Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Rivers Cuomo Messes You Up Forever


Before we begin, let us be clear: We speak not of the Rivers Cuomo that was, nor of the Rivers Cuomo that is, nor yet of the Rivers that shall be. We speak, now, of the Platonic ideal of a Rivers Cuomo: The Rivers Cuomo you have never met, nor ever can meet, nor can ever be sued by (subsequent to writing a blog post that uses his name quite a lot), but who lives, nevertheless, within your brain. Specifically, if you happen to have grown up in the 1990s, and are heterosexual, and also a girl.

Because you totally have one. I mean, come on.


He was cute; he was vulnerable; he had glasses. Really cool glasses. His hair was unfortunate; his features were delicate; in his videos, he could never quite hold eye contact with the camera. He wore sweaters a lot, and he sang about wearing the sweaters; he was a sweater-wearing dude, that Rivers Cuomo. He sang at you on the radio. He loved you, more desperately than anyone ever had, or would.

If you happened to be of a certain age when "The Blue Album" came out-let's say, for the purposes of total non-specificity and universal relatability, "exactly twelve years old"-the highly sweater-centric single from that album, and the revelation that its singer was in fact good-looking, opened up a whole new landscape of sexual possibility. It made you think that sex might not, as you had previously supposed, be scary or harsh or done with any of the dudes at your school who smelled like pot and cheap beer and unwashed laundry and were sporting, with greater or lesser success, floppy Kurt Cobain haircuts. Instead, sex could be something you did with someone as soft-spoken and gentle and enthused about sweater-wearing as Mr. Rogers. Girls before you had learned about the power of male vulnerability-from Lloyd Dobler and his tear-stained boom box of rejection, or from Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, he with the body of a weightlifter and the soul of a tender wood nymph-but for you, it was Rivers. He made sex seem simultaneously safer and more intense. He gave you the power, the power to accept or reject him; he proclaimed, constantly, his own weakness before you.

In the song, he gave you detailed instructions for removing the sweater. Slowly. Piece by piece. A whine that was a striptease. Watch him unravel. He'll soon be naked. Lying on the floor, he comes, undooooooooooooooooone.

You should have paid more attention, maybe, to all the whining. But it was too late: You had the album. On the album, he sang about being scared to dance with girls; he sang about Dungeons and Dragons; he sang about comic books. He mentioned Kitty Pryde. Not even any of the hot lady X-Men; not Rogue, or Emma Frost, or even Jean Grey, the ones that were busty and assertive and all terrifyingly developed in ways you could never be. Rivers Cuomo liked Kitty Pryde: The everygirl, the (relatively) flat-chested one, the awkward teen. The one that was… you know. You. In the age of Pamela Anderson's ascendance, Rivers Cuomo thought it was hot that you looked like Mary Tyler Moore. And he didn't care what they said about you, anyway. He didn't care about that.

Perhaps no adult rock star has more enthusiastically appropriated the iconography and reference points of childhood than Rivers Cuomo. (Well. There is Kimya Dawson! But that is a different thing.) When Weezer finally did a video with the Muppets, it was not a surprise; the surprise was that Weezer hadn't done it already, and that they didn't also get Spike Jonze to insert them into an episode of He-Man. The result of Rivers Cuomo's exceptionally prolonged adolescence-which only came into the public eye, mind you, when he was already twenty-four years old-was that he was a grown man who remained approachable and sympathetic to tween girls; simultaneously more powerful than you and less so, older than you and also your age. Rivers Cuomo was Justin Bieber, if it were possible to imagine Justin Bieber ever having grown a chest hair. Oh, but no, there is a better comparison: Rivers Cuomo was the Michael Cera of his generation.

But he was a Michael Cera who played guitar, loud guitar, and he sang. Imagine Michael Cera in a stadium, screaming about how girls don't like him back and it makes him sad sometimes, a guitar strapped to his hips. The power unleashed was nuclear.

"I, like, imprinted on this shit. I suspect an entire generation of girls did," wrote Emily Gould once, in a long-ago and far-away blog post about Rivers Cuomo. I can confirm that suspicion! And demonstrate that at least one of the generation is willing to write 5,379-word essays about it, which are not pleased about that fact!

Because he got inside your head, Rivers Cuomo. He fucked you up. You still give dudes a closer look if they wear cool glasses.

121 Comments / Post A Comment

Miles (#3,961)

tl;dr, but I liked that picture of the fey guy at the top

Slava (#216)

You know… sometimes pagination is a good thing.
Maximize those pageviews!

Now with pages!

Tyler Coates (#451)

I really like how, so far, Sex Offender Week is really just a ploy to explain how Liz Phair is really important.

(I don't mind, AT ALL.)

Matt (#26)

This is a whispery reply because Liz actually wrote Friday's post.

#a bro can dream

katiebakes (#32)

I still know her as the lady who sings the song that I always assumed was Avril. (ducking)

mrschem (#1,757)

love it.

mrschem (#1,757)

and by it, I mean Katiebakes' comment. Sorry.

brad (#1,678)

that's really long. really long. i started to feel like i feel everytime i start Ulysses- i just know i'm not going to finish it.

Sady Doyle (#4,619)

I KNOW, DUDE. I had to leave out a whole bit about how Michael Cera has a band and they cover "El Scorcho" apparently and also there was a recap of the plot of "Madame Butterfly" included in the piece at some point and then some careful hedging (always cut the careful hedging! Remove all nuance!) and then lots of Rivers Cuomo Facts and and and… that was before I even showed it to anyone other than the Pinkerton fan I was showing it to in order to anticipate disagreements. This is the shortest it could be. And I am still like, "fuck me, that is a long piece," when I look at it.

bmichael (#213)

Oh my god. Would you please not read the comments.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Speaking of you, your excellent piece on Roethlisberger and sports blogs would make a great Sex Offender Week post here.

brad (#1,678)

wait, there are more pages?

brad (#1,678)

p.s. joyce was all pissed off too, but i'm all hey-what the fuck? running thought-streams from one character to the other? and i'm outside and its 77 degrees and the sun and coming down through the branches of the trees and making me so sleepy and happy and…who the fuck is talking now? SHIT i go all vapory for a second and i have turn back 10 pages because guess what- i wasn't following those real well either and he's all 'well fuck you…it's art'.

Mar (#2,357)

Not too long! Would have loved to see more about Michael Cera's hell band & Cuomo arcana.

punkthis (#243)

"that's really long. really long. i started to feel like i feel everytime i start Ulysses- i just know i'm not going to finish it."

That's what yo' mama said?

sbma44 (#2,565)

Skipped the middle, but I will say: for me, the great thing about the first two albums was that Cuomo was engaging in emotional hyperbole, blowing out quiet impulses and private thoughts to their fullest expression — not only to lay them bare in an emo sort of way, but occasionally to subject them to the withering glare of daylight. Even as awful as RC turned out to actually be (I say this based solely on various rumors and gossip), I think it's a real stretch to imagine that he intended, say, "No One Else" to be read solely at face value.

At any rate, I think those first two albums still work perfectly well — mostly because they're simply great pop/rock records, but partly because the songwriting seems to reflect emotional honesty. That the underlying emotions are sometimes (often!) odious is sort of neither here nor there.

Paul Johnson (#4,627)


Sure, there's some exaggeration, a little bit of a put-on, perhaps, but that is no excuse. Have the sins of the hipsters taught us nothing?

Personally, I've always been tempted to read "No One Else" as if it were "My Last Duchess". But you aren't arguing it, and the post's take on the whole Rivers Cuomo picture makes it feel…unlikely.

And! That the underlying emotions are sometimes (often!) odious is sort of neither here nor there. is just wrong. What's the point of being honest about your odious emotions if you're not going to, you know, reflect on them a bit? "Yes, I know I'm a creepy sexist asshole. That is all."

sbma44 (#2,565)

Remind me not to come to book club when you guys do Lolita.

sbma44 (#2,565)

The point being: the listener is free to reflect on the singer's emotions, and what kind of person he is. Surely you've encountered an unsympathetic protagonist before.

Sady gets it exactly right in the end of section 4 and beginning of 5 (which I'm ashamed to admit was part of my initial TL;DRing). I don't agree with her decision not to value the honest expression without the correct conclusion, but she explains her perspective and I can respect it.

Not sure what to make of your inscrutable "sins of the hipsters" line, though it certainly sounds wise.

lbf (#2,343)

I agree! And I wrote a really long post about it and the THE AWL SPONTANOUSLY REFRESHED THE PAGE :[

Tyler Nguyen (#3,843)

signed in just to note how amazing this is.
ok, back to shyly lurking now!

ditto here!

So…this is why I like The Wedding Present better?

And, read the whole thing, and yes, more. How to fit class masquerade 'Beverly Hills' in?

Notice how any albums that arrived after Pinkerton are not even mentioned in this piece?

THAT'S BECAUSE THEY DON'T EXIST. or so i like to pretend.

but srsly, my pop-psych-rock-historical explanation for all that came after Pinkerton is this: rivers in the early/mid 90s became obsessed with writing the perfect pop song. i can't remember where i read it because it seriously must have been like eight years ago, but somewhere i read something about how he had a binder of sheet music and notes in which he tried to analyze exactly what made songs like "smells like teen spirit" so great. he seemed to be greatly impressed by cobain, among others. SO. when pinkerton bombed, that's when he kind of became a recluse, right? or was it before/during pinkerton? my weezer history is getting fuzzy. but either way, he was shaken up by pinkerton's popular failure. so anyway, he kind of went through a song-writing identity crisis. what he had been writing seemingly wasn't appreciated, so he set out to try to write pure pop hits and kissed his nerdy, sensitive song-writing voice goodbye. this pretty much explains everything he's done since then, like collaborating with lil wayne? and writing songs like beverly hills.

Flashman (#418)

Had to skim through it to see how any female, let alone one who would have been 12 in the mid-1990s, could possibly relate to the tortured lovelorn David Gedge. I guess you were just speaking for yourself (and me too!).

carpetblogger (#306)

I can't see how a 12 y/o in the 1990s gets a Lloyd Dobler reference. But I am old and have never heard of this person or his music. This is why I read the Awl, to learn new and important things.

@flashman: Yea, just speaking for myself.Tortured, torturing, selfish, lovelorn, shatupon, monologuist David Gedge–but the women involved all have internal lives, he can only guess about.

@gy: This makes sense. But if it's true, you would think the continuing output of Apples in Stereo would make him give it up already.

Flashman (#418)

OMG. A response to Seamonsters from the various (I'm assuming) women's perspectives would be brilliant!

Matt (#26)

Also people should consider the fact that most of the dudes who were hardest-core into Weezer turned out to be pretty creepy themselves. And now they are probably raising creepy children. Which is even more creepy.

badthings (#1,903)

As a dude who was pretty into the blue album, I have to protest that the dorky=creepy equation was pretty obvious at the time. Maybe not if you were 12.

Fuck, I'm old.

Also, Pinkerton sucks.

Tawny (#3,471)

I just read this entire thing, and I have to say that I am TOTALLY CREEPED OUT by Weezer now! I had NO IDEA Pinkerton existed, even (I'm 24, so I guess that's gross negligence on my part, culturally.)

But WHAT? 39 and he's my daddy? AND he has his own Snuggie line? WTF, dudes, this is some creepy shit.

Also, I would like to point out how the related-to-the-Snuggie articles show a steady decline in Cuomo's quality of life (provided you don't click on them and learn wtf they mean):

http://grab.by/432d (screenshot)

i listened to the blue album and pinkerton pretty much religiously in high school and the first couple years of college (i'm 26). then i went on hiatus, i guess. so last summer i listened to pinkerton the whole way through for the first time in ages, and i was amazed by how fucking creepy rivers is in that album. i knew it was creepy, but i didn't realize HOW creepy! but he's being self-consciously creepy, which makes it somewhat okay? like, it's all about his sexual anxieties, and he's just trying to be honest about them and exorcise them or something. which is why he then went celibate.

but yeah. what is the point of this comment? i guess it's that 1.) pinkerton really is super creepy, to an extent i totally didn't pick up on in high school, and 2.) the creepiness isn't hidden. rivers is pretty overt and honest and self-loathing about it, so you end up with some sympathy for him.

I am about to turn 36. Pinkerton was out when I was in college. I always took the creepiness to be making fun of the general creepiness of boys my age. Because it was scarily accurate, if read in that way. Probably I was being much too generous. But I still love the record.

pre-fat kirk (#4,622)

I loved the whole thing, and I may read it again tomorrow, if only because it is so eerily familiar. I could bring out old diaries to do a comparison study but mercifully they've been shredded.

This is basically how I feel about Alicia Keys. Except, instead of "Across The Sea", it's her twitter account.

sox (#652)

OMG I just basically had to explain to this dude I was on a date with (that was not going to lead to another date) that Weezer is totally the guy I had a crush on in high school and now I see him and I'm like "ew, he's THAT guy" – specifically re: that daddy song. CREEPY.

The date dude was totally arguing with me that Weezer's new shit is so good. ALSO CREEPY.

lbf (#2,343)

"Pork & Beans" is pretty great. The problem is, you have to obscure the rest of Weezer's current production when you enjoy it. Because when he sings "Imma do the things that I wanna do" and those things include singing "I'm your daddy" it kinda spoils it.

Bettytron (#575)

I loved all of this. It got El Scorcho stuck in my head (a song I still enjoy even now knowing about it's creepiness) and also made me realize that I never paid nearly enough attention to lyrics. I'm listening to Across the Sea as soon as I get home.

missdelite (#625)

"Sex Offender Week" is a curious title for a series. I clicked through thinking this was about how Rivers was touched down there as a Catholic school boy.

Up next is Serial Killer Week: An Insider's Take on the Meat Industry.

missdelite (#625)

And what goes together better with a post titled "Sex Offender" than an ad for Asian mail-order brides? It's like the Internet is reading my mind.

brad (#1,678)

those plus the pedo-american apparel ads = me thinkng of moving my daughters to nova scotia to raise goats.

missdelite (#625)

Darling, those goats are so savvy they've got Dov Charney on speed dial.

lbf (#2,343)

I'm getting Ukrainian brides ads myself! Would you care for one?

