Alexandra Duncan

Science Fiction. Fantasy. Feminism.


On Sunday, Jeremy and I went down to West End Bakery for breakfast, because we had nothing to eat in our house except a can of tuna fish, a bunch of dessicated grapes, and some milk.

West End Bakery is a cozy, bright place with hardwood floors and lovely coffee. They make organic bread, and, on this particular morning, had decorated each table with a small vase full of daisies. It's almost always packed with 20 and 30-somethings, kids in tow.

Given the clientele, the music they play tends toward the hip but non-intrusive. It wasn't until we sat down with our coffee and newspaper, and looked out on the sunny view of Haywood Road that I realized the music the staff had chosen for our Sunday morning was Radiohead's Kid A (2000).
A word of note to those not initiate to the mysteries of Radiohead: Kid A marks the fever pitch of the band's triumvirate of dystopian albums, OK Computer (1997), Kid A, and Amnesiac (2001). You could argue that Amnesiac is delves more deeply into the depths of human misery and OK Computer is a more devastating commentary on modern society, but Kid A is so good at being what it is that it could make a top-selling motivational speaker hurl himself from the Golden Gate Bridge.

I know all of this because I spent the years between ages 16 to 20 listening to Radiohead albums back to back and writing bad stream-of-conciousness fiction in a spiral-bound notebook. I still love me some Radiohead, but I've learned that, like a vodka tonic, Radiohead should never be consumed before noon, and rarely before dinner. As brilliant as the band is, most people don't want to hear the lyrics,

Flies are buzzing round my head
Vultures circling the dead

Picking up every last crumb

The big fish eat the little ones

The big fish eat the little ones

Not my problem, give me some

while having a cup of French roast and a sausage biscuit.

Therefore, I am officially laying out the Radiohead Rule, which consists of several parts:

Part 1. Between the ages of 14 and 21, you can listen to Radiohead any time of day, rain or shine, as often as you want. Your parents may not understand you, but Radiohead knows where you're coming from.

Part 2. From age 22 to 29, you can listen to Radiohead as soon as the sun goes down, when you break up with someone or get fired, and at parties. You can also listen when it rains.

Part 3. After age 30, you should limit your Radiohead consumption entirely to the occasional evening or social event. Never combine Radiohead and breakfast.

Part 4. If when you reach age 40, Radiohead is still considered hip and ironic, you must surrender it to your children. They are now officially cooler than you. You can play it in the car for them, but they'll only take the CD for themselves and talk to their friends about how weird you are.

I hope these rules will serve as a groundwork for helping our generation learn to use Radiohead responsibly. In moderation, techno anthems of disaffected youth can be fun, but we have a responsiblity to the world not to create a generation of emo kids. Please, don't mix breakfast and Radiohead.

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