In which I’m writing about Weezer for some reason

I know, I’m as surprised as you are.

I’m not a fan of Weezer. I’m not not a fan, if that makes any sense; there are probably a dozen Weezer songs that I have at least partially memorized and might sing along with given the opportunity, but if you asked me right now to name even one Weezer song I wouldn’t be able to do it. If a song was playing and you asked me “Is this a Weezer song?” I could probably tell you yes or no, but I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on any one song. They’ve been around a long time and I don’t dislike them, they’re just not my people musically, for whatever that’s worth.

You may have heard about the Teal album. The Teal album is utterly unique in that I can review it merely by listing the tracks on it:

  1. Africa
  2. Everybody Wants to Rule the World
  3. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
  4. Take on Me
  5. Happy Together
  6. Paranoid
  7. Mr. Blue Sky
  8. No Scrubs
  9. Billie Jean
  10. Stand by Me

And right away, boom, you know if you’re going to like the Teal album. (Weezer apparently has named most of their albums Weezer, and then distinguishes them by the color of the cover? Also a thing I didn’t know, so I don’t know if I should be italicizing Teal when it shows up or not. Weird-ass band.) And, more importantly, based on whether you’re wondering why the hell they bothered or you’re right now opening iTunes so you can download this, I know within about five or six years how old you are, because it’s a good damn bet you’re in the decade around being born in 1976 somewhere.

There is not a single song on here that I have ever decided to deliberately listen to, except maybe for No Scrubs, and in that case it’s been a very long time. And yet I literally purchased and downloaded this album within ten seconds of knowing it existed. Ask my wife; she was standing right next to me when it happened. And I’m listening to it right now, and I’m enjoying the hell out of it, and I don’t understand what has happened that those things are true. I mean, don’t get me wrong, these are all good songs, but … why? Why? This album is simultaneously the whitest thing that has ever happened and utterly delightful, and those should not both be true, and I’m very very confused right now.

It is a crime that Never Gonna Give You Up is not on here, by the way.

And here’s what is probably the weirdest part: I feel like it’s weird that the Teal album is my only Weezer album in my music collection, which is over 1100 albums strong (and, for the record, very close to 100% legitimately purchased) and now I feel like I need to spend some more money and buy at least one Weezer album where they’re playing their own music. Am I going to listen to it? I dunno, maybe not. I mean, the next thing I did after buying the Teal album yesterday was buy TLC’s Fanmail, because I didn’t like the idea that Weezer’s version was the only version of No Scrubs I had. So it’s not like this isn’t without precedent, y’know? What album would I buy? Am I just picking my favorite color or looking for a Greatest Hits or their debut (my usual move with a band I don’t own any music from) or …

Yeah. When I complain about not having enough money, remind me of shit like this, will you?

EDIT: Upon checking iTunes again, I note that Weezer has released a collection, called Blue/Green/Red, that is in fact just those three albums, for $13.99. So now I own four Weezer albums. (Also: Oh! These are the Buddy Holly guys! Of course they are.) They also apparently have released an album called Hurley, the cover art of which is a headshot of the guy who played Hurley in Lost. I don’t know what to do with that information, but I felt like those of you who didn’t know it need to.

EDIT EDIT: Island in the Sun and Blister in the Sun are not the same song, and I’d like to tender my sincere apologies to the Violent Femmes for my momentary loss of sense.

Tech and Tattoos: a generational inquiry

i-xRDcb5d.jpgAnyone with any aptitude for technology has encountered this scenario, right?  The Family Tech Support issue, where you’re stuck between just fixing their problem, whatever it is, and refusing to help at all and just screaming read the words on the screen over and over again until they either help themselves or hang up on you.  And that last panel is always the end result of any of these conversations.

It’ll happen to you, too, they say, or maybe you think it to yourself.  Sooner I’ll be relying on my kids to help me figure out why the clock in my ocular implant is always blinking 12:00 over and over again, or I’ll need my son to point out to me that the reason my touchscreen “doesn’t work” is because I won’t just touch the thing and insist on stabbing at it with the tip of my finger like I’m hitting a key on a manual typewriter.

