Field Trip: “30 Seconds to Blowing My Brains Out” on The Style Con


The following is an excerpt from my piece “30 Seconds to Blowing My Brains Out,” as featured on The Style Con:

New Jersey, 2002. My friend and I were waiting for Incubus to take the stage (can’t begrudge a Cali girl some Brandon Boyd), while we talked about having just moved to New York City, how Jersey didn’t seem as bad as people made it out to be, and all the hot, straight men we imagined NYU totally, definitely, absolutely be chock full of. And then, all of a sudden, we heard it. That awful sound. A horrible, screeching wretchedness pumping out the venue speakers and assaulting the audience. “Uggghhhh, what the fuck is that?!” we screamed, clutching our young hands to vulnerable ears. Though we didn’t realize it then, the answer to the question was 30 Seconds to Mars, a massively crappy band still in its infancy, led by none other than my childhood crush, Jordan Catalano – I mean Jared Leto.

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God Save the Children

It must be hard being a kid teenager these days.  First, you’re expected be covered head-to-toe in Proenza Schouler mixed with a few key pieces from the latest season of Chanel.  Second, you’re sixteen and your feet hurt like hell from traipsing lazily back and fourth from third to forth period in your six-inch Louboutins – it’s early onset bunion time for you, my friends.  Gossip Girl and Teen Vogue have managed to heighten everybody’s expectations for what young girls are supposed to look like and what parents are expected to pay for it.  And, hey, I totally understand.  In 1999 when all the girls in my grade started rocking those navy blue parachute pants with the orange stripe at the heel from Abercrombie I yearned for them to be a part of my own sartorial rotation, but $68 was a far cry from what I had been spending at the Wet Seal the last four years.

Little Suri is skewing the curve even younger.  She’s like a preemie fashion fetus and I want to stick her back in the oven and leave her there until she’s thirty-five and completely ridiculous, friendless, and alone, because I assure you, someone wearing heels a year and a half after they’ve learned how to walk is inevitably headed that direction.  Fare thee well, young friend.

What really breaks my heart is that these poor children are really growing up in a cultureless void.  It’s all about haircuts and tight jeans and bad music.  Terrible, terrible music.

Ordinarily, I don’t like to watch TV while working out.  The screen is so close to my face that it is a sure-fire way to induce vomiting.  It’s like the Blaire Witch Workout.  Puke.  I decide to do a casual flip through the channels to see what is going on in the world outside of the endless loop of self-chatter brewing in my own head.  See how the other half lives, as it were.  I scroll the news (depressing).  I stop in for a few morning programs aimed at stay-at-home-moms (uber depressing).   I land at MTV and despite my urge to immediately flee the scene I stay.  God forbid I become totally old and irrelevant.

And so here is my glowing review of the world in god-awful music today.  Enjoy.  In fact, you better enjoy, because I made my eyes and ears bleed for this piece.
Paper Tongues – Ride to California

Let me open by saying that this epic wordsmith of a songwriter has paired “grocery store” with “fo sho” in the first stanza.  Talk about a way to get me going.  For those of you who don’t speak retard, “fo sho” means “for sure.”

The lead singer looks like Tracy Chapman and dances around like he wants to be Kid Rock.  They all jam out, leather clad and some incarnation of what a fifty-year old record exec thinks the kids want out of rock and roll these days.  I immediately start picking up obvious references to a multitude of music videos that I have seen in years past.  Dear Director, allow me to rip apart your story board.

1.    The song is about California – although the inspiration for which remains unclear – so you’ve added the Mad Max-ian flavor of Tupac and Dr. Dre’s West Coast anthem “California Love.”  Except the difference here is that song didn’t suck and this song does.  Perhaps that’s why the director of “California Love” bothered with elaborate costumes and art direction.  That being said, I appreciate your attempt at a rip-off homage.

2.    I really enjoyed the POD era rough-and-tumble slow-motion shots.  It’s been a long time since I thought about my eleventh grade theme song, “Alive.”

