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What Is This I Find?

The sad realization weighing down each line in this song – especially the opening, titular lyric – is something like how it felt to revisit this blog for the first time in five years. A lot has happened in my life since the last entry, and my interest in Weezer – both as music and as a subject of “analysis” – bottomed out long ago. Maybe shoving and shouting along to every word of The Blue Album and Pinkerton at their 2010 classic album performances in New York was the last thing I really needed from them. Maybe my tastes finally expanded to a point where four guys (roughly) making a rock band ruckus and plenty of mistakes no longer seemed compelling. It may sound odd coming from the guy who moved to South Korea to reckon with K-pop, but there are infinitely more culturally important, anthropologically meaningful, and musically substantive things to afford one’s time and attention – though I’ll prove my point soon enough. (Meanwhile…)

But for reasons best kept close to the vest, I’ve had sudden occasion to reckon with this little sliver of my past, too. So what was it I found, peering into a locker that – despite bearing my name all the while – I’ve been afraid to open for so long? More or less just what I feared: almost uniformly dreadful writing, and tens of thousands of words of it, all dedicated to an ultimately unimportant, frequently confounding, often rewarding and occasionally pathetic guitar band. Written with undeniable zeal and passion, no less, an incriminating record of juvenilia owed partially to those forgivable teenage years, but plenty of which spilled into the more damningly adult days that are one’s early twenties.

My overwhelming impulse was to burn everything and hope archive.org could keep a secret. But I found something else here, too: more than a handful of comments pending approval, from people for whom this silly endeavor seemed to mean some small, wistful something. One keen reader even pleaded, apropos of nothing, that this site never be deleted. It doesn’t take much for me to catch a feeling. It doesn’t take me much to rationalize past mistakes, or try to anticipate new ones: all this bad writing was certainly work, and maybe it’d be even worse to discard what must add up to entire days – lord willing, not weeks – of my young life. Here was something, in my modest and own pathetic way, I had in common with Cuomo: a piece of my own back catalog that now seemed deeply embarrassing, even regrettable, but had brought some measure of personal value to those who once enjoyed it, and those fewer who may still. The difference being his regret was a masterpiece that had a massive impact on individual lives and collective culture, whereas mine was a dumb website that only others changed by Cuomo’s work could deign to appreciate. But it felt interesting to know how this misguided project inspired by him brought me a little closer to understanding how some of his own work once famously made him feel.

The idea of returning, in some way, with this new meta-level meaning added to the whole thing – of someone no longer so moved by his youth’s fascination forcing himself to engage with that deeper personal truth, while trying to finish the task at hand – is perhaps the very justification I needed. Or perhaps it’s just my OCD talking, the same that now motivates me to swallow Korean music and history whole, or file every song I ever hear into massive, thousands-deep playlists for future reference. Perhaps it doesn’t hurt that just as I’ve been mulling this decision, Weezer’s begun releasing their first remarkable music in years.

So we’ll see how this thing goes. I aim to get a new tune up every once in a blue moon, slowly and surely. Maybe my new conceit is thinner than I think, and I’ll delete the whole sucker after all. The fact that I’m already back to the overlong, melodramatic musings of old might not bode so hot. But for now I see neither harm nor foul – I could listen to Bacharach and stop at any point.

*

Of course, the “What” Cuomo’s found in this tune isn’t a shitty blog, or that which he’d come to regret – the date on the tin precludes either possibility. A home demo recorded in early 1995, in Hamburg, Germany, this somber, acoustic fragment belongs to the unfinished Songs From the Black Hole rock opera that stayed under lock and key until the 2011 compilation release of Alone III: The Pinkerton Years. This is a part of the last act (the second draft tracklist had it as the improbable closer), in which Cuomo’s character Jonas discovers an “extra huge,” used (yuck) condom beneath the “behind” of his interstellar crewmate Maria. His former admirer (also sung by Cuomo in this early sketch) responds to his inquiry with the admission that she “waited for him” until she couldn’t take it, ultimately going for Jonas’ well-endowed, hard-partying frenemy Dondo (a role written to be played, of course, by Matt Sharp). Maria’s section features a lovely bit of counterpoint from Jonas, in the style of an operatic aria, which seems to confirm his characteristic selfishness, thinking/talking past her as she opens her heart to him, like usual. It’s a short idea, a bit ridiculous even by the standards of what was destined to be a pretty ridiculous album – but it’s musically effective, a 74-second testament to the young Cuomo’s technical skill and tuneful instincts.

