White Out


July, 1999




July 4, 1999 was the hottest date on record for Boston, Massachusetts. I have no scientific or historical proof of this, except for the first hand experience of living through that hellish day of sweat and sunburns. The temperature reached a high of 128 degrees and I spent the majority of that afternoon sitting uncomfortably on rocks as the girl to my right was showing off her adorable bellybutton ring.

I was back in Boston. The cinematic road show was over. I was home.

I returned to Boston a changed man, ready to put past relationships behind me and see what the future held. Of course, this meant I had to be a grade-A asshole to Melissa. Before leaving for the Road Trip road trip, we had been taking steps to rebuild our on/off/on/off relationship. She made plans to fly up from Maryland for a visit that summer. But days after returning home (or was it hours) I called her and told her to cancel the trip. She had already paid for the flight, but I told her not to come. I did not give her an explanation and I did not offer to reimburse her for the ticket. I didn’t tell her about Kirsten. I just flat out said she shouldn’t come. At the time, I felt like I was doing the chivalrous thing– ending it then (finally) and not leading her on. But we had spent the last several months leading each other on, and now I was the one announcing a halt to everything with a meager, “Nah, I’m good.” It wasn’t at all handled correctly, but it needed to end. For both of us.

Now with that long distance relationship behind me, I could pursue a newer, longer distance relationship with someone I had known for about three weeks. I make wise decisions.

The timeline is unclear this far removed, but as of early July, Kirsten and I were staying in touch and I was arranging a trip to Illinois to see if our summer romance had legs. Jason, meanwhile, was staying in Boston, editing the movie with Carrie, an aspiring student film editor. Carrie was a friend of another actress from the movie and was happy to learn and work for free. She wasn’t around for the filming, but was thoroughly enjoying the vibe of the movie as they were putting its pieces together. So when Jason explained there was one guy from the film that was actually living in Boston, she wanted to meet me. They invited me out to celebrate the Fourth of July. Along the Charles River. For the Boston Pops Fourth of July Concert and Fireworks Spectacular. With hundreds of thousands of millions of other people. In 286 degree heat.

I, of course, said yes.

Carrie attacked me with patriotism and giddiness as I exited the Arlington T station. Before I even knew who she was, she handed me a little flag and spoke excited words that my half-melted brain could not register. This was going to be a long day.

The three of us walked around the Public Garden and the Commons for a bit before making our way over the Arthur Fiedler Bridge towards the Hatch Shell and Esplanade. We found a spot near the river, and since none of us had the forethought to bring chairs or a blanket, we sat on the grass and rocks, surrounded by people with chairs and blankets. The fireworks would be going off well after dark. It was now 11:30 am.

As we sat and talked and slowly melted, I could finally register that Carrie was flirting a bit. With me or Jason, I could not confirm, but her bellybutton ring was displayed often and discussed at length (or at least, it felt like often and at length– but in that heat, both the physics of time and heavy metals had become soft and malleable). Normally, I would have probably flirted back, but since I had just recently hooked up with Jason’s childhood friend– after gaining his expressed permission to do so– and since I was planning to hook up with her again at our earliest convenience, flirting with another woman in Jason’s presence didn’t seem like a good idea.

Plus… it was too hot to form words with my mouth.

The fireworks in the sky were fantastic. But there were none on the ground. I was invited back to their place (Jason was staying with Carrie), but I was eager to return home, write to Kirsten, and lay down in tub full of calamine popsicles.



  • “Bring It On” – Gomez
  • “Echo” – Kirsten Hersh
  • “Get Off This” – Cracker
  • “Home” – Sean Lennon
  • “Why Bother?” – Weezer
  • “Potholes In My Lawn” – De La Soul
  • “Faces in a Dream” – Hurricane #1
  • “Taste” – Phish
  • “Cannonball” – The Breeders
  • “You Make Me Feel Like a Whore” – Everclear
  • “Don’t Look Back in Anger (live acoustic)” – Noel Gallagher
  • “In Hiding” – Pearl Jam
  • “Come Home” – James
  • “Kiss Me on the Bus” – The Replacements
  • “My Girlfriend’s Shower Sucks” – Goldfinger


  • “She Bangs the Drum” – The Stone Roses
  • “Stand” – Blues Traveler
  • “Oh No the Radio” – Owsley
  • “Natural Animal” – Echobelly
  • “Do You Believe in Love?” – Huey Lewis and the News
  • “Hitchin’ a Ride” – Green Day
  • “Aeroplane Ove the Sea” – Neutral Milk Hotel
  • “You Can See Me” – Supergrass
  • “Seed” – Sublime
  • “The Indigo Swing” – Indigo Swing
  • “Combing My Hair” – Travis
  • “Fast Way” – Letters to Cleo
  • “Doledrum” – The La’s
  • “Emaline” – Ben Folds Five
  • “Rape Me” – Nirvana

This mixtape is a mixed bag, but I like it overall. There’s a definite sense of expansion on WHITE OUT, even while mining the same bands I’ve been playing and rearranging for the last year and half. “Bring It On” is a new track from Gomez’s second album. They’ve quickly become one of my favorite bands and opening with a new track immediately gives this tape a fresher feel. But even going back to a college favorite like “Get Off This” feels new, since it hasn’t been in heavy rotation on the previous mixes. Perhaps Cracker is filling the roots-rock Wilco void on this one.

From a technical aspect, this tape is both a mess and absolute perfection.

In the mess category, several songs get cut off before reaching their end (thanks for the lengthy outros, Hurricane #1 and Green Day!) and only a couple pockets of tracks actually flow well together. But the run times for each side is absolutely perfect. There is zero delay between the last note of “My Girlfriend’s Shower Sucks” to the start of “She Bangs a Drum.” Same for “Rape Me” flowing immediately back into “Bring It On.” I may never do that better than I’ve done it here.

“Combing My Hair” is a B-side off of Travis’ “All I Want to Do Is Rock” single. I’m highlighting it here as another example of this tape sounding newer, fresher than what’s come before it.  (the YouTube clip is a demo, but except for audio quality, it’s nearly identical to the released version). Instead of reusing the same tracks, I’m pulling newer, less used sounds. It’s still mostly the same bands for now, but different tracks than before. I feel like the trend should be continuing, but it’s possible I fall back. After all, I think this is the eighth time in ten tapes I’ve included “The Indigo Swing.”


Prior the Internet making it easy to listen to new music before you illegally downloaded it, there were Tower Records Listening Stations. You could literally stand there for hours listening to full albums, annoying the people waiting behind you for their chance to feel your head sweat against their ears. This is where I heard Owsley.


I saw this album cover and had to listen. How could I not? It’s the epitome of rock and roll.

The Beatles and power pop influences shown through and there was no doubt I would be buying this album. Nearly 16 years later, I had forgotten how much I love “Oh No The Radio.” I tend to have a soft spot for any rocking’ tune about rocking tunes, and this song weaves in a little heartbreak for good measure.

If you’ve skipped over the other YouTube clips above, you should at least check this one out.


Oh, God. There’s “Seed” again.


Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to pick the one song that stands out far and above all the rest.

And sometimes there’s “Cannonball.”

And here’s the Spotify playlist (…missing a couple tracks)!:


2 thoughts on “White Out

  1. Pingback: Uh-huh Oh-yeh (Side B) | Super Ultra Mega Mix

  2. Pingback: Blackout | Super Ultra Mega Mix

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