ComradePsmith (#4,477)

I thought everyone had decided that Matt Sharp was the real talent behind the first two Weezer albums?

lbf (#2,343)

But I always thought Patrick Wilson was the true Weezer mastermind!
Also, the new bass guy is basically an avatar for Rivers's creepiness.

ComradePsmith (#4,477)

The first Rentals album is better than either of the first two Weezer albums. Plus they had more keyboards and there were girls in the band.

I also have a soft spot for Seven More Minutes, but that's mainly because of Justine Frischmann.

lbf (#2,343)

There's a French TV performance video of Matt Sharp vs. Damon Albarn (and the rest of Blur I think?) performing "Friends of P." hanging around Youtube. I always watch that and think "it SUCKS that I had little interest in music back then".
Also if I met a dude who looked like Justine Frischmann I'd probably be gay for him, but as a lady I'm not all that into it. Dudes who look like Justine Frischmann, someone should start that Tumblr.

Matthew Lawrence (#4,252)

I would totally go straight for Justine Frischmann. And more or less only Justine Frischmann.

Bittersweet (#765)

Mr. Cuomo and I are the same age, and I met way too many dudes in college and in my 20s like him.

Give me the Simon Le Bon/models on yachts/vaguely pretentious nonsense lyrics of my teen years any day – much less creepy.

C_Webb (#855)

Me too. John Taylor in Capezios, a mesh shirt and eyeliner. Now THERE's a man.

I'm more of a Gavin Rossdale fan.

Maevemealone (#968)

BACK OFF JOHN TAYLOR. He's been mine since well before he winked at me (twice!) in concert. "Our only arguments are over whose make up is whose."

C_Webb (#855)

My heart originally belonged to Roger, but his arms got too bulky. I like the 6'1" male gamine look.

Bittersweet (#765)

I guess Simon's occasional beer belly didn't really do it for you then, huh, C_Webb?

C_Webb (#855)

Brings back memory of first line of their Rolling Stone cover story, 1984: "Simon LeBon wears blue underpants." That pretty much set the tone.

Bittersweet (#765)

I had the B&W photo of Simon smoking a cigarette from that cover story on the wall above my bed.

(With a lipstick kiss on the cheek. Because, yes, I was that dorky.)

so good so good!

beth (#4,626)

Excellent article, I've been waiting to see what it would be like (twitter follower also, creepy much?). Its important to note that for a lot of the songs, like el scorcho, a young girl could easily place herself in the singer's shoes. I definitely did when I desperately wanted /that/ boy to notice me. Would you say that's just as dangerous a role model for girls to be following in relation to guys? Since PJ Harvey can sing about dismemberment and all.
Also, I thought he was praising her tattoo and snakes in No Other One, which totally changes the tone to "shes so awesome but we don't work"

Baroness (#273)

I live every week like it's Shark Week.

mmmark (#4,458)

Woo! Columbus!

Sady Doyle (#4,619)


percolator (#1,721)

Rivers Cuomo is both Liz Phair and Liz Lemon. He's the pathetic dork in the glasses who can't get laid and has gone at least slightly bonkers over it, the one you hate to be like, but love to identify with, because it means you're not alone in being such a reject. And he's also written one of the most relatable and Livejournalistic accounts of exactly how you feel when you do get laid, and how dissatisfying that can be.

Yes, this.

percolator (#1,721)

Er, I should say: Yes, that, when I was in high school and really, most of college too.

nudelman (#137)

You, Sady Doyle, I love you.

Multiphasic (#411)

Sady, this is great. However, there's a big chunk where you're, um, wrong. I know, I know, subjective interpretation is subjective and interpretive, but…

The I'm-a-horrible-person thing is the point of "No Other One." The completely idiocy of what he complains about is a deliberate self-portrait of an emotional retard/asshole.

That Cuomo found it particularly necessary to paint this little picture is another issue, and you're right in that he certainly doesn't particularly earn brownie points from the mature regard displayed in the rest of his ouevre. But what made Pinkerton interesting even if it was also highly annoying (and it was! I was deeply suspicious of it when it first came out, and I was listening to Screeching Weasel and MTX and all these pop-punk bands that were equally suspect in their perspectives on heterosexual relationships) is exactly that Cuomo is absolutely complicit and open in making himself look terrible. It's as if Songs About Fucking were actually songs about fucking.

Probably because he thinks of himself as terrible, and you are supposed to rock his head on your heaving bosom to assure he isn't. But still, the horribleness in "No Other One" isn't at all meant to be covered up.

Sady Doyle (#4,619)

Errr, I dunno? I mean, I don't see anything in the lyrics to support that level of self-awareness. It's a pretty direct statement. And, like, if you say that the goal of "No Other One" is to present him as an asshole, you have to say that the goal of "Pinkerton" is to present him as an asshole, since it shares about the same level of direct statement and non-metaness (I am making up words, OK) as the rest of the album save "Butterfly," where he finally just says, "maybe you're as real as me… maybe I need fantasy," but also calls you a bitch.

