Routines – A Love Letter

As a creature of habit, I love routines. You could set a watch by what I do every morning, where I go during the day and what I do in the evenings. Caitlyn from Kwik Trip asks me where I’ve been if I haven’t come in for coffee in a week. I’m on a first name basis with my butcher, Mike, and Bruce, the sports fan who sells me booze and gets score updates when I shop at Mega. Happy Hours are always at Tailgates and Jenna, Amanda, Ryan and Matt all know my drink is Red Label and rocks after work, gin and tonic during volleyball.

The best example is my Sunday morning. It doesn’t matter where I was on Saturday night or found myself waking up, like a swallow finds its way to Capistrano I make my way to Chucks, a townie bar I’ve grown to love. I stop for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, take a seat at the end of the bar and read it cover to cover over half a pot of coffee. I’ve been doing this every weekend for almost three years now. In that amount of time I’ve gotten to know just about every regular that Chucks has. I know the bartenders and the cooks and their political affiliations and music interests. I’ve fixed their computers and played on sports teams with the staff. I’ve given rides to job interviews and stayed up all night on the phone when they’re having issues with their significant others. It’s all because I love the Sunday paper and Chucks was located within walking distance of where I used to work.

I had a conversation with someone about this subject a few weeks ago. We talked about how nice it is to have something like that to rely on, no matter what’s going on in your life. She told me about her routines, I told her more of mine.

So it made for an awkward situation when that same person served me my Sunday coffee, a week after telling me she’d call and then never did.

I shouldn’t be surprised by what’s happened the last two weeks. I went through something similar a year before when I was asked out by a cute bartender. I bungled it, never recovered. Some girls just change their minds. Guys do it too. But it’s still disappointing, particularly when you actually like the person who doesn’t share those same sentiments.

Normally I brush these things off, most of the time inside of a day. This one was different. Is different, more appropriately because, I still can’t stop trying to dissect what went wrong.

But the lack of a date is one thing; my routine and how it was suddenly in jeopardy was entirely another.

The girl in question had never worked a Sunday morning. She worked nights, a time I never visited Chucks. So when I sat down and she started talking to me as if everything was normal I didn’t know what to think. Maybe she was busy the past week and still intended to go out with me? I texted her when I got home with a simple, “Hey, nice seeing you, let me know when we you want together.” She said, “You too 🙂 will do!”

That was the last text I got. I went all last week without hearing from her. Sunday rolled around and I had a choice to make. With her taking a new job working nights, I suspected she’d continue to take the Sunday morning shifts. I could stop going, find a new place to drink my coffee and read the paper. There wouldn’t be any awkward looks or conversation. I’d probably get better coffee, there wouldn’t be any racing on the TV over the bar and the atmosphere might be better.

Fuck it. I went to Chucks. She was the first person I saw, we chatted like everything was normal, I read the paper, paid and left.

Part of the reason I went was defiance. If she was working and I didn’t show up, she’d know why and I didn’t want her to have the satisfaction. I’d been going to Chucks longer than she’d been working there and it almost felt as though Sunday morning belonged to me.

That’s what I’m trying to tell myself.

But the other reason is I don’t yet know what happened that made her change her mind. I’ll probably never know. With other girls I knew what went wrong or why things didn’t go further, even without an explanation. This time I’m totally in the dark and it bothers the shit out of me.

Maybe I’m sticking to this convenient routine because I’m not willing to close the book just yet.

#92 – Atmosphere – Modern Man’s Hustle (2002)

#92 – Atmosphere – Modern Man’s Hustle (2002)

First heard: 2004

Why it’s on the List: This song didn’t start my obsession with Atmosphere, but it certainly fueled it.

I first heard Atmosphere at a college party. One of the houses I frequented loved playing Seven’s Travels. I remember hearing Trying to Find a Balance and thinking, “Whoa…”

Days later I picked up everything Atmosphere had done and played it constantly. I loved Seven’s Travels. Really liked Lucy Ford. I absolutely fucking loved God Loves Ugly.

Back then I used to commute an hour to and from school. When I wasn’t listening to ESPN I was listening to GLU. Top to bottom, I thought it was just about the perfect album.

