To Boston and Ohio: From Chicago, with Love

All of the bands for Meryl

All of the bands for Meryl

Months ago, I bought expensive tickets I had no business buying, for the Boston Calling music festival. My friend Margaret lives in Boston, and I’ve never been there, and the line-up consisted of every band I’ve ever wanted to see, ever: Death Cab, Modest Mouse, Tegan and Sara, JENNY LEWIS. It was insane. It was a fate.

It was a terrible idea.

I bought weekend passes for me and Margaret in February for the Memorial Day weekend event, back when it was possible, but not certain, I’d have a new job soon. Things were in flux, as they would be for weeks, but I took a chance regardless.

It felt good to make a choice, reckless or no. I was deciding my own future, in one of few ways that I could.

Fast-forward to early April. I’d just started my new job and been told I wouldn’t have vacation time until July. Airfare to Boston and back was at a minimum cost of $400 for Memorial Day weekend, and it would mean flying in LATE on Friday and leaving early Monday, missing Margaret’s friends’ cookout and having little-to-no post-festival recovery time.

I didn’t have $400+ for airfare, and I didn’t have a way to take additional time off. I told Margaret I’d have to pass on the weekend getaway. She understood, and found me someone to buy my ticket, which was super nice of her.

By late-April, I’d accepted my fate, and decided to surprise my friends in Ohio instead.

At some point this winter, my best friend Brittany had called me and told me she’d be throwing her husband Adam a 30th birthday party Memorial Day weekend. I’d been sad to tell her that, despite that weekend being literally months away, I already had plans. She was disappointed, and I felt terrible.

So I decided I’d surprise her and her husband.

I got her mom and her friend Stacey on board, and they filled me in on the party details. My family was excited I was coming home for the first time since Christmas. Boston wasn’t looking so lost to me after all.

On Wednesday morning this week, I woke up with a sore throat and a nasty cough.

I stifled it. I denied its existence. I went to work.

On Thursday morning I woke up coughing, a deep rattle in my throat. I swallowed and took some ibuprofen and drove to the ‘burbs.

By Thursday night I thought I might die. I crawled up the stairs to my apartment after being stuck in traffic for over an hour. I emailed my brother and my dad and said I couldn’t come. I sat on my bed and cried for 15 minutes and ignored my brother’s phone call.

Then I called him back and cried some more on the phone, and fell asleep in a pathetic heap.

Now it’s Saturday night, and I’m dog-sitting for my neighbor because I don’t have out-of-town plans like everyone else. I still have a deep, disgusting cough, but I can walk around the neighborhood without feeling exhausted.

All I wanted to do was get out of this city and out of the muck I’ve dragged into my life all winter, but I can’t even make that happen. And I won’t have another opportunity until July, when my 90 days at work is up and I can finally take a day or two off to go home. I’m glad I was able to see Eileen and Tim in February, because I’m sure stuck here for now.

Maybe I didn’t need to see Jenny Lewis – maybe – but I did need to see some friendly faces. I miss my family, and I miss Brittany and Adam and everyone in my hometown. I guess I should be glad I’m not out $400 in airfare and however much in a weekend concert pass, and that I didn’t need to find some way to rush Margaret’s ticket to her in my sickly absence.

But man. I really could have used a break.

Today was a low-key, wallowing Saturday, but by God, tomorrow I will be sitting in the sun and relaxing, and Monday THERE WILL BE BRATS. Because this is AMERICA and it’s MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND and no one but horrible germs can get in my way and I’ve had enough of those.

There will be no plans, only beer and sunshine. Assuming I’m well enough to drink beer by then.

Happy Memorial Day, you guys. Enjoy this time with people you love, or at least people you like a whole bunch.

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Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard, “One Fast Move Or I’m Gone”

This river of road,
It don’t flow like it used to.
But it’s more of a home
Than anywhere that I’ve ridden it to.

We used to dream together
But now I drink alone.
From the bottle to the tumbler
Is the only journey left I know.

And in my memory’s depths I retrace my steps.
I cannot find where I went wrong.
It was one fast move or I’m gone.

I found out at an early age I could make anything or plane
Disappear or cease to exist if I turned my back to it.
And that the interstates, they don’t connect
Where you are to what you’ve left.
And the ghost of our dreams haunt the roads in between.

