When you take the LSAT, many of the questions you answer require you to make inferences and deductions based only what’s on paper, essentially asking you to forget any outside knowledge or understanding you have. Let’s take that approach with Slint‘s Spiderland. If you knew nothing else about the group or their seminal album, you wouldn’t have a lot to go by outside the strange bobbing heads staring through your soul on the front. From the music, you could glean the group had interests or training in jazz, classical, psych, punk, and noise, and had a weird thing with pirates and insects. From the imagery and album inset, all you would know about the context of Spiderland is that they had Palace Brother Will Oldham go swimming with them one day at the Utica Quarry in southern Indiana (and took pictures), the band prefers you listen to this on vinyl (as stated on the CD and cassette copies), and they were no longer interested in mumbling narratives by themselves. The latter is what seems most interesting to a lot of people. That makes sense considering the band melted down either during or shortly after Spiderland‘s release and the fact that, other than the track titles, it’s the only real, tangible information included on the album cover.
interested female vocalists write
1864 douglas blvd. louisville, ky 40205
My apartment is about a seven to ten minute bike ride from this address. It was a nice Saturday afternoon, I was listening to the Slint EP, and thought, what the hell? Let’s go on a vision quest to find the Slint house!
I rode my bike south down Bardstown Road, the main strip in The Highlands neighborhood in Louisville. The Highlands is our gentrifying but not yet douchey young, creative neighborhood on the city’s near east side. The neighborhood is an odd but awesome pastiche of densely packed two-story homes, apartment buildings, historic mansions, and Victorian architecture meshed with hundreds of eclectic local shops, restaurants, and clubs. As far as the meeting of music and aesthetics, you hear the industrial despair of Manchester in Joy Division, or the foggy flower power haze of San Francisco in Moby Grape, or the western-tinged reverb of Austin in the 13th Floor Elevators, or the… well, you get the idea. The Highlands, and the majority of this side of Louisville, is a really lovely and scenic place - not the type of milieu you’d expect scary-ass Slint to emerge from.
As you leave the heart of the Highlands (where massive music haven ear X-tacy lies), you reach an area called the Douglass Loop. The Loop is an island of shops and businesses inside three intersecting streets. Until 1947, this used to be a streetcar station where the Bardstown line trains would loop around and change direction – kinda like The Loop in Chicago, but smaller of course. And at the terminus of the Douglass Loop is, indeed, Douglass Boulevard (notice the Slintsters misspelled it).
Heading east down Douglass Blvd., I realize I’ve never been down this street before, and it’s decidedly more suburban, and remarkably arboreal, than the majority of the Highlands. Since The Highlands, by and large, has not changed a whole lot visually since the ’60s and early ’70s, the street was probably fairly similar during Slint’s late ’80s/early ’90s residence. Douglass mostly consists of larger family homes spread further out with really well maintained lawns. Kids are playing wiffle ball and eating ice cream and shit – a pretty pleasant place no matter how you slice it.
After two blocks, I found it on the left hand side: 1864 Douglass Blvd.
[Note: If you live at this address, came across this article, and are totally weirded out by it, send me a message and I'll remove the photos.]
I didn’t stay too long, just enough to inconspicuously snaps a few shots. I didn’t want to be all creepy like – roaming around the perimeter of a home taking photos and looking generally suspicious. And then… I biked back toward my end of the neighborhood. There wasn’t much to see, save for the sweet enclosed patio on the east side of the home. It looks like an addition, so Slint might not have enjoyed the luxury of an enclosed patio. Perhaps this was the origin of the despair found in “Don, Aman.”
The house is quite large, looked to be four bedrooms or so, with a living room, basement, dining room – everything you’d expect in a nice single family home. And it certainly didn’t seem like the type of place a band would squat. Maybe they did – there were four of them, right? But the home was just too nice to believe that a group of artsy raggamuffin dudes could afford the rent on a place like that. Maybe it’s Pajo’s dad’s house, I dunno. I didn’t ring the doorbell to check.
I’m not sure what I was expecting to find, really. Perhaps some the sort of strange fulfillment Elvis fans get from visiting Graceland. All in all, the locale was pretty anticlimactic. However, you could look at this as a testament to how insular Slint was. They didn’t sound like anyone else at the time (or today no less), didn’t take cues from outside influences, and managed to cultivate creepy, desolate, foreboding soundscapes amid rather picturesque aesthetics.
Then again, maybe they were much happier people than their music suggested. Douglass seems a rather cheerful place. Dave’s serious cheese there on the right-hand side demonstrates that you can separate business from pleasure.
As an added bonus, enjoy this bootleg of a March 1989 performance by Slint, wherein you hear the embryonic forms of Spiderland.
Slint – Nosferatu Man (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Ron (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Nan Ding (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Charlotte (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Pat (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – [Unknown Song] (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Breadcrumb Trail (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Good Morning, Captain (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Rhonda (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)
Slint – Cortez the Killer (Live – Chicago, 3.3.89)