Modern Man’s Hustle remains my favorite tune. If there was ever a hip hop track to chill to on a stormy day indoors, this was it. Chill being the key word there; that’s all there is to do when relaxing to this song.


#93 – Damone – Overchay With Me (acoustic) – (2003)

#93 – Damone – Overchay With Me (acoustic) – (2003)

First heard: 2006

Why it’s on the list: One of the simpler songs from what is probably one of the simpler bands I really like.

I first heard Damone in 2006 when Out Here All Night got some run on Sirius’s alt-channel. A sucker for female fronted rock bands, I downloaded their two albums and loved each one.

The difference between the two is huge. Out Here All Night is heavy, well produced and radio friendly. Noelle sounds worlds more mature, like she and Damone could stack up with any of the 80’s hair-metal bands they aspire to be.

From the Attic doesn’t sound anywhere close. They sound like a garage band that put out a bunch of fun demos. It totally works.

Overchay with Me, the acoustic version, is a b-side to one of the songs on that album. I love its simplicity, Noelle’s voice and the lyrics. I’ve listened to it hundreds of times in the last five years and whenever I do it reminds me of Wausau.


#94 – Eminem – Lose Yourself (2002)

#94 – Eminem – Lose Yourself (2002)

First heard: 2002

Why it’s on the list: I used to be a pretty big fan of Eminem. He’s always been gimmicky, but he was at his best early in the last decade when he seemed to bounce from self-deprecating to raw to angry.

He had other incredible songs, notably one further down this list, but this was his last truly outstanding song in my opinion.

Everything about this song was a bit of a shock. The movie it came from, his performance…it was all really, really good. Critics took notice and the song was universally praised.

Unfortunately it would be another eight years before he put out anything worth a shit.


#95 – Glassjaw – Losten (2000)

#95 – Glassjaw – Losten (2000)

First heard: 2003

Why it’s on the List: Glassjaw is a band that found its way into my iTunes collection and I have no idea how. One night during my junior year of college I was listening upstairs in my bedroom when a song popped on. It was When One Eight Becomes Two Zeroes, and I fell in love with first taste of true hardcore music.

All in all I had around eight Glassjaw songs in my library. Some I liked instantly, others I didn’t care for, others became growers.

One song I loved right away, and still listen to frequently eight years later is Losten, a song I only found out the name of two minutes ago. First it went by Unknown. Then by Hidden. Then Secret Song. It wasn’t an official track; it came at the end of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence, after Motel of the White Locust. So a hidden track becomes one of my all time favorites.

I love the piano, the only instrument in the entire song. I love Daryl Palumbo’s hypnotic voice, one he doesn’t slow down often enough.

Mostly I love the last verse.

Now I have you where I want you
I know that you are listening
This is my chance to tell you everything

My chance to tell you I love you
But I’ve waited too long
Now the record’s over
Now the record’s over

Glassjaw only recorded two albums before coming out with a bunch of dominancing b-sides earlier this year. Check ’em out. And Losten.


Side note: this is the first and only song that inspired me to learn to play the piano.

#96 – Good Riddance – Think of Me (1996)

#96 – Good Riddance – Think of Me (1996)

First heard: 2001

Why it’s on the List: When I listen to Good Riddance is tough not to think about how close I came to never hearing this band.

I was in my dorm during my sophomore year of college. We used to watch a skate show on OLN, before it became Versus. A big reason why was the rad music. One night I was checking it out when I heard the opening to what would soon become a very beloved song and band. It took a minute on Google to find out what it was I was listening to.

Good Riddance’s quick two minute killer track Understood was all it took for me to become a lifelong fan.

I went out and got everything they’d ever done and spent the next few months devouring their entire library. One song stood out more than the others. I remember being home for the summer, up in my room, zoning out to A Comprehensive Guide To Modern Rebellion when Think of Me came on. Just an unreal tune. Like everything else Good Riddance did it was quick as a machine gun and had outstanding, simple lyrics. But where most of their stuff is social and political, this one was about a girl. Of course I was going to love it. I probably listened to it twenty times in row.

I don’t listen to GR as often anymore. Their stuff got too political, too anti-government for my tastes. My favorites will always be Ballads From the Revolution era GR, and this classic.


