Yeah, I know Labor Day hasn't arrived yet, but I can't help feeling that we should put a fork in Summer 2009; it's done. We packed up the car yesterday afternoon, and I drove Peggy & the kids back to the city from my mom's place in Quogue. It's hard to believe they've been out there for eight weeks. Seems like only yesterday it was June. Today, I walked outside and noticed the temperature had dropped about ten degrees and the sidewalks were teeming with insufferable NYU students. In any case, I thought I'd exhume a survey I filled out back in 2007 about the end of the summer.
Defining Moment of Summer `09: I would say going back to work after my mandatory 100 day exile (which actually ended up being 130 days, but who's counting?) It was lovely to have all that free time with my kids, but I'm not going to lie; it was plenty stressful not knowing when my next paycheck was going to arrive.
Best Purchase of Summer `09: As much as I'm loathe to admit it, I have to say my iPhone. I held out for the longest time. I was perfectly happy with my regular cell phone. My wife was gagging for one, though, so I ended up getting her one for her birthday in August. Over the course of the next week, I played around with her iPhone and was indeed enchanted. Then, in what can only be an act of divine providence, my trusty cell phone broke inexplicably. Interpreting this incident as an omen, I went directly back to the crappy Apple store and picked up one for myself. I'm not wild about it as a phone (y'know, it's primary function), but being able to check my e-mail from anywhere is pretty fantastic. I haven't loaded it up with lots of ridiculous apps, but give me time.
Best Book Your Read of Summer `09: As much as I've waxed rhapsodic about Nick Rombes' "Cultural Dictionary of Punk" and Simon Reynolds' "Totally Wired" (both excellent reads, even if you're not a drooling, rock trivia-addled good like myself), I'd have to say that the book that really ate up my summer was Jon Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven." Being that I already harbor a robustly healthy skepticism of organized religion, Krakauer's portrait of Mormonism (the fastest growing faith in the West, worryingly) was a real eye-opener. Like the best true crime books, it's also enjoyably grisly. I'd put it up right there with T.J.English's "The Westies" and Vincent Bugliosi's "Helter Skelter." I really had a hard time putting it down. I’m also now actively afraid of Mormons.
Best Movie You Saw During Summer `09: I don’t get out to a love of movies, but I did quite enjoy “Died Young Stayed Pretty.”
Best Gift You Received of Summer `09: Apropos of nothing in particular, my fabulous wife gave me a keychain with a lovingly-sewn (not by her) skull & crossbones on it. Arrrggh!
Song That Best Sums Up Summer of `09: As much as I’d love to cite something cool and credibly hip by some envelope-pushing ensemble of indie hipsters, I’m going to be honest and admit that it’s probably “Southern Cross” by ye olde Crosby, Stills & Nash. As a bit of background, I picked up a cheap CSN best-of disc a while back to slowly build a CD library for my mom’s car (CSN being one band everyone in the family can mutually enjoy/tolerate). In any case, over the course of the summer, Peg routinely played it when driving around with the kids, usually when en route to and from the beach. As such, “Southern Cross” became “the beach song” to the kids. Sure, they also liked “Marrakesh Express,” but any time I dared turn on the stereo when we were all in the car, the earnest demands from the back seat to “play the beach song” came with great frequency as even greater volume. I tried to introduce a “new beach song” (specifically “Seven Seas” by Echo & the Bunnymen), but that just didn’t seem to take. I can't think of a single song I heard more times than "Southern Cross" over the course of the summer. A runner-up, however, for "song of the summer" might be "Stick Stickly" by strenuously lamentable 'crabcore' ensemble, Attack Attack. A frankly ludicrous Ohio quintet of Christian teenagers with very silly hair, Attack Attack! saw fit to forcibly cram the ill-fitting sub-genres of "screamo," "metalcore" and piss-poor teen-pop into a frenetically unlistenable stew of lameness. The song alone -- replete with inexplicably Euro-technopop big finnish -- is only half the awful picture. To really get incredulous, you seriously need to check out the choreography-laden video. See if you can make it all the way to the end. It's not that the kids don't wanna rock, it's that they evidently don't know how to do it properly. Pathetic.
Happiest Memory of Summer `09: Watching as my little girl Charlotte (age 5) overcame her fear of the ocean and learned to adore playing in the surf while giggling cherubically.
Saddest Memory of Summer `09: Reading the horrible news that my fellow music-head and online friend "Bimble" from the ILM music discussion boards had very sadly taken his own life.
Scariest Memory of Summer `09: Enduring the first, rigorously painful stages of what turned out to be a kidney stone on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, without a living soul around to help.
Word That Best Describes Summer `09: Expensive