This week Sky Ferreira released the video for “I Blame Myself” off her debut album Night Time, My Time. You might want to head over to the SSENSE page to check it out if you haven’t already. The clip features Sky mugging around what looks to be Compton and meeting up with a bunch of…
Revolutionary concept: when it comes to thorny issues of race and gender, ask the people who might be offended for their opinion, instead of rushing in to be MORTALLY OUTRAGED on their part. (Cf. Knowles, B.)
I’m constantly surprised by the fact that other countries don’t have nicknames for absolutely everything: Arvo, Maccas, ute, brissy, chockas, barbie, avos, bikkies, bottle-o, bundy, cab sav, chockie, brekkie, compo, metho, sanger, snag, spag bol, ciggie, footy, garbo, goon, kindie, pash, polly, pokies, rego, servo, sickie, smoko, stubby, tinny, trackies, vee-dub, veggo, u-ey…
Translated (for Jacob): afternoon, McDonalds, utility (kinda like a pick-up truck), Brisbane, full (short for chock-a-block, which sort of means crammed to capacity), barbecue, avocados, biscuits (or ecstasy pills haha), bottle shop (ie. liquor store), Bundaberg rum, cabernet sauvignon, chocolate, breakfast, compensation (for an accident etc), methylated spirits, sandwich, sausage, spaghetti bolognese, cigarette, football (specifically AFL), garbage collector, cheap wine that’s sold in boxes, kindergarten, make out, politician, poker machines (ie. slot machines), registration, service station (ie. gas station), sick day, smoke break, bottle of beer, can of beer, tracksuit pants (ie. sweat pants), Volkswagen, u-turn
Does sci-fi have a race problem? If you’re The Atlantic, the answer is yes - yesterday, the magazine’s website ran this piece, wherein writer Noah Berlatsky argues that there are essentially four ways in which sci-fi handles race: metaphor, tokenism, diversity, and explicit narrative. It’s ambitious to try to construct a definitive thesis about an entire genre’s handling of race, especially a genre as diverse as sci-fi, and judging by the article’s mammoth comment section, which is basically like 500-plus comments by Roman DeBeers, Berlatsky has touched a nerve. I don’t want to tear him down here, but I do want to note one fundamental flaw in his thesis: it works from the assumption that all sci-fi starts from an essentially white male point of view and then either does or doesn’t address race. The problem with this approach is that it perpetuates the marginalization of sci-fi that doesn’t come from that point of view.
“It’s so important what you’re doing in your life. It’s tremendously important to the work, and no aesthetic theories take that into account. I mean— it’s all about the work, the work, but I just went into a house for three years in the middle of nowhere, and talked to no one, and did nothing but the work, and it was a disaster for the work. I kind of think today that you’ve gotta mix it up with people, that—yeah, I’m sorry to say, but maybe the artist is the work of art, at least on some level, you know what i mean? I know I’m confusing some things here, by just putting it so crudely, but it was a disaster, to go with this romantic idea, that I’m going to go and get a house in the middle of nowhere and work on the work, and nothing else and just dedicate myself to that…you know, you need to be mixed up with people, maybe, who are doing inspirational things around you.”—
FLAVORPILL: EDITOR IN CHIEF, STAFF WRITERS Among other things, I’m the editorial director at Flavorpill and there’s a lot happening there right now. We’ve expanded the edit team for Flavorwire (our culture website) and are redesigning and restructuring Flavorpill (our events platform.) I’m in…
“St. Vincent and EMA both share a futuristic aesthetic and a penchant for sci-fi references, but their visions are far from hyperbole. We are living in a world where government-run machines auto-surveille the populous to look for evidence of crimes that haven’t happened yet, where people commit suicide over cyberbullying from anonymous sources. It isn’t a fantastical future dystopia EMA and St. Vincent are singing about. It’s the one we already live in.”—
i had pretty much forgotten about 311 as a concept until my friend posted a song of theirs on facebook yesterday. it was perfect timing, too—the day before 3/11. i remembered kind of liking them, but never really looking into them. I think I’m a few years too young to personally remember how they were largely viewed, whether it was grouped alongside the limp bizkits as the worst and most mockable of the mainstream, or next to sublime as not-too-awful stuff that frat boys incorrectly referred to as “reggae” and thought was way better than it actually was. i do remember hearing them on the local alt-rock station, which complicated that view of them as well. i was at work and didn’t feel like listening to a full album so instead of investigating them further, i decided to go back and assess the five songs i could remember by them off the top of my head.* what i found was a band that was somehow unique and ultra-generic at the same time, unexpectedly crazy, and never less than enjoyable.
