The Dream Life of Rivers Cuomo
Rivers Cuomo is ambling through the shadows and light near the Hot Dog on a Stick stand close by the Santa Monica Pier, hands shoved into black skinny-type jeans, dark hoody covering a dark T-shirt, baseball cap worn brim forward, slender, on the very shortish side, and, unless you are an avid fan, hardly recognizable as the frontman for Weezer, Nineties nerd-rock giants, emo legends and purveyors of hook-filled whimsicalities such as “Undone — The Sweater Song,” “Buddy Holly” and “The Good Life” on the group’s first two records, the Blue Album and 1996’s more confessional Pinkerton. Thereafter, for the past two decades, the band has alternately hoped against hope to recapture that early magic and not given a hoot, all depending on the vagaries of the man in charge. He’s 45 now, married, has two kids, a daughter, 9, and a son, 3, who sleep on mats in the same room with him and his wife, because why should they not?
Today, he woke up around seven, tried and failed to remember the night’s dreams, checked his e-mail to see if his manager had responded to a new song he’d sent him (featuring lines like “We’re all bisexual!”), and he had (“It’s crazy, maybe too crazy”), swung his pale, skinny legs out of bed, took a leak, went to the kitchen, sprinkled Starbucks’ Via instant coffee into a thermos, repaired to his humid, plant-filled garage studio, journaled stream-of-consciously for 25 minutes, meditated for an hour, ate his usual breakfast of nonfat Greek yogurt, a hard-boiled egg and some trail mix, after which he sat down to a small wooden box with a hole-filled maze on top of it. He dropped a small steel ball into the maze and used knobs to rotate the surface so that the ball traveled the course, trying not to let the ball drop into any of the 60 holes. The game, called Labyrinth, was a Christmas gift for his daughter. She played it twice, he’s played it every day ever since. His record is 43 holes before failure. “I’m calm up until the point where if it’s a pretty high number and it looks like I’m going to break my record, but then if it drops in a hole, I’ll scream,” he reports. And you best believe that he will one day make it to the finish line, if only because that’s the kind of deeply dogged, slightly addlepated and easily obsessed guy he has always been.
And so here he is at the boardwalk among pretty blondes on bikes and handsomely tanned panhandlers. He starts walking and says, “We got a new manager a year ago, and he said to us, ‘You guys should make a beach album.’ It was inspiring and so obvious, given we love the Beach Boys and live right here. It’s so close to us, yet we’d missed it.”
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