April 19, 2007

Soundtrack for Ithaca

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There are some Sunday mornings in Ithaca when, sitting at your breakfast table with a much-needed cup of coffee, the events of the past few days seem almost surreal. Despite the weekend’s seemingly limited options — overpriced bar, a-capella concert, house party that requires trekking several miles in heels — you stumble upon eccentric personalities and wild occurrences that earn a Facebook photo album all their own. Ithaca transforms into Narnia, and briefly, you stop daydreaming about the exciting life you’ll be living in New York next year.

And then, because you’re masquerading as a music columnist in the school newspaper, you set soundtracks to a few choice moments as an excuse to tell everyone about them.

Best Song to Listen to While a Herd of Deer Crosses the Street in Front of You
“Subterranean Homesick Alien” by Radiohead
Before coming to Cornell, I had never seen a live deer. We simply don’t do deer in South Jersey — at least, not ones that make it out of our highway system alive. Perhaps this explains why, walking home from the bars at two in the morning, my first thought at the creature loping across Mitchell was, “My god, there is a giant, rabid dog coming my way.”

Five or six does had soon crossed to the lawn in front of me, and, foolishly emboldened, I sat down in the grass right next to them. The experience was otherworldly, completely removed from the typical bar-hopping bustle of Collegetown. That dreamy, lulling melody of “Subterranean Homesick Alien” is similarly transporting. Let your thoughts drift with the interplay of delicate synth, guitar reverb and Thom Yorke’s distinctive vocals. If you see a buck, snap out of it and run.

Best Song to Compete in a Walk-Off at Dino’s to
“Give It to Me” by Timbaland feat. Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake
There are few Cornell-sponsored events as memorable as the Design League’s annual fashion show. Fellow students temporarily achieve celebrity status, while my girlfriends and I spend the night secretly wishing we had been chosen to model a designer’s line. CDL’s own professed Fashion Week kicked off last night at Dino’s with a light, 18 plus celebration, allowing awestruck freshmen boys to ogle some of Cornell’s most stylish women. In last night’s official Walk-Off, I proudly watched as my housemates worked their stuff down the runway. Granted, this particular runway was mysteriously sticky, but it was a runway nonetheless.

I’ve been disdainful of Dino’s in past columns, only because I find their choice of music to be unforgivably boring. Indeed, every time I pass by the bar, Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, or Timbaland is blasting out the door, making “Give It to Me” the perfect amalgamation of their nightly playlist. Before last night, I’d never actually been inside for longer than ten minutes. But honestly, who can resist door prizes?

Best Album to Play While Sitting in a Hot Tub in Freezing Rain
“Since I Left You” by The Avalanches
There’s no better way to spit in the face of a Winter Storm Warning than by traversing the streets in nothing but a bathing suit and flip flops, except perhaps when you do it to fun-in-the-sun dance music. Luckily, we didn’t need to go far: our neighbors had somehow managed to install a hot tub in their garage for the weekend.

Within minutes we had found a speaker system, hooked up an iPod, and started to blast the Avalanches’ “Since I Left You” out to the bewildered travelers of Route 79. Now, while “Since I Left You” is mostly known for its surprising single, “Frontier Psychiatrist,” the rest of the album achieves a Tropicália-like milieu more conducive to drinking mojitos on a flight to Honolulu. Ithaca’s freezing rain and considerable wind-chill disappeared; our neighbor’s garage transformed into the beach of an exotic resort. We stayed in the hot tub for three hours, staving off the Seasonal Affective Disorder that loomed overhead.

Best Music to Help You Come to Terms with a Snowstorm in the Middle of April
I am sitting in Libe Café, and, in perhaps the perfect culmination of the entire weekend, it has started to blizzard outside. I give up: the only thing I want to listen to right now is the sound of hundreds of Cornell students commiserating about the weather. God, I can’t wait to move to New York.