Well, the Ubuntu IRC and Forums are seemingly useless, so I guess I'll try here. Chances are as soon as I post this, someone on the Ubuntu forum will answer me, but w/e.
Every once and a while I'd see something (an error) about vesafb. Paid it no mind as a reboot would usually clear things up. Anyways, I run Cinnamon so I decided to purge Unity (have Gnome 3 as a backup) and I guess that was the finally straw because I can no longer boot into Ubuntu. I'm greeted with:
FATAL: Error inserting vesafb (/lib/modules/3.0.0-14-generic/kernel/drivers/video/vesafb.ko): No such device
It acts like it's going to boot, goes through a few more lines before coming to a halt.
OK, so they're different to most others, in that they don't use runlevels as such. They just emulate them instead. Depreciated doesn't mean they don't work. So try it anyway, and see what happens. It doesn't make any permanent changes, so can't do any harm. The point isn't "boot in runlevel 3", it is "boot without starting the X server".
Instructions on how to boot Ubuntu into the rough equivalent of Windows "safe mode".
If that seems to go well, yo could try bringing the system up as close to normally as possible except for X by editing the boot params again and adding "text" to the boot params.
In any case, it makes sense to see if there are some old Xorg logs fro when it failed to come up. I'd take a peek in those to see if there is some other information that can be gleaned from those files.
Another useful approach (but kinda requires a bootable system or some knowledge of how to chroot into an exiting root filesystem or manually modifying the startup scripts, not too bad really) would be to configure the ssh server to come up and allow logging into the machine even in the case that X is off in the weeds.
Well, I appreciate the replies, but I figured it out. Had nothing to do with vesafb. In purging Unity I removed Unity-greeter, so basically I had no login interface (I though lightdm was the interface). Everything was actually loaded up (figured that out when I switched to a tty and fired up x manually). Thanks guys