The Life Autistic: Different Wasn’t Always Cool

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“If everyone else likes *NSYNC and Blink-182, then what I like will make me unlike everyone else.”

I was such an odd kid.

Pre-Internet, your tribes were harder to find.

I wasn’t cool, nor a jock, or Gothically-uncool, so I just kind of existed as my group of one for a while.

And did I ever lean into that.

If I had to be lonely, then I could at least be unique.

I found my own self in ambient electronic music. Where I had no peers. No company. No equals in the well.

Where I could be the only kid in Iceland who absorbed Steve Roach, appreciated Thomas Köner, hunted down ephemera from Ashera, breathed in beatlessness from Robert Rich, Oöphoi, Mathias Grassow, Ma Ja Le, and entranced enchanted evenings with Vidna Obmana, Jorge Reyes, and Bill Laswell.

And I was.

And I took heat for that.

“You and your weird music.”

“What’s this, some five-hour ambient remix of Tibetan frog chants?”

“If I were a trans-dimensional cyborg, this sounds like what they’d play at my funeral — against my wishes.”

Weird. Abnormal. Weird. Different.

I’ve taken every jibe I can think of on my tastes. For being weird. Different. Unpopular.

Things are almost different now.

The chiding and teasing continues.

Here I remain, intractably different and almost unique.

People, to a degree, found out that being different is actually kind of OK.

I’ll hunt down things on Apple Music and find, wait, hey, these people listen to these guys too?

I remember Wil Wheaton linking to Steve Roach’s Bandcamp and being almost floored by that. Someone famous listens to Steve Roach too?

My tribe is not close, but they are afar — the little enclaves that still allow me to be alone, yet less alone.

Even after all these years, taking flack about listening to “the sounds of a refrigerator thinking it can play a drum machine,” being told to turn off my weird music for the grizillionth time:

I dared to stay uncool.

And now it’s almost cool.




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