Spencer, Nick, Jacob, and Bill lounge around Jacob’s room, passing around a joint. Outside is blue and snowy. Nick is opening a second bottle of wine and Spencer is rifling through Jacob’s record collection. Faust IV plays on the record player.
No way, dude. You’re telling me you think
Neu! 75 is a better album than Low?
I don’t think it, I know it.
Fuck off, man. You’re just being contrarian.
I’m not! I’m fucking not. You’re the
Sure, I’m the contrarian.
You are. If you listen to those back to back
it’s indisputable the musicianship is more
solid on Neu; it just is.
It is! Have you heard that record, man?
Besides, it came out two years before Low.
That doesn’t make it better, though. Does it?
Kind of an interesting question...
Low’s better. Sorry, dude. It just is.
“Sorry, dude.” Says the guy who thinks
fucking Basement Tapes is better than Blood
on the Tracks.
I didn’t say that, man, Jesus! I said I listen
to it more, not that it’s better.
Pretty sure that means you think it’s better.
You’re putting fucking words in my mouth.
The music abruptly stops. Spencer has lifted the needle. Bill is almost worried a brawl is about to break up but of course not; Spencer removes the record.
Everyone is looking at him. Suddenly he has a sinking feeling in his stomach.
Put something on.
He tries not to gulp too visibly.
Yeah! Be our DJ!
He crawls over to Jacob’s record collection and rifles through slowly. It’s a beautiful mess of seemingly everything that’s ever been recorded -- who knew it could fit into such a small crate? The Germs beside Yes beside Carly Simon beside Klaus Sculze. There are records that don’t even ring the dimmest bell for Bill -- who the fuck are The Flying Burrito Brothers? As he looks, the others talk:
What about Five Card Stud?
I don’t like it.
The Clash? No -- too easy. Not even Sandinista.
Fuck. You’re right.
Fairport Convention? He doesn’t know the album well enough -- for all he knows there could be a bagpipe interlude from which he could never recover.
I just like the thought of using the name
of some classic game. Game names are good
because they’re catchy but, like,
Gladys Knight? Might feel too much like a wedding. Todd Rundgren? Might seem like he just saw Dazed and Confused for the first time. It feels like anything he puts on will symbolize the entirety of his taste -- how can indicate that he shares their omnivorousness, their virtuosity, their whole unwitting ethos? Especially when he’s not totally sure that he does?
I kinda like Old Maid. But no, we can’t be
called Old Maid.
“Yo, I’m seeing Old Maid at Webster Hall
More like, “I’m seeing Old Maid at Madison
Square Garden tonight...”
More laughter. Suddenly Bill finds it.
What about Trivial Pursuit?
That’s pretty good.
Should he do it? It’s a gamble...
Yeah, maybe. It’s a little wordy, but
I like it.
He’s gonna fucking do it. They may laugh him out of the room, they may kick him out of the band, but if he’s right about his hunch, this is the edgiest choice he could make. It could make him the band member they never realized they needed. He lowers the record and drops the needle. Everyone quiets as the record begins to spin, the needle tracing the blank part of the groove and making making dusty noises. After a moment the sound of a fingerpicked guitar begins to play, quiet and contemplative, accompanied by a similarly wistful piano.
Wait, I know this! What is it?
Bill has butterflies as the verse begins:
Hey, maybe I'll dye my hair... JACOB
Maybe I'll move somewhere / Oh my God, Bill.
Maybe I'll get a car /
Maybe I'll drive so far that I NICK
lose track / What the fuck is this?
Me, I'll bounce right back
It’s so beautiful.
Yeah. Holy shit.
Dolly Parton! It’s from a musical.
After another beat:
We should do a cover of this.
Bill smiles like someone who knows a secret. Spencer points at Jacob approvingly.
Good call. That’s really good. A super
straightforward cover; not, like, a punk
version of it.
Yeah, man. Thanks for this.
I’ll be fine and dandy /
Lord, it’s like a hard candy Christmas /
I’m barely getting through tomorrow /
but still I won’t let sorrow bring me
As the chorus continues:
You guys ever listen to the Sugarcubes?
Spencer and Nick nod, though cautiously.
I was obsessed with them in ninth grade.
'Cause Homogenic had come out the year
before and I'd , like, played it into the
ground. But yeah, I just listened to
the Sugarcubes again for the first time
since then -- since, like, 1998 -- and was
remembering that time period so well.
Thinking of shit I hadn’t thought of since
it happened. It was Sugarcubes and Neutral
Milk Hotel. And XO.
Shit, that’s the real deal.
I wonder what music I’m gonna associate
with this time in my life. I wonder what
I’m gonna think about in general when I
think of this time in my life, other
than, y’know, Percocet.
Probably, like, the classes you’ve
been taking, the books you’ve been
Nick looks at him blankly, shaking his head.
(turning to Bill)
I know what you’d say.
(nervous but also
Spencer and Nick look at him with confused but not dismissive expressions on their faces, like they kind of take him seriously.
Yeah, man. I... I just keep feeling like I
only have half a life while it’s going on.
Like there’s this big epic battle for the
country happening while I’m, like, figuring
out what I put in my stir fry at the
cafeteria. My life feels so small and, like,
insubstantial in comparison. But then it’s
Fuck. He’s stoned and yammering.
Well, because it’s like, the election is
the one that feels more important, but it’s
also the one that’s happening at a
distance. So I get confused, like, which
experience am I supposed to take more
seriously - my day to day life, my
girlfriend, my classes? Or this thing that
involves so much smoke and mirrors, and
millions and millions of people, and tons
of media manipulation, but which has way
bigger stakes? Y’know? Which one takes
A beat as everyone, seemingly somewhat impressed, takes in what Bill just said.
Fuck, man. You’re making me want to
kinda care about this shit.
Imagine what Howard Dean is doing right
now. Right this minute. He’s probably
really fucking sad.
Or clinging to his last shreds of power.
He’s like, “Has anyone picked up my dry cleaning?”
Imagine what he’s been listening to recently.
“Loser” by Beck.
More laughter. A beat.
I wonder how he goes back to his day to day life after this.
I know, man. Right? What’s his life
without that dream?
The song reaches its fade out:
‘Cause I’ll be fine...
I’ll be fine.
Yo, let’s egg shit.
CLOSEUP: SPENCER DOING A LINE OF COKE.
CLOSEUP: NICK DOING A LINE OF COKE.
CLOSEUP: JACOB DOING A LINE OF COKE.
CLOSEUP: BILL DOING A LINE OF COKE.
EXT. ACADEMIC QUAD. A LITTLE LATER.
SPLAT! An egg hits the door of the Center for Film Studies.
SPLAT! against the windows of the Library department.
SPLAT! on the steps to the President’s office.
SPLAT! after SPLAT! after SPLAT! on the row of buildings no one’s ever entered: the Peer Assistance Center, the Steinbaum Blackbox, the Geology Museum, the Financial Aid Office. And cheer after cheer, a bump of coke for every bullseye.
Anarchy in the U.S.A., motherfuckers!
...tread on me!
Laughter. Suddenly, headlights illuminate the furthest-off building, gradually moving closer...
They four jump behind the nearby bushes, peering through the leafless branches as the beams glare at them and then pass right by, not slowing at all.
Wasn’t even security.
They rise and climb out from behind the bushes.
This school’s gonna wake up tomorrow
and no one’s gonna know what hit it.
They walk victoriously back to the residential quad, generating enough heat that tonight’s stinging February chill feels exhilarating and slightly mournful, flush with the fleeting but perfect mania of youth fulfilled, of youth gone by.