*i later remembered “beautiful disaster” and “don’t tread on me” but i’d already written nearly 1,000 words about 311 and figured we could all do without more.
5. love song
the original has never been one of my favorite cure songs to begin with, and the only thing that this cover adds is a slightly slower tempo and some upstrums. since 311’s reggae affectations were only ever just that, the cover doesn’t come off as stylistically different than the original, just vaguely more unpleasant.
4. all mixed up
the interesting thing about 311 is how their lyrics manage to make what are probably really simple, platitudinous ideas almost impossible to parse. not due to any degree of complexity, but because there’s seemingly no logical or philosophical connections between the various cliches that they string together. “all mixed up” is the most confusing in this regard. it starts out as pretty straightforwardly motivational - trust your instinct, let go of regret, bet on yourself, etc. but it turns pretty quickly into equally generic boasting - “we come with the funky style that gets us known for the show/and we’ll mix the hip-hop reggae if we say it’s so” (describing their own style [incorrectly] is a recurring theme with 311 - more on that later). the chorus has the aggressively meaningless line “thought a freak might be the thing, but the first could be the last.” there are some nods toward sex but it’s not a theme that seems properly situated anywhere in the song - lines like “now it’s morning but last night’s on my mind” and the amazing “many moons since we first did the do” come out of nowhere with no follow-up. the song bounces so hyperactively between second-person motivational platitudes and first-person stunting that it’s impossible to take either part seriously, or even to register them in the first place. the barrage of signifiers that add up to precisely nothing is almost poststructuralist.
nick hexum might be an awful lyricist but he’s a passable white pseudo-reggae-rapper. he stays in the pocket throughout the song and the “watch me now” ad-lib that he uses to segue from the chorus into the verse is pretty perfectly placed. his voice is too unintelligible to get the full effect of the lyrics’ wackiness without reading along, which is more effort than anyone should ever put into listening to 311.
3. come original
this song is unique among my personal experience with 311 in that it actually seems to be about something, or at least it purports to be about something. thankfully, 311 can be just as loopy in terms of focus as in nonsense. basically, the idea behind the song is that all musicians have an obligation to bring something new to the table – in other words, “all entertainers come original.” what makes it great is the lengths that the song goes to present the band as an icon of originality that other artists should all aspire to. 311 wasn’t the most derivative band, but certainly weren’t the only reggae-affected rap-rock band from california in the 90s. but they’re intent on describing just what it is that apparently makes them unique. in one of the only times i’ve heard them string together four lines into a coherent thought, they describe their style – “funk slap bass mixed with the dancehall and/hip-hop beats and punk guitar and/deadly on the mic is the one SA/the name is 311 and you know it ain’t easy.” It’s gloriously inaccurate; their percussion is pretty funk-indebted, not at all hip-hop, and there’s not much that’s “dancehall” about them. But that’s at least vaguely related to the supposed idea of the song—it eventually devolves into standard awesome-weird 311 shit; the best part is when nick hexum claims that “green plants, they’ve got mad life, they’re sentient.” and then there’s a prog guitar break out of nowhere and everything fucking awesome about 311 is made apparent.
so we’ve established that 311’s lyrics are absolutely batshit, but the thing is, i only really figured that out after looking up the lyrics. All that I remembered, and all that I wager most people remember, are the choruses, which are kinda dumb to be sure but nowhere near the level of fucked up that these songs can reach. “amber,” though, is known for how wacked-out it is—“amber is the color of your energy” is basically the only line that anyone remembers, and approximately no one understands it. but the thing is, this is perhaps 311’s best use of that nonsense—they foreground it, rather than hiding it behind funky guitars and catchy choruses, and use it to establish a cool, laid-back, vaguely otherworldly atmosphere. it helps that the verses don’t have much weirdness themselves, but just work to set up the chorus. instead of forcing its nonsense on you, it eases you into a place where it still might not mean anything, but doesn’t feel so out of place.
man, what is it about the line “know that we have always been down” that’s so vaguely terrifying? is it the first-person plural and the use of “we have” instead of “we’ve” that makes it sound like it should be immediately preceded by some biblical threat? “my name is legion, for we are many. know that we have always been down, down.”
