Friday, October 19, 2012

My Vacation as Parallax, Pt. 6

Rogers Park is the second neighborhood I lived in during my time in Chicago. It was
my first to visit on this vacation.

I lived in Rogers Park during one of the darkest times of my life 1. I lived in a two-
bedroom apartment on Colombia. My roommates were great people who essentially
just took me in when my life went haywire. And they tolerated me for several
months. I slept in the living room. On a couch. It was very glamorous.

These guys- Michael and Jeremy- were incredibly gracious. They quietly tolerated the
depths of my depression and all the attendant bad behaviors.

Now. I’m going to tell you something, dear reader. It is something unpopular and
The album that is most inextricably linked to that time in my mind is Parachutes by

Yeah. I’m embarrassed by what you just read.
See, I don’t like Coldplay.
In fact, I dislike boring music in general. And I’ve long held to the belief that if I wish
to listen to U2, I’ll just go ahead and listen to U2 instead of some pale surrogate.

But it was different then, different for that album. 2 It’s their best album. Strike that.
It’s the good album by Coldplay.

Are you buying my apology?


One of my roommates 3 had the Coldplay CD. It played a lot around the apartment.
I remember marveling at how the overarching tone and emotion of the album
matched my own hazy, inchoate dread and regret.
Michael said once, “I don’t know who or what made this guy so sad, but think of
how much action he’s getting now.” Because that’s how people talk in real life. And
Michael was right. Chris Martin married Gwynneth Paltrow 4.

Coldplay was certainly not the only music I was listening to at that time. And it
was far from the best. At The Drive In was popular at our place. And Mojave 3. And
lots of old punk stuff. I swear to god we weren’t sitting around in Polo shirts and
backwards baseball caps listening to Coldplay oh please believe me.

I should never have brought it up.

Maybe there’s a broader point to be made here. One about how music attaches to
you even when it’s not-so-good. Sometimes hearing a song often- whether by choice
or not- just works that song into your subconscious, and then your conscious, mind.
You think of a time in your past and you remember a tune even if it’s a tune you
I recall an ex-girlfriend being discovered by a mutual friend as she sat in the floor of
her bedroom sobbing while Shania Twain sang “Looks Like We Made It” on repeat 5.

When I lived in Rogers Park I wrote prodigiously. I sometimes worry that it was the
best writing I’ll ever get done. It’s all gone now, so I’ll never be able to review it.
I bet you, though, that those dumb Coldplay lyrics are liberally ripped off in my old
I’m glad those pages are gone now. I can’t spare any extra shame.

1 I have no real scale for darkness in my past. Honestly, dark is my go-to adjective when describing any isolated period in my adult life. Oops.
2 Am I trying to convince you or am I trying to convince myself? “No comment.”
3 Jeremy would want me to point out that it WAS NOT he.
4 She’s grown insufferable in motherhood, sure, but when they married she was pretty special business. I blame her for Coldplay’s subsequent awfulness. She’s Coldplay’s Yoko. Nobody writes good songs when they’re happy.
5 We did not make it, obviously.


  1. I thought I was the only one who didn't like Coldplay. I've always thought their songs all sound the same, but every time I bring this up in conversation, I get death glares.

    Also, I think that's true, about doing your best writing when you're sad. I used to write poetry (didn't we all?) & all of my best (in my opinion) work was during the roughest points in my life. I don't have any of those anymore, either. I never wrote when I was happy. Sometimes you don't need words for happy, I guess. You just need to experience it.

  2. Wait, you were depressed? Ha, ha,.... just kidding. I'm such a jerk. Honestly, you were a pretty great roommate, even if that couch was never the same. I admit I am to blame for the Coldplay but, to my credit, it was given to me as a pro-mo before it came out in stores and became the next 'big' thing. If that sounds like a defensive excuse for liking a record from a band that would go on to be embarrassing then so be it. At least you didn't pay good money to be bored by them 'live' in concert. That was the beginning of the end of them for me. That Mojave 3 show you and I went to though, that was great! One of the best show's I've ever seen here in Chicago.

  3. Pretty good. The couch was never the same because it smelled like a homeless gutter punk had been sleeping on it. Because a psuedo-homeless gutter punk *had been* sleeping on it.
    The Mojave 3 show was one of the most memorable show I went to in my years in Chicago. And the Frank Black show that we just didn't go to.
    So many shows!