The Strokes – “Someday”

When: 16 December 2007
Where: My dad’s car
Who: My dad
Weather: Cold, intermittently cloudy

“And now my fears, they come to me in threes.” I’d heard the song countless times for years, but it never struck me the way it did that icy December. It was the sound of things getting worse. It was the sound of the horrible feeling in your stomach when you feel as if the walls are closing in. And, considering the timeframe, it was just about perfect.

Older people had always complained that Bosco lacked unity, that we as a school disparate and apathetic, but while the school’s rapidlt declining state left something to be desired, as students we had never felt closer. To the outside world that was all that mattered; so long as we wore our ties and said intellient things, people thought highly of us.

We were like-minded, mostly in good standing, and no girls to fight over. It came as a shock to the state government how open we were to gays; California public schools at the time might as well have been Saudi Arabia. We made money off each other, we gambled, we got along. And it was at this most crucial moment that everyone started dropping dead.

First it was Victoria in the front office, cancer. And then Brother Gene, cancer again. Coach Yurak was old, to me was just an irritable eccentric, a real Ron Swanson type, but he turned out to be much more, and when he died there was a big outpouring but it wasn’t completely unexpected. Two weeks later, my design teacher of four years died. Alex Chavez was 32, with more friends than you could count, a young son, and an undiagnosed heart defect. For him, we broke out the green ribbons. We didn’t sell them, we just gave them out. It started to feel as if anyone could go, and he wasn’t the last.

People showed up to his funeral from the old days, film club, old teachers, even Mrs. Plummer, who was supposed to be my english teacher back in freshman year but left. I couldn’t make it to the burial. Tomorrow was the beginning of finals. As my Dad picked me up, it played on the radio. A song of desperation hidden behind careful hooks and Motown-style production.

“And now my fears, they come to me in threes.”

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The Strokes – Under Control

When: Late at night, October 2007
Where: My mother’s car
Who: My mom
Weather: Warm, dry

Me: “Hey, Tom, I gotta tell you something.”

Tom: “Go right ahead.”

Me: “I’m really sorry about homecoming. I voted for Karen. But I think something good came out of it.”

Tom: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Well, I’ve been writing this…screenplay.”

Tom: “Yeah?”

Mee: “Basically it’s everything that just happened, except that I stole your girlfriend.”

(long pause)
Tom: “What the fuck, dude?”

I love the motown quality of this song as well.

Next: Kanye touches down.

The Strokes – “Juicebox”

When: October 2006
Where: My mom’s car on the way to drop me off at the bus station on San Gabriel and Foothill.
Who: My mom
Weather: Cool, foggy
Book: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

I wasn’t sure this was a Strokes song when I first heard it, it was so different from before. This may have contributed to the album’s commercial failure.

Next: Why I couldn’t escape Muse.

The Strokes – “12:51”

When: November 2003
Where: The Vincent Thomas Bridge eastbound
Who: My father
Weather: Sunny…sort of.

Autumn in Southern California is known as “fire season.” It lasts two months, with wild temperature swings, and the entire landscape around you is on fire. In an attempt to get away from this, my father took me on a trip to San Pedro to hang around Fisherman’s Wharf and ride the new streetcar. We were passing over the bridge on our way home when Jed the Fish came on.

“You know all those fire’s we’ve been having?” He said in his Andy-Dick like quiver. “This is from the new Strokes album, called Room on Fire. Coincidence?”

Next: When 2003 ended, it was really already over.

The Strokes – “Last Nite”

When: 19 April 2002
Where: Grayburn Road
Who: My Bubby
Weather: Hot, dry
Book: Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island

During Gym class my pants were stolen. That was par for the course at Wilson Middle School. The dean of discipline promised me that she would let me know if it turned up in the lost and found, which was somehow a normal response.

The next time I had gym, nothing of note really happened. Mr. Mills made me run laps, and when I was done I snuck over to an inexplicably placed stack of hay under some trees. It was pretty hot, so I just hung around there talking to one of the girls, Gabby, so called because her name was Gabriela and she had the gift of gab.

After a while, it occurred to my that my Bubby was waiting to pick me up on the street, and as the gate was unlocked I let myself out early. I’d never done anything like that before. Knowing I wouldn’t be caught, and that if I were it would never follow me, certainly made me feel like I could actually do it. Every other gate at the school was locked until 3:30, and everybody demanded that I accept this confusion.

I got out onto the back street and got into the car, turned the radio on. The song sounded old, different from what I’d been hearing for the past several months. But I liked it, it complemented the dryness and the heat as we pulled away.

My secret gate

Next: Jack Johnson makes me sleepy.