The Bargain Bin

The Bargain Bin: LCD Soundsystem’s SOUND OF SILVER


Working at a record store taught me a tragic truth; no matter how much you love your favorite albums, they’ll never be as popular as they deserve to be. Each month at Merry-Go-Round Magazine, I dust off some long-overlooked records, revisit my pretentious past, and explore how this music forever etched itself into my history. Eventually, all your memories get marked down and thrown into The Bargain Bin.

We decided to put the magic mushrooms into some Taco Bell in hopes that they’d be easier to swallow, but all it did was ruin bean burritos for my tastebuds for a couple of years. With taco wrappers strewn about the kitchen, I huddled in a circle with the three people I spent all my time with when I wasn’t working at the record store or on campus: two chill dudes I had recently reconnected with from high school and my girlfriend, who made me feel inadequate in almost every way possible.

The shrooms were foul, dry, and had a gritty texture akin to dirt, but I was happy to choke them down if they made me hallucinate. I had been smoking weed for two years and enjoyed the heightened sensations it provided after inhaling it deep into my lungs. I felt like a baby hearing its mother for the first time; songs I had listened to a thousand times sounded fresh, soothing, and new. I found myself discovering layers of reverberations I had never noticed. It allowed me space to focus without my thoughts drifting from one subject to the next. Music, which had always been my lifeblood, was exciting again, and it was all thanks to drugs. Every note was vibrant and stunning; every record became a sensual experience. Music made me feel alive again, and that’s all I needed to keep me going.

Lake was the antithesis of any woman I had previously dated. She was bubbly and flirty and spent hours tussling her hair in front of the mirror, taking photos on a digital camera to see how it flipped and curled at every angle. She looked like Brittany Murphy in Buddy Holly’s specs. I loved watching her talk because she pressed her tongue against her teeth when she smiled—something I didn’t know I’d find sexy, but here we were. She also smoked hella weed, which was most of what I was looking for in a partner then. I wasn’t used to dating someone that drew so many eyes when she entered any room. She loved attention, something I actively avoided, so we never really knew how to fit together. It was an interesting social experiment, but created new internal insecurities I needed to work through.

The Auteur, the underdog filmmaker with a heart of gold, was often quiet in the company of strangers due to a noticeable stutter, and The Drummer, his best friend, was an eccentric dude who looked like a walking Hot Topic sale rack. He was obsessed with the book Fight Club and often (mentally) jacked off to the cinematic works of Kevin Smith. I enjoyed being with them tremendously because they bickered like an old married couple, made me laugh, and always took me to the movies. What can I say, I’m an easy date.

The Drummer had acquired the mushrooms for our trip from his teenage cousin, who knew a guy that knew a guy that sold them out of his mom’s South St. Louis County apartment. I always knew a guy who knew a guy, but I made sure never to know that guy so I could feel somewhat separated from the consequences of these illegal suburban drug transactions, many located along my grade school bus route.

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As we waited for the effects of the shroom burritos to kick in, we did what any 20-something-year-old slacker dudes in 2007 would do: We played a few rounds of GUITAR HERO. The notes to each song popped up on the screen as colored discs on a fretboard. Each note corresponds with the colored button on the guitar-shaped controllers. When they match on the screen, you strum down on a flat button that acts as the guitar pick hitting the strings. Nothing more satisfying to someone inept at playing a real guitar than smashing those buttons on a fake plastic Fender along to Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade” or Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast.” Finally, after half-a-dozen songs or so, the four of us felt the shrooms kick in almost simultaneously, but The Drummer, his dilated pupils reflecting the dark void of space into an infinite abyss, was the first to vocalize it in one perfect word: “Whoa.”

The universe threw us some cosmic curveballs as we ascended on our trip in the form of Late Night talk shows. Comedy legend Conan O’Brien was a guest on Jay Leno’s TONIGHT SHOW. We acknowledged how bizarre it was to see another host as a guest, sitting on the opposite side of the camera than usual, yet treated it as a random occurrence and continued to giggle our way through the episode. Later, on LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O’BRIEN, The Drummer had a realization during a commercial break during the middle of an interview with comedian Garry Shandling.

“Isn’t it weird how on a talk show, when they cut to a commercial, the host and guest just sit there for a second? We’re on the couch at home and watch three minutes of commercials, but they just pause and keep going.”

“Yea-yea-yeah, man. That is so weird,” The Auteur said. “They just reset the audience and say, ‘Welcome back!’”

When the show returned, Conan said, “We’re here with Garry Shandling, and we’re talking about the state of the world….”

“You know what we should do sometime is talk right through the commercials,” Shandling interrupted, pointing out at the camera, directly at us watching at home. “When they come back, we continue talking, and they wonder what they missed.”

