial the internet can be happens every six months or so.  My friend Jon and I make cd mixes for each other when we get to hang out a couple of times a year.  (Go ahead, insert your own “Know how I know you’re gay” joke here.  I can take it.)  The presentation of these cds couldn’t be more different.  I hand him a jewel case that has a thematic name on the front, like “Jon’s Turkey Day Mix” or “Jon’s Summer 09 Mix.”  On the inside of the case, I’ve printed out the artists and song names.  On the disc itself, I write the mix’s name as neatly as I can (which admittedly isn’t very neat).  When he hands me his mix, it’s a disc with no writing on it that may or may not have a case to call home.  I put it in my computer and iTunes doesn’t recognize the tracks, which means it’s up to me to find out what the hell I’m listening to.  Thankfully, modern life has equipped me with the tools to handle such harrowing events.  For example, one of the songs on my last untitled mix began with the line, “Sweep up, little sweeper boy.”  I used the Google and started typing in that line.  After only two words, the rest of the line appeared.  I hit enter, and the second entry told me that Jon gave me “Shampoo” by someone named Elvis Perkins.  Ta-frickin-dah!  I did that for all 20ish songs and I was set (with a little sense of accomplishment too, might I add).

As you all know, this level of information has not been readily available for all too long.  There was no internet when I grew up, and it’s been fascinating to watch it turn into what it is at this moment.  During this whole time, I’ve held onto something as a test to see just how much information is out there, and I’m about to share that with you:

In the summer of 1992, that same friend Jon and I went with his parents to a beach house for about a week.  For the majority of the day, we watched MTV and saw the same videos over and over again.  Headlining at that time were the videos for “Evenflow” by Pearl Jam, the infectious “Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane, and most notably, “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses.  I say it’s the most notable because it’s nine minutes long and it led to endless discussions about what the hell was going on in the video.  It tells a story, but suddenly the female lead is dead and we can’t tell when, why, how, or by whose hand.  We formed some theory about Slash (the guitarist) taking her out so that he and Axl Rose could continue their illicit love affair, but neither of us really believed it.  At the end of the nine minutes, the screen tells us that it was based on “Without You” by Del James.  Therein lied the answer to all of our questions, but how the hell would we find that?

Just a couple of years later, the days of card catalogs at libraries were a thing of the past, and everything switched to computerized systems instead.  While getting books for a class in high school, a light bulb went off.  I typed in the title and author, and upon getting zero results, tried them individually.  Still nothing.  Bastards.  Fast-forward a couple more years, and I gave it the old college try.  First, I used the school’s library system that also checked several other campuses’ volumes, but I came up with nothing.  Next, I went to the all text-based internet (via dial-up modem, naturally) that I used for what passed as email back then.  I thought I had a good shot since it had helped me find lyrics to an album by Argentine rock star Fito Paez. If it could do that for me, a little GNR should be no problem, right?  Wrong.

The new millennium arrived, and by this time, we had something very close to the internet we know and love today.  I don’t remember how, but I thought of my quest and tried it out again with a fancy-schmancy search engine.  I didn’t find it, but I found one other person looking for it too.  He had written something about the video and that he wished he could find “Without You” by Del James to get the whole story.  I felt like I was getting closer.

Well friends, every P-Dawg has his day.  Several months ago, I tried again.  The first thing that got my hopes up was when Google auto-completed my request (as it had for “Sweep up, little sweeper boy”).  Then the results came up, and I grinned from ear-to-ear.  The first site I looked at said that the author was finally going to read something he’d waited 15 years to find.  I clicked on the provided link, but that site no longer existed.  I clicked on the second one with brought me to, which said that the following story “might be of interest to your former teenage self.”  That link was dead too.  Crap.  Third time’s the charm?  Third time’s the charm!  There it is, everyone, all eleven pages of a story that I’d searched for off and on for 17 years.  The internet finally got to the stage that I hoped it would, revealing the secrets that I yearned for as an angsty 9th-grader.

I’ve had that link in my inbox for a few months now, and I think I’m finally about to sit down and read it.  I don’t know why it’s taken so long, but I think this is something I have to do.  Between now and when the clock strikes 2010, I’m going to re-watch the video that entertained me for untold hours and then cuddle up with my laptop.  I have a feeling that I’ll be disappointed and probably just as confused about the video as before, but thanks to the internet, I’ll experience that sweet sensation of closure. Look out, Axl, here I come!

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