this is the song where the dopiness of 311’s lyrics becomes nearly transcendent. with “all mixed up” and “come original” it’s at least somewhat clear what idea they tried to start with, regardless of how quickly thereafter it went off the rails. “down” just throws you directly into the chaos with no more warning than the word “chill,” abandoning even the reggae affectations that can help ground some of their imagery in the realm of white boy rastaism, opting instead for a groovy as hell fuzzy rap-rock sound. the song opens with the line “light on my side as my ego becomes/a funky child with some words on my tongue,” flower-child imagery and braggadocio combining in a pretty amazing way. “have you ever made out in dark hallways” is another of those out-of-nowhere sexual lines, the setting of “hallways” oddly specific in its unsexiness. the best is “when i scatter my spit i dream of juice.” most of the really out-there 311 lyrics at least share something of a common new-agey theme, but this one is weirdly, grossly bodily, just almost-but-not-quite sexual enough to be really unsettling. no two sequential lines in this song connect in any obvious logical way. it’s a fractured mess, so disjointed and surrealistically hackneyed that it becomes almost thrilling, or, at least and without a doubt, unpredictable. it’s the apotheosis of 311, everything great and terrible about them at its absolute greatest and most terrible. a dreadlocked explosion of impenetrable imagery and directionless nonsense so convoluted that it should be impossible, but somehow isn’t. it’s right there, staring you down with its fuzzy bassline, too hype on its own nonsense to realize that no one knows what the fuck it’s talking about.
true detective’s theme song is given gothic, cinematic synth-pop cover treatment by my pal comaduster. i shit you not, he decided to make this last night while we were on gchat. a few hours later and here it is… i don’t understand either
"Kline grew up in an artistic Manhattan household, the child of actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates. She was home-schooled for most of high school, and spent nights exploring New York by way of underground rock shows.”
"In September of 2012, Kline moved into her current apartment (owned by a relative) for its proximity to New York University, where she was set to start studying poetry."
”’I’m very academic,’ Kline says. ‘I made the Dean’s List.’”
P4K: “The cosmos is infinite and limitless, and your discography can feel pretty expansive, too. Were you trying to imply a connection?”
"When I was younger, my view of New York was really wide-eyed and excited. I’ve lived here all my life, but when I was 15 my parents were like, ‘Yeah, you can go on the subway by yourself, you can do whatever.’ Everyday I would get on the train and go somewhere to just walk around. My brother and I were like, ‘New York is so big! There are so many places we can go!’"
“You meet a lot of people in New York who are different than you, and have different stories, so I see everyone as super individual. I feel like I can be infinitely inspired because New York is huge. There’s always a new street I can go to, or a billion new people who I haven’t met that I could write about. New York is very humbling.”
“I like that people sometimes ask if I’m from the suburbs. It’s a way better vibe over there; everyone is purely nice, there’s nothing fake going on. I like to take on the folkie attitude. People’s music.”
“I consider myself punk, too. Obviously my music doesn’t sound punk, but I see it as a punk action.”
“I started listening to Beat Happening and Calvin Johnson when I was 13 and freaked out. It changed my life! That was definitely a catalyst, where I thought: “I can make music!” I liked the idea that you don’t have to be super well-trained to make great art. I read their chapter in Our Band Could Be Your Life and learned about how they played on yogurt cans and I loved how they had this weird culture where they would wear pajamas and play with yo-yos.”
hold on because i want to stress this again: “I read … Our Band Could Be Your Life”
“It’s funny how that’s the thing a lot of people are latching onto: ‘She has 45 albums!’ I feel like only 12 or 15 of them are great, and it’s the most recent ones.”
P4K: “When you think about Frankie Cosmos, do you consider the focus to be more on individual songs and albums, or your discography as a whole?”
“My parents really want me to take a Transcendental Meditation class.”
P4K: “A line that stood out to me on the album was, ‘All my friends are depressed.’ Why are all of your friends depressed?”
“All of my friends went to college and were depressed because they hated it. I was also feeling a little jealous of Aaron’s friends. They go out and drink and hang out.”
“The song is just a story, but I felt like I related to it.”
"I’d be like, ‘This song is about how I don’t want to go to Brown because it’s really far away so I wrote this depressing song.’"
