May 6, 2004

Don't Stand So Close to Me

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A sunny day in the Arts Quad is the best time to chat with music-lovers. The warm air brings all the pale engineers out of their rooms to play Ultimate Frisbee, which is cooler than football because it requires no athletic ability. And fat people get to take their shirts off. So in this great harvest of bodies, I hunt down music-lovers to interview.

Immediately, I spot a Birkenstock kid with an anti-WTO button on his JanSport backpack. This confuses me. I expected perhaps an organic, Peruvian shoulder bag paired with that button. You can do better than JanSport, Mr. Neo-Guerilla. When I ask about favorite bands, he looks at me and shrugs. Cool. Finally the JanSport activist mumbles something about a local band. He can’t remember their name, but they start with a “C.” I decide to casually name-drop the local scene at my next conversation.

Just as he starts giving me the silent stare, a redhead with elaborate ceremonial garb woven from Guatemalan wool walks in front of me. His favorite band is Peter, Paul, and Mary. Which is strange, because I can understand how an old white guy would like PP&M, but by what mechanism is the band acquiring new fans born in the ’80s? Unsure whether he is a true music-lover, I move on.

A chubby Scott Stapp look-a-like and his comatose girlfriend lie on the lawn. He’s smoking Parliaments, so I approach, assuming I have found a music aficionado. No such luck. The only band he likes is Maroon 5. I ask him if he uses those recessed filter tips on his Parliaments for cocaine. He takes severe offense. The Julian-Lennon-glasses should have tipped me off.

My last hope at finding a music-lover rests in one thirty-something man with greased-back hair leaning against the Andrew White statue. I ask about his favorite songs and the first words out of his mouth are, “Is this going to be reported?” Taking the role of interviewer, he decides he will be the one asking questions: “What is this? Who are you? Is this for the radio?” Soon he calms down and acquiesces. “Elliot Smith, PJ Harvey… I could give you more, but I’ll leave you at that.” Finally, a true lover of music. I learn two key lessons from him. First, like a good suspense writer, leave people wanting more. Second, make sure people know you’re not one of those I-only-like-Elliot-Smith-and-PJ-Harvey-and-nobody-else people. Everybody hates those guys.

Archived article by Will Lanier
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer