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JULIAN CASABLANCAS IS SINGLE-HANDEDLY RUINING MY LIFE: A YEAR IN REVIEW AS TOLD BY THE STROKES

in january of 2018 a professor recommended the book Meet Me in the Bathroom to me. and so the year begins.


writing is like painting. it requires every muscle in your body- your head, your heart. our brains are a series of electrical currents & chemical reactions. if you listen closely you can hear static. i’m not listening to the static now. i’m on the platform with a 12 pack of narragansett at my feet, headed to a house show, listening to You Only Live Once. inside me there’s an insatiable desire to freeze time.


what else is like painting? what else can require use of your entire being while barely moving a muscle at all? listening to music can be, if it's the right record. this doesn’t occur to me while i’m at Rough Trade, buying Room On Fire on vinyl. not yet at least.


i hear Modern Girls and Old Fashion Men for the first time. Regina Spektor's voice on the track makes me realize how much time i spend wishing i could be someone else.


The seasons are taking their sweet time to change. Call it Fate, Call it Karma plays as it rains cold in union square, and it feels like the song was written for this exact moment in time. i’m ducking into academy records on 18th street to stay dry, thumbing blindly through the stacks, checking the “S” section, just to see. the park is empty and the lights reflect in the pavement lakes as Julian Casablancas sings in falsetto:


Can i waste all your time here on the sidewalk?

Can i stand in your light, just for a while?


home for spring break, on the floor of my childhood bedroom with my legs up the wall. Under Control playing through static on the turntable. this is when the record starts to feel like painting.


waiting outside of rough trade for five hours on record store day. it’s april but it still feels like february. the weather refuses to break, but then again, so do i. i make friends with my neighbors in line and they’re nice enough to save my spot so i can go watch bambara play at noon. they’re playing and i’m spinning a web of everything that has happened this year so far that led me here. someone i met in line comes to watch the band with me. he tells me that he loves the strokes, that in 2016 he spent is financial aid on a govball ticket and a flight to new york just to see them. “it was so worth it.”


i ask him if he's read Meet Me in the Bathroom. Three times, he tells me.


i imagine what his copy might look like. underlined passages, writing scrawled in the margins, a tattered cover. something handled, something revisited, something loved.


at the front of the line i pick up two 45’s: one by Albert Hammond Jr. and one by The Voidz. i go home in a whirlwind, lightheaded and starving, with new content for my thesis and new music for my turntable. the first listen to QYURRYUS threw me through a loop, the rest of the night feels like a dream.


The End Has No End is playing in buffalo exchange. i only sell one shirt and dump the rest in a donation bin.


i start a ritual of going to grab a coffee across the street from my school every tuesday before my 3pm class. i’m listening to Razorblade on my way over. i walk in, pause my music, but it doesn’t stop. Electricityscape is playing on the cafe radio and i’m frozen where i stand, glitch-in-the-matrix theories running wild through my mind. “oh my god i was literally just listening to this album” i want to tell the barista, but i can’t find the words, or maybe i don’t want to. sometimes it’s better to keep details to yourself. once they’re out in the world they’re easier to forget.


it’s finally starting to feel like spring as i’m heading to class, and for the rest of the week First Impressions of Earth smells like pollen and feels like the first warm days of the year..


the following week, Is This It is playing on the cafe radio. i tip the barista a little extra.


playing the strokes’ artist page to the room as i install my thesis project for my last college critique ever. a semester’s worth of high-functioning anxiety is splayed out on walls and tables before me, voices from around the world compiled into printed matter. Call it Fate, Call it Karma comes on shuffle, and something feels terribly wrong about it. it feels like a secret being screamed to the world - or, at least, to whoever’s in the room. “Not the time and place,” i’m thinking, pushing pins into the wall with shaky hands, feeling exposed. “Leave It In My Dreams.”


back at rough trade in the summer, i find Virtue by The Voidz on vinyl. the lyric book folds out into a poster and i hang it in my childhood bedroom. when the first track fades out i move the needle back and play it again.


i stumble upon Julian Casablancas’s solo project one hazy afternoon in madison square park. i hear I’ll Try Anything Once for the first time. it’s a stripped-down version of You Only Live Once with different lyrics and it makes me want to cry. i listen to it again and again for the rest of the day. everything comes full circle.


tickets go on sale for The Voidz in new york at 9am on friday november 16th 2018. the show is cancelled at 10am on friday november 16th 2018. i abandon ship and become someone else at no particular time on friday november 16th 2018.


every now and again Leave It In My Dreams and Pyramid of Bones would play, but every now and again wasn’t enough. the static in my brain was too loud to hear the music.


i dipped my fingertips in tar, then in strawberry jam, and they stuck to everything i touched. i don’t recognize my own manicured hands on an escalator railing in universal studios, but before i have a chance to lament, Under the Cover of Darkness starts playing in the parking deck. “they’re playing the strokes!” i tell my friend.


“who?”


it’s a relief to know that there’s still magic in hearing their music on the radio in public, that everything has changed but at the same time nothing has changed. it’s a relief to know that all is not lost.


the florida heat melts away the shit on my fingers and i paint with it. on the pavers in union square i write the words, What Ever Happened?


my therapist asks what i think the difference was between then and now. well not much really but idk i guess i was listening to the strokes more?


they’re headlining govball this year and it costs $115. i haven’t gotten paid yet and i'm only interested in 2 other acts on the bill. i buy a ticket.


back at rough trade for the first time in months, i grab the last copy of First Impressions of Earth. while in line to pay i’m thinking about about how every phase of my life is spent longing to return to the phase preceding it.


i’m on the platform with a bag of records at my feet, heading home, listening to You Only Live Once. inside me there’s an insatiable desire to freeze time.

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