P4K, immediately after that: “Your music reflects so much inner sadness.”
“I mean, I’m not super-sad. That stuff is kind of tongue-in-cheek. Even if it’s not uplifting, I think that for young sad girls on the internet to hear another sad girl their own age being really productive and making songs is a positive influence. Instead of just being depressed, do something with that depression. If anything, I’m hoping that I can inspire people to do that. I hope people hear it and realize that writing music is kind of easy. Or that taking your sadness and turning it into a beautiful song is worthwhile.”
additional things: mentioning o’hara’s lunch poems without at any point recognizing that o’hara’s writing them on his lunch break meant that, even considering o’hara’s jobs included “new school professor” and “art curator,” they were still jobs and he had to work them to eat, and so his observing everyday life of course had to take place in the periods where he himself was mundane, circumstances literally unavailable to her; the bit where she played a show with calvin johnson which makes me nervous more than anything else; the whole question about the “my dad is a fireman” thing, especially the part where she’s like, “oh, that must be so sad,” as if (god damn it) kids whose parents have average jobs can’t start from pride and work forward from that; a rich person getting a p4k rising; aggggh fuck you fuck you fuck you everybody fuck you.
Before I get into this I do want to mention that I am generally put off by the whole “someone getting praise seems to me to be wack IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD” vibe that this post has, as so many similar laments have had before it—like, calm down, people you think suck are successful in the music industry literally all the time (usually far more successful than getting one wide-eyed young Pitchfork writer to write about them one time, in fact), it’s not the end of the world, it’s not even something to get all that bothered about. But like, while I didn’t even notice a lot of the points made by this post on my initial read of this article, a few things did strike me as a little odd in this Pitchfork article (and yeah, I did link it, because thinking it shouldn’t be linked deems it WAY more important than it should be deemed). So yeah, now that I’ve made clear that I not only am not that bothered by this Frankie Cosmos interview but think getting super bothered about it is probably a less-than-optimum use of one’s emotional energies, let me point out some additional bothersome aspects of the article.
Greta Kline says that Calvin Johnson is “40 or something”—at 38, it’s probably fair to call ME “40 or something” and the first Beat Happening record came out when I was 7. Calvin Johnson is 52 years old—and, by the way, noted for his continued habit of using creepy pseudo-naivete to hit on teenage/early-20-something girls/women, which feels relatively germane in this context (though maybe it’s not, that’s up to you)
Greta Kline, aka Frankie Cosmos, is literally the daughter of Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates. So is she therefore the Lena Dunham of indie rock? Anyone else find that idea less than thrilling?
I mean, I ain’t mad at Greta Kline for doing her thing in an unconsciously privilieged bourgeois-white-teenager sort of way—she is who she is, and she can’t change that. And I’m not even all that annoyed with Jenn Pelly for seeming to lack the appropriate context in which to situate Greta Kline’s music and relative importance to the scene. But this is one article that strikes me as an incident of the “young zinesters take over Pitchfork” movement backfiring. Not the end of the world, but not a good thing by any means either.
The DIY scene needs its own Lena Dunham (and its own Polly Filler) — rejoice, bc we now have both!
Are you a woman (or person of any gender) who has suffered anonymous online harassment? I’m starting a project about this subject and am looking for people willing to be involved. It will take very little effort on your part. If you’re interested you can email me at sophcw at gmail dot com. Please share!
Ok, the only thing I really thought about the Emily Gould piece was WHY WOULD YOU PAY $1700 FOR AN APARTMENT IF YOU’RE A BROKE WRITER???
This shit is giving NYC a bad name. If you come to live here as a broke writer maybe you should take a $600 room in a shared apartment in (perfectly nice) Sunset Park or something?
Also I’m pretty sure that if I got $200k I wouldn’t blow it in like six months or whatever. But who knows, not criticizing her choices, just saying I don’t think it’s representative of what has to happen if you are a broke writer living in NYC who gets a break.
WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?
Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.
Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.
So i’m back from a couple of weeks in Australia — Sophie and I went out for my old school friend James’ wedding, which was generally lovely, and we spent a couple of weeks drinking beer and eating excellent food and generally living a sort of pseudo-socialite life of lunches and dinners and evening drinks. Which, y’know, sounds awesome, and in many ways it was. But it also got to the general experience of Australia — a sort of privileged bubble that exists in isolation from the rest of the world and the rest of humanity.
