Beck – “Where It’s At”

When: 31 May 2008
Where: Southbound on San Gabriel Boulevard
Who: My parents and bubby
Weather: Warm, morning fog

On the way to graduation, my dad took the opportunity to hijack us once more and buy pork buns from a nearby Chinese bakery. His obsession with making me eat pork buns followed me all the way to college, where I’d never have to listen to him again.

Next: Making musical concessions

Beck – “Timebomb”

When: 23 July 2007
Where: Southbound on Lake Avenue
Who: My dad
Weather: Warm, clear

Friday. My summer was going a lot better. I’d spent some time walking around Downtown LA during a mild stretch of summer, entirely losing my shit over the movie Barcelona and the guy who made it, Whit Stillman. I’d run into old friends, girls who had crushes on me, and their mothers who love me, and always with a sunflower on hand. I saw movies in theaters, frequently, like never before or since. But my excitement that day was for more than just beautiful weather and hilarious movies. It was Hallows Eve.

Tonight, I was going to a massive street party (the kind Pasadenans will find any excuse to have) at Vroman’s Bookstore for the debut of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, so I decided to win it. After all, I would never get that opportunity again. I spent the better part of an hour circling the store while crappy wizard rockers pounded away and news cameras rolled. Luckily, rescue came in the form of the Art School Girls and their leader, Taylor Doran. We go back when the line starts, a grad student hits on me, and I get my book.

Monday. I’d already finished the book. I had attended a scout meeting earlier that night that was sure to be among my last, and as my dad drove me home, this strange song came on the radio, the definitive song of 2007, if I had to say so myself, effortlessly cool. It was the song of the summer. When it ended, the DJ posited a question: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if that was meant to be a cover version of Time Bomb by Rancid?”

And I thought to myself, “hell yes.”

Next: Things get gross again.

Beck – “Mixed Bizness”

When: May 2000
Where: The TV room
Who: Nobody
Weather: Unknown

Beck is an incredible artist. He can take things that haunt nightmares and turn them into something awesome. And as he proved here, he can even turn one of my Sunday night migraines into a fond memory.

In the spring of 2000, the Fox network added two new TV shows. One of them was a deeply personal laugh track sitcom called Titus. The other was Malcolm in the Middle, the first single-camera comedy since The Larry Sanders Show, and the first ever on a broadcast network.

At the time, Fox was still cruising on its status as the “edgy” cult network, and promoted for May Sweeps accordingly by advertising only Malcolm and Titus that night. Clips from the shows were interwoven by shots of Frankie Muñiz and Christopher Titus smirking, all along to a seemingly old song I long believed to be called “Turn it Up.” They showed me.

“Malcolm in the Middle and Titus. Turn it Up!”

Next: Fourth grade ends with a bang.