Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Gate Has Closed. Goodbye, Cutie

In 2001, I was 17 years old, in my final year of high school. Retrospectively I must have been an insufferable twat. I had no friends because I thought I was smarter than everybody else. School was a venue to do academic work and little else. During break times I cared not for hanging out with the popular kids. I'd do my homework, or read Das Kapital while listening to music on my laptop. My soundtrack to that year was We Have The Facts and We're Voting Yes by Death Cab for Cutie. Death Cab was my gateway band, the first band I discovered beyond the limiting prison of FM radio. Over time they became much more than a band to me, for reasons that had nothing to do with their music.



Today the band's lead guitarist, producer, and primary creative force, Chris Walla, announced he was leaving the band at the same time as the band is releasing new material. Although the remaining members of the band are likely to continue under the Death Cab moniker, it will never be the same. If Walla is gone, I'm gone too.

Truth be told, I checked out of my own Death Cab fandom years ago. Their last album Codes and Keys was a major disappointment to me besides one great song. The heady days of the mid 2000s were gone, and the execution had been squandered. Death Cab is a nostalgia band to me now.

After the inglorious end of my high school life, I decided during my fourth year of uni that I needed and wanted friends after all. 'The cognitive part of your brain is overstimulated and your social skills are criminally underdeveloped' was how my psychologist put it to me at the time. Most of all I just wanted to talk politics with guys my own age, and fuck the girls. I had done neither previously. So the psychologist and I brainstormed ways that I could practice my social skills in a safe and comfortable environment. I came up with a sort of compromise.

I would join the official Death Cab For Cutie Message Board! That way nobody would know I was a cripple unless I told them!

For the next two years the DCFC Boards were my life. It was like living in a bubble. There were about 20 regulars at the time, the guys desired all the hipster girls, we'd discuss the most trivial things. Friendships were made, then they would turn into your enemies just as quickly. I rejoiced in the fact that I posted on that board well over 10,000 times in two and a half years. Like the band, the boards are gone now too.

I had two important social milestones as a result of the boards.

How was it possible for me to fall for someone in Long Beach, California, when the time zones are skewed and we just communicated via email? I thought I did. But I did not

How was it possible for me to wish that an amazing girl from Washington State would be part of my physical life each and every day?

We were so close for a time that she travelled from Washington to the Sunshine Coast to see me for a week. That week was amazing, in fact the best week of my life up to that point in time. I remember that as soon as she left my place,  I cried buckets of tears, such was the connection that I thought we had formed.

Then for some reason I never quite figured out, the friendship fizzled immediately after. We hardly spoke again. But every time I hear about '...dance hall hips, pretentious quips' I think of her.

One of my biggest regrets in life was that I was too proud to make a serious attempt to revive the friendship I had with her. Perhaps that experience was my biggest fuck up of all, socially speaking. Two years ago I heard she was getting married, and that made me sad and happy all at once.

Perhaps that's a fitting description of Death Cab for Cutie as a band too. They were experts in articulating sorrow, while bringing great joy to my life. It seems only fitting that I quote the song that says goodbye in the most powerful of ways. For this is my way of saying a fond farewell to Ben, Chris, Nick, Jason and that period where they dominated my life.

Time for the final bout.
Rows of deserted houses..
All our stable mates are highway bound.
Give us our measly sum:
Getting the air inside my lungs is heavenly.
We're starting out with nothing but crippling doubt.

We'll rest easy (justified).
I've suffered a swift defeat.
I'll endure countless repeats.
The gift of memory is an awful curse,
with age it just gets much worse,
But I won't mind.

I won't mind..
I won't mind..
I won't mind..  

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