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A Few Thoughts on the Pavement Reunion

September 17, 2009


When you google the word "pavement," the substance that covers large swaths of planet Earth doesn't come up until the seventh result. The band Pavement's Wikipedia page is first, and Pitchfork's day-old profanity-laced confirmation of its reunion is fifth. This should give A) marketing executives and B) young people a good idea of where the California quintet sits in the rock pantheon. As news of its comeback grew from rumored ripple to legitimate nerdwave (tsunerdi) over the last 24 hours and a date was set for a concert in Central Park almost exactly one year from now, one thing became terrifyingly clear: New York is not prepared for The Great Baby Riots of 2010. Pavement may once have been the musical signifier of young, scruffy smart alecs in cords and New Balances, but those people have grown up, have toddlers and will not take "no thank you" for an answer.

In 2006, Adam Sternbergh wrote a story for New York Magazine, titled "Up With Grups*," in which he painted a pretty hilarious portrait of ’70s babies who'd grown up and decided they didn't really want to be grown-ups—they wanted to continue searching and wandering from behind their strollers. This is an admirable way to live, as long as you're still actually doing something, which most so-called grups are, to be fair. But when the Union Hall bar in Brooklyn banned strollers last year claiming they were a potential liability in case of fire of emergency, drunk moms and dads went apeshit, and a few months later, the owner of the bar "reconsidered." And this drew a distinctive line in the sand. From the south tip of Park Slope to the Upper West Side, there are Grups With A Child (GWACs) and Grups Without Child (GWOCs), and this Pavement show is their showdown.

It will begin with GWACs and GWOCs awkardly screaming along to "No Life Singed Her" and air-pianoing to "5-4=Unity," and then, somewhere in the second hour, the first chords of "Passat Dream" will be strummed, a tipsy GWOC will tumble over a brushed-steel GWAC stroller and mayhem will ensue. It won't be violent, but as the Union Bar brouhaha proved, it will be ugly, and the GWOCs will lose because they don't have that instinct where mothers are willing to bite the heads off anything that threatens their offspring. The irony will be (and this will be a key element to the historical retelling) that the GWOCs will have started the whole thing when one dude, trying to recapture the sarcasm of his youth, says to a 4-year-old wearing Crocs, "Nice Crocs, dude." That will plant the seed in that kid's mom's brain, and she will be the one to dismantle her stroller and use one of its axles as a beating stick. And that stick will leave bruises. Shallow, yellow bruises that will NOT look cute.

Maybe this won't happen, maybe people will leave their kids at home on some real deal throwback shit, or maybe the singles will go see some new band at Market Hotel that night instead. But neither seems likely. So the only answer, obviously, is start having a ton of babies if you don't have one, or hire one for the show so you can drink your beer in peace.

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A Few Thoughts on the Pavement Reunion