But either way, as you say, it ends up as the same pity/self-pity thing, where the goal is to present him as so terrifyingly inadept at living in the world that he needs a whole new mommy who will let him crawl up into her ladybits for comfort. So it might be kind of a moot point?

mokin (#2,235)

I was a huge Weezer fan in high school, and I remember reading an article where Rivers went through every song on the blue album and gave some commentary. I don't really remember most of the comments, but I do for "No Other One." He basically confirmed that the song reflected the dark, asshole side that wanted his girlfriend all to himself.

I agree that the self-awareness doesn't exactly come through in the song, but it was there.

Bonus: Where "No One Else" was a dude complaining about his girlfriend, "The World Has Turned And Left Me Here" was the same asshole complaining about how that girl left him and destroyed his world.

And "Buddy Holly" was about a platonic relationship. And that's all I remember.

hazmathilda (#839)

Sady Doyle and it's only Tuesday? This is shaping up to be a hell of a Sex Offender Week.

HiredGoons (#603)

I fucking hate Weezer.

missdelite (#625)

Where I come from isn't all that great
My automobile is a piece of crap
My fashion sense is a little whack
And my friends are just as screwy as me

I didn't go to boarding schools
Preppy girls never looked at me
Why should they I ain't nobody
Got nothing in my pocket

Beverly Hills – That's where I want to be! (Gimme Gimme)
Living in Beverly Hills…
Beverly Hills – Rolling like a celebrity! (Gimme Gimme)
Living in Beverly Hills…

Look at all those movie stars
They're all so beautiful and clean
When the housemaids scrub the floors
They get the spaces in between

I wanna live a life like that
I wanna be just like a king
Take my picture by the pool
Cause I'm the next big thing!

The truth is…I don't stand a chance
Its something that you're born into…
And I just don't belong…

No I don't – I'm just a no class, beat down fool
And I will always be that way
I might as well enjoy my life
And watch the stars play

Sady Doyle (#4,619)

Haha. And he was A MILLLLLIONAAAIRRRRRRRRRRE. Which, like: This wasn't Pinkerton and all the albums before (all one of the albums before!) and after were from a different, less memoiristical place; I don't think Cuomo actually went surfing because he didn't like your face, for example. Not least because it is impossible to imagine Cuomo engaging in any athletic activity. But the self-pity! THE SELF-PITY. MY GOD. "The truth is… I don't stand a chance… and you don't like me… and I'm going to go to my room… and cry… and probably eventually snap… like a dude version of Carrie… at the prom." Yikes, guy!

coleslaw (#593)

I, too, fucking hate Weezer! And I was a 12-year-old girl at the time! I was convinced that they Stood For everything that was Wrong With Music and Wrong With How Most Girls Thought About Music, but then late 90s came and music got MUCH worse. Still hate Weezer, though!

missdelite (#625)

@Sady Doyle: Ooh-wee cupcake – I really want to respond to your comment but there's not enough caffeine in the world for me to understand what the hell you just said. Quit Bogarting that joint and pass it along, m'k?

CAlex6977 (#4,630)

Great essay. Really enjoyed it. I believe you have mistaken the "Im a good little boy its all your fault mom" line.
An idea I often had when I was young was that my mother taught me something wrong about getting women to like me. She was always saying "Be nice, Be polite, act sweet" This is good stuff but what she didnt tell me was "Be real, Be confident, Have an opinion". I often felt like it was her fault I didnt know how to attract women. Things have changed as Ive gotten older but I totally know what he was saying there.

sox (#652)

wow, thanks for this.

kittenplan (#339)

I love this. I love this. I can't stop thinking about it, especially this lovely passage that percolator pointed out above:

But maybe you have to be a girl to notice it. Because the vast majority of the men I have spoken to, about the album, are under the impression that it is about them. One man I spoke to about it pointed out that, for men, Rivers Cuomo is both Liz Phair and Liz Lemon. He's the pathetic dork in the glasses who can't get laid and has gone at least slightly bonkers over it, the one you hate to be like, but love to identify with, because it means you're not alone in being such a reject. And he's also written one of the most relatable and Livejournalistic accounts of exactly how you feel when you do get laid, and how dissatisfying that can be.

He's singing from his pain, men remind me; he's singing from a place that men aren't allowed to admit they inhabit. He is telling us how guys feel.

It's complicated! What's so wrong with guys having this kind of art speaking to and for them, trying to untangle all their contradictory and self-defeating impulses, trying to help them grow? And isn't it okay if it women just can't be a part of it in the same way, even that they sometimes get knocked around by all that flailing? (Metaphorically only, of course.) I mean, I listen to plenty of music that feels like it's expressing something so true and intrinsic about my female experiences that I suspect most dudes just don't experience in the same way (Sleater-Kinney and, yes, Liz Phair, and yes, P.J. Harvey). That you can be sort of vicariously thrilled by it but you don't feel it in the same way, maybe?

