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On that Awl piece about Rivers Cuomo and Pinkerton

Jessica Suarez
Jessica Suarez
2 min read
On that Awl piece about Rivers Cuomo and Pinkerton

Table of Contents

The piece starts out with this:

Before we begin, let us be clear: We speak not of the Rivers Cuomo that was, nor of the Rivers Cuomo that is, nor yet of the Rivers that shall be. We speak, now, of the Platonic ideal of a Rivers Cuomo: The Rivers Cuomo you have never met, nor ever can meet, nor can ever be sued by (subsequent to writing a blog post that uses his name quite a lot), but who lives, nevertheless, within your brain. Specifically, if you happen to have grown up in the 1990s, and are heterosexual, and also a girl.

And then breaks up into headings like “Seduction” “Consummation” “Couples Therapy” etc. and spends a lot of time exploring the idea of Rivers Cuomo as the secret boyfriend we ladies wished we had at some point in our pre/teen years.

I had to turn off the rest, because that is not how I related to Pinkerton at all when I first heard it, or when I listened to it in college. Obviously my relationship to Pinkerton is complicated, but not because I loved him then discovered he was a creep, or even because I related to him and then was repulsed (further complicating things, of course, is that I am still working on the 33 1/3 Pinkerton book, to be published posthumously). But it is a bit closer to the latter. The latter is harder, and tons more interesting to me, because if I believe that I was a Pinkerton fan because I related to it (him? Or the him that is part bio, part stolen from Harvard classmates, part fictional character, part Capt Pinkerton), and now it makes me uncomfortable, then I have to work on the reasons why I related to it. But I do not feel cheated by Pinkerton or Cuomo.

Also I have a lot of notes (some on books, some song-by-song reactions, some free-associated, some labored over) about Pinkerton. I found this from some early notes (I think I was trying to sketch out why I thought I was qualified to write about Pinkerton):

I understand how desire can transform into hate or apathy. I understand that sometimes a collection of charcteristics [sic] can stand in for any sort of real attraction. I understand desire as purely a way to satisfy a lack of honesty or to fill in a self-loathing. To let that self-loathing form an inverse proportion to a capacity for love.

Also later, a pretty cryptic line: ” I never found an outlet for that paralysis.”

The paralysis above refers to the further above, a basic relating-to-boys paralysis, not my Pinkerton fandom. My natural reaction in middle school to hearing Nirvana and Weezer was to buy a guitar and insist on lessons, not crush on guys that looked like Kurt Cobain and Rivers Cuomo.

I will stop here, since I have the book to write. I will say, however, that I haven’t written anything so far about My Personal Relationship To Pinkerton. I’m sure it’ll show up, but it’s still not the most interesting aspect of Pinkerton for me, so I doubt it would be to anyone else. I’ll re-read the piece this weekend.