Our jaws dropped to the floor like a cartoon wolf seeing a beautiful and sexy human lady: Tongues unrolled, eyeballs popped out of our heads, drool—all kinds of Awooga!

Lake pulled me aside in the kitchen and whispered in my ear.

“Jackie, don’t you wanna go fuck?”

“Not with those guys here. I wouldn’t be able to keep my focus.”

“Well… what if we asked The Auteur to join us?”

“Jesus Christ, not this again. You know it makes me uncomfortable to talk about. It makes me feel like I’m not enough for you.”

“Well, sometimes you’re impossible to please, Jackie! Are you even attracted to me anymore?”

“Yes! VERY!”

I retreated to my bedroom alone. I needed some time in the dark to decompress. I plugged in my iPod and scrolled the click wheel to my favorite LCD Soundsystem album, turned off the lights, and fell into the mattress on the floor that I called a bed. I rolled on my back and stared into the darkness. I noticed the spot where the walls meet the ceiling started to melt away, no longer meeting in a straight line to form a corner but instead curved into one piece, as I imagined Tony Hawk’s house might look like. There are probably ramps everywhere.

This void I was staring into was me. I felt blank, like the white walls in a dark room. I was failing at masking the deep depression that weighed heavy on my shoulders. Every muscle in my body was constantly tense, and no matter how much weed I smoked, I couldn’t relax for more than 10 minutes at a time. But the mushrooms swirled in my stomach in technicolor as something felt different that night. I could slow down my thoughts and rearrange them so they started to make sense. I could line up all the information and file it correctly in the right boxes instead of having everything scattered on the floor. My path was clear to me now. Even though we lusted after each other, my relationship with Lake wasn’t much more than that, and it needed to end.

I could hear her on the back porch with The Auteur, the two of them smoking cigarettes, and I could hear her howling with laughter. At least she’s having a good time, I thought, the statement echoing loudly in my head. I imagined her flirting with him, pressing her tongue against her teeth, one eyebrow raised as she touched his knee. The Auteur, a complete gentleman, moves her hand away slowly because he knows it’s wrong.

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As I stared into the shadows, I saw colorful glowing discs off in the distance, floating seemingly miles away in the nothing space that was my room. Rows of discs slowly continued coming towards me in rainbows, with each color corresponding with the synthesized notes vibrating out of my speakers. I could see every note, every boop and beep of the electronic music, slowly falling at me in patterns constructed into a song. And a disembodied voice, sounding equally heartbroken and wanderlust sang:

“When someone great is gone / When someone great is gone / When someone great is gone / When someone great is gone / We’re safe / For the moment / Saved / For the moment”

The Auteur thrusts Lake’s hand back dramatically because he cannot resist the temptation. He has always wanted to touch her alabaster skin, to kiss her supple lips. Dare he kiss his best friend’s girlfriend? Yes, he must! The Auteur can’t control himself anymore. He embraces Lake. They kiss passionately, deeply, and dramatically, but only in my mind—end scene.

I took a long, slow, deep breath and let it out until no air was left in my lungs—finally, relief.

I stumbled out of the shadows of my room to see what was happening. I turned the corner into the kitchen and passed Lake, heading to the bathroom in the opposite direction. She didn’t even look me in the eye; she just hurried along like I wasn’t there. Maybe I was long gone.

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The Auteur sat on the back porch, his worn-down Adidas resting on the chair across from him. I leaned in the doorway as I spoke, passively shifting my energy in and out of the room.

“It’s cool, man,” I said.

“What’s cool?”

“I said it’s all good, man,” I said. “You guys can be together.”

“Wait, wh-wh-who are we talking about?”

“Lake. I heard you guys in here giggling and having a good time. I’m happy for you both.”

“Jack, what the fuck are you talking about?” The Auteur leaned back and laughed until tears were streaming down his cheeks. “Dude, sh-sh-she sat out here for half-an-hour, babbling on about who knows what. I just nodded and smiled, man. I laughed when she laughed, and not very hard. We are not on the same trip. We aren’t even on the same planet right now. Sh-sh-she’s out somewhere in space!”

“Hmm. Well… I think I’m done either way.”

My mushroom trip took me exactly where I needed to go. I had the answer to my problem before I knew the question; I just had to dive deeper into my brain to find it. Lake was a jet plane, and I was a rocket ship, and we flew in different directions in different airspace. We both wanted more from life, and neither knew how to get it.

After an intense talk, we set each other free.

Jack Probst
Jack is a freelance pop culture writer living in St. Louis, Missouri. His writing has also been featured in Pitchfork, Paste Magazine, CREEM Magazine, NME, and The Riverfront Times. He appreciates the works of James Murphy, Wes Anderson, and Super Mario. He also enjoys writing paragraphs about himself in his spare time.

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