But then also, I agree: Rivers Cuomo (the brand) feels toxic to me. Consider. "Tired of Sex" and "Fuck and Run" are kind of the same song in a way, except for this. The singer of "Fuck and Run" isn't blaming dudes for their inability to commit to something more serious as much as she is blaming herself for making the same dumb, self-defeating decision again and settling for something that is less than what she wants. Meanwhile, "Tired of Sex" isn't so clear about where the blame lies, but it kind of feels it likes with Jen and Lynn and Catherine? (To me, anyway. Maybe if I'm a dude, maybe I hear "Fuck and Run" and I think: Ladies, why are you rushing things? Why isn't it okay for this to be a casual fuck so long as I haven't deceived you somehow? Those are fair questions!)

But who cares? All I really wanted to say is that I love this piece, and I love trying to sort it out in my head, and Sex Offenders' Week is so far entirely awesome. I can't wait for tomorrow.

Could someone send me the Cliff Notes for the article and this post?

Baroness (#273)

Mario Cuomo is a sex offender with some bitchin' tunes if you were a girl in the 90's like Elizabeth Wurtzel. Or somefing.

Baroness (#273)

Also, sharks are marine mammals. Boy are their nipples sore. And dolphins are like, gay sharks.

maebefunke (#154)

Can somebody please make a claymation death match video of Greenberg vs. Cuomo?

vase (#450)

This essay is spectacular! Sex Offender Week should be every week. (oh, it already is isn't it…)

petejayhawk (#1,249)

This is earth-shattering information. Here I was thinking that all rock stars were feminist-friendly, and it turns out that maybe one of them is not?


petey he is an anomaly. All the rock stars I know are very pro feminist and will even pick up tampons on their way over to give me lower back massages when I have my period.

irishbreakfast (#4,123)

I know, but they always get the slims when I really need the overnights. And they can never find the unscented.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Pete: Indeed. I guess you get this guy or, you know, time to get naked and ready for the sandwich slices.

Julian (#4,633)

As usual, Tiger Beatdown/Sady rocks my socks off.

And everything about Pinkerton that skeezed me out is articulated here perfectly.

Chrysippus (#4,634)

I had to register and name myself after the philosopher with the most awesome death ever just to comment because this blew my mind. I have an instant internet crush on Sady for "boys and girls in america have such a sad time together….they accuse each other of being just like their mothers (never satisfied) and their fathers (2 bold)"

dclooney (#4,636)

Certainly not too long. Frequently hilarious.

Epic. A word I'd not have thought to associate with Weezer.

anais escobar (#4,638)

Sady, this is truly wonderful. Also, you have an email coming your way soon.

lbf (#2,343)

Confidential to Sady Doyle: if you're wondering if I want you to? I WANT YOU TO. So make a move, cos I ain't got all night.

Untold levels of douchiness.

melis (#1,854)

I got SO sidetracked by that Chasing Amy link. That movie ruined my life.

melis (#1,854)


irishbreakfast (#4,123)

On the one hand, this was sort of awesome. On the other hand it reminded me of an annotated bibliography of the "Feminism, Self-Awareness and Fabrications: Awakening to the Music" seminar at Brown.

garge (#736)

I am going to be earnestly redundant and say that I LOVED this, and LOVE Sex Offender Week.

143 <3 143 <3 143

Crantastical (#4,127)

Is this why I'm always being let down by smarmy men in hip glasses?

Heather Rasley (#4,644)

In a word: WORD.

I think I was actually saved, though, by completely missing the existence of Pinkerton until I was 17, by which point I'd already done my own damage. If I'd been exposed to Pinkerton in those vulnerable 8th and 9th grade years, who knows what would have become of me.

ugh (#2,327)

sex offender week = what white people talk about when they talk about love

Statler (#1,222)

TLDR. Seriously.

unsustainable (#4,646)

This was not Teal Deer. This was as long as it needed to be.

The auto-refresh just killed my previous comment, in which I likened my continuing appreciation of Pinkerton to my continued appreciation of pornography. It's gross and humiliating, and insulting, and fetishizing, but that doesn't mean it's not effective.

For what it's worth, I'm 35 and Pinkerton came out my first year out of college. I subsequently wasted about ten years of my life looking for, tending, and recovering from various versions of Rivers Cuomo. So, thanks. I wish I could go back in time and offer this up as required reading.

lbf (#2,343)

Commiseration on the autorefresh.

Astigmatism (#1,950)

So does this make it ironic or completely fitting that I was utterly emotionally abused by my Rivers Cuomo-obsessed girlfriend in college?

