Silent Alarm

Band: Bloc Party
Album: Silent Alarm
Best song: “Helicopter”
Worst song: “Luno” is not the best.

I’ve mentioned my time in sportswriting a little bit, but it’s worth noting that sport is a large part of my life. Baseball is, specifically, something I enjoy quite a bit. I’ve mentioned my love of softball before, but professional baseball is a particular passion of mine.

In fact, it was 2005 that my best friend and I combined our blogs to write about Chicago baseball together. The blog, essentially, lasted five years. I stopped writing right around the time Taft passed away; neither of us had time to write baseball along with our other pursuits (graduate school, mostly). I also moved my interest back into writing about myself and my connection to music.

But, nevertheless, 2005 was a great year for my relationship to baseball. I’d started playing softball for my company’s team that year, though I sat at the end of the bench most of the time. My favorite team, the Chicago White Sox, won the World Series.

Mostly, though, baseball occupied my somewhat fragile mind. I would spent most weekend days watching baseball all day (sample schedule: national game at 1 p.m., west coast afternoon game at 4 p.m., night game at 7 p.m., west coast night game at 10 p.m. Rinse, repeat). Any distraction was welcome. I spent a lot of time dicking around on the Internet.

This, of course, is not healthy.

Despite all of this (or maybe because of it), 2005 was an extension of my adult nadir in 2004. The complacency of depression had taken hold and I found myself having remarkably similar conversations with friends about my romantic desperation.

My rationale was this: I’d blown my one chance at love (college girlfriend) and that type of woman doesn’t exist anywhere outseide of her. And by “that type of woman,” I mean someone that could tolerate me and wasn’t a complete idiot.

I know that sounds kind of harsh and a little pathetic, but I really believed it. I’d gone on a few dates from Craigslist, but, shockingly, found no connection.

An aside: I have many many feelings about Internet dating, in general, but my sense of Craigslist dating — even in 2005 — is that it is the ultimate path of least resistance. There is no risk in it whatsoever. No photos are posted. No one will recognize you. It takes five minutes to post. Everything is sent your way. It is unbearably easy. So, I did it.

I found myself looking inward and beating myself up. The stories are everywhere of people finding solace in overeating, messing around with video games and using any distraction to keep from real introspection, but moreso from actual change.

To build off 2004’s post, that was the development I was missing. Emotional health, for me, was about rebuilding a psyche that’d been beaten down by circumstance, lack of will and general malaise. It took me a while — and a lot of lucky circumstance — to get closer to what seems like a somewhat healthy emotional life.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. But, it’s worth trying.

As per baseball, I was having this conversation with a friend recently that sums up mental health and my feelings on my own:

Me: You’re also, like, 27, right?
Friend: Yeah
Me: Five years is an eternity in the mid-20s/early 30s.
Friend: That’s what I’m hoping. I have a lot of shit that needs to get fixed.
Me: Well, my vast experience, young child, in my three years more than you have…
Friend: haha
Me: is that some problems get fixed and some you learn to deal with. You manage them. Think of it this way: It’s like Cal Ripken. Cal was a big shortstop and he had holes in his swing. So, he learned to adjust his swing as best he could through hours and hours in the cage to become a great hitter.
Me: But on defense? He was just too big a dude. So, he learned to compensate and deal with his size — and subsequent lack of quickness that the Ozzies Smith and Guillen had — by dealing with it. He positioned himself better, he relied on his stronger arm. Some [emotional health] things are like defense, some are like offense.

And it’s true. Some things you account for and some you change. I’m never going to be a super charming, charismatic guy. I’m never going to be six feet tall. I’m probably never going to have the charm to light up a room. I’m probably always going to be a little sarcastic and self-deprecating.

But, I can work on my depression and not cut myself, develop an eating disorder or crawl into a metaphorical cocoon for two years.

There’s a restlessness that I was missing, clearly. Silent Alarm‘s beauty remains in its restlessness. “Helicopter” is the picture of this, with a quick beat, revolving guitar line and shout/sing lyrics. Silent Alarm builds off songs like that. “Positive Tension” feeds off its titular tensile strength. “This Modern Love” is desperate and, of course, restless as a young man in an urban center, as frontman Kele Okereke is and was.

I didn’t discover the record until a few years later, but remain in love with it. It’s futuristic-sounding without the gimmicks. It’s desperate without pity. And it’s restless, while positive.

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  • By April | Albums That I Own on September 14, 2011 at 9:14 am

    […] baseball (here I go again about baseball), there is a phenomenon of the age-27 season (though, many would suggest otherwise). It was thought […]

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  • About Me

    I'm Ross Jordan Gianfortune. I am not a writer, but I sometimes write here about music and my life. I live in Washington, DC.

    I used to review each of Rolling Stone Magazine's top 500 albums of all time. Now I'm writing about albums I own.

    My work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Gazette, The Atlantic, Sno-Cone and a bunch of defunct zines.

    You can contact me at rjgianfortune at gmail dot com.

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