some of this might not be true.

Thursday, October 2

I awoke this morning in a haze—what fucking time is it. Fucking hell. 6:40 my fucking ass. I need more sle— then started the ten minute cycle: wake up, fall back asleep, wake up, fall back asleep. Slowly, but surely, my chronic attachment to my bed was counteracted. It was my mother’s birthday. Eating Corn Chex and reading about the President’s visit to Chicago, naturally, took whatever of my mind was left that point—I forgot my mother’s birthday. Sort of. I didn’t get her anything because I’m broke. Because of fucking Colin Newman.

Usually I make my mother what she asks me for: faux-disco mixes she can use in conjunction with her daily runs. She tells me to put on some Stevie Wonder or the disco revival of Sinead O’Connor—and so I put “Fools Gold,” as well. At this point, though, I had thirty-two minutes to get to school, and I had yet to shower. I walked over to my mother as I ran upstairs and croaked two lines of “Happy Birthday To You” in that early morning rasp that you get when you’re too tired to realistically be up at the time. My birthday present to her, then, was my loving charm.

In the shower, per norm, as I rubbed Ivory all over my back and acne shit around my nose, I instantly compiled a medley of my favorite songs of that very instant, like a Rolodex of Rock to somehow convince myself that there was a reason for me to not ditch school. I rubbed the soap in between my toes—“your mom came out, with just a towel on-o-o-o-on—towel on.” And I squirted a wad of conditioner into my hair, for a moment looking down at the drain in the bottom of my shower. I fell against the wall—a crippling moment of disappointment; today I would go to school and be miserable by day’s end. Dread built up inside itself—I continued to massage my scalp. I peered into the corner of my shower, into a pane of reflective plastic. “However I look, it’s clear to see”—look myself in the eye. My horribly scarred acne obfuscated the panel, chin washing over my face. Shampoo flew into the drain, into my eyes— caustic reality had settled. I couldn’t care, though. “I love you more than you love me.”

As I peered through the wash of steam into the window, I caught a sliver of frost on the roofing next door. Skin hardened with reverence, an adherence towards, of course, the heat—I could not leave my shower. It is not simply therapeutic—it, like pop music, will always be the constant in my hormonally unbalanced life. I dried off inside of my shower. Surely there was no better soundtrack to a morning mope than !!!—“can you feel it / intensify?” God, yes.

I spent 7:58am to 3:02pm waiting for the singular moment in which I could go home, and sit in this very spot and listen to “No More Heroes,” just three minutes of absolute—everything. No fewer than three hours later did I drive to Anne’s house listening to The Stranglers. I kissed her on her front steps, cradling her hips like a shower for my fingers. I had escaped for fifteen seconds.

At 8:53, I came home, finally. The absolute. I sat in my room and listened to Husker Du and Lush, feeling sorry for myself for no apparent reason other than the fact that I knew I would not do my American History homework, that I would get a C on the test.

But as Emma sang “so don’t pretend that you couldn’t ever be a friend,” it didn’t matter much. I had escaped for three minutes.

Friday, October 3

I started keeping a journal in English class for this feature. It’s turned into a full-fledged scholastic day diary. It began by marking down random songs that pop into my head—

8.41a: Sand In My Joints
10.21a: Baby’s On Fire
10.52a: Bad Day

And so on, and so on. By the end of the day, I was commenting on how beautiful this one girl in my class is. How petite she is—I can hold her as though I would almost crush her, but she’s ... she’s so articulate. And so coy. And wonderfully perceptive. I think I sort of fancy her, but whatever. I sort of scribbled wildly Fuck! She’s so pretty everywhere.

I spend a good portion of the final period of the day reading my Murakami book, and deciding that Reiko should have played “A Day In The Life” instead of “Norwegian Wood.” Toru! Toru, why are you so emotionally detached? Fuck, man.

Songs run in and out of my head throughout the period. Snippets of Aquemini appear whenever I stare at the girl across the class. Shake that load off. I’m suddenly overcome with the urge to sing some St. Etienne to her—perhaps “Love Will Break Your Heart”? After school I drive around playing the first disc of Scott Plagenhoef’s mix, rolling down the windows and singing along quite passionately to “Nothing Can Stop Us Now.” I hope I see her.

The night was spent at a Hot Hot Heat concert, where we encountered about eighteen kids from our school. Of course, there were many pretty girls who I danced with and apologized after I bumped into them—“I’m really sorry about that; is your foot alright?”—but the point is that I had fun, I guess.

