While June 21 is officially the first day of summer, we all know the real beginning of summer starts the day school ends. Since I work at an art college, it’s kinda like I’m Matthew McConaughey in the movie Dazed and Confused: “I get older, they stay the same age.” While I’m not hitting on the seniors, I have been known to share burritos with them. When the last day of the semester ends (which is the upcoming magical date of May 10), I get excited at the thought of summer, too. Then it bitterly dawns on me that they’re out in the sun, working on tans and getting crappy homemade tattoos. They’re staying the same age while I am indeed getting older as I sit in front of my computer screen. Summer is happening without me, and probably without you, too.
Even if you’re not in school anymore or don’t work at a school, the academic calendar determines a lot of variables in your fully employed life whether you notice or not. Certain parts of culture dry up while others get bloated as college kids and families with children plan their sunscreen-soaked vacations. Without large audiences at home, fashion takes a nap, TV shows go on sabbatical and art lays by the pool as collectors who use ‘summer’ as a verb do just that. When it seems like there’s nothing left to do, you go for a walk in the Oakland hills on your day off and every person on the planet is already laying by the lake like a beach full of turds.
I think we have been going about this seemingly unfair, glum ‘summer-for-some’ thing all wrong. Summer is in the attitude, not the time off. It’s what you do during the hours past 5pm that count, and the part of you who wants to go recline in front of the TV in cat jammies must be denied. The part of you who plans on avoiding all outdoor areas for the next three months for fear of large sweaty crowds must also be denied.
My advice is, if you can’t beat em, join em. Let’s look to rock and roll to show us how to dial back our maturity level and jump start our summers by acting like a college kid again.
1. Cut up your clothes: Weezer- “Undone, the Sweater Song”
If there is one season which permits, if not requires, crappy clothes, it’s summer. All those pants you have in the closet are just asking to be cut-offs, which will help you work on your tan-through-the fog San Francisco process of bronzing your legs. As for your fears of a less-than-bikini body, my friend Hilary advises, “If you can’t tone it, tan it.” Also, when you destroy all your clothes, you have a great reason in the fall to go “Back-to-School shopping.”
2. Go to a house party: Jawbreaker- “West Bay Invitational”
As ’90s Bay Area band, Jawbreaker, states at the beginning of this video, there lies a literal great divide between Oakland and SF- the bridge. Whether you find yourself on either side of it, you owe it to your college kid self to talk your friends into crossing it at least once a week this summer. College kids do not bother with excuses like, “How will I get home after the BART closes at midnight?” The answer is obvious– stay up all night. And how could you bother feigning lack of interest when Blake Schwartzenbach is begging you, “We’re having this party/Please come/It won’t be the same without you/Please come”? Plus summer house parties mean BBQs. And sangria. So get over it and go already.
3. Go on a road trip: Iggy Pop- “The Passenger”
If you are still not feeling much like a summer kid on a break from rules and deadlines after you cut off your favorite jeans and cross the bay to drink pony kegs on someone’s porch, a roadtrip is in order, stat! Even if you just drive aimlessly around the city like Iggy in one of my all-time favorite songs (which is equally awesome when covered by Siouxsie and the Banshees), sitting in the passenger seat watching the world unfurl before you is enough to make you feel more alive. Especially when you think of it like this: “The city was made for you and me/So let’s take a ride and see what’s mine”.
4. Make out with someone: Thin Lizzy- “The Boys are Back in Town”
While the grown-up you curses the pestilent descent of kids in skinny colored jeans and dumb t-shirts into all of your favorite places, the new/old college kid you sees this as a gift from the summer gods. What’s more summery than a fling? If you are single, (or into making bad decisions), find one of those younger boys who are back in town and put this song on the digital jukebox. Never mind the lame slow dancing in this 1976 video- Thin Lizzy is sexier and harder than most songs of the new generation, and you can be the one to teach that cute specimen you pulled into the corner all about it. I’ll be your wingwoman on the sidelines, giving you a high-five.
5. Make some new friends: Palma Violets- “Best of Friends”
This new band’s video sums up all the parties you’ve been missing while you’ve been holed away in winter as an adult. Just put your ear to the ground, listen for screaming kids and guitars, and point yourself in the direction of the closest warehouse. With a cheap beer in one hand, and the hand of someone you just met in the other, it’s time to laugh in the face of all the reasons you had for not going out on a Tuesday night. Summer, you find, has in fact been in full effect with unknown bands playing steamy basements all year. Go make some friends and show the crowd in that Thin Lizzy video how it’s done.
By the time the real Summer Solstice comes around, you’ll show up to the party with tan legs, windswept hair, shaky tattoos, and a league of college kids behind you, following your lust for life like a summertime Pied Piper. Enjoy it while you can!