Lemme change the subject for a second.

I have six tattoos, and I’ve been fighting the urge for a seventh for the last few weeks– in fact, I’ve woken up a few times in the last few weeks convinced that I was going to go get another one that day.  When I got my first one (and this was 20 years ago now) I heard from my parents exactly what every other person my age heard from their parents.

“What are you going to do when you’re 80 and you still have that?”

And here’s the thing (and let me be clear, I’m not talking about my parents specifically here; this is a widespread cultural phenomenon): when people ask you that, they’re suffering from a weird sort of blind spot: they’re thinking of old people now, who are comparatively less likely to have tattoos unless they were in the Navy or something.  When I’m 80– which, good luck, fat boy– I will console myself with the knowledge that probably 70% of the rest of the 80 year olds sharing space with me in the nursing home will also have tattoos.  It will be normal.  Yeah, they’ll all be saggy and blurry and faded.  So the fuck what?  It’s not going to be weird at all.  2/3 of people my age have tattoos and we will still have tattoos when we are old.

Let’s talk video games.  When I was a kid, playing video games was a thing For Kids.  The notion that there would ever be jobs connected to video games was considered ludicrous; video games were a thing that we were all going to Grow Out Of, and they’d stay a Thing for Kids forever.  Why?  Because in the late eighties the Nintendo was a Thing for Kids.

I’m 40 and still playing video games, and I suspect a fair number of the people who were playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out with me are too.  And I suspect a lot of those who aren’t are likely out of gaming because of reasons unrelated to maturity.

So, I ask you: how likely is it really that people my age are going to have to be calling our kids to get basic tech shit explained to us in 20 years?  In ten, when my son is 15?  What exactly is going to change about me or the way I look at the world that’s going to cause me to lose the ability– or, more importantly, the desire, because that’s actually the salient difference here– to figure new shit out, other than actual dementia?

Nothing.  It ain’t gonna happen.  Will there be some aspects of technology/Future Life that I’m not going to get?  Sure, but that’s because of youth culture, not because of the tech itself.  I don’t know what the fuck Tumblr is for, and I don’t really get Snapchat, but my confusions are more of the why would you want to do this variety rather than I need this to make my life work, please show me how to use it.  

At 40, I’m about as old as you can be and still claim to be a “digital native,” a phrase more likely to be applied to millennials than people my age.  But I grew up with this shit, and the upbringing my son is getting right now is really not that different from my own childhood.  My first home game system was an Atari.  I had a Commodore 64/128 that I used to dial into local BBS systems over a 300 baud modem.  I spent so much time on BBSes that my parents had to install a second phone line in my bedroom.  I had a cell phone in 1995 or 1996, way before most people had them.  I still tend to be an early adopter in a lot of ways and my affinity for tech stuff is a key part of my personality.

And all of this is just supposed to go away at some point, when I have to start calling my son for tech support?  When, exactly?  When am I going to stop being myself, absent some sort of literal mental deterioration?(*)  It’s not going to happen.  This is just as much of a canard as Old People Don’t Have Tattoos or You’re Going to Grow Out of Gaming.

Or maybe I’m just hugely immature.  I dunno.


Somewhat unrelated contention: I hate the phrase “Generation X” and always have.  Gen Xers are older than me; I’m not one of them.  Millennials are younger than me and I’m not one of them either.  You may refer to my generation as either Generation Star Wars or Generation Nintendo; they both work as far as I’m concerned.

The clearest sign of whether you are in my generation or you are a millennial is this, by the way: if Pokémon was part of your childhood, you are a millennial.

The end.


(*) I am, and I hope this is obvious, not suggesting that people who aren’t good with technology are suffering from some sort of disorder.  But if it were to happen to me, it would probably be a sign that I needed to go see somebody.  That’s all I’m saying.