DahlELama (#707)

I was more in love with a fictional hybrid of Rivers Cuomo and Kurt Cobain, heavier on the latter, during adolescence, and I loved this. What's interesting to me is that this was cool with you at the time and later you realized it was gross, when for me, this worked in reverse. The first few times I listened to Pinkerton, it was like receiving a creepy doll that you shove in the back of your closet in an effort to obliterate its existence from your consciousness. Later on in life, when I tried again, I seem to have switched over into appreciating what I felt was a totally self-conscious creepiness that I observed with the same sort of fascination I'd enjoy reading a book called Autobiography of a stalker.

Also, tl;dr might be the most obnoxious comment in the history of the Internet.

saythatscool (#101)

Agreed about tl;dr. All that comment tells me is that your lazy and dismissive. It reflects a sense of false self importance by the commenter who is doing nothing but wasting their time in the first place.

Helen Day (#4,663)

This is the most accurate summary of my relationship with Rivers Cuomo that I have ever read EVER. Even down to screaming my brains out while he played "El Scorcho" in 2002 (I saw him in Minneapolis). Five stars!

I was five when Say Anything came out and Lloyd Dobbler somehow managed to haunt both my adolescence and my adulthood (and, even my friend, who just as recently as this week sent me a text message crying "DAMN YOU JOHN CUSACK!"). Up until a bf I had a few years ago I used to hope, nay pray, that the love gods would send one of these brooders my way. And then I met him. And then I had to deal with what dating a man like that actually meant. And now I know why I'm not a wet nurse.

And tl;dr could NEVER apply to something as well-written and spot-on as Sady's post!

Leigh Alexander (#4,704)

This article is fucking boss.

art8706 (#4,716)

I didn't read any comments or the article past the introduction so this may have been pointed out already, but sharks are not marine mammals.

pesematology (#4,719)

When I was in college I came up with a scale for people of our particular girl-generation to rate their own emotional baggage. Pinkerton has ten songs, which makes for a nice little one-to-ten scale. You simply go through the track list, tick off any ones that vividly remind you of a bad relationship or breakup, and then add up your score. Since the album was given to me by a guy who makes your version of the song-Rivers look like a downright sensible choice, every song reminds me of him and I get a 10.

Simon Mizera (#4,887)

Instead of making an intelligent comment (so overrated right?) I shall merely say: Squee! You referenced The Hold Steady.

Ramon Ramirez (#4,891)

Wow, I've always adored Pinkerton and honestly never gave much consideration to the ugly backdrops adorning the album's lyrics, themes, even art. Never connected the Japanese fetish thing. Great piece. As a Mexican-American male more predisposed to pining for curves, I was never drawn to the culture of submissive, skinny women.

This hit close to home from not only the age parallels, but the love for Weezer and how much my girlfriend loved Weezer in 2002 and how we both paid extra at our local Verizon Wireless Amphitheater the day of the show to ditch our friends and get into the pit and how seminal that moment was as a turning point from summer love to emerging relationship. One that lasted through prom, college, marriage.

One Pinkerton song you didn't mention, that was notoriously hard to play on guitar because of all the chord changes, that remains our song, is "Falling For You." We didn't play it at our wedding because that would have been stupid, but it's Pinkerton's finest moment and its least offensive because the chorus is so optimistic and the lines that stick out are decidedly less desperate. In close reading, however, it still fits with your thesis.

But my point is that it's possible to love Pinkerton for its general tones (its sonic goodness, its teenage trepidations about love, its fashion) and enjoy it as a teenager put off by Papa Roach, without delving into the matter and crafting an identity around the record. I'd like to hope I did.

CA (#5,094)

I remember when it finally dawned on me how creepy he is- I believe it was right around the time he wrote an article for Kerrang mentioning how he went to 'massage parlours' and released a song about how hard it was for him not to try and bone Elliott Smith's girlfriend when he was comforting her after he died. Nice.

Scorcho10 (#5,099)

Why do people always feel it necessary to analyze everything and everyone around them? Here's what I know…. RC is wealthy, private, shy, brilliant in some respects, and tired of feeling like he has to explain himself to people like you sad nobodys on here. Go out and make your lives full, be what you want to be, and continue being insignificant. RC is not pretending, he just isn't an L.A. Poser wannabe or neverwas. He has achieved everything he has set his sights on..,much like myself. I share his complete disregard for recognition in my real life, yet my alter ego does crave reward for my work. I cannot/ will not say who I am, it is not important, and I do not care at all what anyone thinks of me. That is just so average and insecure to me. Likewise I do not care at all about RC, personally I cannot break down a person by some songs. I choose to enjoy his music and enjoy him as a person. I know for a fact that he releases what he wants at whatever time he wants, and Sady makes a huge mistake by "profiling" someone she does not know, based on song lyrics???? Or maybe based on stories she's heard??? That and a buck can buy you a cup of coffee maybe, but it is irresponsible to call him a creep. She is incredibly sexist and anti-male and it is sad and comical to see. Sady go get your green apron on and keep the Starbucks job. Because analyzing a man based on him sharing deep feelings is not a talent you posess. His songs are a mix of feelings and events, and one song does not a person make. If every person who has had yellow fever is a creep, then the world is full of them. I prefer that over overly frantic nobodys who waste my oxygen. Do something about that anger, while RC continues to get richer and richer.

