my track-by-track review of wheatus’ lemonade


Hi guys! Iconic Long Island rockers Wheatus released Lemonade, their groundbreaking EP in 2005. Although the project is pretty much entirely scrubbed from the Internet because the songs were re-recorded for other things, I know you’ve been waiting 11 years for my hot takes on the EP, so let’s get started.

1. Lemonade — “Do you remember the way it was for us/ Before all of the blow jobs on the bus,” they sing, describing pure, relatable anguish. The “lemonade” in this situation refers to better days, when they would sit “on the porch drinking lemonade” together. It is sad. The video is equally as sad.

2. Anyway — Someone on YouTube uploaded this deep-cut. Their username is “OASIS will be the best band ever.” True.

3. The Deck — This one is nice, but who is he talking about in the song? Hmmm… Checking Twitter for more facts about this Wheatus song.

4. Freak On — “What has come over you? Hey now sugar you’re actin’ like a hooker,” frontman Brendan B. Brown yelps, putting that woman in her place. Fun fact, Brown was at a One Direction concert I attended at Jones Beach in 2013, and Harry Styles shouted him out in the crowd.

5. Randall — Perhaps the most declarative moment on the EP, we learn that the lead singer’s name is actually Randall.

So there you have it!


singing and not being normal

5SOS – ‘She Looks So Perfect’

One Direction – ‘Steal My Girl’

One Direction – ‘Fireproof’

Nelly Fur-tado – ‘I’m Like A Bird’

Oh Land – ‘Head Up High’

Taylor Swift – ‘Blank Space’

Iggy and Britney – ‘Pretty Girls’

Nicki Minaj – ‘Bed Of Lies’

Die Antwoord – ‘Ugly Boy’

Fiona Apple – ‘Hot Knife’

Taylor Swift – ‘All You Had To Do Was Stay’

Janelle Monae – ‘Yoga’

Simple Plan – ‘I’m Just A Kid’

Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj – ‘Bang Bang’

Nicki Minaj feat. Beyonce – ‘Feeling Myself’

Your life is pathetic and I made it that way

You should be slaughtering birds, piercing through their feather flesh with your pin-like claws
You should eat their head but leave their bodies. You have the power to be wasteful. You’ll hunt other birds
You should be curling up in a nook bedded with dry leaves—the driest of leaves because you like to hear them crunch
You should be sleeping in grasses while birds and bunnies zip by quickly, afraid you’ll wake up and assert your dominance
You should be bounding for no reason, trotting through your kingdom because you are free
You should be feasting on the bloody, gamey meat of a chipmunk, licking the fat from your chops with your bristly tongue
Instead, you get a quarter cup of kibble, filled with corn and soy and the faint taste of meat that crunches dryly between your fatal incisors
Instead, I abandon you in the morning and return twelve hours later. You’re happy when I’m home because I feed you, not because you respect me
Instead, you are respected by no creature. The squirrels and birds snicker outside our window as you warn them what’s in store for them if you were ever to get out
Instead, we laugh at your trivial attempts to hunt, how you lash out on a crinkly paper toy because there’s no real game to kill
Instead, you pace the hallway with boredom, dreaming of when you were cold on the street, but at least you had your freedom
Instead, you are imprisoned by someone who doesn’t respect you either. Because if she did you wouldn’t be called “cute.” You’d be a fighter, a boss, and she’d bow at your paws.

i don’t want to let you down

My boyfriend asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital.

I considered how brave I was, thinking of all the times I’ve walked home in the dark alone, how I could chance week-old yogurt without hesitation, how we had once lain carelessly in the middle of the street when we were falling in love. “No,” I said. “I’ll stay and watch the dog.”

We were upstate after learning his dad had had a heart attack. The loss of oxygen in his dad’s brain caused him to seize and twitch. His mom cried almost constantly and my boyfriend Pete and his brother masked their emotions by watching TV and putting off the hospital visit until they were at least seven episodes deep into an Anthony Bourdain show.

I wouldn’t go to the hospital, but I could return their library books, have iced tea with their elderly neighbor, heat up the leftover ravioli friends were bringing them, wash their windows and give their dog treats after it pooped. I could be supportive in those ways. They were exhausted but unable to sleep and hopeful out of necessity. After five years together, I could see them at their most vulnerable, but I wouldn’t let them see me at mine. I would stay home.

