I'm not really all that mysterious

simple pleasures, small magics

Before work today, one of my chief residents was on one of the alternative music stations in town, which was bizarre and very cool. She won an hour to guest DJ and she broadcast her own playlist.

I didn’t really do much today. I did get out of work around 2 p.m., but then I decided to go to sleep for a few hours, and have basically been screwing around with the iTunes Music Store, randomly surfing tracks. Their collection is wondrously burgeoning. I even stumbled upon some tracks from a Filipino American boy band that some of friends were kind of into back in college. Odd.

There are lots of strange covers of pop songs out there as well. There are several versions of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” for example, and there is quite a lot of covers of the Police (“Message in a Bottle” and “King of Pain” are quite popular)—some of them reggae tributes, which seems to demonstrate a phenomenon peculiar to our post-modern world. Here is a band of Englishmen who appropriated the sound of the Caribbean, only to have it reappropriated back. It’s like taking an English phrase, feeding it to Babelfish to translate it into Japanese, then translating that back into English.

But what really arrested my attention were the playlists arranged by year. I only dared venture back to 1985, and they only have playlists up to 1994 so far. I have this odd habit of marking time by what songs are currently popular, and I was struck by how hearing certain songs would take me back in my memories and reawaken some buried emotions. You know how the sense of smell is supposed to be the strongest when it comes to how vivid it recreates memories? Well, I think my music sense has got to be in second place at least.

I started with 1992, and immediately I was immersed in the din and fire of the L.A. riots. I lived at least 8 miles from the serious rioting, although some vandals did decide to smash in the windows at the nearby Wherehouse, and one of the first places to go up in smoke was near my high school near downtown. That experience pretty much scarred me, probably in a more profound way than September 11th did. In a lot of ways, I think that’s when I started becoming really depressed, at least, that’s when I started having suicidal ideations. I guess I came away from that experience realizing that there is no such thing as security, that no one can keep me safe, that the people who are supposed to keep me safe, namely, the police, can’t be trusted, and that things I had thought should’ve been long extinguished, namely, racism, were alive and well, and there were no plans to fix it. No one wanted to unroof the crusty scabs that we’ve built our society on and drain the abscess that surely harbors the eventual downfall of Western Civilization. Instead, we just put on band-aids, and hope and pray that the problem will go away.

Going forward in time up to 1994 let me briefly re-live my high school years up to my freshman year in college, reminding me of my first romantic relationship and the ignoble way everything crashed and burned, eventually leaving me stumbling into greater and greater disasters. It is strange to think that I’ve known my friends from college for 12 years now, and have somehow managed to keep in touch, although I find myself unable to even answer e-mails these days. I’m thankful that they’ve been patient with me.

But again, I am astounded by the pattern recognition abilities of the human mind. I randomly decided to scan my Junk mailbox because has been putting lots of non-spam messages in there, and I came upon an e-mail from an ex-girlfriend written a couple of weeks ago, and I can’t help wonder if I would’ve been primed to notice it if I hadn’t taken my little trip down memory lane on the hackneyed wings of songs.

But a reply will probably have to wait. I’m still digging through e-mails from April.

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