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I just want to talk about my new musical infatuation…
Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking about the mid 2000′s “alt” rockers who sounded like some combination of Hoobastank and The Fray. I’m not ashamed.
Let me explain (even though this explanation is going to sound really, really lame).
A bit over a week ago, I was in a car accident. No one was hurt or anything, but my car is a write off, and the whole thing was pretty scary (for obvious reasons). So a day or so after that happened, I stumbled across Augusta’s song “Boston” on YouTube. I’d heard the song before and never thought much of it, but suddenly I was like, “THIS IS MY FUCKING JAM”.
Was it just my fragile state? I have no idea. But now I’ve listened to a bunch of their stuff, and I also really like the song “Stars and Boulevards“. My only explanation is that I subliminally associate this kind of music with stupid teen dramas like The O.C.. And since this car accident was basically the ONLY thing that’s ever happened to me that could happen on one of those shows, maybe I’m having some weird cathartic release from hearing that music? Haha, I actually have no idea. Either way, I’m basking in the angst right now and loving it.
To be honest, I don’t really know what the general perception of Augustana is. They’re not massively popular, but I imagine that some of those annoying “popular” girls in my high school jammed to “Boston” back in the day. They kind of sound like the Counting Crows to me, which I don’t see as a bad thing. I’m all about that melodic, angsty folk-rock.
(American Idol live shows start this week)
(Look at my life, look at my choices.)
It’s time for some self-congratulatory celebration, because Times Like Those is officially one year old!
I started the blog on a whim back on July 10, 2009, and amazingly, I’ve managed to continue posting fairly frequently. With 118 posts to show for the past year, I can’t help but feel a bit proud that I’ve managed to keep it going.
And what could be a better birthday present for a blog that worships Ryan Adams than this news from the man’s own Facebook page?:
“Hey there. I’ve been computer-less in NYC for a few weeks recording. It was great. I made 25 songs but I only like 2 of them- only 2 of them will be good enough so I am going to go on another journey to find some more. I am working very very hard and doing my best. LOVE LOVE LOVE ya’ll and I send you invisible snacks, fuzzy hugs and rocknroll fruit loop dreamsocknroll fruit loop dreams…. XX t… XX theDRA”
“p.s. for everyone that has been asking… I am thinking about doing some solo shows later this year, much later-Me+acoustic or possibly half like that & half w/ the insanely badassed new band I have assembled out here in Cali-I dunno yet tho-still findin my balance in every way post Meniere’s. I am kind of itching to play though. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for asking/ keepin the faith : )”
And in further celebration, I’m going to drop all attempt that intelligent or artful critique (psh…like there’s ever been any of that on this blog). Instead, here are a few gratuitous photos of some Times Like Those favourites, inspired by my blatantly hypocritical previous article about male actors and superhero movies.
Uh…congrats on the baby, dude… I guess?
^This somehow manages to be sexy and hillarious
Like many others have, I’d like to take a minute to share my thoughts on the death of J.D. Salinger. It was announced today that the famously reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye passed away on Wednesday from natural causes at the age of 91.
Liking The Catcher in the Rye as a teenage is not a unique sentiment. And my feelings on it are not unique. But there’s a reason why so many people love that book in a way that feels so personal to them. It’s impossible to describe the story to people who’ve never read it, or to convince those who didn’t like it of Salinger’s brilliance. On the surface, not much happens. But the mind of Holden Caulfield is so beautifully portrayed throughout the course of that story. His idiosyncratic, often contradictory views on humanity are heartbreaking, hilarious, and perfect.
I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was fifteen years old, which to me, was the perfect age to be introduced to Holden Caulfield. Tenth grade was a low point for me, because I felt so incredibly disconnected to the rest of the world. I felt so angry at myself for not being able to connect to anyone, even though I hated most of the people at my school, and told myself that I didn’t want to be friends with them, anyways. So to find a book that carefully laid out every emotion that I was feeling was a pretty special thing. Also, it was unlike most books that I read at the time. My literary tastes had fallen more along the lines of the work of Meg Cabot prior to reading Catcher. Not only did it make me feel a little less lonely, it also opened my eyes to the possibility of reading books that were both entertaining AND had something important to say.
