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The L: Well, let's talk about that. This idea of hating where you come from, but at the same time being drawn to it and feeling a strong kinship with it. That idea is obviously all over The Monitor—but there's also the notion that you can run away from a certain type of douchebag only to realize that the exact same type of douchebag exists everywhere.
Eric: It's true what you say, that the same assholes are everywhere. I hear people say all the time, "They're not the sort of assholes like Jersey assholes," but in Jersey, you probably don't have the same sort of assholes as Florida assholes or California assholes or Texas assholes. Everyone has their own sort of assholes, but they're all assholes, right? There's a great quote from the show Daria that says, "Life is miserable no matter where you go, so don't be confused by a change of location."
Patrick: Or, why don't we flip it a little bit. Wherever you go, anything in life is what you make of it: Whether that be a new location, a new career, a new love affair, any of this stuff. Ultimately you're gonna be responsible for how much you get out of it, good or ill. That's one of our morals—taking responsibility and not trying to avoid responsibility by saying, "Conditions x, y, and z aren't in place, so I can't do these other things."
The L: The other thing is this whole idea of "us against them" on the record. And the definition of who we are, and who they are, seems to change a lot throughout.
Patrick: Wow, how true. A fact rarely observed. Nice work.
The L: On "Four Score and Seven," you mention not knowing who your friends are. That strikes me as the trickiest part of the record: thinking you're supposed to be able to turn to a certain group of people or a certain place to feel that oneness and then wondering if, fuck, maybe you don't even feel that.
Patrick: I mean, I guess that goes back to our moral of accountability—how we can't really be dependent on any group that we choose to get involved with, whatever side of whatever conflict we may be thinking of. Is it a good idea to be dependent on them to get whatever accomplished, even just a feeling of serenity and fellowship? Can we count on other people for that at all?
Amy: Have you seen the Lady Gaga video for "Alejandro"?
The L: Yes.
Amy: Ok, so I was just watching it a lot today...
The L: A lot?
Amy: Yes. Then I went on this internet site where college professors write their theories about Lady Gaga and her videos. They had these post-structuralist professors analyzing every detail. They said that the reason she has the army of gay guys appear so militarized, with her set apart from them, wearing white while they wear black, is to show that as soon as you belong to any group, you automatically create the other, which is the opposite of that group. That, I think, is a really relevant idea for our society, and the political things that are going on.
The L: That can be made political, sure, but even on an individual basis—like, I grew up on Long Island, and obviously I hated it at the time. It's white and boring and not interesting, so you define yourself in opposition to that, which is, I think, as important as defining yourself in concert with something.
Patrick: But dangerous, though. Because then we start waking to the post-modern nightmare of not having anything to define ourselves by positively, where we get too obsessed with the things that we're not, the things our values are in opposition toâ€¦ can we start to lose sight of what our values actually are?