Feb. 1, 2010

1 Feb

I’m not going to write about what I ate today. You didn’t miss much, it was just leftovers from Sunday. In fact, chipped beef tastes better on plain wheat toast instead of biscuits. It’s less saltier that way. Anyway, I want to talk about something that has meant a lot to me over the past five years: my iPod.

My iPod died over the weekend and I hate to admit it, but it affected me way more than it should. I mean, it’s just a stupid machine, no bigger than a deck of cards, covered in plastic and metal and pushed onto us by Apple. How much could it mean to me? Not too much, except I loaded it with 16,000 songs, took it everywhere I went and listened to it before I went to sleep every night. As the hair-metal band Cinderella once sang, you don’t know what you got til it’s gone. I like to play my iPod on random play a lot and sometimes it’ll pick a song that fits a moment perfectly. For a few minutes, your life feels like a scene from “Almost Famous.” So in the most fitting tribute I could think of, I picked 10 songs from my iPod’s random play that perfectly captured those moment. They’re not my favorite songs, just ones that came on in the right place at the right time. Yes, this is self-serving. But most blogs are by nature. And with that…

Okkervil River “Black”

When I travel abroad and stay at hotels, I like to use the gym. Foreign gyms sometimes have weird contraptions that boggles the mind as to how it’s supposed to work. I got my iPod right before I went to Seoul five years and listened to it every morning while running on a treadmill at my hotel. The only other patrons were old ladies using lap-band machines to shake their fat away and old men heading to the sauna. I was the only young person there and the only one who actually broke a sweat. This song came on while I was running and it heightened the feeling of displacement you sometimes get in a foreign country. It was like the scene where Bill Murray is using an elliptical machine in “Lost In Translation.” Except, without the xenophobic attitude the film had.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Lucinda Williams “Ventura”

I was driving to a friend’s wedding in Yosemite several years, and that required me to drive through Fresno, the raisin capital of the world. While driving through small outlying towns and farmland just outside of Fresno, this song came on and it turned into the most relaxing drive imaginable. Living in Los Angeles, farms seem like a far away place sometimes. This song helped me feel like I escaped from a big city for a bit.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Bruce Springsteen “New York City Serenade

When I worked in Santa Monica at MTV, Friday commutes back home sometimes took 90 minutes. This song came on during one of those drives, when it was raining, at the end of my first week on a new show. Needless to say I was stressed and exhausted. Early Springsteen songs tend to be long, meandering and streams-of-conscious-like, and this number made my commute feel like a daydream. The red brake lights in front of me looked like blinking stars in the rain. For once, a grueling commute had a sense of beauty about it.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Ride “Vapour Trail”

The United terminal at O’Hare International Airport has the walkway with the river of lights that feels like the wormhole portal in “2001.” It’s probably most recognizable from Puff Daddy and Faith Evan’s music video for “I’ll Be Missing You.” It’s a four-hour flight from LA to Chicago, and coupled with my penchant for taking red-eye flights, I’m usually half-asleep while heading to baggage claim. As I was slowly dozing off on the moving walkway under these lights, this song came through my headphones. The second half of this song could be one of the most beautiful moments in rock, and it was a perfect compliment to the neon currents.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Beach Boys “Don’t Worry Baby”

My coworker Matt and I were driving around Malibu filming b-roll for several hours with our cameraman, Alistair. It was a gorgeous day and we mostly drove through the canyons filming driving shots. On the drive back on the Pacific Coast Highway by the ocean, this song came on and we both fell silent. “I love this song,” Matt said. “It’s one of the five greatest songs in rock history and I think it’s absolutely gorgeous. I don’t care if that sounds sappy.” “I agree, ” I replied. “I always have to stop what I’m doing whenever this song comes on and just listen to it.” And just like that, we had about as gay of a bonding moment as two straight male coworkers can have. And I also don’t care if this sounds sappy.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Chuck Jackson “Everything About You”

I heard this song the day after a great second date I went on several years ago. What was originally supposed to be lunch turned into a spontaneous seven-hour day that ended up at the beach. While driving to the valley the next day, and still beaming from that date, this song came on and it accelerated the process of falling for someone by helping me itemize what qualities I liked about the girl. This turned out to be an effective little love song.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Jamie Lidell “Multiply”

I recently went to a wedding in Laguna Beach. I was planning on driving back late on Sunday but ended up staying another night. I then planned on hitting the road at 7 am to get to work on time. But while lying in bed, I couldn’t get myself to leave my blanket. “I think I’m going to be late to work,” I told my friend. “Good, ” she replied. “You can take me to the airport then.” And so I stayed, and we laid in bed for another hour listening to the ocean waves crashing right outside our window. After I dropped her off, I was dreading the morning rush hour, but there was no absolutely no traffic. This song came on during my commute and combined with the sunny weather, open road and memories of a nice weekend, it put me in a perfectly relaxed mood. And I was only 15 minutes late to work.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Honey Cone “Want Ads”

A recent dinner I went to revolved around a conversation about online dating, and by the end of the night, three of my friends gathered around a laptop and started looking through profiles. They’ve all tried online dating for a while with varying degrees of success, and it was fascinating to hear about their online dates, chat buddies and potentials. I’ll admit, I signed up for a month a couple of years ago and ended up going on four middling dates, and I never put a serious effort into it. Anyway, this song came on when I was driving home after that dinner, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the perfect timing of it all.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Skatt Bros. “Walk the Night”

I tend to jog at late at night. It’s hard for me to wake up early in the morning to get my workout in. Sometimes there are sketchy moments and on one night, I ran into a coyote scavenging for a late-night snack. I froze and we just stared at each other. I didn’t want to run away lest  he chase me down, but I also didn’t want to turn back and cut my workout short. So I just stood there for what seemed like forever until the coyote slowly backed off and left. This song came up later on my jog, and it heightened the weirdness and brief excitement of that moment. If a gay disco group recorded the theme song to “The Warriors,” it would be this song. It also comes up regularly in Grand Theft Auto IV.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
John Mayer “Say”

I don’t know why I had this song on my iPod. I think a girl I was briefly seeing liked John Mayer and I threw it on there before a drive to Santa Barbara. Of course I wouldn’t have John Mayer on my iPod willingly. (insert snickers here) Anyway, there was a rather messy dissolution with her. Sometimes, you need to hear an obvious message beaten over your head repeatedly, and that’s what this song did while driving home from work. So I got the courage to lay out my issues as opposed to leaving things unsaid, which I tend to do. Yes, it wasn’t meant to work out. But it was rather civil at the end, much more than I thought. And yes, John Mayer actually provided a sound advice to me with a song from the craptastic movie “The Bucket List.” But I refuse to follow his lead in not wearing shirts and masturbating constantly.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

RIP, iPod. I’ll miss you, until I find your replacement in a few weeks.

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