Did you ever wonder where Watershed got the huge banner they hang up behind themselves when they play a show? Well let me tell you – I made it, that’s where.
Okay, I didn’t make it exactly. What I did was get a few art students in high school to ask their art teacher (the notorious Mr. Counts) to allow them to work on it in class as an art project.
This was in 1990, some time after Campus Rocker and Watershed Band Manager Mike McDermott bit me on the neck and turned me into a Campus Rocker and Little Skinny Dude Who Was Always Hanging Out At Watershed Shows.
My relationship with the guys in Watershed and their campus pals was always a complicated one – I had a car with which I could drive Mike home, and for whatever reason, I could get ten or fifteen girls to show up at your party, pretty much any night you chose to have it. That’s because I was a Campus Rocker now.
Don’t get too freaked out – at least one marriage resulted from that arrangement (not mine), and you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.
So after I got through the complicated, Watershed Inner Circle Initiation Process – I had to drive my car across the Oval, kidnap a hobo and get him to sing “Fame,” and take an asskicking from Colin, then Joe, then Herb right in a row – I was given a key to the majestic Patterson Avenue house.
The key wasn’t necessary, since the door was very rarely locked. And it’s possible that I was given several old driver licenses stating that I was twenty-one and named Mike or Rich or Ralph – the details are lost in the sands of time.
But when they went on Spring Break, leaving the house empty, that key came in quite handy. Because now I was in high school with my own campus pad for a week. Trouble brewing.
We made extensive use of the house – in fact I slept there a few of the week nights, got up in the morning and went to school, feeling a bit groggy.
And so many of my pals liked to hang out there that we had already been thinking before they left, we should do something for the Watershed guys, in recognition of all the debauchery they’ve enabled.
So we took one of their stickers, the ones they were always plastering all over campus, which you might remember looked exactly like miniature versions of the banner. And then I brought down an opaque projector from the High School Library Audio Visual Department, which I had a key to as well, and we got to work.
I have no idea why folks were always giving me keys. I had a ring of keys like a janitor, eighteen years old.
Anyway, I brought the projector to the Art department, where a guy named Aaron went to work reproducing it on a giant piece of canvas or cloth or whatever that was. Aaron and I convinced Mr. Counts that this was Aaron’s big break in terms of beginning his artistic career as a banner-maker.
That must have been some conversation. I wish I had recorded it, because it just sounds like blah, blah, blah in my head right now. Pretty soon we had the canvas for free, and I think I might have bought the black paint myself.
Once the outline was traced on the banner, we took it down to the basement of the Patterson Avenue house, and finished painting it as if we were on the set of Dazed and Confused.
The lettering was the hardest and most tedious part. To this day, I don’t need to look it up to remember it – “An event or occurence after which a significant change, as in public opinion, is noticeable.”
Then we hung it up so that when the guys returned from Spring Break, they got a little surprise from the diminutive, beer-swilling gang from Olentangy High School.
That was over twenty years ago. The last time I saw Watershed, they were still using the same banner, and in an odd testament to the artistic skills of a bunch of hammered teenagers, I have to say it still looks pretty good.
And did they ever thank us, even once?
Well, actually yes, lots of times, even though that’s a weird question, since the point of the banner was to thank them.
For about three to five years of my life, Watershed shows were about the most fun I could come up with. They were the cornerstone of my entire social life, and their shows marked the beginning of a lot of friendships that have lasted to this day. One of my time travel stops would be a 1993 Watershed show on my way back from having a talk with Hitler.
You can see them tonight at The Rumba Cafe – it was originally going to be Colin Gawel and the Lonely Bones, but I guess everybody’s in town, so Watershed’s going to take the stage for at least a set. You should go and check them – and their supercool banner – out.
And if it’s not there then by all means, feel free to bust the place up.
Also: The Legend of Colin Gawel