As I write this on Wednesday night, it has been very hot for days and we are under a severe thunderstorm warning. Such a warning would worry me if I were flying anywhere, had uncovered tomatoes outside, or lived in a house with basement and/or roof. Since none of these conditions currently apply to me, I keep watching the weather reports and checking out the window in awesome anticipation. I love a storm and, with any luck, this could be a big one.
Dream: Experience a huge thunderstorm in ideal conditions.
Goal: Achievable. I should preface this by saying I know that storms have the potential to escalate, thereby devastating communities. I don't mean to make light of the hurricanes and other severe weather tearing through the Midwest and threatening Atlantic Canada. I by no means want to experience the fear and pain that those people are going through. Just give me thunder, lightning, and a break in the heat.
Plan: Determine the ideal conditions that must come to pass for me to experience this storm in the best possible way. For me to relish this experience, I must have the following things:
Food. And I don't mean the stupid bullshit food I buy on a full stomach at the grocery store, like baby carrots and almonds. I mean real garbage food like pizza with beef on it and Dr. Pepper (or in a pinch, off-brand Doctors Zip, Skipper, or Zazz). I don't know if it's survivalist instinct kicking in, or if I'm just a fatty fat fat, but storms make me ravenous.
Storm story. I am in my very first apartment, a one-bedroom that I lived in alone. Being in a new city and single, I had time to spare and even a little extra money lying around (Sidebar: even though I was only working at a video store, my rent was a paltry $435/month! Can you imagine?). Like young, single people do, I became convinced that the way handle crushing loneliness was to change everything about myself and that involved reading more, exercising more (or if I'm honest, exercising), and eating fish. Fish, though bland, scaly, and full of bones, supposedly has a lot of protein and very little fat. While I love fish that has been smoked, breaded, or tuna-fied, I knew that to truly improve myself meant eating a steamed fillet with lemon like a svelte, lean, well-read homosexual. Anyway, on this particular night, I am surfing the web for the most healthful fish recipe while alternately doing pilates from a DVD that came with a box of Special K, which isn't even a joke. I am compiling a list of ingredients for this surely disgusting culinary venture when a lightning strike and thunder clap knocks my internet out. I've lost my recipe, but I figure I can still make it to the store before it starts to really rain, get my ingredients, and improvise how it will all come together. I head out towards the store in a light rain that quickly turns into a downpour. I realize I cannot make it to the grocery store and instead, run into the KFC that is just behind my apartment building. Five minutes later, I am back in my apartment, eating fried chicken, watching Sex & the City on DVD (a good early episode, too, the one where Carrie goes to Yankee stadium in a full-length fur coat and gets drunk), enjoying the storm as it slashes my window. I am soaked, and truly satiated.
Music. Storms are only as good as their soundtracks. A big fan of Joni Mitchell and Sade, I never feel truly depressed or sultry if it's not raining when I listen to them. My friend Dan MacRae, a hilarious and well-versed writer put his ipod on shuffle and wrote down his findings about ten songs for this Tumblr entry. I don't have nearly the frame of reference that Dan does, but he asked me to do one myself, so I will put the pod on shuffle here and pick five songs and random to determine their storm suitability.
Jeru - Miles Davis. For all his jazzy be-boppin', Miles Davis is someone I only put on when I'm working and need something in the background. I've always longed to be really into jazz music, and I can certainly appreciate that it's tuneful and must be difficult to perform, but I don't melt into it the way that some people do. I took a class in Jazz Appreciation once because I'm a huge fan of wasting my parents' money, and the professor was a brash eccentric who seemed to live for the form. He would put music on and just react to horn blasts, and bass noodling, and improvisational flute like someone was taking him places sexually. He also called Diana Krall and Norah Jones musical wallpaper, so I didn't put my hand up to offer opinions after that. However, for storm suitability, Miles scores a 8/10.
Uncharted - Sara Bareilles. Sara Bareilles is like Sheryl Crow or Ben Harper to me. I want to like these people so much. I hear singles and I think, "Yeah yeah yeah!" But then I listen to a whole album and think, "Nope!". Uncharted was a "Yeah yeah yeah!" song that they used to pump over the loudspeakers when I worked in a drug store. Twas a fine hook with simple, plonky piano. I couldn't even get through listening to it today for the purposes of this exercise. Sara Bareilles is apparently a judge on a singing competition show alongside Ben Folds, which is exquisite casting, because they are both supposed industry talismans. People who like these guys LOVE them and I just can't get on that train. Ben Folds, what are you so worked up about? It's working out for you. Anyway, Sara Bareilles storm suitability 4/10.
Somebody That I Used to Know - Gotye. I'm glad I'm not a betting man, for I would have lost thousands of dollars betting on the follow-up success of Gotye. To me, he sounds like a cool Sting, a Police-era Sting without all the harps and tin flutes and lengthy coitus. And his other songs are better than this one, his only hit! I liked Eyes Wide Open and In Your Light a whole heck of a lot. I hope Gotye gets a least one more hit song so he can be cautious with his money when it comes in, buy a modest property, and live comfortably forever. That's all I want for him. Storm suitability: 6/10.
Buzz - L1ef. L1ef is so cool! I don't know anything about rap music, but I know I've never seen a gay rapper before and this guy seems to be about so much more than that. He can do that super-fast Busta Rhymes thing and his song Wut predates Macklemore's Thrift Shop by a whole year, and I think it's a far superior version that sounds much better. Seems to me Macklemore stole these horns outright and got tons of airplay. For shame. These hot L1ef jams are great for thinking about possibly going to the gym at some point, and would be great for running from the bus to your house during a storm, so 8/10.
Partition - Beyonce. Come on James, really? Yeah. I was one of those toolboxes that downloaded the secret Beyonce album as soon as it "dropped". I think she's the closest thing we have in 2014 to a Madonna or a Michael Jackson in terms of fame and units sold. Her presence is ubiquitous in pop culture, and even if you don't love her songs, you know them. And some of the videos on this release were great! I particularly like Ghosts that goes into Haunted (or Haunted that goes into Ghosts). It looks all avant-garde and macabre and I like the vocals-over-a-heartbeat or whatever it is. And Partition is a good song. But I think the thing that will keep Beyonce from becoming the Queen of Pop she wants to be is that her catalogue in general isn't especially memorable. Single Ladies and Crazy in Love are great songs, but are they Like A Prayer and Vogue? Are they even Push It and Shoop? Time will tell, I suppose. The thing is, Beyonce is exhausting to watch. She's singin' and dancin' and runnin' and posin' and I just want to take a nap. Have some fun, Beyonce! Rihanna has fun, I think. Her songs aren't memorable either, but she doesn't seem like a calculating wunderkind, just a fun girl smoking weed and rocking out. Anyway, Partition has storm suitability of 5/10.
A companion. I'm all over the place with this entry, mainly because it was written during a bunch of different times and I am finishing it post-work on Thursday. It rained a little this morning, but the darkening skies still threaten to really hit us later, and I'm hoping it can wait until I get home. Really, what a makes a storm truly memorable is who you ride it out with, and the Doc and I are great stormchasers together. When I was paying $435/month on rent and learning pilates from a cereal box, I wish I would have known that trying to be something that you're not ends up attracting dates you just don't want. I remember, instead, dropping the act quickly when I met Jon, and not looking back. I remember early on, texting him to hurry over because a storm was brewing and I didn't want him to get caught in it. He texted back, "I'm at the store, what kind of chips do you want?" I mean, how perfect is that?