During the French Kicks’ set, we entertained ourselves by making faces at the lead singer and bassist, who were no more than ten feet away from us. Not because we disliked them—but why shouldn’t we have been obnoxious affluent suburban teenage shits? Come on. Every crowd needs an asshole. Typically, I have no patience for these types of people, and I still don’t. But I was in a great fucking mood. It was worth it just to see the lead singer glance at us for one second and quickly jerk his head away. Indie rock, meet Moonraker.

As for Hot Hot Heat, “Bandages” is fucking fantastic. “Talk To Me, Dance With Me” is fantastic. The whole album is an emogaragepunksynthpop joy, the perfect sound to sing along to as loud as you can and jump up and down and scream and dance and lose your breath and almost get sucked under into a crowd and grab the absolutely gorgeous lead singer’s hand and wipe some sweat off of it and to go home that night caked in your own bodily fluids because, well, rock and roll is fun. This friend of a friend, an obnoxious trendy girl, saw me jumping around reveling and rolling around in my own joy decided to grab my ass a few times. Fantastic!

Before the Hot Hotters came out, though, the in between music was none other than !!! and most of Echoes. I decided to sing really loudly and dance sort of by myself and yes, I looked rather stupid, but as I informed everyone—The Rapture discopunk my ass! Not one person in the entire theatre seemed to realize that “House Of Jealous Lovers” was being played. I tried to rectify the situation by shouting “oh shit here comes the cowbell!” and “this is the best fucking part!” and playing lots of air bass. This one cute girl sort of laughed at me. I smiled at her and kept rocking.

I don’t like hearing myself sing louder than the actual music. Which happened a few times. But I’m not afraid of my voice—I just can’t be the most prominent voice at a fucking rock and roll show. Rock and roll should be about everyone singing and dancing together. Rock and roll should be about unity. It’s why everyone plays guitar. It’s why I decided to do the robot with my buddy Ben—who had a very happy birthday—and sing all the words face to face to him in the middle of a sweatpit. The power of rock supercedes embarrassment.

These obnoxious punk girls told us to fuck off, and that we should start a circle pit or something, because that’s the punk rock thing to do, to which I replied, “I like Blur.”

On the way back home, five of us piled into Ben’s car and listened to “Danger! High Voltage” over and over again, creating synchronized dance moves to the gay-porn guitar lick and the allusions to the gates of hell. We also tried to call some girls—but by the time we got back to Ben’s house, there was no fire in the Taco Bell, so to speak. We also managed to get in an a cappella rendition of “Just” after Ben’s iPod died—about two minutes in, it just fucking stopped. So the five of us kept going. I played drums—we all sang the closing solo. It was marvelous.

The night ended with me playing “No More Heroes” on an unplugged electric guitar that used to belong to one of the guys in Madness over pizza and Zoolander with the compadres.

Saturday, October 4

I woke up at 11 am, and proceeded to go to the flower shop with Peter to get our dates their corsages. Uneventful, of course. We were both tired, and I for one was a little flummoxed that the florist had changed Anne’s corsage from a pin-on to a wristlet; but whatever. It was early. I started singing “Big Booty Bitches” in a modest flower shop with fifty-three year-old women chit-chatting about just how lovely the tulips were. The stuttering samples of Drew Daniel were slowly starting to excite me about the dance party that is the Homecoming Dance that would take place tonight. I asked Peter if he thought they were going to play “Hey Ya.”

“I hope so,” he said. “God, me too.” It was, after all, the number one fucking song on MTV at the time. We solemnly walked to our bikes. We discussed other possibilities. “Ignition (Remix)”? Too old, perhaps—though there was nothing more I wanted in the world to sing every single word of that song and make an ass of myself. Perhaps, then, “Crazy In Love,” maybe “Rock Your Body”—no, certainly “Rock Your Body”!—or fuck, maybe even “B.O.B.”

Asking if “12:51," “Stacy’s Mom,” or “One More Time” would be played was simply out of the question. Last year, during one of the ridiculous “Homecoming skits” in which ... God, I don’t remember ... about thirty seconds of “Fell In Love With A Girl” was played and we promptly lost it. That was perhaps the only time one of our songs were played. And it’s okay that they usually don’t play that type of shit. But God, how brilliant it would be, how intensely gratifying it would be to hold our own dance party, where we could play Ladytron and The Strokes and The Hives and Basement Jaxx and KLF and The Undertones and OutKast and Monaco, and every single person there would beg for more.