Maybe I should’ve gone.

After a while, when we returned to our apartment in Brooklyn, my boyfriend needed more than my microwaving skills. He needed emotional support — someone to just be there, to talk, to not be so entirely wrapped up in her own shit all the time — and that wasn’t something I could serve up.

I was selfish. Jealous even — a painful admission. He had a dad, and I didn’t.  It was a juvenile feeling, but, in that time, I thought, “He has to be the OK one because things are slightly less crappy for him.” My dad had died a few months earlier, and I simply couldn’t care for two healing people. So I left.


It all came back to me when I heard Sharon Van Etten’s “I Don’t Want To Let You Down” this week, three months after I ran away from New York City. The music itself is strong and sturdy, but as the modest guitar staggers over small melodic hills, it opens the song up for confession: “When dreams go black, I didn’t want to see the light.” I had given up. I left my co-workers, my friends and my boyfriend and moved in with my mom upstate, secluding myself from every outside problem I could think of. I shut out everyone and holed myself up in my childhood bedroom with nothing but my cat and my 2003-era John Mayer poster to keep me company. I didn’t want to see the light.

Sharon comes in with the chorus: “Overboard/ I don’t want to let you down.” She sings the last line again and again, her voice like the exasperated wailing you do when you’re too tired to cry normally. “I don’t want to let you down.” There was a lot of crying. I cried sitting alone at home at my dad’s spot on the couch, I cried when I went back to Brooklyn to get my stuff from our apartment, and I cried when my dad came to me in a dream starring my ex-boyfriend’s new girl and said “That’s life.”

The first time I saw my dad cry was when we watched the news broadcast on September 11th, then again the next year when his mom died, then again while listening to Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain.” He felt everything. He let people know that he loved them. His eyes got watery as he packed me up for my move to New York City after I had gotten a post-grad job. “I always knew you’d end up there,” he told me. Yet, here I was, back to where I started, shoveling snow on the driveway where he used to park his mini-van, far away from the dreams he had hoped I would follow and the love he had hoped I would give.


As Sharon sings, I think about my dad. He didn’t have complex plans for me. All I had to do was be independent, hard working and financially stable (which was only problematic when I told him I wanted to be a journalist). He wanted me to be happy. He wanted me to have self-worth. But now I was crawling back to mommy, when I was supposed to be self-sufficient.

“I don’t want to let you down/ I don’t want to let you down/ I don’t want to let you down.”

I don’t know who Sharon is singing to on this song — a partner, a parent, or whomever — but how heartbreaking is it to hear those words — “I don’t want to let you down” — repeated over and over like a daily pledge to someone who isn’t there? It’s as if she’s making a promise: I’ll do better if you come back. Please come back.

I returned to New York in my dad’s mini-van, and Pete and I carried my belongings down four flights of stairs. He willingly took the heavier boxes, I hauled a closet’s worth of clothes and we briefly fought over my Beck record. And then I asked him to stay with me.

“You left me,” he said, looking away, hurt. “When I needed you the most.” He had given up too.

There’s a second voice layered underneath Sharon’s soprano. It’s low, quiet and almost embarrassed. I wonder if it’s intentional how her singsong pleading is paired with a meeker undertone, like dueling personalities. Half of me is too proud to say that I’ve messed up, but half of me wants to beg and wail for forgiveness.

Why I can’t write about David Bowie

I know what they say — that my generation chooses idols based on which Urban Outfitters band T-shirts are in stock. “I saw Hailey Baldwin wearing a Slayer shirt and knee high boots, so I bought a Slayer shirt and knee high boots.”

And OK, there’s a little bit of truth in that. If we rep a band from our parents era, our coolness is somehow legitimized. It shows that we’ve done our research and studied up on music history, that we don’t always listen to what’s dished out to us on Top 40 radio. In the aughts, I learned the entire Beatles discography before hitting 6th grade — a time when everyone else was focused on the aftermath of Britney and Avril as messiah. I was a fetus elitist, and I felt a proud individual because of it.

Even this becomes mainstream, though. For years, wearing Nirvana shirts was a trend, until it peaked in January when Justin Bieber wore a Nirvana shirt to the AMAs. Being unique is not so unique.