3.    Who would have thought the shoot location for Monifa’s “Touch It” would come back in all of its concrete glory?

4.    I’m glad Jared Leto’s wardrobe stylist could help out on the shoot.

Upon further listening to and watching this video for research (shudder), I am considering pitching the idea to the immigration officials in California to stave off the massive pouring of people into the state.  This song is like birth control for people craving sunshine.  Now I can’t help but think of the idea of California and twitch.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it might even keep wanna-be actors out of Los Angeles.  LA, whoa!

Hot Chelle Rae – I Like to Dance

Unfortunately, Sony won’t let me post this gem myself, so you’ll have to do the leg work or just trust my opinion if you want to see this.

The video opens up with a crew of skinny-legged boys followed by an entourage of everything I hate about young fashion right now.  All of the girls either look like Cindy Lauper (which was cool when it was JUST Cindy Lauper doing it) or some extras from the movie Tank Girl (which was super cool but I’m pretty sure it got shit reviews).

Next, Amanda Bines hands them the keys to some warehouse.  “Anything happens, you do not know me,” she says.  I’m sure that’s what the guys will be thinking when this chick eventually gets impregnated by one of them.  Oh, wait.  That’s not Amanda Bines.  It’s just a trashy hooker who looks like Amanda Bines.

The boys start a parade through what appears to be the back of an electronics shop.  Everyone is super rad and quirky in their animal masks and giant purple tutus.  I’m a big fan of the movie Go as well as Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet, so when my brain automatically thinks back to the rave scene in Go and the lavish party scene in Romeo and Juliet I am furious to have involuntarily pulled them both down to this level.

Now for the close up shot: the lead singer is pale and raven haired and I begin to wonder if someone just gave The All American Rejects a faux hipster makeover and sent them back into the recording studio.

I keep watching, tortured by what I am seeing and hearing.  I mean, what is this band name?  Does it mean “Red Hot Chilly Peppers” in some language I’ve never heard of?  At some point I see the same green laser beams used in J-Lo’s “Waiting for Tonight” and I just about fall off my machine.  With each passing second I get more and more furious that shit like this is even in the market.  I mean, shit like this is the market.  You like to dance?  Well, I like music that doesn’t suck.

Never Shout Never – I Love You Five

You love me five what?  Is five the name of a girl?  I don’t stick around through this entire video because the gray scale and contrast of this black and white video hurts my artistic soul and looks like a commercial for a cell phone company trying to be cutesy.

This poor guy elicits the most rage in me, mostly because of his haircut.  Someone please tell me what the fuck is growing on his head.  Please!  I am seriously so furious at the hair “stylist” that did this to a human being.  It looks like the cheap fur you make DIY Cowardly Lion costumes out of.

When I found this picture I became increasingly more confused by what I was seeing.  I thought he was ten but he’s covered in tribal tattoos that were mistakes that happened in the 90s.  Apparently, the “new and improved” Never Shout Never dude wants to ruin his life.  Dear God.  I think the video left me less angry than the Google image search I just completed.  Someone give me a Xanax.

La Roux – Bulletproof

When I finally tear myself away from the train wreck I’ve created in my brain for the last twenty minutes, I flip over to VH1 where La Roux’s video is playing.  Since when did VH1 become cooler than MTV?  I’m totes confused.  I allow my ears to acclimate to what good music sounds like for a few seconds and then I am forced to unleash my fury on this video as well.  I would have really loved for this to have been a visual palate cleanser but I am an equal opportunity bitch.

Poor girl looks like Ziggy Stardust revamped and walking down a CGI hallway like in the only Jessica Simpson video that anyone’s ever seen because her abs were defined that week.  I absolutely love La Roux but come on, can’t anyone be original today?  It’s like one of the cast members from Kids Incorporated moved to a small village somewhere in the outskirts of Paris when her dad got transferred and subsequently befriended a small music recorder because no one would talk to her in English.  Since turning eighteen, she moved stateside once more.  And voila, La Roux!

I close my eyes and try to focus on the music.  Focus on the music.  Focus on the music.  I’m rocking myself into a comfort zone and all of a sudden my thirty minutes are up.  I get off of my elliptical machine and head downstairs to suffocate myself in a bin of dirty towels.  If I’m dead, I can never have children and if I never have children they’ll never be subjected to what I just subjected myself to.