Interpol – “PDA”

When: After dark, 16 December 2002
Where: Pulling into my house
Who: My mother
Weather: Cold, clear

This was Monday, my birthday was Wednesday, my Bar Mitzvah was Friday, my father was in traction, and it suddenly occurred to me as we pulled into the driveway that I left my materials at Temple.

My mother didn’t like this song, but I did and I’d like it a lot more when I was older. We got back in the car, drove through the pitch black hills, got back to the now closed Temple, and my materials were on a table thanks to the awesome caretaker Reggie. My Bar Mitzvah went off fine, I went back to temple twice and never again.

So what can we say about 2002? It was a big change. I may have changed my preferred style of music, my status in the Jewish community, and my school, but I don’t think I’d matured very much. In both my life and my music, somebody else took the initiative and I went along for the ride. But that wouldn’t last.

Next: Wars and SARS! Infatuation and influenza! 2003!

Soundgarden – “Black Hole Sun”

When: 8 December 2002
Where: Lake Avenue exit eastbound, The 210
Who: My mother
Weather: Intermittently cloudy, wet

Here’s what happens: A Jewish boy takes Sunday School, then takes three years of Hebrew School, then takes a year to prepare for his Bar Mitzvah. Once that happens, he’s gone.

With all of this in mind, I headed home from Sunday school following an ethical discussion of Crimes and Misdemeanors, and this song came on. I asked my Mom if she thought it had a certain Beatlesque quality to it. I think I was thinking about “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Next: Racing to the finish

The White Stripes – “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”

When: November 2002
Where: Mountain Street westbound
Who: My mother
Weather: Cold, overcast

When Jack White said he was taking a break from the Blues, he had no idea he was creating his signature style. And I had no idea that the album was over a year old when I heard the appropriately gloomy first track from White Blood Cells on a dark november afternoon.

Next: Winding down the Jewish journey with Soundgarden.

Hot Hot Heat – “Bandages”

When: Late October 2002
Where: Glendale Fish Market
Who: My father
Weather: Clear, mild

Nobody in late 2002 could have anticipated the avalanche of New Wave-Revivalists that started with this low-key Vancouver band, even if they had a #1 in Southern California. Fewer still could have predicted that their song “Bandages” would be twisted into a song about Benadryl. But that’s exactly what happened at Barnhart Middle School that fall.

This bugged the hell out of me. First of all, that joke doesn’t make any sense. Steve Bays’ singing wasn’t muffled or ambiguous; when he says “bandages” it doesn’t sound like any other word. Furthermore, the use of Benadryl in its place is meaningless. It’s not a real drug, it’s just antihistamine. And yet the mishearing was not unique to our school.

I ultimately chalked this up to more suburban kid weirdness. The reason I grew up in an urban environment, as opposed to these kids, was that my parents didn’t want me to turn into a bored little psychopath. Based on my experience, this was probably a wise decision.

Next: The White Stripes eschew summer to provide the definitive song of fall.

Foo Fighters – “All My Life”

When: 14 October 2002
Where: Gas Station, Glendale
Who: My mother*
Weather: Warm, clear

If the Foo Fighters had stayed on top of the post-grunge food chain, we might have had a chance. They are unquestionably the face and codifiers of the genre; they and Incubus were in still relevant; but unfortunately Sony dumped all their Nickelback and Creed albums on area Wal-Marts and we were left with a mess.

Luckily the Garage Rockers got rid of all that overblown crap, but to your typical 7th-grader, the Foo Fighters were still king.

The first time I heard this was pulling into a gas station in Glendale, the weekend after the network premiere of The Matrix. The song fit, but was atypical of the band. Dave Grohl et al later denounced and rejected their album One by One, pointing to a lack of effort that plagued every other post-grunge act. Suddenly they’d fallen into their own trap, but like Pearl Jam they would rescue their prestige by maintaining a low profile and continuing to work at a steady pace.

But, in the words of Thomas the Tank Engine, that’s another story.

*Yes, my mother is in here a lot. When you don’t have the means to get yourself around, your parents generally do that crap for you and the radio is usually on. I promise they’ll show up less and less starting now.

Next: New Wave Revival shows up way too early, and everybody turns it into a stupid joke.

Weezer – “Buddy Holly”

When: Midday on a Sunday, September 2002
Where: Eastbound on the 134
Who: My mother
Weather: Hot, dry

This was literally the first time I’d ever heard Weezer. Actually, that’s a lie, I heard “Hash Pipe” in the trailer for the Adam Sandler remake of Mr. Deeds, but that was only three months earlier. They would factor heavily later on, but not for the better.

Next: Foo Fighters give us the worst of the best.

The Hives “Hate To Say I Told You So”

When: 19 August 2002
Where: My backyard
Who: My parents
Weather: Hot, dry

“Rock and Roll and cartoons existed in the same psychic space for different aged kids.”

–Fred, The Meth Minute 39 Thousand

In 2002, Rock Was Back™ and the Hives were king of the “The” bands, at least for the summer. This was odd, as they hadn’t released an album since 2000, but suddenly “Hate to Say I Told You So” was a hit. I was hanging around my backyard when I heard this on Weekend Becomes Eclectic, after hearing it earlier on KROQ. It actually reminded me of Song 2. And it was good.

Next: Weezer enters the fold.