Mikey (#7,292)

See, saying that OTHERS should continue being insignificant implies that you yourself are not insignificant. Or that a couple pop albums with skeevy letter aren't insignificant.

You're transmitting such rage, shame, anger, lashing out. And for what? some songs.

Hero worship + personal insecurity is never a good mix. You're self-identifying far too much with the public persona of this guy.

Calm down. You're not making a coherent argument and just making yourself look bad.

Also, try not to use the term "yellow fever" in the future.

body jonas (#6,312)

I really enjoyed this post, and I fully agreed… up to a point.

It seemed like, up until the introduction of "No Other One," the author had reached a pretty good understanding of Pinkerton; that this is a confession, at its rawest, realest, most uninhibited. Why, then, does the author so conveniently refuse to acknowledge this idea with regards to "No Other One" or "No One Else"?

As she admits with regards to the lyrics of "Across the Sea," the creepiness does not go unacknowledged. I would say that, with "No Other One" and especially with "No One Else," his selfishness does not go unacknowledged. As for the latter, I always thought that the blunt lyrics were said in a really tongue-in-cheek manner; that ideally, wink-wink nudge-nudge, this is how I would prefer it. I am enormously jealous every time my girlfriend talks to someone else, and I CAN'T CHANGE THAT. I once read a Cuomo quote on "No One Else"; he said that it was him being an "asshole" to his girlfriend, and that "The World Has Turned and Left Me Here" was about his girlfriend leaving him for being that asshole. Like I said, the selfishness does not go unacknowledged. And on the Blue Album, at least, it is delivered in a very joking-and-half-serious-but-still-kind-of-serious way.

As with every other song on Pinkerton, however, "No Other One" gets extremely candid. The author appears to have a good understanding of Pinkerton (perhaps barring "Butterfly," which is more probably about Cuomo falling in real, uncreepy love with a girl in Japan while on tour, going to bed with her and swearing that it won't just be some one night stand, that he will definitely return and see her again, all the while knowing, even then, that he never will, as much as he sincerely wants to), but for some reason throws off this understanding in her interpretation of "No Other One."

Goddamn it, yes, he is being an asshole in this song. He is absolutely treating this woman like she isn't a person. He knows that. But remember, as in the case of "No One Else," the lyrics are meant to be candid. This is what he's not allowed to say. The author did good at recognizing that these lyrics are pretty jarring, but misinterpreted, in my opinion, just what that means.

When you have Pinkerton minus "No Other One," you have a guy who just can't find love. Everything goes wrong. Girls won't talk to him, they'll only have sex with him. But this song effectively changes the entire tone of the album. It now says "I can never find love, and when I think I have, it's not what I thought it would be." In one interpretation, the author's, this song could render the rest of the album moot. Why are you complaining? You have found love, you are just extremely reckless with it. You're a child, and you're simply never satisfied with how much others do for you. But in another interpretation, more consistent with the author's intepretation of the rest of the album, Cuomo blames himself, not everyone else.

While the rest of Pinkerton laments not being able to find love, "No Other One" laments not being able to feel love after having found it. Can't you see what he's saying here? He's finally found someone he says he loves, someone that loves him, and it's still not what he's been looking for. This song changes the question of the album from "I can find love, can't I?" to the infinitely more terrible and tragic, "I can love, can't I?"

Pinkerton is meant to be confessional, an avenue through which Cuomo can say things that he can't "talk about." The possibility that he won't ever find love is pretty tragic indeed, but the possibility that he's simply inherently incapable of taking part in a mutual, consummate love, is infinitely moreso. I think he puts it eloquently enough in "El Scorcho," at the part where, vocally, he sounds most pathetic: "that's just a stupid dream that I won't realize because I can't even look in your eyes without shaking." The difference here is that, with one interpretation, everything can be ok, just as long as he finds the right person; but with the other, there's a possibility of no chance of resolution, that the thing that he wants so fully and so desperately is something that he can never have, simply because of who he is. This is his expression of his greatest fear, his greatest lament. This is who he is, this is who he has to live with his entire life, and you can take it or leave it.

Mikey (#7,292)

Lot of creepy, ranty sociopaths up in here.

How dare a female try to subjugate my all-important hetero-normative experience as a self-absorbed, emotionally stunted male! I CAN'T LET GO OF SOME 3 MINUTE SONGS AS A BASIS OF WHO I AM. THEY'RE ALL I HAVE LEFT.

C. (#191,650)


I'm not allowed to like Pinkerton anymore?

It seems like Rivers knew about your relationship you had with him, because this article fits with "I Just Threw Out the Love Of My Dreams" so well it's crazy.

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