UCSB and Why Arizona Sucks


Mar 22 2011, 3h59

I've decided that I should probably get into a habit of writing these journal entries for the sake of working on my writing. I have a lot of miscellaneous stuff going on in my life, so there's certainly enough to write about, but I feel like I should probably focus on writing about music over my personal life since this is last.fm. Maybe I can use that to motivate myself to listen to more music. Anyway...

UCSB posted their admissions decisions today, and I was accepted, which was a huge relief for me. First off, if you haven't seen the campus, it's absolutely gorgeous - it occupies a little peninsula and is quite literally just a few yards from a tract of beautiful beaches - and is probably my favorite campus aside from Berkeley's. Now, my chances of actually getting into Berkeley are pretty fucking slim, and I was rejected from UCSD, so had I not been accepted, my choices would have been between community college and Arizona State, which was a choice I really didn't want to be forced to make.

Don't get me wrong about ASU. It's an awesome school, and I would be more than glad to be able to go there, but the cost of going out of state would either cripple my parents or load me with debt for years, and something about Arizona just rubs me the wrong way. I visited for the weekend to see the Padres at Peoria, and my first indication that something was off was about two minutes after we passed out of Blythe. In California, regular unleaded is up to about $4.00 across the board. It was $4.00 in Temecula, $4.00 in Palm Desert, and $4.00 in Blythe. When we crossed into Arizona, no further than a half a mile away from the river, gas was suddenly $3.50. This enraged and confused me, and made me question how those Blythe gas stations stay in business when you can drive five minutes out of your way and save a full fifty cents per gallon. This would pretty obviously be an advantage to living in Arizona, excepting that I probably won't be driving when I go off to school, anyway. It was a very upsetting thing to consider, especially once I spent like ten bucks for two and a half gallons earlier today.

The next strange happening was realizing that Arizona is mostly desert. Until you drive down the I-10 in a crowded car with a full bladder, this statement doesn't really have the impact that it does in reality. Arizona isn't just a place where there happens to be people and buildings living in a desert, it is literally nothing but fucking desert. I felt like I was in the Flintstones or some shit, with the exact same perfectly flat background scrolling over and over again on the 200+ mile drive from the border to the city. At least it curved on occasion when you were still in California.

This segues into my next point: there's only one city in Arizona. Forget everything you think you know about Arizona's geography. Phoenix, Tempe, Tuscon, etc. etc. (even Peoria!) are the exact same fucking place. See, here in California, here's how cities work: you have one big city surrounded by an urban sprawl, and then a bunch of suburbs, and then a few hundred miles between there and the next city. This is how I was raised to believe cities are. When you come into Arizona and finally enter civilization, it's like: "Phoenix, next 10 exits." And you're all like, "cool, here's Phoenix, I wonder where all those other famous cities are." But then you keep driving, and it's all, "Tempe, 2 miles," and you're all, "alright, that's kinda cool that there's two big cities right next to each other." But then you keep driving, and you see "Tuscon, like five feet away from here," and you start getting confused. The whole point of having different cities is so that you can have cities in different places, not right next to one another. It would be like driving into San Francisco from Oakland, and then you drive south for five minutes and you're in LA and then San Diego is kinda just floating over your head like in Inception.

Everything about the place was just off. Not by large measures, but by degrees, like seeing a glass of water tilting to one side. It just gives off a really weird vibe. Did you know that they don't have to wear helmets on motorcycles in Arizona? Or that they don't have front license plates, a fact I only noticed because probably a full half of the cars there were from California? I got a million of these things. Did you know that they have highways that go in fucking circles?!

My total realization of all of this was not immediate, either. The full brunt of it all only hit me when I woke up on Sunday morning, and my car key was inexplicably bent at a forty five degree angle in the middle. At that point, I knew I couldn't go to school here. I simply could not.

Anyway, enough about that. Music... I ended up borrowing that bass I was talking about, an Ibanez SR400 in an awesome shade of blue. I haven't been able to play it much yet, since I left town midday Friday, but I'm making a concerted effort to try, and something about playing it immediately feels more natural than any instrument ever has for me. I also got a bunch of tutorials for Reason, but I think that one is gonna be on the backburner for a while.

Pink & Blue is one of those really cool albums that you don't expect. I heard it a while back, and it was lying dormant in my library until I decided to listen to it over whatever the hell was on the radio in the middle of nowhere. It's a husband and wife duo doing some Christian-ish folk rock, where each one has an LP that they sing on exclusively. You hear the wife singing first, and she has a fantastic voice, thinking there's no way that the husband is a better singer, and he somehow inexplicably is. His voice is absolutely fantastic.

I've known about Tigers Jaw for more than a few months, and I've repeatedly put off listening to them. I decided to finally, and wow! Dunno why I did! They're really, really good.

I had also heard City of Caterpillar, but never really gave it a good sitdown listen. I had to do some studying today, and forced myself to really listen, something I try to do for all albums, but unfortunately, don't always accomplish. It's pretty interesting; not my favorite thing ever, but a very solid album and band, nonetheless.

I don't got a whole lot to say on music. I spent most of my weekend re-comparing all the different Brand New albums, and I came to pretty much the same consensus. The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is a masterpiece, Deja Entendu is really good but not D&G (but has some really good standout lyrics), and Your Favorite Weapon isn't really all that special. Daisy is still somewhat of an enigma to me, and while it has definitely grown on me, it's hard to say exactly how much I like it. It's most definitely different from any of their other albums.

That's all, I think. Still stoked on getting into UCSB and shit, and I'm gonna go play some bass!


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