Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What do you think was a more disappointing third work, Weezer's Green Album or Terminator: Rise of the Machines?

An imagined conversation between myself and a mysterious stranger. The date is Monday, May 14, 2001. Young Josh is approached by a shadowy figure, emerging from the mist. Also, Young Josh lives near mist, I guess.

Young Josh: Whoa!

Stranger: Hello.

Young Josh: Wh-who are you?

Stranger: That's not important right now. I need to warn you about something.

Young Josh: This is too weird.

Stranger: I know, it's a lot to handle right now, and it's about to get weirder. I don't have much time. The portal will be closing soon. Listen to me. This is so important. Weezer-

Young Josh: I love Weezer! Their new album comes out tomorrow and I can't wait. I'm gonna head down to Newbury Comics right as they open to buy it.

Stranger: Listen, Weezer fucking sucks.

Young Josh: Yeah right, their first two albums are awesome, and they've had so long to make this one, it must be good. Are you one of those assholes who doesn't like Pinkerton? That album is so underrated. I think it's better than the Blue Album.

Stranger: No, it's not that. Those albums used to be good.

Young Josh: They're still good.

Stranger: They won't be tomorrow.

Young Josh: What do you mean? Is the Green Album going to be so much better that it blows the first two out of the water? Because that's secretly what I've been hoping for, but I didn't want to jinx it.

Stranger: Not exactly. The Green Album is terrible. Like, really bad.

Young Josh: Yeah right.

Stranger: I'm telling you right now to not buy the album tomorrow. It's going to ruin Weezer for you forever. You're going to stop liking them as soon as you hear this record.

Young Josh: No, that's impossible! How do you know, did you get an advance copy or something? No. This album can't suck. It just can't.

The Stranger steps forward. It appears to be Young Josh, but without any joy in his heart. Even less than before, and there wasn't much. He had a pretty terrible time growing up, which is probably why he liked Weezer in the first place.

Young Josh: You-you can't be!

Old Josh: I'm you. From the future.

Young Josh: But, but, you look just like me! I aged well. Or poorly, I guess. I'm not very attractive, if that's what I look like.

Old Josh: It's true. I'm you from Wednesday, May 16, 2001.

Young Josh: That's... two days from now. But you look so sad.

Old Josh: Exactly. I'm you after listening to the new Weezer album. It's that bad.

Young Josh: No way.

Old Josh: Believe it. The album is so bad that it made me – by which I mean you - hate pretty much every other Weezer song. Especially the Blue Album. It's terrible.

Young Josh: I can't believe it. After Pinkerton? That album is a masterpiece!

Old Josh: I know! Pinkerton kicks so much ass, it's amazing. It's such a beautiful, heartfelt album. There's nothing like that on the Green Album.

Young Josh: Come on, some of the songs must be good, right? Some of them?

Old Josh: Yeah, I guess so. Island in the Sun, Crab and Photograph are really great pop songs, but nothing with any kind of musicianship. Something happened to this band, and I think they sold out.

Young Josh: That's so sad.

Old Josh: I know. And it's barely 28 minutes long. You're going to feel so ripped off. Just skip it altogether.

Young Josh: [sighing loudly] I guess I'll skip it, then. Thanks for saving me. I guess this means you'll cease to exist now, right?

Old Josh: I thought so, but it seems that I'm still here. What happened?

Suddenly another figure emerges from the portal. Did I mention there was a portal? That's how you go back through time, right? Anyhow, another figure! How exciting. Let's find out what he – OR SHE – has to say.

New Stranger: Bad news, buddy. You're not going anywhere.

Young Josh: You're-

Old Josh: It can't be!

Even Older Josh: I'm you, but from Tuesday, September 13, 2011. A few things. Weezer got progressively worse and worse, with more of their songs being two-and-a-half minute shitfests consisting of a hook and a talkbox solo, like they're fucking Zapp or something. They've released a new album every 18 or so months for the past decade, and they've poisoned their legacy. It used to be secretly cool to like Weezer, now it's unsecretly lame.

Both Younger Joshes: Fuck, really? Also, who is Zapp?

Even Older Josh: They did that song More Bounce to the Ounce, and yeah, really. Also, I couldn't help but overhear Wednesday Josh telling Monday Josh that the Blue Album sucks and Pinkerton is a masterpiece. Turns out we've been wrong for a decade now. The Blue Album is vastly superior. Pinkerton is lyrically creepy at every turn. Across the Sea is the very true story of Rivers Cuomo lusting after an underage Japanese girl. Butterfly is just about as precious as precious can be. It's terrible. Believe it or not, songs about adolescent sexual frustration don't hold up once you start getting laid regularly. Even the Blue Album has some songs about weird sexual possession. It's icky.

Old Josh: That sucks, but why do I still exist? I warned Monday Josh about what would happen to him, so I should disappear into the ether.

