Schnipper’s Slept On

November 03, 2009

Each Tuesday, FADER editor Matthew Schnipper highlights an underappreciated recent release he thinks we need to know about. This week it’s Atlas Sound's Logos LP. (Which Schnipper bought but left at home because he listens to it all the time like a total fanboy.) Download "Walkabout," buy Logos and read Schnipper’s thoughts after the jump.

When I was ten years old I met John Stamos. I was on vacation with my family and friends in Newport, Rhode Island, looking at mansions built on cliffs. He was with his brother. We asked him for a photo and he was gracious enough to let us take one. I was a nerdy kid, but not completely afraid, and, trying to ingratiate myself to him, jokingly suggested that maybe I’d give him rabbit ears in the photo, as though we were casual friends and he was not the star of Full House and I were not recently in double digits. I did not give him bunny ears. But when we got the photo back, my sister and me standing beside him, he had given them to me, sneaky V hovering above my head. You can see his brother in the background, eating something, waiting for it all to pass.

Here’s another story: In college, at an open reading for the English and poetry students, I read a story I’d written about a father who’d been in jail, now released and visiting his daughter, an Olympic long jump hopeful. They reunite on unsteady legs, discussing their respective missed pasts. He goes to a meet of hers where she tumbles and somehow loses a tooth. She’s carried away and he goes digging in the sand, comes up with the tooth. “I got your tooth,” he yells to her. That’s the end. The next person to read seemed kind of drunk, clearly older than all of us 21 year olds. He remarked on my story, praised it and started reading his bizarre, elaborate poetry. After the entire reading he came up to me and introduced himself and told me about how when he went to Sarah Lawrence he chained himself to a desk protesting animal rights. At some point after this, I realized he was Stewart, the singer of Jonathan Fire Eater, somewhat forgotten but beloved New York City rock band of the mid-’90s. This was so exciting—real rocker amongst college mortals. I saw Stewart around sometimes after that, saying hi sometimes, sometimes not. The next time we had any strong interaction was months later at a joint poetry reading/weird jazz concert where I played trumpet. I was really nervous and I was not good. After I finished, someone yelled out from the audience, “I got your tooth.” I saw Stewart waving his hand up with an imaginary tooth. Be still my heart. My story! This was a guy who used to be in a sort of popular band. Wow! But he was also just some dude I went to college with, an overblown early and mid 20s who now lived with his mom and had to take classes with kids ten years younger than him. And, though I’m sure they are good, honestly I don’t think I honestly ever ever heard Jonathan Fire Eater. Why did this make such a difference to me?

I’ve had similar experiences, desires for familiarity, with people for a long time since, not necessarily famous people, but people whose attention I desired. Sometimes they ended like Stamos with light embarrassment; sometimes they ended with me making good friends. Sometimes, like with Stewart, I barely even remember that shit at all. So what's the point? I used to be an extreme pushover. This is not something I’m proud of. It’s also something I know still am. Involuntarily, I’ll kowtow to most anyone who may be out of reach without a little buttering. If we could immediately be buddies, that would work best. Recently, as the buddy tendency stays but caring wanes, this has caused me slight trouble. I wrote recently of my new gurgling dislike for musicians—or maybe not dislike, something closer to a dispassionate disinterest—and it’s caused me some mental distress to locate the initial kernel of this change. What happens to me when I finally just don’t care if someone who I think is cool doesn’t think I am cool?

Another story: I didn’t pay much attention to Deerhunter at first. Then their second album, Microcastle leaked a million months early and I heard it just like everyone else. And I loved it. When Deerhunter played in New York I had a friend take my photo in front of them, like a tourist at a monument. My interest in them has not waned, and recently I became smitten with the newest Atlas Sound—the solo project of Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox—album. Recently, given the opportunity, I interviewed Cox. (This interview will be up on FADER TV very soon). We did not, you could say, vibe. We sat on the feet of parallel beds, two 27-year-old dudes with a love for music. We had to be bros! I love his music! So I skipped all the serious questions—sure he gets those all the time—asked him about his nice clothes, watching MTV as a kid, New York City, his love life. At some point he asked me when we were going to talk about his music. I told him never. I don’t remember if this was before or after I told him the theme of the song “Sheila”—which I listen to over and over and over—was not dissimilar to the overall plot of “Will and Grace.” The interview pretty much ended there with Cox promising to never play that song again. Which is too bad because it’s so good.

From The Collection:

Slept On
Schnipper’s Slept On