Catcher is obviously Salinger’s most famous work. It’s going to live on forever as a literary classic. But his short story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” (which can be found in his Nine Stories compilation), is another masterpiece. It takes a while to make its impact, but once it does, it’s unforgettable.
J.D. Salinger is responsible for what is arguably the most iconic novel of the 20th century, and he’s inspired countless writers to write their own stories of teenage angst (for better or worse). As an aspiring writer myself, Salinger is definitely one of my heroes.
Rest in peace.
This is probably the first time I’ve posted more than one post in the same day. Although, the other one was pretty short, and I think that this one will be too. There are just some random things that I want to talk about, I guess. And I like to procrastinate.
Since the end of 2009 is in sight, lots of sites are putting up their lists of the best movies/books/albums/music videos/whatever of the decade. I’ve done a little bit of that with my Best Performances of the Decade series (be sure to check it out!) Pitchfork amassed their crazy 200 Best Albums list. Pitchfork is one of those things that I love to hate. And the weird thing is, Pitchfork covers most of the music that I like. There’s not too much reason for me to hate them. Except maybe their pretention. But I can be pretentious, too, so I guess I’m a hypocrite now, on top of everything else. Anyways, they chose Kid A and Funeral as their top 2 albums. That is so predictable. Maybe I just like being contrary, but I think those two albums are two of the most overrated albums around. I love Radiohead and the Arcade Fire. But both of them have released other albums that I like a thousand times more this decade. Kid A and Funeral are good, but I guess I just don’t see what all the fuss is about.
Conversely, Paste magazine is doing a purge of their “best of the decade” lists of everything imagineable. I’ve started working my way through their best movies list. It seems like they’re making interesting choices, and I want to read all of their comments. In the first ten, it’s a nice mix of more obvious choices (High Fidelity), slightly more unexpected choices (Hotel Rwanda, which was a pretty amazing film), and stuff that I’ve never heard of. I’m interested to see what albums they’ll choose. I bet it won’t be Funeral or Kid A (now watch me be wrong). I respect Paste’s opinion a lot more, even if they can be pretentious sometimes, too. On top of being a pretty decent magazine, they have a really good blog/website thing going, which is nice.
To switch to something totally different, my prof told us today that we’ll be watching David Lynch’s Lost Highway in our cinema studies class next week. I’ve been kind of baffled by some of his choices so far (Winchester ’73, Tuff Turf), but David Lynch seems to make a bit more sense, I suppose. I’ve never seen any of his films, so I guess I can’t really say, but he just seems arty and weird enough, from what I gather. I don’t really know anything about this film, since I usually hear Mullholland Drive or Blue Velvet when I hear people talk about him. But I looked it up on IMDB, and Henry Rollins is in it. So that should be interesting.
So yeah. I don’t have too much else to say. I’ve been working on my own best albums of the decade list, so hopefully that’ll be up before too long. When does the decade end, anyways? Because it seems like 2009 would be the last year, but then some people are saying that 2010 is part of this decade? Oh well. I’m counting it as 2000-2009.
I wasn’t planning to write about this today. I wasn’t really planning to write about anything, actually. I have a couple of entries waiting patiently to be finished. But I just stumbled across a blog review of 2004′s The United States of Leland, and it kind of inspired me, in a weird way.
I’m not going to post the link to this blog, because I don’t want to embarrass the writer, or insult them. Because there really wasn’t anything wrong with this young writer’s review. It was just very, very earnest. And it kind of got me thinking. I saw The United States of Leland a few months ago, and I really liked it. I actually connected to it in somewhat similar ways that this blogger did. I’m eighteen (seventeen when I saw it), which I think is past the height of teen angst. For me, I think finishing high school is kind of equal to finishing feeling sorry for your teenage self. I was pretty miserable in high school. I just want to say this to anyone who might be reading this and having a shitty time in high school: It gets better. I’m in university now, and even though I may not be making a ton of friends or feeling totally at home, I just love that it’s not high school. Occasionally, I’ll be sitting in class, and I’ll hear a couple of idiots sitting behind me and making fun of the professor, and even though I might want to punch them in the head, I almost don’t mind. Because at least it’s not like that all the time, like it was in high school. But anyways, the point is, I think my teen angst peaked in grade ten or eleven, and I’m just relieved that the end of my teen years is in sight.