When I first realized Homecoming was in the immediate future, I briefly considered starting some sort of petition to play “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” at the dance. Sure, it doesn’t have a beat of 150bpm—the standard-issue Homecoming tempo—and granted, most of the kids there would hate it; but how beautiful it would be. Everyone would be staring at us singing the falsetto and holding our girls and flashing the widest grin ever, and say “Dude, are you a homo?” or something. And, OK, it’s selfish and conceited and miraculously narcissistic and presumptuous to call it our music and act like it’s our own. Because, ideally, everyone would love it. But they won’t. And can’t. So all we can do is hope that one day they will. That’s sort of why I love concerts—everyone there is there for the same reason, to sing along to that band they all love.

So before the dance, we proceeded to go to Abby’s house to have a little pre-dance dinner of steak, grilled vegetables and some sort of rice dish. Delish, to be certain. Before dinner, we proceeded downstairs to get some complimentary cheese and crackers, a mix disc one of Abby’s friends brought along was playing. I couldn’t put my finger on the track at first—a squishy-sounding drum beat and calypso guitar ran alongside a stately, pain-tinged voice. It felt sort of odd, talking to my date Anne, as everyone else sort of schmoozed/what have you/made stupid jokes. Stephen Merritt, I concluded, was behind “The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side.” Visibly excited, I asked Emily if she had any other Magnetic Fields with her.

Do you have 69 Love Songs? Which one’s your favorite? I love ��When My Boy Walks Down The Street’!

I couldn’t really contain myself. I held out “ride” at the end of the song.

Before we left, I picked out music to listen to while on hallucinogenic mushrooms after the dance. The Rapture and The Strokes, I figured, would be for if I was in a good mood and felt like dancing. Portishead, Low, and Neu! would come in handy if I got depressed, as I often feel when I smoke pot. A Storm In Heaven and Spacemen 3, I figured, I would utilize if I started seeing crazy patterns.

As we waited in line to enter the dance—rather, the lobby of my high school, which was smattered with decorations for the “Around The World” theme (the ticket was a fucking passport! Because we’re going to Egypt, to Paris, to London, back to New York!) and packed to the gills with about 1000 sweaty kids, some of whom I really hate, all trying to dance in this ridiculous sexual pose type shit that I can only laugh at; juking, is what it is. Wake the fuck up. Half of you are white—I started singing some Gold Chains. “Rock The Parti.”

As the faux-Neptunes beat of “Right Thurr” echoed through the glass-paned doors which stood in front of me, I got a little excited. Everytime someone would come in, the door would swing open and the bass hit my face and I caught a snippet of “I like that, I like that” or “ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.” I had high hopes for this shit. I hoped they would play “Hey Ya.”

Two hours later, we left the dance. There was no “Hey Ya.” There was no “Rock Your Body.” The best we got were “Crazy In Love” and “Like I Love You”—the former I started flailing my arms everywhere and danced without any rhythm at all; I was not drunk, but excited to the point where social expectation really didn’t matter. Some kid stared at me and asked if I was straight. I said maybe and sang louder. During “Like I Love You,” Peter, Ruth (his date), Anne and I all stared at each other and went Oh shit! and got visibly excited and started dancing and juking and I sang all of it, even Just be limber, baby! Peter and I tried to stay as long as we could to desperately, desperately maintain the hope that maybe they would play “Hey Ya.” Needless to say, there was no shaking of it like a Polaroid picture—we had a cab to catch.

Inside we ingested hallucinogenic mushrooms. They tasted simply awful. The moment I ate one, I felt like I had a seizure—it was probably just a slight panic attack, or something. My eyes darted from side to side and my vision was overcome with a rush of ... well, it felt like someone had just dropped a red screen over everything. For about three-quarters of a second, I couldn’t see anything, and my pulse must have increased by about fifty beats per minute. I thought I was going to die. But nothing happened. We went to a free concert in downtown Chicago at Symphony Center. As we sat watching some MOR world-beat jazz in our comfortable suede seats, something started happening to me. I don’t remember how or when it started—but my entire body felt like it was just going to drift away from me as soothing upright bass seeped through my pores. For a few moments, I couldn’t tell if lighting was changing or if I was just far gone—but it felt like the best high I ever had. I grabbed Anne’s hand tightly.

Over the course of the next four hours, I started shoving my hand inside my mouth whenever someone would try to talk to me, leaving bite marks all over my arms; I became wrapped in an exponential series of worries that really didn’t exist; I became almost unable to have a coherent conversation with; and went to bed at 4 AM a mess, rolling back and forth for a good portion of the night.

During this time someone suggested to me that we listen to music. I told them to fuck off.

