High School Revisited: Musica, pt. II

MEMORY: Pretty much every weekend in 7th grade was spent watching one of the three following movies - Empire Records, Welcome to the Dollhouse, or Baz's Romeo & Juliet. I immediately fell in love with R&J, and also the music that accompanied it. (Including the Radiohead b-side Talk Show Host.) I remember watching this movie over and over again and crying my eyes out. And really, really digging the soundtrack, especially this pop-treat from The Cardigans.


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High School Revisited: Musica

let's talk about [music] baybee
let's talk about you and me
let's talk about all the good [songs] and the bad [songs] [in Dawson's Creek]
let's talk abboouut [music]
let's talk about [music]

So, there's actually no Salt N Pepa anywhere in Capeside, at least that I remember. But there are a lot of other goodies. Or there were at one point. I think?

Quick note to producers of all future television series - buy DIGITAL AND STREAMING music rights!

As if it's not offensive enough that they changed the iconic Dawson's Creek theme song from Paula Cole to some forgettable Jann Arden ditty, they failed to secure 90% percent of the music rights for Netflix streaming. This is nearly as heinous as the soundtrack switcheroo in The Wonder Years. Joe Cocker soundalike? HISS.

Yes, Dawson's Creek music was saccharine and waaaay too literal, but it was deliciously zeitgeisty. And I kinda liked it. (Not as much as some people, cough, who made like 20 Dawson's Creek soundtrack albums during high school, and probably still listen to them. No offense.)

Now let's play a game.

Dig up musical relics from years past - playlists and mix CDs (and tapes, if, like me, you still have them) and see if you still like the music.

Is it listenable or embarrassing?

I'd like to give my 16-year old self a high-five. 99% of all my high school tunes are still solid. I sort of bombed in the high school fashion department, and dating department (more on that later), but I am proud to announce I accumulated a CD collection that would make Kurt Loder proud.

Pre-internet, pre-napster, I spent a lot of my time in Borders (R.I.P.) with Casey, combing through Q and NME, soaking up everything I could get my hands on and buying anything with a sampler CD.  I seriously absorbed all kinds and genres of music during the years of 8-22.  Which is why I am seriously unfrigginbeatable at Music Scene-it. 

Because I was so indiscriminate, I had lots of stuff - the entire Beatles catalog and gangster rap and 60's boy bands and 90's boy bands. (Yes, I went to an N'SYNC concert. And I'm not sorry.) I owned Three Dog Night and Snoop Dog.  I crowd-surfed at a Lawrence music festival to Everclear and immediately after walked over to hear Wilco finishing a set. I sung along to Howard KeelTo me, Arrested Development is a band.

What the musically schitzophrenic.

Yes, I had my share of youthful indiscretions. I finally cleaned out my stuff from my parent's house last Christmas, and I had a lot of strange albums from high school that I have no recollection of purchasing. Manic Street Preachers? Jellyfish? Save Ferris? Big Bad Voodoo Daddy? Hoku? How did you guys get in there?

Some people say scent offers the strongest recall for memory: but for me, it's music. Anyone?

The best part about looking back musically is you get to relive some key moments.

Throughout this week, I'd like to share some musical moments with you, starting with the very first cassette tape I purchased. This goes way before high school.

MEMORY: Dancing in a hot pink and black spandex outfit in my front yard in the early summer, making up what I'm sure were some killer dance moves for a 7-year old.


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High School Revisited: I'm Never Last Picked, I'm Popular

In high school, popularity is often defined by where you sit during lunch.

I sat at what was perhaps the third tier table in our cafeteria, but I wasn't anything remarkable in terms of notoriety. No one really spread rumors about me. Boys didn't really have crushes on me. I wasn't part of the Friday-night elite. I never worked at Sonic (which was cool again, why?). I followed rules and went to church and stayed away from the cheap beer the cool girls guzzled by the gallon.

However, in the microcosm of lunch-table land, sure, I was in the right zip code.

As social currency is concerned, I was fairly upper-middle class: 4-years of varsity soccer. Prom Court. A few boyfriends (more on this later). Bleach-blond lifeguard in the summer and in the fall a pretty mediocre cross-country runner. My oldest friend in the world was the Homecoming Queen. My other friends dated older guys and enjoyed adventurous escapades in Cancun and in (wow!) Westport. I suppose I was popular as much by association as by merit. An insider who felt like an outsider.

It would be fair to sum up my social experience in high school this way: I often felt like an ethnographer. I was the wallflower who wasn't exactly leaning against the wall, you could say.

And every day in the lunchroom I ate my brown-bag cheese sandwiches next to their pizza and Mr. Pibb and nearly every weekend I hung out alongside them at some anonymous upperclassman's party where I barely spoke to anyone besides my 4 best friends. These parties were disappointingly similar to ones in teen comedies, complete with keg stands and letterman's jackets and hot tubs and parents collecting car keys at the door and all the other Midwestern American tropes. How's that for depressing.

And I just - listened.

Observed. Silently psychoanalyzed.

According to those same teenage tropes found in every teen comedy, you always need a villain.
The problem is, I can't do skewer the popular kids for being exclusive or rude or holier-than-thou. They were always kind to me, the rare times I chose to engage with them. They weren't the smug, vapid, backstabbing type. It was far from Mean Girls.  They weren't A students, but they weren't D students either. They were cute and nice (if a little bit bland) and thin and well-manicured. They didn't ever exclude me, though I often excluded myself. (Why am I here? What am I doing at this party?)

So yes, I suppose I was popular in some people's minds. But what did it really get me? Really, where has high school popularity really gotten anyone? It's such a weird concept anyway if you really think about it. Especially now that popularity has taken on a slightly new meaning now that it's actually become quantifiable. (You have how many facebook friends? How many page views?)

I don't think popularity is anything to strive for. And honestly, it was a waste of time then, too.
No matter how cool you are or are not, you still eat your lunch at a folding vinyl-top table with macaroni noodles strewn across the floor and your Eastpack backpack at your side.

Everyone is kind of a dork. Or at least they see themselves that way. (Prompting them to write really bad "I wear a mask. . . " type poetry. More on this later, too. Lucky you.)

Yes, I had friends who were the all-eyes-on-me types of the lunchroom. But more importantly, I had  friends who got up on the cafeteria table and sang Hava Nagila at the top of their lungs. I'll take that weirdness and authenticity over popularity anyway.

In that sense, a high school reunion is tempting to me. Are the cool kids doing anything cooler than the non-cool kids? Likely not. Have they also come to the conclusion that their high school popularity really didn't matter in the end? Likely so.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of terrible formal dance pictures to comb through with my super-popular husband.

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