I’m going very literal with this week’s assignment.
Ms. Kelly has asked the class to prepare a piece on “How we make ourselves go on, even in our darkest hours”. Somehow, my brain immediately jumps to Jason Schwartzman. Yes, Jason Schwartzman, the mop-haired-indie-actor-musician-charmer and Wes-Anderson-go-to-er. Sadly, that’s just the way my brain works; through reference. When I hear the phrase “Darkest Hour” I think of two things:
1. That shitty movie with Emile Hirsch.
2. That great song by Phantom Planet.
In the song Phantom Planet singer Alex Greenwald belts out in his lazy-but-somehow-epic vocals the exact same thing we all feel:
“Sometimes I get stuck yeah I get so upset / I burn at the ends I learn to regret / Just one toss of that faithful cigarette / Well, we have got to get out of here / In our darkest hour, I think the end is near / I can feel it”
It’s easy to feel like this. It’s easy to feel trapped and to feel overwhelmed. In the life of a typical 20-something we are constantly worried about so many things; money, jobs, happiness, love, money and all the existential quandaries that come with living in 2013. Sometimes it gets to be too much and you feel like yelling at a tree: “Mother-fucking, cocksucker, mother-fucking, shit-fucker, what am I doing?”
Not unlike our friend, Jason Schwartzman, in the film I Heart Huckabees. The film follows Jason’s character, Albert, as he navigates the existential and the meaningless to find something introspective and meaningful. When I first saw I Heart Huckabess I was in a dark place, the place that high school can find you. Seeing the film gave me hope, Jason Schwartzman’s face gave me hope. He was trying to find the meaning, so I started trying to do more of that in my life. In my darkest hour in high school film, and art helped me cope and gave me hope.
Jason Schwartzman was also the drummer for Phantom Planet for many years before branching off to do more films and form his own band Coconut Records. During his Planet years was when I first heard the band. Like most people my introduction was a little piano number called “California”. If you have never heard it I will try to explain it now: It’s a pop song for the aspirational. The song builds and build until the listener finally realizes, that “California here we come”. The song gave high school me hope that I could make it out of my little town in Ohio and move on to greater things (thankfully not California, I can’t stand the heat).
A year or so after the mainstream success of “California” and the album The Guest Schwartzman left the band. He saw more for himself and if Jason can make then we can make it. Sure, he is a handsome and talented actor/musician born into Hollywood royalty but the fact stands. We can get out of our darkest hour, even when we think the end is near, we can get out of there. In order to get out of my depressions I have also needed aspirational art. Film, music and television do that for me. Sometimes something as simple as a pop song can bring me back from the brink. I think Jason Schwartzman is partially responsible.
You should buy the latest and sadly final Phantom Planet album here.
Or the latest and hopefully not final Coconut Records album here.
And you can also follow me on twitter if you want here @DylanWise.