It's been a while since I've told you a good story about my favorite boys.
And I wanted to be —
You could smell it in the carpet, the disinfected feel of privilege. In the crystal incandescence of ceiling lights, bite-sized champagne bottles for your pleasure alone. If you looked closely enough, you’d find the artist still inside, uncertain how he wound up within all those layers of life.
Beck had registered too late he'd done something irredeemable; he'd been bested by technology again, your laptop didn't care who you were, it was gonna freeze for absolutely no reason. Just cause you let down your guard and unwittingly tried saving stuff. He braced himself for the damage.
He wasn’t particularly thrilled about having to be on tour again; some things never changed. For all his awesome, Beck was very much like a lot of celebrities when it came to spoiled self-entitlement, and while he was almost perfectionistic in his own hard work, he’d always been a bit of a princess when it came to conditions and terms.
He was still hot.
He couldn’t jump around on stage like he did when he was twenty-six, because he’d been warned against it. You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at him, because he’d always looked much younger than he was. It wasn’t because of age; he’d always had back problems, you could notice if you looked close enough, but you’d probably just pay attention to the nice way his ass stuck out a little bit and not think anything of it beyond that.
Touch my ass if you qualify—
It’s not like he’d not egged it on, himself. He’d been presumably ironic about it at the time, but he’d not given it more thought than anyone else his age; the fact remained that, ironic or not, he had the kind of sex appeal that was all the physical combined with all the cool. Ironic or not, you didn’t whip yourself on stage in tight pink pants without knowing the full weight of the effect it had.
Beck was the kind of cool that sprouted neon flowers from the linoleum floor where he stepped. He was the kind of funky that left behind a trail of broken banjos and vinyl clubwear and vintage kitsch in his wake as he crawled offstage on his hands and knees.
No matter what you didn’t know about his secrets and heartache and faith, you couldn’t fake that kind of awesome. It came to him second nature. He was born into it, like it passed onto him in a shimmering, technicolor stream of cool from his grandfather to his mother to him.
He got cranky when he heard his fans were on about whether or not he was losing his hair. He said they should be on about his music, but, ironic or not, you didn’t wear what he wore and do what he did without being fully aware of what it would make your fans wonder. He was hardly the kind of guy people didn’t wanna fuck for his music; the guys you really wanna do are not just incredibly hot, but are also really awesome.
In the artist’s mind, there still were flickering colors even when the rest of the world expected you to act your age. You got married and bought life insurance and learned what to tell and what to keep private, but the magic that made up who you were still glittered and vibrated inside you in tiny explosions, and you had to get your music just right to show that.
He had to look down at the keys to type. Then he’d look back up at the screen from beneath the swing of his hair, helpless in the face of modern technology and what it had callously made him endure.
“Fuck this,” he muttered, he’d have to ask Channing what was making his computer so slow, then his geeky brother would start on about anti-virus programs and security and all this.
Channing didn’t like the way Beck grew out his hair; Beck had told him in proper big-brotherly fashion to go fuck himself, because he’d decided it was a good new look, and it was a bit like how he had it long before, except not.
All around the world fans cried compassionately for Beck when he put Sea Change out. All around the world, girls and some guys held their arms out with empathy for the hug it sounded like he clearly needed, and they wondered how a gal could cheat on someone like Beck. They still were holding out their arms when only a blink of an eye after that he married Marissa, before they even had a chance to be jealous of whoever he dated in-between.
There was a script error. Beck wasn’t really sure what a script error was, but he’d seen it before, and now he’d given up and already was restarting his computer. If only that didn’t take ages as well. iPads and iPods and iPhones weren’t retro or tacky or kitch, but it didn’t stop Beck from having ones sold with his logo engraved on the back, and fans loved him for it.
Been years since the tight neon pink trousers, though, the flashdance ass pants. It’s not my look now, he said, and it was a shame, Channing thought, because it wasn’t a look a lot of people could pull off quite so well. Maybe it was because if you wore tight neon pink trousers, fans expected you to dance and writhe around on stage, which was something else Beck had a way of pulling off—but he couldn’t do that anymore, because of his back.
He got a hotel room separate from his band. He needed his space. When he was twenty-six, he would jump on the bed. He would trip out over having an enormous balcony, and a minibar, and a jacuzzi for a bath; by now it all came standard. Worn with routine, he stepped out on the balcony, wind blowing in his now-long hair as he reached for his phone, hoping for better reception than inside the room. Maybe he could get Channing on the phone about his computer…
Did you know all you needed to do to completely obliterate your iPhone 4S is to drop it just one floor down from a hotel room balcony?
Also, did you know that, even when out on the luxuriant balcony of one of the more luxuriant hotels in the south of England, English people would still shout very impressive English profanities were an iPhone 4S to smash suddenly down immediately by their feet?
Beck was too profoundly stunned. His large hands gripped tensely at the metal railing as he only partly comprehended what he’d done, and it all happened so fast, the black phone shooting down in a shimmer of reflective light before there came the crash and the bollocks, what in fucking fuck resounded clear and distinct from beneath.
He already knew Thom and friends were staying one floor below him. He also already knew Thom was the type of guy who had all kinds of stuff to say about things like iPhones, and things like brand names, and especially about Scientology, that he was holding back from saying because he didn’t wanna go there.
After he recovered from the shock of the phone smashing at his feet, Thom continued staring down at the broken mess of pieces and indiscernible shining parts, then turned to look up at Beck, squinting, scratching his head. He was looking more like a homeless person with every tour, Beck thought, his long fingers tapping the metal rail as he stared down in a useless attempt to assess the damage.
Thom and Beck had an interesting past.
Thom looked back down, now pointing at what once had been Beck’s phone.
“Dropped your phone,” he helpfully clarified.
Beck nodded slowly, lips pursed, fingers still tapping.
“Yeah, thanks,” he called back ironically.
It was around that time that Jonny stepped out, long arms hanging idly at his sides as he gazed down at the broken mess on the floor. He surveyed Thom momentarily, then lifted his gaze up to the balcony, where Beck was peering down. “I heard a crash,” he quietly offered, then grinned despite himself as he recognized the singer above.
“Hello…!” he called with a little too much enthusiasm, which made Thom momentarily scowl, which made Jonny’s smile vanish. He drop this? He mouthed silently to Thom while pointing not as discreetly as he’d intended to the broken phone.
“Fancy coming down to get your phone?” Thom asked, hands on hips, “Or we could just—” he eyed the phone, then made a gesture to the edge of his own balcony, “drop it down one more floor, see how that turns out for the Vines…”
Jonny’s fingers played nervously at his lip as he eyed Thom’s gestures.
“Sorry about your phone…!” he called up.
“Yeah, I’ll come get it,” Beck finally said, at last acclimated to the shock, “Sorry, be down there in a few—”
Jonny made a motion to kneel down toward the mess, but Thom stopped him and shook his head.
“Nice he’s in the festival too, isn’t it?” Jonny grinned, and Thom chuckled dryly, patting his back.
(On to chapter 2)