Today I gave my brilliant wife a ride to work. She works on the west side and has to be in early in the morning—by 6 am. Once I dropped her off I couldn't resist stopping by the beach since I was so close and had plenty of time to kill.
The beach in the early morning is probably my favorite thing about Los Angeles (rivaled only by the beach in winter, at any time of day). The air is cool, barely anyone is around, and the light is perfect—the sky almost blends right into the sea. You're subsumed by these three expanses—the sky, the ocean, the vast beach, smoothed out by the now-receded tide and unsullied by people or their tracks. There's nowhere better to just sit and be silent. It was good for me.
- Hearts & Flowers: Try for the Sun
On the way home I listened to Grizzly Bear's Vekatimest in the car. It was the closest I've ever come to connecting with this band. I don't know why I haven't, and honestly it flummoxes me that I can't. They've got all the ingredients that should go into my ideal band—beautiful harmonies, great atmospherics, an equal appreciation of 50s–60s pop and rock and contemporary art-rock, riding the fence between easy earworms and dramatic walls of sound. If I were to start a band today, it would probably sound a lot like Grizzly Bear. Yet I just cannot settle up to what they're serving. Too pretentious? Too self-conscious? Too quote-unquote arty? Maybe.
Sometimes you just need the right environment, mixed with the right mood, for a record to click. I came close this morning. I was feeling disconnected—from myself, from the world in front of my face. So maybe hearing a band who also strike me as disconnected—from me, perhaps from their own ability to hit on any kind of nuanced emotion amidst all their dramatic compositions—was the right thing. I floated on their harmonies, rode the waves of their ups and downs, felt oddly unsettled yet comforted by their borg-like lack of humanity. I was feeling just slightly alien, was just barely outside of my own body. I was feeling about myself the way I feel about Grizzly Bear. Disconnected.
- Grizzly Bear: Cheerleader
On Saturday I was home alone, working on a freelance project, when I suddenly became distracted and started sifting through my iTunes to make a new playlist. I'm not sure what triggered it—maybe it was a Galaxie 500 song, or a Deerhunter track. I don't know. But I started scrolling through my library, pulling every song that "fit," though I wasn't really working with a theme. When I was done I had about forty tracks and the whole thing, I realized, resembled the first portion of this playlist, which I made last year. Here's how I described what I was drawn to at the time:
Lately I've been drawn to that sound again. Perhaps not as propulsive, perhaps with less simmering tension. Something a little more numb. I don't know why.
I know why. It's not anything special—it's work stress. It's a feeling of not being productive enough outside of work. It's the feeling of hurtling through a busy year full of personal and professional hurdles. You know, the same shit everyone else goes through.
We watched (500) Days of Summer on Sunday. It was a great movie, recommended. There was a scene, though, where a line out of Zooey Deschanel's mouth had the accidental effect of reminding me of my dad. I went into a funk for the rest of the day and, as of today, haven't really risen out of it. I will, I will. There's enough wonderful things happening in my life right now that I will. But it's a strange feeling to be pulled—forcibly, imperceptibly—into a mood or mindset that you weren't expecting. No external event really triggered this. It's not his birthday, not father's day, not anything. I just felt a memory.
It's not really something to explain. I expect it will happen many times in the future, for the rest of my life. My brilliant wife asked me about it last night, asked if I wanted to talk about it. Well, no. There's not really anything to say—"I miss my dad." Okay. That's it and that's also hardly it. There are no words to articulate how I feel—there's only the search for the right song to connect to.
- Seam: Autopilot