Being Big

My stats tell me that someone recently did a search on my site for an essay on Lloyd from Phonogram: The Singles Club. I’m not sure what specifically you were hoping to learn about him, but I do have thots on him, so whoever you are, hopefully you will be back.

When The Singles Club was first coming out, trickling out really, the character I most related to was Emily. Emily is the leader of her own coven of Phonomancers which is what other indie music scenesters know her for, but her defining character trait is that she has completely and consciously reinvented herself. Much of her story is about her old self occasionally peeking through and her current one trying to squash the other out. So long as she doesn’t feel like gloating to her own reflection anyway.

A lot of the reason why I liked her story was because I felt I couldn’t be who I really wanted to be at the time. I’m sure your own home is probably not unlike mine, in that you cannot really do anything new or different without people making something of it. I am shy in a lot of ways, and sensitive to that kind of thing. I wanted to change myself, but I wanted people to treat it as if I was always like that and there was nothing funny or stupid about any change I had made. Emily’s transition into her new self was very enviable. (The Immaterial Girl may reveal otherwise.)

Now that I live by myself and am free to pursue being who I really want to be, I find that nowadays Lloyd’s conflict most resonates with me.

Lloyd is, quite simply, a wannabe. That is, he wants desperately to be important, for people to know who he is and to pay attention to him. His story revolves around his grand ideas and his failed attempts to pitch them to his fellow scenesters. Instead of securing their participation into his get-famous-quick scheme, though, they are all too wrapped up in their own dramas to pay him any mind.

Laura and Lloyd’s stories are told side by side as the two loser plus-one’s of the beautiful people. The differences between them are many. Laura is passive, always watching, observing. Lloyd, on the other hand, is always active, always acting, trying to draw attention to himself. Laura pines for Penny’s life, but is silently resigned to never having it. Lloyd all but screams for the life he wants. Laura seems to think entirely in Long Blonde lyrics; Lloyd listens to nothing but Dexys Midnight Runners. (The “Come On Eileen” guys. I wonder what he thinks of them now that they have a new album.)

Yes, it’s embarrassing to admit feeling the most camaraderie with this asshole. I’m sure Kieron Gillen was embarrassed too to admit Lloyd was based on a period of his own life.

At least, though, I have the comfort in that it’s what I think Lloyd is by the very end of his issue that I find relatable, not the try-hard he is at the beginning.

One of Lloyd’s sub-goals for the evening at Never On a Sunday is to get an audience with David Kohl, the protagonist of the first Phonogram series and subsequent indie scene hero (much as one can be in a situation where everyone’s trying to be cooler than everyone else). He wants to get Kohl’s opinion of his plan to take old pop songs that are falling out of copyright, replace the clean lyrics with shocking and filthy ones, and have a pretty but innocent girl (Penny, he hopes) front the band that he’ll build around this plan.

Much to his dismay, Kohl seems uninterested.

But, he does at least give him a little time of day. Which is the best thing Lloyd could have hoped for, and more than anyone who read the first series might have expected of Kohl.

Kohl tells him to listen to a band called Los Campesinos! He almost says that they’re going to be big, but then he stops himself, amending that they will never be BIG big, but that they will be big to some people.

Lloyd does. He listens to this band who is not Dexys, and he has an epiphany.

It’s left ambiguous just what it is, but this is my guess.

Lloyd wants so desperately for people to pay attention to him and he wants A LOT of attention. He wants to be famous as fuck, more popular than Jesus. And that was how I used to feel. I used to write. I wanted to be Stephen King. I wanted to be J. K. Rowling. I wanted to be famous as fuck. (At least among people who read.)

But god, you could do so much work and spend so much time on that and never even come close to achieving it. And what would you have to show for yourself when you were done, if you didn’t get it? You’d have to direct all your creative energy at not only trying to do something worth a damn, but something that will sell. Something a lot of people will eat up.

You could have been doing so much more. Doing stuff you really wanted to do. Having a life.

And at least in my experience, if you actually do things and put them out there, someone will see them and someone will like them. You will be big to someone.

I feel like I am big to some people. Maybe they are close friends, but they like what I am do. Sometimes, that doesn’t feel like enough, because they are my friends. Sometimes it does. A long time ago, I suppose I might have been big on the webzine I wrote for. I was one of the “cool kids”, another writer there once told me.

There are also some people, conversely, who are not BIG, but they are big to me. I am sure you have people like this too. Maybe some artist on your deviantART or Tumblr who you think is just the cat’s ass. Or there’s some indie band who you like before they get cool, if they ever do. Or a hobbyist game developer perhaps.

I’m working on games now, instead of writing. Which is to say, I still write, but now there’s a lot more work involved. So much more work. It’s a good thing, rest assured. As a result, the games community is a lot smaller a world than the writing one is. So perhaps I could be big to people that way. With writing, the field is so big that you could post a million stories and still be throwing everything you have into a gaping void. Games is not foolproof, but it’s small enough that if I make a game, I have good odds of someone paying attention to it. And maybe it will be big for them.

Los Campesinos! is not BIG big, but they are big to some people.

I think I could be content with that. Maybe Lloyd thinks he can too.

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  1. Kieron Gillen 2013.10.24 3:05am

    I think I actually said Lloyd was autobiographic in the back of the single issue. I have no shame.

    • DJ 2013.10.24 12:43pm

      Yes, you did.

      I think looking back on who you used to be is always a little embarrassing. Later on, I will be a little embarrassed of who I am today, probably.

      But we’re gettin’ better all the time!


August 2022