Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

We here at TIG wish everyone to know that we LOVE Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie/All American Quarterback/The Postal Service… so much so that we question the sanity of anyone who doesn't. The man, the music, the dance moves… he is nothing short of a musicman-hearthrob-superhero. Okay then. That said…

Trix, our new favorite imaginary friend in New York, found Three Imaginary Girls when researching this article by googling "Ben Gibbard Hates Me" (we're the third hit). She's never even been to Seattle. But we loved her expression of super-fandom so much, we asked her if we could run the article in its entirety. So here it is.}

I am not crazy. I want you to know this straight off the bat. I am nice, educated, smart, fun, good looking — your mother would love me! But get me into a room with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie (DCFC) and I turn into this weird (but attractive) schizophrenic who shouts words aloud at inappropriate times and when he addresses the audience, I laugh maniacally.

And I sweat a lot.

I am a woman obsessed.

No offense to Ben, but it's hard to pinpoint his appeal. He's no pin-up boy; YM isn't banging down the door with centerfold requests, and compare him to say — oh I don't know, let me pick someone randomly — OhMYGod! Britt Daniel of Spoon — and he looks like your (stereo)typical Northwestern Rocker, baby-faced, with piercing, soulful blue eyes and resembles my absolute favorite fungus, the mushroom.

A very cute mushroom! The cutest mushroom in the world! I could just eat him up!

No, really, even if I could, I wouldn't be able to, because Ben Gibbard hates me.

My love affair with DCFC — and ultimately Ben Gibbard — started with their 2001 release of "The Photo Album." I first started listening to DCFC at the recommendation of several people with great musical palates — my (ex)-boyfriend's best friend, Wayne Lewis, my Resident Advisor at NYU, Nick Catucci, and my landlord, DJ Kingsize — and immediately, I was captivated by the catchy-hooks, how skillfully they/he limned intense snapshots of young-adult life in 3:14.*

I am super-embarrassed about how my Ben-adulation manifests and rears its ugly, ugly head. In conversations, I refer to him by his first name, as if we were friends – I drop it whenever possible into pretentious indie-rock conversations as if it were a "badge of cool." And I can guarantee that I think about him a billion more times than he thinks about me because, well, he is Ben Gibbard of DCFC and I'm just an idiotic girl-fan (one out of a million – okay, hundred), and the only times that he's ever thought of me have surely been in moments of panic, anger and annoyance.

A glimpse of my DCFC diary will explain exactly why Ben Gibbard (probably, minutely, justifiably) hates me.

* I am the biggest dork in the whole world!

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Show #1. The Bowery Ballroom. The Death/Dismemberment Tour.** They are playing two nights at the Bowery, DCFC and the Dismemberment Plan alternating the headliner for each. Luckily, the night I attend DCFC headlined! Ben made the off-comment that the Saturday night show had better-looking people than the Friday night gig. I am one of the beautiful people! Ben sang the Björk cover, "All is Full of Love." I am full of love!

Show #2. England. The Garage. This is one of three gigs that we plan on seeing in the U.K. The place is packed and there are some ex-pat Americans there, but we trump them by proclaiming that we traveled 3,000 miles just to see DCFC. Because we are their biggest fans. The show rocks (it's even better than the Bowery show!) and those Brits sure do make the lager flow — someone spilled it all over the jeans I planned on wearing throughout this trip. At the end of the gig, when everyone is screaming requests, I scream, "Coney Island!" Because you know, I'm from New York and America and we're in bloody England, so Ben should really play that song — just for me and my roommate — and Ben stops the band for a moment and says, "Who said that? Who requested 'Coney Island?'" He peers into the audience. I want him to see — me, me, me! I shake my hand like an enthusiastic Girl Scout waiting to be chosen for a round of 7-Up. Please, please, please pick me! "We can't play 'Coney Island' live, it's too hard. Stylistically it doesn't work." I pout, drunkenly, but am secretly elated that I was able to say something that Ben Gibbard felt a connection to! Score!

