On The Record: I Am Trapped In A Loveless Relationship With Rivers Cuomo
If the past 15 years of my life were a Lifetime Original Movie, I would probably be played by someone like Kim Delaney. I would’ve just ended a lengthy relationship with a man who was dependable, caring and gentle — a catch, for sure — but lacking in passion, which made me feel trapped and unfulfilled. He would’ve been a pharmacist or something, and worn sweaters or pleated slacks. Perhaps he is Treat Williams. Here he is with my daughter.
Anyway, since I left him, I’ve been trying to live life. I would’ve started taking pottery classes, maybe bungee-jumped and gone on a road trip with my girlfriends (this would all be presented in a montage). And somewhere along the way, I would’ve gotten involved with Rivers Cuomo, a mysterious loner with a dark secret (he is played by a spectacle-wearing Lorenzo Lamas). He is moody and temperamental, with fire in his eyes and a motorcycle between his legs. Being with him feels dangerous. For the first time in my life, I am alive, and even though all my girlfriends tell me he is no good — something I secretly know too — I stay with him. (Note: This is almost exactly the plot of “Tall, Dark and Deadly” starring, you guessed it, Kim Delaney.)
Things are great for a while. Just amazing. We have The Blue Album together. People start calling him a complicated genius, and I cannot help but agree. I am in love with him, but there is trouble looming. He begins to withdraw, grows a beard, decides to undergo painful corrective surgery on his left leg. Before long, he has all but disappeared from my life. Until one day, he comes roaring back into town with Pinkerton. For the first time, he allows me to see inside his soul. And I am floored. We are back together and agree to get married, but on the eve of our wedding, he vanishes … no note, no explanation, nothing.
And then it hits me: Rivers was never in love with me. He couldn’t have been. He was a lone wolf with a dark past. He couldn’t be caged in. He was only in love with his freedom; only married to the road. He needed to run free, howl at the moon, study English at Harvard. I am not mad at him, because he just did what he needed to do to survive. And though he is out of my life, I will never forget him.
Of course, I could continue, but I think you get the point. From 1994 to 1997, I loved Weezer more than any other act alive (except for maybe Beck). Blue and Pinkerton were two of the albums that defined my teenage years, and I still believe that the latter’s squealy pre-emo makes it one of the decade’s most important discs, on par with, say, Radiohead’s OK Computer. (I even wrote a rather embarrassing pseudo-column about this three years ago.) But ever since bassist Matt Sharp split and the band went on hiatus in the summer of ’97, everything changed; the relationship, for all intents and purposes, was over.
The only problem was I didn’t know that. So in 2000, when rumors began to circulate that Weezer were getting back together, I started to feel butterflies. And when those rumors kept snowballing — Weezer are playing the Warped Tour! Weezer are putting out a new album! — well, it was like piling into a car, hitting the road and driving up to some college town to see your high school girlfriend (you guys were still trying to make it work, long-distance-style). Only, when you got there, she wasn’t the same cardigan-and-beret girl you fell in love with. She was wearing short skirts. Dating some football player. Smoking Camels. And she had some “rock”-looking dude on bass. She was The Green Album.
I remember working at the offices of my college newspaper when Green came out. I ran down to the record store, paid like $12.99 for it, brought it back and threw it in the CD player. Thirty-odd minutes later, it was over, and that’s about the best thing I can say about it. It was underwhelming in every possible way (though it has slightly improved with age; “Island in the Sun” is a karaoke fave) and right then, I should’ve known. Weezer and I were done.
But I did not know how to quit them. They got another, even more “rock”-looking bassist, made another album I didn’t like (Maladroit, which, to be fair, almost no one liked) and started to resemble Weezer in name only. They took another break, announced that they were working with Rick Rubin , and pulled me back in once again. “Surely,” I thought, “this album will be great.”
Only it wasn’t. It was Make Believe, a record that only pushed Cuomo’s arena-rock aspirations further into the spotlight. When I spoke to Weezer at the kickoff of their tour with the Foo Fighters (held, somewhat fittingly, in an arena in suburban Georgia), they are strangely standoffish when I mention the good old days, and Cuomo gives me just 13 minutes — total — for a sit-down interview, because he must go meditate before the concert begins. And I began to think that maybe Weezer weren’t the problem — perhaps it was me.
Except when I mention the fact that I now sort of dislike the band in an installment of BTTS (you know, the one that got pulled from this very site ), I don’t get hate mail. In fact, I get tons of letters from fans just like me, long-suffering Weez-heads who lived and died by the band’s older stuff, can’t stand the new stuff, yet keep coming back for more. As it turns out, being a Weezer fan is a lot like being in an awful relationship, one that you know is destroying you, yet one you cannot imagine being without. The weight, to paraphrase Nada Surf, is a gift.
And it’s probably never going to end. Just this past week, news broke that there will be not one, but two Weezer-related projects hitting stores in the foreseeable future: a Rivers Cuomo “demos” album, and a brand-new Weez record. And, of course, I am excited, despite the fact that I know deep down inside that I no longer relate to Weezer in any way, and as such, I am roughly 92 percent sure that I will hate both records.
And maybe, just maybe, this will be it. I will box up Cuomo’s leather jacket and give it to the Salvation Army. I will burn all the letters he has written me. And maybe I will give Treat Williams a call (perhaps he is Wilco). But you never know. Honestly, at this point, I’m more afraid that I’ll actually love the new Weezer album and that this whole thing will start over again, and that I will, always and forever, be Kim Delaney. Or Meredith Baxter Birney.
B-Sides: Other Stories I’m Following This Week
The bathrobe and do-rag combo, the “electric autumn” interior design, the whole “King ain’t dead” thing … T.I.’s “video statement” might just be my favorite clip of the year (see “T.I. Breaks Silence On His Web Site, Proclaims ’The King Ain’t Dead’ In Video Statement” ).
Back when I was in college, we didn’t need a Girl Talk show as an excuse to get naked and Tase each other on the buttocks. No, wait, that didn’t … (see “Girl Talk Show Ends When Cops Taser Naked Student In St. Louis” ).
It’s safe to say Britney’s bad driving is a “huge problem” for everyone within a 500-foot radius of her (see “Britney Spears’ Bad Driving Is A ’Huge Problem’ For Custody Case, Experts Say” ).
Questions? Concerns? Hate mail featuring at least one instance of “=w=”? Hit me up at BTTS@MTVStaff.com.