And honestly, it’s good to be home. I’m under no illusions that I don’t live in a privileged bubble in NYC — I mean, shit, I live in Bushwick, which by anyone’s standard is undergoing a rapid gentrification, and I get paid to write about music, for fuck’s sake. But still, there’s a sense of… realness, I guess, that characterizes this city — you catch the subway every day and you can’t help but see every aspect of the people who populate this world.
There were two moments in Aus that really emphasized this for me. The first was walking along Carlisle St on the way to get coffee, wearing a t-shirt that I got from the Danny Says Kickstarter, which features Dee Dee Ramone in a pair of y-fronts and a t-shirt emblazoned with “SUGAR DADDY.” As I was walking down to get coffee, an old-ish dude — maybe 50, 55ish — passed me, and stared at my shirt with undisguised disgust. You could almost hear his thoughts: kids these days, back in my day, looks like a fucken poofter, etc.
A couple of days later I was making the same excursion for coffee, and wearing my favorite striped t-shirt and jeans. This time, a taxi pulled up and some dude leaned out of the window and said, “Hello sailor!” It was a pretty exemplary instance of the larrikin humor we so revere as part of our national mythology in Australia — but the more I thought about it, the more I felt, well, y’know, fuck this. Underpinning both reactions is a sort of parochial judgementalism, a discomfort with anything that diverges from a pretty narrowly-defined norm.
And here’s the thing about NYC: literally no-one cares. No matter what you do, there’s someone weirder than you. In this respect, it kinda reminds me of my time in India — you can do whatever you want, so long as you don’t hurt anyone else and you accept responsibility for your own actions. Clearly, things aren’t really THAT utopian, as anyone who’s dealt with the NYC cops can attest — but the point is, no-one’s gonna judge you on something as superficially ridiculous as the goddamn t-shirt you’re wearing.
I left Australia because I felt I’d outgrown it. Two weeks back in the country, and I don’t regret that decision at all. All I care about is making good work, and doing the best I can to be a respectful and considerate and open-mnded person, and living and loving and learning as best I can. I spend my money on alcohol and drugs and culture and travel and life. I love my girlfriend and my friends and my workmates and my cat. And I don’t care about anything else. And this is the place for me. It’s good to be home.
Seriously hope the next person to publish something on Tumblr that says “[so-and-so] is a rapist” without a shred of proof beyond hearsay gets sued into fucking oblivion. We have a presumption of innocence for a reason, you utter, utter fuckwits
“The difference here is that the people in Seinfeld are meant to be dysfunctional and weird, but in Friends they’re supposed to be sexy, young urbanites. And yet there’s an episode where they all lose their shit about going to see Hootie & the Blowfish. It’s indicative of the fact that the writers of Friends had no interest in reflecting the times. Instead, they gave the characters a cosy, middle-aged take on modern culture that just doesn’t gel. The characters live in New York in the mid-90s, the time of The Tunnel, the Club Kids, and the Wu-Tang Clan. Yet these 20-somethings who work in fashion, TV, and trendy restaurants are culturally confined to radio rock, Die Hard, and a few gags about Chandler being into musicals. I’ve never met anyone my age with so little involvement in the world around them.”—
This is excellent. Also the writer seems to share my theory that Friends was indirectly responsible for the rise of Starbucks, a chain patronized by aspirational dickheads who like the idea of drinking coffee but don’t actually like coffee
Post-going-viral foreword: I’d love to link to blog/longform pieces by trans women about the Grantland article (here, at the top, above my words). I am searching, but plz send links to @handler on Twitter, or email michael/at\grendel/dot\net or contact via Tumblr. Thanks. -mh
Dear Caleb Hannan & the editors of Grantland:
I’m not a habitual reader of Grantland, because I’m not much into the work-a-day issues and discussions of the sports world. I do love long-form journalism about specific people, and culture, and pop culture issues, and the works that I’ve read on Grantland have been satisfying enough that I kept on wondering why I wasn’t making it part of my regular reading rounds. The other week, I stumbled across Chuck Klosterman’s article about Royce White and mental health, and I shared it with my SO, and she shared it with her family, and we had a deep and connecting discussion about it which I am still appreciating.
Despite my lack of regular connection to Grantland, I am compelled to write in to you about Caleb Hannan’s article about Dr. V, which I read today, mostly in openmouthed disgust, and with increasing horror as it built to its conclusion.
