When I left the Wisconsin Sno-Cone that is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I made a vow to myself that I would never, ever complain about the heat again. I believe that vow came to me during our second winter there when we had more than 200 inches of snow, which seems like some kind of typo. I was probably outside snowblowing, the snow I was blowing being blown back into my face by the howling belch of Old Man Winter. The summer after that winter, I had to go to San Antonio in July, which is very much like going to your oven in the middle of cooking a turkey. I stepped out onto the Riverwalk into 99-degree heat and I thanked Flip-Flops-and-Swim-Trunks Jesus that I was sweating my balls off.
Skip the memory DVR forward two years and then back a couple days because we went into the first thirty seconds of the show: I thought I was going to melt on July 4. I was standing—STANDING STILL—and my pores were doing an imitation of a new Kohler showerhead that simulates an overweight Slavic guy sweating like he just ran down the block for more kielbasa (it’s not a very popular model). Then I started moving because Libby was riding her bike in a parade and I learned what real sweating was.
Did I complain? No, I did not. Nor did I during the next two 100-degree days. Nor will I. Because you don’t have to shovel heat, no amount of heat will feel worse than having snow that’s been through a gasoline-powered engine being spit back in your face.
1) “Magazines,” The Hold Steady. I read three magazines regularly: The New Yorker, Esquire, and Entertainment Weekly. I read The New Yorker because it makes me feel smarter. It doesn’t actually make me smarter, but given that even the cartoons are challenging, it’s the brain equivalent of eating Brussels Sprouts—look, the talking dog is making a reference to Proust! It’s not funny, but I’m being so intellectually healthy! Then I cool off with Esquire, aka CosBropolitan. I occasionally read the longer articles, which are quite good, but usually I am reading things like what kind of tie knot matches my shirt collar or sex survey results that show as men get older, they are more open to getting a finger in the cornhole during sexy time. Neither of these types of info is helpful as I work in shorts and a T-shirt and I get enough of the backdoor “you’re number 1!” maneuver during my annual physical. Yet I like to envision myself as a man who dresses in $3000 suits when it’s time to work and is open to new experiences when it’s time to play, were I to have the money and ability to unclench. As for Entertainment Weekly, it’s my pop culture booty call. A couple of sloppy, uninspired tussles per week and I’m fully caught up on what Channing Tatum is doing or which five superheroes should be next to come out of the closet. You don’t get that with The Economist.
2) “Hi-Definition,” Lupe Fiasco (featuring Snoop Dogg and Pooh Bear). I cannot think of a time when “featuring Snoop Dogg” did not make something more entertaining.
3) Neko Case, “I’m An Animal.” I started using Twitter and following Neko Case. I've learned that Neko Case really, really loves animals, to the point where I’m not sure I could hang with Neko Case. She’s great and all, as are animals, but we’d have that awkward moment where she’d invite me to sit on a couch that’s clearly covered in dog hair and I’d be like, I just bought this suit after I saw it in Esquire. She’d say, You’re not really with the U.S. Census Bureau, are you? And I would say no, because the number of parakeets was giving me a case of Hitchcockian dread that was overwhelming my desire to have a conversation with Neko Case, even if it was about the number of dependents in her house.
4) “Girls & Boys,” Blur. There’s a quick way to decide where one sits on the social conservatism fence: Whether the phrase Same-sex marriage will turn America into a big gay orgy seems like the Apocalypse or a way to spice up our country after a couple hundred years of dull, Puritan independence. I say pass the amendment and hand me a bathrobe.
5) “Rio,” Duran Duran. They will be playing a mere mile from my house next month, close enough that I will be able to hear this song and the screams of 40-something women enjoying it. I would be attending, but tickets sold faster than John Taylor snorting a line of coke off a coffee table book of Nagel paintings. Why-yi-yi-yi did I wait so long to try-yi-yi-yi to get tickets? Now I will just to pretend my driveway is the Rio Grande.
6) “The Guns of Brixton,” The Clash. Instantly fired up. There are songs that make me want to run through a brick wall. This is a song that makes me want to tie a red hankie around my face, don a beret, and foment revolution. Unfortunately, when it ends, my bourgeoisie returns with the rhythm of the tide. It is an exhilarating three minutes, however (that’s what TLB said!), and it also does not end in bloodshed or an icepick to the temple.
7) “Soul Shoes,” Graham Parker. Can you order those from Zappos?
8) “Cary On/Questions,” Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I’m not a big CSN fan because they always seemed hippies for me. I’m not against hippies per se, but hippiedom never appealed that much to me, as I am way too big of a fan of showers and steak. But this is a glorious song. The harmonies, the little bit of rock thrown in, and then the transition to “Questions” that drops a magic mushroom in each year.
9) “Jo Jo’s Jacket,” Stephen Malkmus. The #1 track among rock songs about Yul Brenner. I really miss this version of Stephen Malkmus.
10) “Don’t Speak,” No Doubt. I have always disliked Gwen Stefani’s annunciation. There’s something overly dramatic and also buzzing about it, like an emo kid singing through a kazoo. Yet I like a lot of No Doubt’s faster songs. Maybe I just don’t like kazoo ballads? Also, MOAR SLOMO CONCERT FOOTAGE!
11) “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” The Band. We celebrated the Fourth of July at my sister-in-law’s house. She has a pool. Libby is just learning to swim, and I watched her spend the afternoon overcoming her fear of water. She started out the day using a noodle to float, but halfway through the barbecue, she ditched any support mechanisms and just jumped in, paddled to the pool ladder, got out, and did it again. The sheer joy on that child's face was a revelation. I have a tendency sometimes to think of life like a car ride where the gas gauge is running down, I'm out of money, and I'm hoping I have enough in the tank to get where I want to go. But watching my four-year old daughter go carpe fucking diem on that pool really stuck with me. Here I was, being WARM, drinking and eating, and spending the day with loved ones. What more do I need? And isn't this the point of everything, the feeling we work so hard to get to that we often don't stop to enjoy it? Sometimes I just need a kick in the ass to realize that, and this week, it came from a four-year old.
Have a great weekend.