Though nothing could compare to the love we share
It just didn’t have a place to belong.
It was one fast move or I’m gone.
One fast move or I’m gone.
One fast move or I’m gone.

Thanks to Dennis for getting this song to me a while ago. The lyrics are from Jack Kerouac’s “Big Sur”. This song’s title was also the name of a documentary about Kerouac, and this song was on its soundtrack. I knew there was a Ben Gibbard / Death Cab connection with Kerouac before (“Bixby Canyon Bridge” is about the author) but after looking into this song I learned Gibbard stayed in Big Sur while writing the album “Bixby” appears on, 2008’s “Narrow Stairs”.

Taking a break… starting tomorrow

I am trying to step away from the film project this weekend. I did a lot of work on it last weekend and this week, and this weekend is my last free one before filming starts and I inevitably have a nervous breakdown.

But since said break has not yet started, I am going to share a bit more. I e-mailed the final cast list to everyone involved this morning and suggested this Monday night at 7 for a read-through. Brandon and I tested the new mic last night, and it turned out he had a cable for it so I don’t have to buy one after all. Brandon seriously has everything. He has a secret supply of cables and adapters that I don’t know about, and whenever I need something he’s like, wait a minute, I may have just the thing. And then he does. I have no idea why he happened to already have a mic extension cable, but I don’t care.

I have gotten some questions lately about my project, so let me take a moment to do a quick Q&A:

Q. How did you come up with the plot? Did you always have it in the back of your mind?

A. No. In December, I decided to make a movie. I thought about what subject area would be, quite frankly, the easiest. C’mon, it’s my first film project. I recognized that party-themed movies, such as “Can’t Hardly Wait,” “Empire Records,” and “Dazed and Confused,” involve a variety of characters, witty dialogue focusing a lot on pop culture, and look like they would generally be fun to have a part in. Additionally, in college, I did a radio piece about alternatives to drinking at parties. I needed background sound effects of a party, so I invited my housemates into my room to hang out, and recorded the sound (after begging them not to swear). It was fun for them, fun for me, and highly effective. I am hoping this trick carries over when it comes to film. As for how I came up with the plot, I have the early notes and most of it made it into the film. I just brainstormed and bounced ideas off of people.

Q. How are you going to make the fake vomit for the flachback scene?

A. I hadn’t really thought much about it until the first person asked me this. Since then, I have envisioned a disgusting concoction of mashed-up crackers mixed with fruit punch. Peeled grapes and cooked pasta have also been suggested.

Q. Why is it called “Red Cups”?

A. This is/was the working title. It’s probably going to be called this no matter what, because I can’t think of anything spectacular. The red cups show up throughout the movie. You know, those red cups people play beer pong and flip cup with. Party cups.

Q. What music will you have in the movie?

A. Thanks to John from Cincinnati, I will have an original soundtrack with permission from the artist. Seth, John’s friend and Amy’s husband, may also be contributing to the soundtrack, but this is not confirmed.

This last question has been brought up a lot, and it inspired me to do an exercise. If I was Cameron Crowe and a large studio gave me an unlimited soundtrack budget, this is what I would have on my soundtrack for my NEXT project. Given the nature of most of these songs, I suspect the film would be extremely depressing.

My dream soundtrack:
Death Cab, “Title and Registration”
The Flaming Lips, “In the Morning of the Magicians”
Radical Face, “Welcome Home”
Modest Mouse, “Trailer Trash”
The Decemberists, “The Crane Wife 3”
Does It Offend You, Yeah, “Dawn of the Dead”
Death Cab, “Bend to Squares”
The Shins, “Those To Come”
Guster, “Window”
Weezer, “Butterfly”
Jack Johnson, “Flake”
Ani Di Franco, “Your Next Bold Move”
Kings of Convenience, “Homesick”
Death Cab, “What Sarah Said”
Peter Gabriel, “I Grieve”
Porcupine Tree, “Collapse Light Into Earth”
Seven Nations, “Twelve”
Smashing Pumpkins, “Mayonnaise”
Jose Gonzalez, “Heartbeats”
John Yung, “Ex-Urbia” 🙂

Ben Gibbard would probably have a cameo, as well. In fact, I might cast him as the lead and title the film, “Ben Gibbard is amazing, and that is why Death Cab dominates this film’s soundtrack.” Then people would really know what they’re getting.