Sunday, October 5

I spent most of today asking myself what, exactly, I had done last night.

I listened to an odd single here or there all day, but mostly, I simpered around, trying to recover from the previous night.

I spent my night finishing Norwegian Wood and listening to Aquemini over and over. I hoped for a better tomorrow.

Monday, October 6

Most of the day was spent in services, as today was Yom Kippur—the holiest of all Jewish holidays.

The only part of the services that I even care about anymore is the reading from the Torah—it’s not like these standard-fare prayers that I have hammered into my head from years of experience, many years of sitting through awfully disengaging services and the realization that I can’t stand religion. It’s different every time—one person has to stand alone and read from a scroll that’s written in a completely different language without vowels or punctuation; and you have to know how to sing each word. It’s a rather a difficult task—one that I’ve succeeded and failed at equal amounts—and I suppose, then, this is why it commands my attention best: this utter possibility. I suppose, then, it becomes rather distracting—it’s no longer the actual music that you care about, but the idea of the tightrope act: on the holiest day of the year, the day in which all sins are absolved and your mortality chosen, will you get through it?

Often times, kids hitting puberty come up to read it—and you’ve become so habituated to the constant warbling and absolute destruction of the chanting of holy scripture by this point, it’s not even a distraction that instead of hitting “dar-gaaaaaah,” reaching for the high D crescendo down to the bottom of the octave—they simply hit the root note. DARGAHHHHHHHHH. T’VIIIIIIIR. And so on.

This isn’t music, so much as it the sound of kids being pulled in every way by their superiors so they won’t even question what they’re doing. It’s not that it upsets me—one tries not to hold anyone to a high standard.

About three weeks ago, I was instructing a second-grade class at my synagogue, discussing the Kol Nidre, the holiest of all Jewish prayers. An ancient recording, converted to the modern invention of cassette, was played for these kids in groups of four. Vinyl snapped and popped, and antique organ rose and dipped, oscillating in a drone mirroring the cantor reading the prayer—shooting straight up for God and a placid static for the low depths, the cantor desperately trying to engage.

“Look, there’s no point in trying to get you to read this Hebrew,” I said. “You’re not going to remember it. So tell me what this means to you all—what do you think of when you hear this?”

One of them started laughing at the emotional climaxes, an over-enunciated tenor proving to be a bit too much. Another took off their headphones and walked away—but surprisingly, many conjured up images of death and dying; unsurprisingly, it was their dead kitty cats and goldfishes they referenced. I tried to explain what a sin eater was to them, despite the fact that we were in a synagogue and not a church. They asked me for graham crackers.

Tuesday, October 7

In anticipation of my going for home lunch and treating myself to half of Room On Fire before I had to go back to class, I spent my math class writing out the tabs to the “12:51" guitar riff on my TI-83+. You know, I wrote the E, A, D, G, B, and e strings, and threw the fret numberings on top. I labeled them Fig. 1, Fig. 2, Fig. 3, and Fig. 4—and of course, Repeat X3. In between periods, Alex, Peter, Ben and I ��harmonized’ on handclaps while we all sang the riff. We figured out that the rhythm is actually quite hard: instead of the standard 1-and, 2; 3-and, 4 claps—it’s actually 1-and, 2, 3, 4-and!

I don’t know why I love The Strokes so much. Maybe it’s because despite their wonderful rocking and beautiful wall of post-punk guitar, they’re really sweet. You know—they make me want to give girls flowers and tell them how pretty their lips are. They make me want to be an okay guy.

I’m starting to realize that I don’t want to be a music dork anymore. That ... I don’t even really care about it that much. I went home for lunch and checked ILM. I can’t name post-ironic music videos. I don’t want to make a C90 from 1989. Fuck, I don’t listen to anything else but The Strokes anymore.

I almost feel embarrassed reading some reviews which can only be called as much because they ... reference other artists, I guess. I like this album ��cause it’s good. Are we at a point now where it’s become impossible to articulately explain why something is alright—and simply revel in the fact that ... listening to records has become your fucking life?

Rock and roll isn’t your art—that’s exactly it. In the end, does it matter what your theories are on it? It’s a pop song. I just want to find a good song to sing along or move my feet to, that’s all.

