October 16, 2009

The Tropics Are Crashing Us

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to my friend M------- about “Of Montreal,” and we had the following conversation:

Me: Remember that Facebook meme where you were supposed to put your iTunes on shuffle, and answer every question with whatever song randomly came up.

Her: OK….

Me: Right, well, for the question ‘What sentence sums up your life?’, the song that came up was “The Party’s Crashing Us.” I’ve never been quite sure what to think of that bit of iTunes-o-mancy.

Her: Ha! I think it’s perfect.

Me: Huh.

Her: Actually, the last time I listened to it, I kept on thinking of how well the lyrics fit Miami.

[Then, much later in the conversation]:

Me: Actually, I was thinking about what you said earlier about “The Party’s Crashing Us.” That song is a frighteningly perfect fit if you think of it as an anthropomorphized love song to the city of Miami.

Her: Exactly.

And….yeah....re-listening a few times with the “anthropomorphized long song to the city of Miami” thing in mind….Jesus….



"You're such a mys-ter-y/I just want to stand and stare..."

Moving to this city three years ago, after two and a half decades in the upper Midwest....yeah...this is the song I'd have written to Miami. If, that is, I was an insanely talented lyricist, with a perfect touch for combining weird and bubbly with emotionally resonant and...well, OK, let's just say "if I was Kevin Barnes" and leave it at that.

"Nibble on your ear/And smell the oc-ean in your hair/(Ocean in your hair, ocean in your hair)...."

The first night I spent here, I went to a bar on Ocean Drive on South Beach where you can sit outside in view of the actual beach, with live music and a dance floor and a swimming pool tinkling in the clubbish lighting, and my friend R--- bought me a drink, said "welcome to Miami, man" and I just sat there drinking it and looking up at the palm trees and thinking, oh my fucking god, how did I get here? How the fuck did this happen?

"I know you damage me/You leave me tangled in a knot/But when you re-app-ear/I see Neptunian blues that eyes forgot...."

Then living here, suddenly living in this place, all the drunken nights with friends, swimming in the ocean and watching the insanity unfolding around you and ending up at diners as the sun is coming up, seeing the four-foot-long spiky green-orange lizard things paddling around the canals and the guys biking around with live pythons wrapped around their shoulders and the girls selling contraband Cuban cigars from the trays that make them look like they stepped out of movies from the 1940s and the cars swerving around each other in happy disregard for traffic laws and the drivers yelling at each other in three languages, and you just get used to it, to Miami, you get addicted to the whole thing, to the point that you start to feel like, yes, absolutely, God yes, you only feel alive when the view is flashing and you're smelling the ocean in the hair of this ridiculous city, and it's four in the morning and you're looking up at the moon over the palm trees as you're stumbling back to your dingy little apartment through the humid darkness of the Miami night, and, yes, fuck yes, this song just sums it all up:

"You free me from the past/You fucked the suburbs out of me...."

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