Lush – “For Love”

When: October 2009
Where: SF State
Who: Nobody
Weather: Cold, rainy

I took a stroll around the grounds.

Next: Back to the greater world

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The Charlatans – “Flower”

When: June 2009
Where: North Hudson Avenue, Pasadena
Who: Nobody
Weather: Mild, overcast

I’d come back to Pasadena for the summer in the hope of fulfilling my childhood wishes. When I got back though, all I found were a scattering of old friends, my parents marriage finally ending, and an assortment of classic TV shows I’d never seen before. I listened to this as I took a Netflix disc to our local post office, which would later close.

The west was dying. Every day were reports of new ghost towns in the interior, miles of brand new subdivisions abandoned. And even stalwart old Pasadena was feeling the pinch as more and more storefronts became empty. I felt like a kid again. I was on the frontier, the edge of the universe, and there was no way out.

Yet.

Next: The worst year of my life hits its deepest trough as I slip into a very un-summery delirium.

The Stone Roses – “Fool’s Gold”

When: 9 May 2009
Where: Capitol Corridor between San Francisco and Sacramento
Who: Nobody
Weather: Warm, sunny
Book: When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Going back and forth between the Californias got me enough miles on Amtrak for a free round trip, and I needed a vacation. I was incredibly wound-up as finals neared, and I decided to cash in my miles: I was going to Sacramento. It was the easiest city to get to from the Bay Area anyway.

Sacramento proved to be refreshingly warm, and mellow as well. Eating a restaurant burger and garlic fries from Fats in Old Town while sitting on the riverbank? Yes please! I wanted to make a Monty Park video of my trip, and I was listening to this song as the city skyline appeared beyond the rice paddies of the delta. “I need to use this song,” I thought to myself, and I threw it in.

My native accent gets a lot stronger when I’m not home.

Next: Bew-bew-bew!

The La’s – “Way Out”

When: Late April 2009
Where: Walking northbound on Junipero Serra Boulevard
Who: Nobody
Weather: Mild

There’s not much to say about this: It was during my Britpop phase and I was getting some shampoo, so I’d like to talk about Flower Girl.

Flower Girl was so called because she always had a flower in her hair. She was a foreign policy major from a rich family down the peninsula, but I knew her from a political science class I loved, and an art theory class that I hated more than any class I ever took. It lasted three hours, all incredibly boring for an art class. She was a big believer in art affecting social change. I was not, and I am not. And my vocal opposition in class took Flower Girl’s attention.

The breaking point came during finals. She invited me to breakfast at her place, but when I got there, she was still asleep and had to cancel. After my incident in the dorm hallway, I had my very last test in Poli Sci. My dorm was already cleared out and I was to be home by the afternoon, and we talked after the test. I had planned to go in for the kiss, but wasn’t so sure now that it came down to it. She texted me afterwards. “If I didn’t have a boyfriend,” she said, “I would have gone out with you.”

But she did go out with me, and would continue to go out with me whenever she damn well pleased. But that was later. For now it was April, and I was just getting some shampoo.

Next: What happens when you hear a song, you don’t know the name of the band, the song, or the lyrics. And you don’t even know you already have it?

The Beta Band – “Dry the Rain”

When: February 2009
Where: Taza, SF State University
Who: Kellen Sarver
Weather: Cold, Intermittently Cloudy

I was 19, and running behind schedule. Nineteen is such a faceless age, there’s nothing you’re supposed to do when you’re that age that you aren’t already doing. So I watched High Fidelity, a terrific movie that contains a scene that might be familiar to you dedicated readers:

And I enjoyed it so much that I decided to buy some of the music from the movie, so I listened to this song after trading a Kooks CD.

At SF State, we all share the same wireless internet, so if we were to make our iTunes libraries public, everyone could listen to them. I was one of many who did (and it would pay off later), but I spent a lot of time listening to the library of a girl named Kellen Sarver. I noticed she had some Kooks material I didn’t, and as I’d recently become able to listen to them again, I contacted her. We traded, I forgot exactly what I gave her, but she was satisfied. The stuff she gave me was disappointing.

Next: Love in the Nineties was paranoid. Love in the Noughties wasn’t all there.

Travis – “Selfish Jean”

When: after sunset, 24 May 2007
Where: Westbound on East Orange Grove Boulevard
Who: My mom
Weather: Warm, clear

By the end of the school year, I’d come to realize I was on a roll. I had accomplished everything I wanted to do; I’d published some films (well, a vlog, but you have to start somewhere) and established a stage persona. I’d chosen a college, passed my SAT’s with flying colors, I’d been in a goddamn tornado, and I had a schedule. Now I was coming into school an hour early. Maybe I’d go out for breakfast, maybe I’d just like the peace and quiet of an empty bus and library. I could have gone either way.

It was during my morning downtime that I discovered something amazing– the Cold War was back on. I’d heard rumors after the Polonium incident, but this was thrilling news. By now the Cold War was a nostalgic memory, more straightforward and understandable than what we were going through at the time. I got my analysis on the situation from The Daily Show, which I watched every morning with my friend Wyatt. This led me to Demetri Martin, which led me to this:

I watched it when I woke up, before dawn. I couldn’t get it out of my head, but I didn’t care. This was a different kind of song. Rather than a soaring quality, painful angst or a certain sleaze, it was fun. It was like a feather. It could have been at home in the early sixties, and there was nothing else like it out there. Today we call that pop revival, but it won’t show up again here for a long, long time.

When I got home, I downloaded it, before meeting some friends in Lamanda Park. As my mom picked me up, we passed the globular street lamps of the wide boulevard, the song enveloping the car, and thinking, “this would be a great season finale.” I was living my dream, however modest it was, and wasn’t going to stop any time soon. But before the real weirdness kicked in, I at least had that moment of accomplishment. I had become the man I wanted to be, the man for his time and place. For the first time, I was proud to be me.

Next: Soaring guitars have their downside.

Radiohead – “There, There”

When: 22 June 2003
Where: Soutbound on El Molino Avenue
Who: My parents
Weather: Hot, humid

This was a different kind of summer. This was a different kind of heat. You could feel it right on your skin like water. But summers were meant to be dry, what was happening?

An unusual humid interlude in a normal, dry summer, but if ever there was a song to match that feeling, it was this one. I was riding in my parents’ car and it came on. We wandered through trees. The light of the sky was white and glaring. It’s what I imagine Louisiana to be like.

Next: The lonesome crowded west.