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Love Songs Of The Month

LoveSong of the Month “Valerie Loves Me” (Material Issue) ft. Annie Saunders

Afterschool Specials aren't just for after school anymore!

material issue singer

simple jack

Ever had a nemesis? Someone who not only does not like you but who is also kinda just like you? Maybe that’s what separates a mere enemy from a nemesis, the overlap of both parties. “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.”

My first real nemesis was ⬛⬛ ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛. Our history begins in high school and for the sake of anonymity I’ll call him, I dunno, “JayJay Bromsted”…


May as well have said KICK ME

I met a girl at The Cure concert named, uh, “Cate” who turned out to be a new student at my same high school. She was not yet a fan of the band and was mainly there to hang out with her friends, each of whom could have been a stand-in for Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice. Together we spent the night gothsplaining to Cate why Pornography was superior to Seventeen Seconds but that The Head On The Door was better than both of them. By the end of the night Cate was wearing my bedazzled oversized jean jacket which meant, in no uncertain terms, that 1) she and I would have to meet during lunch the next day so I could get it back, and 2) I was cold. Meet we did, and again the following day, and the day after that, and so on.

It was two weeks into this daily courtship when I discovered Cate had a boyfriend. She didn’t tell me, mind you, I had to find out from her friends. Because she and I shared roughly ten lunchtime burritos before I found out about this “boyfriend” I felt pretty confident about where Cate’s interests truly lie. (With me, her interests lie with me.) Still, I kept my gentlemanly conduct intact for a full six more weeks before she eventually made it clear that I was to usurp him as her new boyfriend.

This understandably raised the ire of her now ex-boyfriend, the proud curator of a feathered mullet, distinguished wearer of a JV football jersey, and this story’s lead antagonist, JayJay Bromsted. (Inexplicably, JayJay also boasted a cherry red BC Rich Warlock guitar, but we’ll get to that later.) For the next few weeks he and his suburban band of bullies ran intimidation campaigns against me, ranging from trash talk to crank calls to physical threats to dropping notes in my lap quoting Mötley Crüe:


But since *I got the girl* I had no real animosity towards him. If anything, his juvenile behavior was probably responsible for her being with me in the first place, so, like, thanks JayJay! I was also a waifish 98 pounds with waterfall bangs and a perfect attendance record, not the type to react in kind to displays of aggression. Whenever someone wanted to fight me I did little more than find an alternate route home.


This MF’er here to STEAL YO GIRL.

But a confrontation between JayJay and me was inevitable, it turned out. After months of his fruitless badgering, he finally decided we were going to fight, in the parking lot, Friday, after school. I learned of this on my way to the parking lot after school one Friday…

A crowd began to gather in my wake as my friend, Paul and I approached his Chevy Citation. Again, since I had no seething anger to pack into a punch I would have happily avoided JayJay for as long as it took for him to move on, but when a parking lot full of blood-thirsty kids start forming a circle around you and your object of disaffection sometimes you have to make an exception.


So I, Paul, JayJay, and seemingly the entire rest of the student body continued walking through the school parking lot towards Paul’s car. Once I got there I stopped and waited, not sure what to do next but not ready to hop into the car just yet. When JayJay got about 10 feet away I turned to square off, one hand still on the car door handle, as a cast of thousands gathered around us.


JayJay vs. Yours Truly (with accurate size difference)

JayJay and his friends got steadily closer…and closer…and closer… and then right as they reached Paul’s car they…

…kept right on walking, past us and out the far end of the parking lot.

We might not have exchanged physical blows that day but the pure ferocity of our mutually avoided eye contact was at least worthy of a SportsCenter mention.

I hopped in Paul’s car and exhaled in relief, another confrontation avoided. But on the tediously slow crawl out of the parking lot I realized the crowd was still surrounding us, only instead of an audience of anticipation it was now a seething mass of disappointed classmates. Riled up from the prospect of a fight, our fellow school chums were now left with no bloodsport over which to salivate. So instead, these rascally scholastic colleagues of ours started spitting on our windows, yelling female anatomy at us, and trying to tip our tiny, round vehicle on its side.

It was then that I first started to sense the tendrils of anger work their way around my otherwise tender, non-violent heart. JayJay can pick on me and threaten me all he wants, I thought to myself, I’ll just seek comfort in the arms of his ex-girlfriend. (BURN!) But causing a situation where my friend’s unfortunately-named car gets worked over was crossing a line.

