When: 1 December 2009
Where: My dorm
Who: Madeleine Lucero-Simmons and Christopher Harriss
Weather: Cold, foggy
When December came around, there was a real feeling of excitement in the air. It didn’t matter whether I was in Northern or Southern California, everybody was coming together to celebrate: The 2000s were finally ending. And in San Francisco especially, people seemed to care about how they look, how they talk. No more muffin tops, no more manscaping, no more… well, you fill in what you think.
So this song was kind of perfect. I was in my dorm, I tried showing it to my friend Maddie, but she couldn’t get too excited about it.
We all had our own ways of coping. “In Da Club” and 50 Cent in general was a low point for our culture, but here Dan Meth had made something good with it. His production was actually part of a series of mashups celebrating the end of the decade. And unless you were really trashy, that was something we could all cheer.
Next time: A whole new decade, new friends, leaving again, the sudden scary rise of pop revival, and saying “baby we don’t speak of that” like a real aristocrat. 2010.
When: 28 November 2009
Where: Font Boulevard, San Francisco
Who: My mom
Weather: Cold, windy
My mom came up to see me after Thanksgiving, and knowing I would never go there myself, I asked if she was interested in going to San Jose. Nobody wants to go to San Jose except me, and only then because I’d been once before but didn’t have time to check everything out– I was busy.
But actually getting there felt like trespassing. I walked around self-consciously, almost expecting to be caught. It was a familiar feeling that wore off with time. This song was on a lot; I hadn’t listened to the radio so regularly as I had in the car that day, and I must have heard it three times, a fact I pointed out repeatedly because my mom continued to insist she’d never heard it before.
Next: The bad times will continue, but the ugly times are almost over.
When: 26 November 2009
Where: My mom’s apartment
Who: My mom and bubby
I came back home for the first time since my mom moved out of the house. I preferred to take the overnight train– less precious vacation time wasted– and crashed at her apartment reading the latest articles from the AV Club. With a whole week off, I decided to revisit another high school institution that had recently been revived, Flight of the Conchords.
After inviting my dad to thanksgiving for the only time ever, Mom and I gave the new season a look, and I was struck by how much darker it was than the first. It was the story of failure, with the added bonus of Korean songs and budget bears. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it then, but I liked it more later.
Next: I return to a city from my troubled past, but it feels more like trespassing.
When: November 2009
Where: My student apartment at SF State
Who: Possibly my roommate
Weather: Cool, clear
Vampire Weekend had loomed over me for at least a year. My first roommate, the more eclectic of the two so far, had their album, and at least one of the guys pirated it back in high school. Probably Marc Meehan.
But I was faced with the challenge of coming back into contemporary, 2009 society from a long hibernation, and thanks to a recommendation from the MacQuarrie sisters I started here. I also started listening to SF’s local rock station Live 105, which was somewhat better than KROQ down south but still in the same vein.
I was coming back from buying groceries at the Stonestown Trader Joe’s while listening to this song, and as I returned to my room the same song was playing. I smiled approvingly. I was already on my way.
Next: Was Flight of the Conchords darker, or was I?
When: October 2009
Where: SF State
Weather: Cold, rainy
I took a stroll around the grounds.
Next: Back to the greater world
When I came back to SF, I already had my ticket to see Arctic Monkeys at the Fox Theater. They were one of the defining bands of my high school years, and I wanted to see them before they ran out of whatever creative energy they had left (as it turned out, quite a lot).
I got advance word from someone who saw them down south that the opening act was terrible. I didn’t agree, but I can say that The Like had the coldest reception of any opening band I’d ever encountered. It was extraordinary. After that was a 45-minute wait for the guys to take the stage.
As I talked to a girl standing next to me, she noted that Nick O’Malley was “the new guy.” Neither of us knew that he’d always been in the band, and that Andy Nicholson left before “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” ever hit American radio. Finally they took to the stage, as seen above, and Matt Helders started wailing and Alex Turner started crooning, and I was covered in beer and sweat and everything was as it should have been.
Arctic Monkeys are a band you see live.
Next: The Scene that Celebrates Itself
When: September 2009
Where: SF State, below the Cesar Chavez Center
Weather: Extremely foggy
Humbug was another dense, inaccessible album from 2009. In the face of the same hyperproduced late-noughties wilderness period that brought us Passion Pit, Arctic Monkeys retreated into the comfortable embrace of Josh Homme and his Palm Desert Sound. It can be argued whether or not the album is a failure, but I was going to see them in concert; I had to keep my hopes high.
Next: I am pleasantly surprised.