#97 – The Killers – Mr. Brightside (2004)

#97 – The Killers – Mr. Brightside

First heard: 2004

Why it’s on the list: Because it’s a really awesome song. How awesome was apparently unknown to me until now.

It was named “Song of the Decade” by UK radio stations Absolute Radio and XFM, and in April 2010 revealed that it was the most listened to track since the launch of the online music service, with over 7.66 million plays scrobbled.[2] In October 2010, it was voted at 9 in the Greatest Guitar Riffs of the 21st Century so far by Total Guitar magazine


I got into the Killers in the fall of 2004, almost as soon as I first heard Somebody Told Me, another awesome song off an absolutely awesome album.


Mr. Brightside stood out. Lyrics, hooks…everything about it is excellent. When The Killers made it their second single and the video got a ton of airplay, it was almost too much awesome to handle. Izabella Miko and Eric Roberts? Yes please.


This song is always going to be found on my iPod and in playlists. For a guy like me, a song that features pangs of jealousy and visions of things unseen, it’s tailor-made.

#98 – Jimmy Eat World – Sweetness (2002)

#98 – Jimmy Eat World – Sweetness (2002)

First heard: 2002

Why it’s on the List: By 2002 I’d heard more about Jimmy Eat World than actually heard their songs. Back then my online haunts were mostly punk band forums. Stick around those places long enough and you get some pretty sweet music recommendations. For sure, there’s no way I end up listening to 90% of the stuff I loved from that time in my life if it wasn’t for a few boards and some awesome users.

Jimmy Eat World was a relative popular band on the forums by the time they released their major label debut. Bleed American, the lead single I’d first heard while shopping at Scheels in Eau Claire, was a solid if unremarkable pop-punk tune. Unlike most of the other radio friendly songs from the genre back then, Bleed American and other JEW songs weren’t expressly about girls. It was something different.

Then The Middle hit the airwaves, and the band exploded on the backs of their titillating and memorable music video. MTV played it constantly, and Jimmy Eat World had arrived. Even my dad was singing their songs.

But it isn’t The Middle making this list, it was the single that followed. What I remember most about Sweetness, other than the music video, was the awesome tempo and insanely catchiness of the hooks. It hasn’t gotten old, not in almost ten years. I still have the song in heavy rotation, and that’s why it’s making the list.


#99 – Sick Puppies – All the Same (2006)

#99 – Sick Puppies – All the Same (2006)

First Heard: 2006

Why it’s on the List: For most of the ’00s I didn’t listen to the radio. It was only because of Sirius Satellite Radio I got back into it in ’06 and ’07. It was a good move. I only heard of bands like Saosin, Paramore, Mickey Avalon and Damone because of their awesome Alt rock channel.

Another such band was the Sick Puppies. One night I was returning home from my main dude Brian’s place when All the Same came on the radio. Solid lyrics, good hooks, easy to get into vocalist. Loved the song immediately. The only negative was a little screaming hickup in the middle that I’ve never come around to.

I got home, checked the Youtube and came upon this gem.


The Sick Puppies would later release an official music video, and I was hooked. Embedding is disabled for the video, and that’s unfortunate. Why? It features the really fucking hot Emma Anzai.

Emma Anzai

They’ve had some success since then. I’m a fan of their song, “My World”, but I can’t say I’ve really gotten into their other stuff.

Still, All the Same is a great modern rock tune.

#100 – Foo Fighters – Everlong (1997)

#100 – Foo Fighters – Everlong (1997)

First Heard: 1999

Why it’s on the list: I remember hearing it for the first time in the summer of ’99, working as a computer technician for my local school district. I used to go from school to school, classroom to classroom updating, fixing and inventorying computers.

I used to bring a radio with me, setting it in the hallway while I worked the rooms. I remember the exact place I was when Everlong came on. One of the DECA computer labs, afternoon. I was listening to 104.1 back when 104.1 was good.

Many of the songs on this list will be total cheese. Nothing special on an artistic level, neither deep nor meaningful. A lot of these I’ll understand if you don’t like them. Everlong isn’t one of those songs. You have to like it. It’s completely brilliant modern rock music.

The only reason it isn’t much higher on the list is I’ve grown out of my Foo Fighters phase and rarely listen to them anymore. If they made more songs like Everlong I wouldn’t be able to say that.