I remember last year when Think Tank came out, for the following two months, I must have only listened to Blur—and I was ashamed at the time, as if I should be catching up on the Fairport Convention or that wonderful new Lightning Bolt album. As though it were a race or a challenge. I still find myself in Spanish wondering what the newest post was on whatever message board it is. Because God forbid, I would miss something, you know! I don’t even know why I care so much—because where real people don’t exist, on these, these message boards, where we all really, really want to listen to some songs and maybe make fun of people because they listen to ... something we don’t like? Fucking hell. To be accepted under the visage of unacceptance, then? I’m different! I listen to Sebadoh! Perhaps that’s not what the image given off is—and I don’t want to be preachy; I can’t be—but I still wonder why. Or maybe I’m just frustrated that I have to insert myself into everything I write, because, fuck, I don’t have any insights. I can’t offer anything except the fact that I love something ... and not why.

I go back to school under this cloud, wondering why I even write, that maybe I just do it as a default. And that I want to listen to Room On Fire again.

Later that night I go to my PSAT class, proudly clutching my copy of Room On Fire in my discman. I offer to burn it for the kid sitting next to me. It’s not elitist of me, but rather ... why on earth wouldn’t you want to have an album that makes at least one person feel like they’re a changed person?

Maybe that’s why I care so much about pop music. If one song can change me, theoretically, a few more should be able to.

I sing “Sister Saviour” as I skip my way home.

Wednesday, October 8

I once again trudge through another day of boredom at school, punctuated by the occasional chance to let loose. Trapeze—the school newspaper—or, third period, is perhaps the most fun I have all day.

There’s always some shit playing as we write our little news stories about bike racks or whatever. Usually it’s “Hey Ya!” or Peter, Alex and I fighting about Room On Fire and incessantly playing “12:51" or telling Paul Gulyas—lead singer of Moonraker’s rival band, Wrong Turn—how awesome he is, asking when the next album is out, if he’ll give us some sort of special Wrong Turn acoustic performance for us. Some kid brought his guitar in for no reason at all—to get attention?—so we stole it from him and fought over it. I managed to grab it and play the riff from “12:51"—holy shit, this might be my favorite song of the year; have you tried driving to this song with your windows down?—and the chords to “Love Athena” or something or other. The guitar strap was hung quite low, so I sort of bent over and danced as I played in the middle of the room. A few obnoxious girls sort of laughed at me, I think, in admiration. I hope. When I next walked into the room, I heard “Sam Bloch” and probed away.

When The Strokes aren’t playing, it’s usually some random mix CD that I make that morning to try to make the day alright. Beyonce, some Coldplay house mixes, Orange Juice, The Charlatans, The Shins, selections from Speakerboxxx—and of course, “House Of Jealous Lovers” and “Me and Giuliani Down By The Schoolyard.” Oh man, how I love !!!! I suppose it would just be the greatest thing if, during layout, I could somehow convince the staff to sing the falsetto while four of us hit those handclaps.

For the next issue, I’m doing a profile on eight “hot new” bands—the aforementioned !!!, The Mars Volta, The Darkness, Junior Senior, Manitoba, Dizzee Rascal, Prefuse 73 and The Rapture. While it’s true that many of these bands have released multiple albums, it’s also true that the rest of the school needs to hear “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” (a lot).

I have this column in Trapeze—yeah, “Bloch Party”—where I basically have seven hundred words to go off on whatever I’d like. Unlike a lot of other shit I do (Stylus, homework, etc.), this actually has to be good—so I can’t just masturbate in the mirror like I do in my blog—because I have to look the people who read it in the eye everyday.

So while I was taking pictures for a photo op today in lunch, some girl I’d never met told me that she really liked my column. God, it was great. I mean, I’m not satisfied with my column—maybe I just won’t ever be, I’ve decided, because I like writings by other people because there’s so much mystery to the author that you must take what he says at face value; something I obviously can’t do when I read my writing, because, well hey, of course I know what I’m going on about, there’s no surprises—it makes me feel alright to know that others are, maybe even because to them I do have some sort of “allure.” So maybe they’re not complimenting my writing—but just letting me know that they know who I am. While in the hall some kid yelled “hey, Bloch Party!” to me, but I never got to see who it was. That’s still not so bad.

I debated today what I should write my next Bloch Party on. As I drove around in my mother’s Volvo, I rolled down the windshield. Sun shone onto my face, blinding for a few fleeting moments. I had many tests the next day I was supposed to study for and knew that I wouldn’t, I was grounded that weekend, I had to write the rest of my Musical Week that night, and I felt like I was supposed to be doing something.

I went to bed that night at 11 PM, planning to get up the next day to study for a test.

I lay in bed with Electric Version for a few minutes. You know, life isn’t so bad.

“Beneath the light shone / all for swinging you around.”

I had a great fucking day.

By: Sam Bloch
Published on: 2003-10-13
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