Even Older Josh: I hate to say it buddy, but you can't escape this album. You're going to spend the next year or so trying to convince yourself that you like this album. Oh, and those songs you thought you liked? They're bad. You'll find out soon enough.

Old Josh: Sheesh. Do you have any good news for me, at least? Does Rivers Cuomo at least get eaten by a bear at any point?

Even Older Josh: Nope. Oh, and here's a message from Josh from Monday, July 22, 2002. Avoid going to the Weezer concert in Mansfield. The show wasn't that good, and none of the girls you went with ended up going out with you. They all just liked you because you owned a car big enough to drive all of them to the show. They're going to end up leaving with some guy they met at the concert. You'll end up driving your smelliest friend – who you don't actually like – home, and your car will overheat in the parking lot.

Both Younger Joshes: Oh my God, we own a car?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Girls Like Boys Who Like Boys for Pele.

High school is the best time to develop affectations that will act as surrogates for a personality. Most of the time you meet someone cooler than you, and you just do what they do. I, like many others I'm sure, became a vegetarian to impress a girl. It didn't really work, but at least I had established myself as a human being. I was a Vegetarian, with an upper-case V. That let people know that I cared about animals, the environment, and impressing girls with tattoos. This lifestyle choice/affectation was something that stuck with me through high school and into college. I have never, in my entire life, dated a vegetarian. Not a single one. That didn't matter, though. I just wanted girls to know that I cared about things. Guys know that “caring about things” is the number one thing a woman looks for in a mate. That's why they find things that they care about – to trick people into thinking they care about things. In some cases it backfires, and they actually end up caring, but I digress.

I met a girl in seventh or eighth grade who cared about strong women playing the piano. When she asked me what kind of music I liked, I immediately lied and said Tori Amos. It seemed like the right play to call. What I did not expect – which, looking back, I should have totally expected – was for her to reply “Oh, I love Tori Amos. What's your favorite Tori Amos album?” What happened next I do not recall, but I'm pretty sure it ended with me running away shouting “I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM NOW! GOODBYE!” Right after school, I ran down to Spinnaker Records on Main Street in Hyannis and bought Under the Pink and Boys for Pele, the two cheapest Tori Amos albums in stock. I got home and found, to my great surprise, that I did not really like either of these albums. This was bad. I was supposed to call this girl the next night, and I figured she'd ask me all about Tori Amos. This was before Wikipedia, so cramming and faking my way through a conversation was out of the question. I had to Stockholm Syndrome my way through these albums. If I didn't like them now, Goddamnit, I would by tomorrow night.

After three or four listens, I found a dozen or so songs, maybe an hour's worth of music, that I liked. The tuneful songs were pretty good. The moaning and slamming on a piano songs, not so much. I put together a mix for myself, and then pored over it like a quarterback studying a playbook. The next night I called her, and we talked for a few hours. Tori Amos never came up. Unfortunately, I was 20 dollars into this ruse, so I was going to get 20 dollars worth of enjoyment out of Tori Amos' music. I listened and listened and listened, and finally convinced myself that I really liked it. I liked Tori Amos a lot. I liked Tori Amos so much that I bought all of her albums and a few live bootlegs and a couple of t-shirts. This happens to me a lot. I'll choose an affectation, then get way too into it. I became a vegetarian to impress one single girl who I never saw again after ninth grade, but I stuck with it until I was 20. I possess that rare quality known as “sticktoitiveness,” which is why I am such a good business leader in the 21st Century.

I abandoned Tori once she started getting all weird. Well, weirder. She released like, a dozen concept albums in a row. The first couple, Strange Little Girls and Scarlet's Walk, were pretty good. The former being a collection of cover songs and the latter about post-9/11 America. If you were a Real Serious Musician in 2002, you had to release an album about post-9/11 America, or ASCAP revoked your membership. Next came a handful of albums exploring her various personalities, each less coherent and cohesive than the last. I was not on board, so I checked out. I sort of dropped Tori Amos' catalog wholesale at that point. She poisoned her own well.

Having relistened to Under the Pink and Boys for Pele, I'm pretty much where I was the first time I listened to them. There are some really great, pleasing-but-still-edgy songs on each album, but much of it is very tough to slog through. As a service to you, my dear beloved reader, I have constructed an album consisting of six songs each from these two albums. Buy each of them individually on iTunes. It'll be cheaper than buying the two albums, and in this case, the parts are greater than the whole sum or whatever. You heard what I meant.

1: Pretty Good Year
2: Professional Widow
3: Caught a Lite Sneeze
4: God
5: Cornflake Girl
6: Past the Mission
7: Marianne
8: The Wrong Band
9: Talula
10: Little Amsterdam
11: Cloud On My Tongue
12: Putting the Damage On

Study this. Learn it, love it. Now all you need to do is go back in time to 1997, when girls everywhere cared about Tori Amos. Soon enough, you'll be dating a girl who's into spooky makeup and tongue piercings. You're welcome!