Since we didn’t grow up immersed in “classic rock,” it’s also all right NOT to know everything about every band that’s existed. You can CHOOSE which artists you want to invest in. Some days I’ll find myself in time-wasting Internet spirals, reading up on the psychedelia of Donovan, or bouncing from Wiki page to Wiki page, soaking in everything I can about Phil Spector’s weird world. I can tell you about all my favorite Hall & Oates songs, but I can’t explain their place in the music industry in the ’80s and how they impacted my parents.

A music conversation riddled with old-school references can be satiating, but I don’t know everything. And so often, I feel dumb or excluded when I can’t contribute. We each have our nuggets of info. Sometimes we share those nuggets, and sometimes we keep them to ourselves. I can’t hold a conversation about Whitney Houston, but I could probably tell you everything about Liz Phair.

When David Bowie died, I think a lot of people tried to join the conversation without the experience. We tweeted “David Bowie – RIP a legend” just to show that we were up on current events and that we knew David Bowie was a legend. Because he was. We know that. But maybe we’re ill-equipped to really add anything to the conversation. Anything I say about Bowie won’t do him justice — not because I don’t have the words, but because I don’t have the knowledge and the experience.

it was nice not to be so alone

July 2010

“Let’s hug,” Laura said, approaching me with arms open. “You know, you need at least five hugs a day to maintain your emotional health.”

I willingly accepted, and we held each other for a minute. I sat on her windowsill, and she stood on her bedroom’s plastic-covered floor. Her freshly painted teal walls surrounded us.

The hug felt good. And even if she was making it up, I still thought her hypothesis was valid. If only we did get five hugs every day. Hugs aren’t complicated, and they can make you feel better in a second. The all-purpose cure. Hugging was one of the million things I loved about Laura. Since high school, she’s been unconditionally supportive, lending a wise word of advice here and a hug there. Her advice was well thought out, biology-based, intelligent and always eloquent, whether she was telling you how to eat the ideal breakfast meal or tips on shaving your legs (or tips on how to grow your leg hair out) or profound life guidance. But the best thing about Laura is that sometimes her hugs didn’t need motivation. She hugged just to hug, which is what we were doing now.

We peeled back the plastic, revealing a marbley brown carpet that was probably older than both of us. I sat down on the floor, cross-legged, and Laura grabbed her guitar, which she named George. I watched her strum, first playing an F chord, then a C, then advancing into a Spanish melody, then into the intro of “The Potato Song,” a song about she had written about, yes, potatoes, in 11th grade. She plucked, pulled, slid, twanged in front of me. It was a while before I interrupted her.

“Laura!” I almost shouted, using my over-confident voice. My volume masked my fear. I had rehearsed what I was going to say, but I didn’t rehearse my timing. I knew this opportunity might never re-emerge.

She didn’t answer, just simply ceased playing.

“I have something to tell you…” I stuttered. “I mean, I need your help… Uh, is there anyone home?”

“Sure,” she said. I knew that face. I hadn’t seen it much, but I recognized the look of concern as she got up and glanced out the window to check for cars in the driveway.

“So I’m telling you because I know that I can trust you,” I started building up the suspense. God, I’m so dramatic. Get to the point! “And you can’t tell anyone… because if this got out, people would think of me differently.”

Laura shook her head, letting me continue. I looked down at the matted carpet, then to the side. I couldn’t match her eyes.

“So…” The words couldn’t come out, just like a month ago when I told Pete over the phone.

“I took a pregnancy test,” I had told him.

“Yeah?” His voice shook.

“Yeah.” Silence followed. I couldn’t bear to say the words, so I just waited to muster the courage. It didn’t come. I heard him breathing hard. I knew he knew. I didn’t have to say anything more.

But unlike living two hours apart connected by a phone line, Laura and I were face to face. We were connected by two feet of space. I had to confess.

“I’m pregnant,” I said, smiling nervously. Cold flooded my arms and legs while warmth filled my face like I was drunk on wine. My head started to tingle. I hadn’t been this nervous since freshman orientation.

Laura scooted closer, pulling me in. I had a few good friends left from high school, Laura included. The casual friends filtered out when we all went to separate schools after graduation. I planned on keeping on keeping the remaining golden friendships forever. But still, I decided to only tell one friend. I didn’t want anyone else to know. Like I had told her, I needed somebody to trust.