There’s no question that the design, origin, and performance of a new golf club of mysterious provenance, from outside the historical establishment of equipment design, is a compelling and interesting story on many levels. There’s no question that the behavior and history of an erratic and inconsistent inventor, whose claimed superlative credentials persistently cannot be verified, is also compelling and relevant to the narrative.
There’s also no question that the way that Dr. V’s existence as a trans woman was researched, outed, and used in the narrative of the story was monstrous, stereotypical, transphobic, hurtful, and wrong.
The defining musical moment of 2013, for me, was when I stumbled upon a buzzfeed list of the best breakup albums. I read the first three or so items and then closed out the tab. 2013 saw the end of a three-year relationship, one of those events that, if you really try to surround yourself with people who love music, seems like little more than an excuse to connect with music on a different level. You pick up stories about which record was worn out over which girl, which show proved revelatory in the midst of an emotional desert. I didn’t turn to music. I didn’t turn to anything. I turned to things that could help me turn away. I turned to legendarily long Scrubs marathons because it was the only tv show that I was familiar with and couldn’t remember ever watching with her. I wanted to numb myself and become emotionless. I turned to internet dating, not to meet anyone but just because it was something that was now open to me. I turned to a made-up challenge to myself to get a girl to sleep with me because of a fairly popular Facebook page I made as a parody of the university president. All music I tried to listen to felt sick and half-there. It sounded like the shadow of what it might sound like to someone with the emotional capacity to actually engage with it. there were actually times when i thought that i should be listening to sad music so i had some way to quantify to people how sad i was once i was over it. was i hospice sad? the riversad? was i not just sad, but public castration is a good idea totally-dead-inside? this could be a chance to really connect with some shit, i thought.
but i didn’t want to connect. i wanted to numb. i went on a coffee date with a girl i fell hard for for about 24 hours, and then i went to a thrift store and bought three cds, i think, but subtract one from whatever the number i paid for because purple rain wasn’t in the case, but the store was partly a charity for underprivileged kids so i wasn’t upset. a couple months before that i had bought my ex a book there that it turned out she already had. so i was used to it.
i bought teenage fan club’s bandwagonesque, which i drove around and listened to and thought was okay. i bought the self-titled fountains of wayne album, which i played while driving to get coffee with my thesis advisor. i bought the self-titled third eye blind album, thought about how much fun it would have been to drive around listening to it with her, and wrote sad things on the internet in a strip mall parking lot probably while trying not to cry.
the album that was in my car when we broke up was the offspring’s americana which i had bought at a goodwill the day before, and we had been driving around laughing at the pop-punk music we used to like. at the same time i bought a copy of belle and sebastian’s tigermilk which i listened to a lot over the ensuing weeks, i listened to it ad nauseum, i listened to it on the way to play board games at a friend’s house and while driving a girl back from a date who was so much cooler than me and knew it. i listened to it while driving to campus to return the heaps of overdue books i was using for my thesis, and after i parked i posted some lyrics as a facebook status. i also bought a copy of smash mouth’s astro lounge because that was the first cd i ever bought and i wanted to buy it again because i could. i forget if it was before or after the breakup, but the only time i tried to listen to it i put it in the cd player and felt sick after five seconds of the first song.
because this is what music is. music is not shared cultural moments. music is not shared anything. music is something dull and tinny coming from your car speakers while you sit there alone feeling like you’re on fire. music is not connection; music is what still exists in the background after connections shatter. music isn’t what you feel; it’s what happens while you feel. music is loneliness. may your fm radio always carry static. may the eject button on your cd changer never start working again. may your left earbud be the one to go first even though your right ear hears slightly worse. may drm protection render your purchased mp3s unplayable, and may your private torrent tracker never come back after its next crash. may your listening experience never be perfect, may it always be difficult, may the cd you want always be just out of your arm’s reach and you can’t pull over on the highway so you’ll have to settle for what’s on the radio instead. and may it be that song you hate. because maybe this will be the time you start to like it. may music never be your friend, may it always be an antagonist, a force that surrounds you and punches and kicks and mocks you. because if you could control it, if you could whip it into submission and bend it to your will, what power would it have? if music could leave you alone when you wanted it to, what would remain in its place? music is bigger than you. may you be constantly reminded of it.