Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Life And How To Live It

In the spring, I wrote a two-post series about my commitment to loyalty, duty, hard work and being a square. I wrote it largely about The Wire, which I see as in many ways a tribute to what's worthwhile about institutions and eras we'll never get back.

One thing I didn't mention, because I don't spend a lot of time thinking about high school thank god, is how long I stick with things. Friends, haircuts, being a vegetarian (14 years and counting). For years and years, my favorite band was R.E.M. I started listening to them sometime between Automatic for the People (1992) and Monster (1994) because I loved their songs, but it turned out that what R.E.M. was about was not only alternative rock, but about knowing who you are, knowing what works, and sticking to it. They were from an era where selling your song to Microsoft made you a sellout, and they wouldn't do it. No drama, no feuding, no nonsense and no backing down, for 31 years.

Today R.E.M. announced that they're going the way of well-staffed newspapers and Rust Belt economies and breaking up.

Excuse me while I sit on the floor all night listening to my cassette tapes (which I still have! see what I'm saying!) of Fables of the Reconstruction and Life's Rich Pageant, remembering when it was still sort of okay to give things those kinds of earnest names.

When Automatic for the People, which I *think* is their best album (it's debatable for sure) was recorded, Michael Stipe was 32 years old. Unlike R.E.M., I am likely to live another month, and I will see 32 in just a few weeks' time. Not only do I not feel old, but I think this is further proof that I'm at the height of my powers. Bands break up, the world changes, but I'll still be here same as always, eating tofu, reading novels and caring about things.

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