Whenever we all got together, we’d gossip about classmates who just got engaged or had a baby. We’d talk about them in disbelief, saying, “I feel so old.” Everyone around us seemed to be taking very adult-like steps, and we needed to be above it — to prove that we were all just kids still. None of us wanted to be that girl who got knocked up in high school or the girl who had two kids and was dating her boss at the gas station convenience store. Or the girl who needed an abortion because she missed a day of birth control, like me.

Laura gave value to the most beautiful things – friendship, nature, sexuality, desire, love, health and even trees. She valued the moss on the trees and the tiny organisms that live in the moss on the trees.

“Are you keeping it? Or are you getting rid of it?” she asked, bluntly.

I let out a big sigh. “I’m getting an abortion Friday.” The word abortion flowed past my lips. It sounded like any other appointment – leisurely almost. As if I were saying, “I’m getting my nails done Friday.” “I’m meeting Allison for lunch Friday.” “I’m getting a new phone Friday.” But I supposed that was the most straightforward way of saying it. Laura probably would’ve thought of something more articulate.

She offered to go with me before I could even ask. I was hoping she would. I couldn’t go to the clinic alone because I was going to be on pain meds and wouldn’t be able to drive home by myself. If I hadn’t been drugged, I’m positive I would’ve tried to go without help or support. I pride myself on independence.

Pete was going on vacation with his family the day of my scheduled abortion. I begged him to stay. He said he couldn’t because his parents would suspect. They would need an answer to why he had to stay home from Disney World, and he couldn’t think of anything. I told him I’d rather him go away than for his parents to find out I was pregnant. I was ashamed. I had to be hidden.

This was our thing. (Like they say, it takes two to tango.) But somehow it turned into my thing very quickly. Without Pete there, the whole experience was exclusively mine. From the discovery, the brown mess instead of my regular period, my journey to the grocery store to buy a pregnancy test, hiding it behind a bag of candy at the register, finding a cup to pee in, hanging out in the bathroom while I waited, lying lifelessly in my bed while I struggled with my situation silently, the phone call, the second trip to the grocery store, the third and fourth pregnancy tests, saying goodbye to the money I was saving for textbooks, Googling (a lot of it), awkwardly calling the clinic, frighteningly making an appointment – this was all me. Pete had played a tiny part in the decision, but getting an abortion didn’t really seem like a decision. It was a natural solution, and he just kind of agreed with me. I hadn’t really thought of any other options at the time. Abortion would solve my problems. I had no money or maturity: two of the most crucial things to have if you’re going to give birth. Abortion was not a simple solution, but it was necessary.

Laura and I detailed a plan for that Friday. I’d sleep over and leave in the morning for the 8 o’clock appointment. We’d tell her mom that we were going hiking and wanted to get an early start on the day. We talked a little more and then moved on. The whole thing was hard to talk about because I’m never able to piece together words to express how I feel. But I was relieved that Laura understood, and I was relieved that I had told someone. It was nice not to be alone.


June 2014

This time Laura and I were in Alaska three months after my dad died. We were crashing on a stranger’s couch and he had a picture window overlooking a glacier sliding into a lake. I wanted to cry at the beauty of it all — the whales we had seen in the icy water, the mountains that almost seemed to come crashing down on me, the people who let us into their homes without knowing a speck about us. I was crushed knowing my dad could not see the beauty, and I was warmed by knowing that he probably was the beauty.

We went to karaoke, and I got drunk and sang that Nate Reuss and Pink song with a random bar hopper while Laura captivated everyone with Adele. She drove me home in the stranger’s car. The man, a dentist, had pushed his couch together to make a bed for us, and I flopped down. I covered myself in blankets and started crying as violently and silently as I could. When I thought Laura fell asleep, I stayed awake for hours, until finally I got up, opened the door, walked down the gravel driveway and down to the lake. I couldn’t take my eyes off the mountains. I was whole with love and simultaneously broken.

At 4 a.m., the mountains were dark, but nothing is ever really dark in Alaska in the summer. They stared back menacingly. I had never seen anything so mammoth and all-knowing. They were deep, untouched, mysterious, overwhelming. They wanted me to spill my secrets like the glacier slowly oozing its way down.

I called my mom. Four years later, she told me it was OK. She told me she loved me. She told me she understood.