[May, 1994] U2 Propaganda and Purple Hair
Thursday, May 26, 1994
I only have two interesting things to write about. The first is I died my hair purple a couple of weeks ago. Actually it came out streaked pinkish-purple, and a lot of it has washed out already but it’s still really cool.
The other thing has to do with Propaganda (the official U2 world service magazine). In the back there’s this thing Grapevine that lists over 200 addresses. I wrote a whole bunch of letters and have already gotten 5 responses: Carla, an artist from Minnesota, Nia, a dancer from Australia, Marjorie who is practically my soulmate, also from Australia, Stephen, who knows amazing U2 insider info, from Scotland, and Ronin McMullen Jnr who sounds really sweet, also from Scotland. They are all U2 nuts! I’m in heaven.
And my non-U2 friends were in hell.
It’s difficult for me to dabble in something. If I pick up an interest, I tend to do so in a wholly-encompassing way until that interest grows into something of an obsession. This was certainly the case when I was in my teens and 20’s. If I found a band I liked, I had to own every one of their albums (and sometimes b-sides); if it was an author, I tried to collect every book written by them. Sometimes it didn’t work in my favor, like when I discovered Charles Bukowski and learned that a little squalor goes a long way. However, I never burned out on U2, at least not for years. I found such inspiration in their music, and I wanted others to discover the same magic in their songs. So I became a U2 preacher of sorts, and likely drove my friends pretty nuts with my music proselytizing.
Discovering the pen pal section of Propoganda couldn’t have come at a better time. This was before the internet made it easy to connect with like-minded individuals via message boards. This involved pen and paper and postage and waiting up to weeks for a response, depending on how far the letters were traveling. But I didn’t mind, because I finally had an outlet for my obsession that would cultivate new friendships instead of straining existing ones. I was corresponding with people all over the world, including one boy thousands of miles away who I was developing a crush on sight unseen (well, I sent him a photo but was still waiting on his). It didn’t hurt that his last name was pretty close to Larry Mullen Jnr’s, and that Ronin also spelled it “jnr” instead of “jr”–I was a dork for that kind of minutiae (who am I kidding, still am). The fact that we had the same favorite band and that he had what I imagined must be an irresistible Scottish accent was already working in his favor, as were his letters, peppered with sweet and flirty missives. And Scotland was pretty darn close to Ireland…
While I was finding more people to share my U2-holism with, I probably owe some of my friends form back then an apology for inundating them with my musical obsession (especially Didi, who still can’t listen to them today because of me). So if you’re reading this and knew me back in the day, and if you endured one of my U2-are-the-best-band-in-the-world monologues, I’m sorry for the preaching, and I’m grateful you stood by me anyway.
As for the purple hair, I was determined to push the boundaries on just how much my mother allowed me to chemically enhance my tresses. Mom was cool with anything that would wash out, but hennas and other semi-permanent dyes didn’t create the kind of dramatic, lasting technicolor effect I was going for. After frying my hair with sun-in, it shouldn’t have been a big deal for me to dye it permanently, but no matter how much I tried to wear down my wonderful mother, she stood firm on the issue. So I started experimenting with rinses until I found ways to mask my natural bland dirty blonde color. And I haven’t seen it again since.