When I moved to Cincinnati in 1996, I didn't know what the fuck was going on. I'd just graduated from college, I had a useless bachelor's degree (Physics), and no prospects for a job. Even Bagel Brothers¹ wouldn't hire me. "Unqualified", they said. Among the most disgusting words you can hear, here in the first world².
This is one of the few times in my life I've experienced anything close to depression. I moped around my shared apartment, using up my meager savings to pay bills, and when that ran out, assured my roommates I'd pay them back as soon as I found a job³. Eventually, my sleep schedule rotated to where I was heading to bed at 8am, watching my rommate Adam play video games until 4 or so, then shitty Mtv shows after that.
Somewhere in that time, in late 1996, I saw Trainspotting. I saw it at the Esquire Theater, where the independent films play in the Cincinnati, and I immediately got a bit obsessed. In my recollection, I saw it the last day of its run at the Esquire, so my obsession from there was tough to fulfill.
I bought the Irvine Welsh novel a bit later, though after buying the screenplay⁴. The novel was, I discovered, a series of short stories. Later, once I'd owned and rewatched the videotape, this would explain the fact that the film had a few "false endings", places where it could end and conceivably make sense. I feel now like I must have read and reread the book, if not committing it to memory, then at least heavily denting my brain with its scenery and lexicon. I was (and still am, to a slight extent) fond of quoting the film, with my terrible American version of the brogue weighing heavily on those around me. Insufferable, I must have been.
I moved on a bit, consuming all of Welsh's books (loving particularly The Acid House and the last half of Marabou Stork Nightmares), and eventually using the brand-fucking-new auction website eBay to procure a PAL videotape of TRAINSPOTTING. The PAL would not, of course, play on my NTSC VCR, but this boasted not just 4 whole extras seconds⁵, but cut scenes⁶ from the film, along with all of the original dialog (some 45 minutes of thickly-accented dialog and UK idioms had purportedly been ADR'd for the US release). I'd found a local guy to convert it (though not cheaply), so I now had something to watch, constantly, to fuel my obsession.
It seems a bit funny, now, paying that much for the PAL video, then paying a second time for the conversion. Nowadays, of course, that version is easily available on the DVD (the Criterion edition, at least, which of course I now own), or via a torrent. Or even easier, what I'm doing now: I could just suck it up and hit up Netflix to watch the US release, slightly less accented dialog and all.
It was a favorite for much of my mid 20s, though later to be supplanted in its daily watching by High Fidelity. When I got a job at Buzz, a combination coffeeshop/used cd shop where I would work for six years, the film's soundtrack (along with its erstwhile sequel) was an early purchase, and when a second copy came in, I played the damn thing every other shift or so. Bands from the soundtrack that I'd not have ever given a second listen to prior (e.g., Sleeper) (and frankly, Blur and Pulp, too, sorry) became standouts, at least for the tunes on the disc. My initial exposure to Iggy Pop (other than the Carnival Cruise Lines commercial) and Lou Reed came about from this soundtrack. At one point, as my pickup truck only had a cassette player, I recorded the film's audio on a single 90-minute cassette. This not only reinforced my knowledge of the songs, but also pounded the dialog into my head, and incidentally, made any 90 minute drive just fly by.
Of course now,
So yeah. It's a big fucking deal to me.
¹ A local Bagel chain
² Hyperbole, this.
³ I would curse them later, for kicking me out. I don't blame them now; I wasn't in a good place, and it wasn't on them to save me.
⁴ A poor decision. I never really read it, I don't think.
⁵ For US release, two second were cut from the Renton injection scene (right before he descends into the floor), and two seconds were cut from Renton & Diane's sex schene, where she reaches between her legs, presumably to hold the condom, as she pulls off of Mark.
⁶ A common feature of laser-discs, and a soon-to-be staple of DVDs, but unknown to me at the time.
⁷ Anglophilia, in its broader sense of loving the UK, rather than strictly the English.
⁸ I could write tons about Chris Morris. Oh, for some free time.