During grade ten and eleven, I felt so disconnected. It was all of those emotions that self-proclaimed “misfits” feel. Yet I’m pretty sure that I expressed these feelings in the same way that every outsider has for decades before me. And I’m positive that many future generations of losers like me will think the same thoughts, listen to the same music, and watch the same movies. You know the stuff that I’m talking about. I have multiple journals filled with insufferable ranting. I would probably die of embarrassment if anyone read those journals, but it was such a big part of my life, I can’t imagine that I’ll ever get rid of those hundreds of incriminating pages.
I spent two solid years (I’m going to say 2006 and 2007) listening to Nirvana obsessively. I don’t think that my parents saw Kurt Cobain as a great role model (especially compared to former celebrity crushes of mine, which included Taylor Hanson and Michael J. Fox), but I, like every other weird teenager, basked in his poor hygiene, nonsense lyrics, and general brooding. Throw in an assortment of other 90′s alt-mopers, and you’ve pretty much got my first three years of high school. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m “beyond” any of that stuff now. I still think Nirvana’s great, and I have to pat my fifteen-year-old self on the back for discovering Jeff Buckley. But I don’t put as much stock into it as I used to, I guess. Part of me is a little sad about that. It was kind of nice to feel so passionately about something. But I think I have a little bit more perspective on it all now (I realize that I sound horribly pretentious right now).
A band like Nirvana is great, but they’re job is to sell records. If Kurt Cobain really didn’t want the spotlight, they never would’ve gotten past the Bleach days. I’d read the criticism about him when I was younger, and I’d dismiss it. When I would read articles saying that Kurt Cobain constructed his whole persona and played up the “voice of a generation” label by making all these purposely “meaningful” statements in interviews, I’d be disgusted and think that the writer just didn’t understand what he was all about. That I was the only one who truly understood what he was trying to say. I haven’t become one of those jaded critics yet, but I think that I can see it all more clearly for what it is. Or rather, maybe I can see it less clearly, but more correctly. I didn’t know Kurt Cobain personally, nor did the vast majority of those writers. So how are we supposed to know what he was really like? I think it’s great to get into a band’s music so much, but to worship a musician whose entire public persona has been both built and warped by the media isn’t going to accomplish much. I couldn’t connect to the people my age at school, so I latched onto this famous guy (a dead one, at that) just to feel some kind of connection to another person. But at this point, someone like Kurt Cobain isn’t really a person any more, as far as fans see him. I think that only a teenager can have that kind of profoundly fucked up connection.
And as far as books go, my two favourites were The Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Actually, they probably still are my favourites. They capture what it’s like to be a teenager so well, and I think that’s why there are just as many people who hate them as there are who love them. They’re honest, but in the most obvious ways possible. It’s the same with cinematic angstfests like Donnie Darko, Rebel Without a Cause, Edward Scissorhands, and even Juno. I think that Juno’s relationship with Jason Bateman’s character, Mark, is one of the most brilliantly realistically portrayals of how a teenager sees the world. She sees Mark how she wants him to be. It’s horribly naive, and of course the rest of the world (including Mark) sees it differently, but it’s also wonderfully innocent.
I’m a couple of years too old to really latch onto some of the most recent trends, like the Twilight (though I have read all four books…) and Paramore (though their song “Hallelujah” is pretty catchy…) but I’m not too old to understand why they’re popular. It’s a thing that only teenagers can understand. Teenagers all feel so misunderstood, yet we all seem to latch onto the same things to reflect our supposed alienation from the rest of the world. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, yet it seems to be perfectly reasonable at the time. I mean, maybe that’s why I’m sitting here typing a thousand words about essentially nothing. It’s that kind of desperate attempt to connect to something in any kind of abstract way that seemed to pretty much define my life from the age of 13 to 17. But I think I’m finally starting to feel a little bit more comfortable in my skin. That’s not to say that I’m some kind of truly unique person, but I’m starting to realize that that’s alright.