2003 Year End Thoughts
A Perfect Moment with the Strokes
hat was this year? The year in which I —dumped a girl for the first time? —started a band or two? —got detained by the local authorities? —found my grades in what (to me) was catastrophic disarray? —fancied myself a writer?
Fine. Fine. Quantify it all as everyone else has. But I found myself paying less and less attention to pop music as the year progressed and paying more and more attention to, you know, myself. Oh, and it’s so selfish—the normal teenage wrack, seas of neuroses burrowing into your precious self-idealization; I’m supposed to be looking for colleges, aren’t I? And I’m supposed to find a place where I’ll spend the next four years of my life now and I can’t even—I can’t even attend a party without hating myself.
And of course we’ve all had it, where every flaw simply becomes an excuse to review your failures—it’s so easy, isn’t it?—and decide that you’re a shit person. I’ve simply not the time for the new Unicorns record. How can I care when I've just failed this crossword?
In February I had been obtaining albums at a clip of roughly of three or four a week. Over the last three months, I think I’ve heard about five. It's just fucking pop music, right?
I don't worry about girls anymore. I don't worry about how attractive I am. I need to be perfect. I need to be tight, I need to be efficient, I need to somehow have some quality that I'm really fucking good at. Most of all—if I really did want to be this writer some day, I had to ... well, I had to get better. So much better. I had—look at me saying this; this has to happen—to unearth all this and make a masterpiece of yearning, of tension, of monotony; but of joy and release—and most of all, a declaration. A declaration for all the normal boys out there, because you know, we can win. Everyday we wake up and tell ourselves that we’ve been lying to ourselves our whole lives about if we’re intelligent, if we’re even worth it to begin with. But God, we’re stronger than you. We can win. And The Strokes’ Room On Fire knows this—but the difference between us is, they've already done it.
And so Saturday night I was driving home from one of these parties, staring out into those streetlights converging at the end of it all. This fucking world and here it was, 12.30 AM and it was deserted. The people we hate have completely disappeared and we’re finding solace in the world that looked right back at us. They told us to fuck off but we're the only ones standing.
I waited at the intersection, glancing at the clock. What was I doing? What did I have left? I didn’t really have anything to moan about that night—standard-issue party fare, I suppose. I started my left turn and as the tip of the car peaked out I stopped. I stopped nearly in the middle of the street, left turn signal still flashing. I turned it off and backed up to my former position—waiting. What was I going to do when I got home? My mother will be upset; I’m late. I should call my girlfriend. I have articles and papers to write. I can’t go home.
It was not when I woke up at 5 AM September 26 to listen to the album twice through—instead of writing an American History paper. It was not when I played "12:51" on the piano for my family and they all danced and sang along. My mother and sister were holding hands and jumping up and down around the Baldwin, singing the lyrics all wrong in such unadulterated happiness. Even my eight-year-old brother took his shirt off and starting slapping his baby fattened gut. It was not when I saw this very band in concert and almost passed out. Packed between fathers, yuppies, and twelve-year-olds holding hands, I screamed every word and jumped on top of people because we all love this band. We all hurt a little but certainly not tonight.
I put the car in park. "The End Has No End"—does this fucking thing go any louder? I glanced at my rattling rearview mirrors, felt my stomach being hit with bass. I danced in my car, ripping my seatbelt, screaming the title louder and louder and I can’t go home. It’s all important and it’s all gotta be done, doesn’t it? I can’t leave—none of us can.
Of course it’s not the responsibility I’m afraid of, but failure. For three minutes, I can forget it. All of it.
Because for once, I’ve got Julian all to myself. We’re one-on-one in this Volvo and there’s not one outside. Nobody can look down on me in this deserted suburb.
Why not tear up? Air drumming and flailing, I know I can’t do this forever. I’ll be alright in the end, because all of us are. Nice jobs, pretty high self-esteem. As if that could matter—because right now I don’t have that nice job and I certainly don’t feel good about myself. Amidst chords that don’t even sound like guitars anymore and someone telling me it’ll be okay—imploring me to join him, because the end has no end—it's irrelevant. Guitars chime and drop because it is the end. We made it and I’m ready to go home.
And that's it: that's why I don't find myself in disarray for new sounds anymore. Because I've got The Strokes now, and no fucking Dizzee Rascal record will ever provide solace for me the way they can.
Reviewed by: Sam Bloch
Reviewed on: 2003-12-29