By the time I got home I was finally worked into a lather suitable for fighting. I asked Cate for JayJay’s phone number and told her THIS ENDS NOW.

george michael

In case the first picture of JayJay didn’t fully convey our size difference I used Photoshop’s new “Generative Fill” feature to help illustrate his enormity.

She smartly refused to give me his number, knowing full well I’d be plodding headlong into a sound bludgeoning if we faced off. But I found the phone number anyway and I spent the entire weekend calling his house, ready to meet him anytime, anywhere.  I was in a downright state, oh boy! This peppy little malcontent was ready for some scrappy, backstreet fistucuffs, lemme tell ya!

And when no one answered JayJay’s phone for two straight days I went to his house on Sunday night ready to throw down on his front lawn if that’s what it would take to put this rivalry to bed.

I knocked, loudly, even at the risk of causing pre-fight damage to my delicate knuckles. The door opened swiftly but before I could start my rehearsed preamble I was told very firmly, “JayJay’s grounded, you can talk to him at school tomorrow.”

His mom then slammed the door on me, but not before I caught a glimpse of JayJay over her shoulder, looking sheepish and ashamed and giving me the last sour face he would ever give me.

Click here to see the carnage of our teen quarrel:

Just kidding, that’s JayJay and me in my kitchen last weekend.

I suppose it is probably safe now to reveal the true identity of this mysterious “JayJay Bromsted.” His real name is…JJ Bromstead.

Turns out, JJ is an accomplished musician and a witty motherfucker, two qualities to which I aspire. And if we hadn’t been sworn enemies all these years we would have probably been best friends.

(Or… there is the theory that having an arch rival can elevate a person, and that we are the people we are today because of our adolescent fears of being bested by the other. Or not, whatever.)

Regardless, with the hatchet recently buried the two of us are now free to have long phone conversations and talk about old times and discuss mutual friend’s untimely deaths and offend each other into fits of laughter, and also plot new music projects. Most touchingly, he also ends each conversation with, “I love you.”


JJ’s cabinet of curiosities. I remember reading somewhere that you’re officially an adult once you’ve finally taken down all the posters you thumbtacked to the walls. And then you put those same posters into frames.

JJ ended one recent phone call by declaring, “Screw all this talk, man – we’re doing a song together. I’m driving down to your place next week. We’ll cover ‘Valerie Loves Me’ or something.”

Little did he know, I was already putting the finishing touches on that very song, just with someone else.

But his sentiment was clear, after so many lost years he wanted to be friends. Moreover, he wanted to bond over that which has been a guiding light for us both since before we ever crossed paths – the great unifier, the timeless universal tie, the thing that bangs the head that does not bang…the sacred and mystical art of music.

(Maybe not as obvious though is that his ploy at “making music together” MUST be part of some sort of nefarious long game that I can’t see yet, one that ends with him delivering a sock to my kisser and one last Mötley Crüe-inspired quote like, “Welcome to the Theater of Pain, dipshit!” SO DON’T TRY ANYTHING, JJ! I’VE GOT MY HACKLES UP AND I STILL HAVE THE PHONE NUMBER TO YOUR MOM’S HOUSE.)

Do you know who else loves The Cure and Depeche Mode and Material Issue and baggy denim and avoiding punches to the face? This gal right here – Ms. Annie Saunders, the woman partially responsible for an array of Chicago powerhouses like Grassface, Time Thieves, Ambition Mission, and This Is My Fist.

teen annie

I have been trying to wrangle her in for this project (and for a much more ambitious collection, stay tuned!) for years now. But hey, freeing large animals of their testicles by day and bashing it out in legit bands by night doesn’t leave much time for my internet-only shenanigans. So I’ll take what I can get until she realizes she’s throwing her life away with all that grown up “professional” stuff.

(I should be clear, she is a veterinarian and that’s why she’s always castrating animals. At least, I assume that’s why.)

So I present to you Annie Saunders, who shall sing to you a song about a woman named Valerie.

But before we get to the song allow me to first tie a bow around all of the events above:
– JJ and I were feuding over “Cate”.
– “Cate” eventually married my best friend, Alan.
– Alan played on this LoveSong of the Month.
– Do you know who else played on that LSotM? Annie Saunders.
Boom, circle complete. Hakuna matata.

Download Audio here:

Craigums · LoveSong of the Month “Valerie Loves Me” (Material Issue cover)

Warning: the following video is raw and untouched; all blemishes, imperfections and unsightliness remain intact in the interest of being pure to ourselves. Peace be with you.

Separate from his main gig with The Love Songs, Craigums (and sometimes his friends) recreate songs that have no business being recreated. Visit Website

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