Drummer Pat Wilson allegedly tried to convince Cuomo to complete the Black Hole project circa 2004, a time of great possibility – it was around then, too, that Sharp and Cuomo reunited for one legendary performance of songs new and old at a California State cafe. But things fizzled fast, and soon enough, there was Make Believe. Maybe some dumb young dreams are worth another go.

12 Comments

  1. ANONYMOUS wrote:

    I started to tear up.

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  2. BigPete wrote:

    I never thought I would see a new post here.

    I cannot express how happy I am that you posted this, and hope that this isn’t just a small twinge of nostalgia induced by the two recent (improbably good) songs that Weezer has released. I would love to see your thoughts on those, and hope you do revisit this project from time to time.

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 10:32 am | Permalink
  3. Adroit wrote:

    A good read as always. I’ll second whoever said not to delete everything.

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 2:29 pm | Permalink
  4. Thomas wrote:

    Hell yes! You’re back!

    For me, Everything Will Be Alright in the End was one of the best things the band’s ever done, up there with Blue and Pink. I will be curious to hear what you think of it.

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink
  5. Thomas wrote:

    I gotta say, though, given that you don’t seem to really like the band anymore, I’m a bit confounded as to what you’ll say if you add to this blog. You might be embarrassed by it, but the “undeniable zeal and passion” is what made it a great read. If you don’t have that, and if you’ve come to regard the music being written about as unimportant, I don’t know how rewarding an addition to this blog would be, either for you as a writer or for us as readers.

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink
  6. BROKENBEATENDOWN wrote:

    I, too, am very glad to see this back. The original entries are pretty much legendary and I’d hate to see them go. Would like to read your perspective on the 2015 tracks, EWBAITE (like Thomas mentioned, it’s up there with Blue and Pinkerton for me as well), as well as some of the great tracks you never tackled (“Angel” & “Tragic Girl” especially).

    (I’m likely the only one in both the TVS and K-Pendium crowds, as I lived in Korea and also love both K-pop and Weezer. The detail in those articles are incredible.)

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 9:32 pm | Permalink
  7. Thrasher9294 wrote:

    I can’t believe it, a new post! Thank you man, I really do love this place.

    I do encourage you not to lose interest in Weezer. I understand that happens—I’ve certainly been more interested in Hüsker Dü, or Lifter Puller than something like Weezer lately, but your ability to write about the impact each song has on the listener is really interesting—when I first found this blog around 2010, I loved going through each page finding what you’d thought about whatever new song I’d been listening to at the time.

    It’s fully up to you—it’s your time. But thanks for everything, still.

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 10:39 pm | Permalink
  8. MyNameIsJason wrote:

    It’s wild you posted today – I think we’re both feeling the same pull back into this community because of these two new songs. And I had been revisiting your old posts recently, too! I can tell you I don’t share any of your disdain for your writing. I cringe a little at at most of the comments my 16-year-old self wrote, but I’m cutting myself some slack and you should too. You wrote some beautiful stuff that stands up even in my now-sobered Weezer fandom. It is very hard to show unbridled passion in this world, and the Weezer community does a damn good job of it. We love our band and we know everything about them and we’re never too cool for ourselves. I’m proud to have been a part of this blog.

    As for this tune, I actually have yet to hear it. I never got Alone III! Crazy, huh? I’m very excited for the next album, though.

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 11:00 pm | Permalink
  9. god above us wrote:

    thank you for returning! great review as always!

    Thursday, November 5, 2015 at 5:18 am | Permalink
  10. adrian wrote:

    missed your stuff.

    Thursday, November 5, 2015 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
  11. Ruby wrote:

    I didn’t really follow your blog when it was active, but I really liked all your old posts. It’s cool to see new stuff. 🙂 This whole post made me a little sad, though, since I get the feeling that a couple years from now I’ll be in the same position as you. But maybe I’ll never stop being a diehard fan, who knows.

    Thursday, November 5, 2015 at 10:05 pm | Permalink
  12. Andrew wrote:

    So glad to have you back! I’ve loved your analysis over the years.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

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