Show #3. Leeds Festival. 2/3 UK gigs. We traveled all morning to the Leeds festival! Transit doesn't work the same in the UK as it does in the US. I am tired of eating chocolate but find it a comforting alternative to beans and toast. DCFC is the first band (of like twenty other bands) playing the side-stage. I buy a hotdog that looks like a sausage, and am so upset by this not-dog that I try to pawn it off on someone who understands this sausage-as-hotdog-concept. DCFC was good, but they only played for 30 minutes.

When they finish performing, we spy Ben through the chain link fence and beg the security guard to let us talk to him. She says no. She's the meanest person in the world! I am sweating.

Ben leaves the backstage and my roommate tags him. I almost start to cry, I am so excited. I actually shake Ben's hand! I am touching Ben Gibbard! Ben Gibbard is touching me! He's sweaty too! Then things go really badly. I start to talk. And I can't stop! I tell him that I was the one who wanted them to play "Coney Island" at The Garage and that when we saw them at The Bowery, we were the good-looking night!

He has absolutely no idea as to what I am alluding.

The words are falling out of my mouth faster than the falls in Niagara and I'm wondering why I can't control myself. If I could just step out of my body for one moment, I would slap myself! We take pictures with Ben and he apologizes for being so sweaty (if he only knew!). And although verbally, I am a mess, I pause to take off my glasses for the picture.

The next day, at the 1-hour photo, it is revealed that I look like I've just been doing the Snoopy Dance next to Ben.

Show #4. Too tired to go to Scotland. We cancel, having been filled full of Ben-love the day previous.

Show #5. Benjamin Gibbard, solo. The Knitting Factory. Fo
r some stupid reason, my roommate and I decide it's a really good idea to get drunk at this show. This is bad for many reasons — it's a weeknight, it's expensive to drink top-shelf liquors, etc. — but that doesn't stop us. No. Also: the net of decorum is somehow loosened as I gulp down yet another vodka gimlet and my Jersey roots somehow are uncovered as —

Ben: I am going to play a cover song —
Crowd: Woo!
Me: Play something by "The Boss!"
Ben: Who?
Me: "The Boss!" Bruce!
Ben: Bruce Springsteen? I don't know any Bruce songs.
Me: Play "Born in the USA!" Because most of us were born in the U.S.A. ***
My Roommate: "Glory Days!" Everyone knows "Glory Days," Ben.
Ben: I don't.

The crowd is horrified; they want me dead, or at least back in New Jersey. Meanwhile, I am so excited that I have made yet another connection with Ben and I am laughing (maniacally, drunkenly, again!) and Ben seems to be experiencing fear.

He immediately regains his composure and strums Avril Lavigne's "Complicated," ("It's not that complicated," he cutely quips to the crowd) to the delight of the ironic hipsters-in-residence.

** This is the only show where I did not embarrass myself and should be used as a model for future DCFC experiences.

*** Note: there are far better Bruce songs than "Born in the FUCKING U.S.A." — why did I choose that one? Hello, "Thunder Road," is a great one, or why couldn’t I think of my favorite song, "Dancing in the Dark?" If he had played "Dancing in the Dark" maybe he would have pulled me up on the stage and we could have danced together (he’s a really good dancer!), just like Bruce does to Courtney Cox in that video — oh, but my justification "because most of us were born in the U.S.A." (?!) — as I sit here sober, dear reader, I am cringing!

* * *

They say that one must learn the mistakes of the past to avoid them in the future. I mean that's how we avoid future wars, right? Let's see if I can behave and show a little alcohol and verbal self-control, the next time I see Ben. He will be touring as part of the Postal Service (with Jimmy Tamborello/DNTEL ) and will be gracing New York City at The Bowery Ballroom on April 19th.

* * *

{Lucky for us, the Postal Service will also be making a stop in Seattle, at the Crocodile on May 1st. Try not to blurt out your requests for Pearl Jam…}