On Sunday Morning I Watched Lots of Sonic Youth Videos & Made Fun of Sonic Youth & Loved Sonic Youth So Much


Sunday morning I dug up my DVD of Sonic Youth videos and watched the whole damn thing, in bed, and took lots of pictures and wrote in my notebook and stuff. It was a nice way to begin the end of my weekend: chill and lazy and dreamy, with a little poking-fun. Sonic Youth are an easy target, but obviously I love them. They made beautiful songs and beautiful little movies to go with those songs; they're one of the most consistently beautiful bands I've ever been obsessed with. Watching all those videos in one big chunk, it finally started to hit me that they're gone, that I'll never get to see them again. I saw them eight times and they were always great, even when they were being impossible - like the show on the Brown University quad in spring '98, when they played all of A Thousand Leaves, which hadn't even come out yet and is actually kind of boring anyway.

But yeah the DVD is called Corporate Ghost, because of course it is. It's all the videos they made from 1990 to 2002 and apparently you can buy it on Amazon for about two dollars. It is so worth those two dollars, plus many more dollars. Here are the highlights, according to me:

i. 100%

Thurston has huge hair in the "100%" video. Or it's super-fluffy at least, the kind of fluffy you might call flooffy. And Kim's wearing that "Eat Me" shirt that she's also wearing in a picture I had up in my locker in 11th grade, only it's cooler than I remember, with the Rolling Stones logo and all. Given my memory of my high-school self, I'm really surprised/impressed that I was brazen enough to have put a picture of Kim Gordon in her "Eat Me" shirt up in my locker. Way to go, 15-year-old me.


Here's just Kim being awesome in "Kool Thing." You know what I want? A thing of the cover art for Fear of a Black Planet that's Photoshopped to say Fear of a Female Planet instead. I mean I found one through Google Image Search, but it's not very good. Someone should make another one.

iii. "TUNIC"

And here's just Kim being awesome in "Tunic," which is the weirdest video. I love when the guys all wag their fingers at Kim. I don't love it when the panda bear has lipsticky lips.


Here is teenage Sofia Coppola in the "Mildred Pierce" video. Cool eyebrows, bro.

And Thurston in "Mildred Pierce": he's self-obsessed and sexxee. When I was having my Sonic Youth-athon on Sunday morning I took a picture of this part with my phone and thought about Instagram-ing it with a caption that just said "You jerk!", but then I didn't. Who cares.


At the beginning of "Titanium Exposé" we see someone knitting - at first it's just a closeup of the needles and the working hands, and then there's the big reveal: it's Lee! Lee is the knitter. Lee is so cute at knitting.

I feel like if I were in kindergarten and someone showed me the "Titanium Exposé" video and then asked me to explain French kissing I'd be like, "French kissing is when a man and a lady smoosh their lips together and then the man eats the lady's face." I remember seeing this video for the first time and at the Frenching part being like "Ewwwwww Mom and Dad, stop, you're embarrassing me!" But now I'm just kind of like, "Aww man, you guys. YOU GUYS..."

I sort of want to make another Thurston joke, like "YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT THE BUCK STOPS HERE" but what does that even mean and also I really just like Thurston, I'm so glad he exists. I like his "Titanium Exposé" acting and I like his shirt, I like his stupid tallness and his sense of melody and his cool creepy voice. "Starfield Road," "Dirty Boots," "Theresa's Sound World," "Teen Age Riot," "Disappearer," "Death Valley '69" - these are my favorite Sonic Youth songs. And I care about songs more than I care about lots of other things. Like...way more.

Aww and there's Steve, eating his really good-looking pizza. I think this is probably the first time I've ever had anything to say about Steve Shelley in my life: Steve Shelley is a very good drummer, and his pizza looks terrific. Thanks for being, Steve.

And the "Titanium Exposé" cat is soooo good! Such a good cat actor. It almost looks animatronic - but no, it's real! Totally the best cat actor since Julie Delpy's cat in 2 Days in Paris, in the part where the mom tells Julie Delpy that she's been feeding the cat foie gras. P.S. I can't believe "2 days in paris foie gras cat" isn't a video that exists on YouTube; what a broken world we live in.

Another cool thing about the "Titanium Exposé" video is it makes me want to vandalize a periodic table of elements. I mean, that seriously sounds so tough to me right now. BTW my favorite element is Helium, whom I saw open up for Sonic Youth once in 1996 at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in the city of Providence.

At the end of the video Lee presents his...shawl? or something? to one of the dudes in the "fake Sonic Youth band." I love the look on his face here - Lee's so proud of his handiwork! As well he should be! And look at that hat!

Just a cool shot of fresh-kissed Goo cover art at the end of the "Titanium Exposé" video. That's all.


Oh my god remember when they played "Bull in the Heather" on Beavis & Butthead and Beavis looks at Kathleen Hanna and goes "Who's this five-year-old girl bouncing around?", and they also make some joke about Romper Room? That always gets me. (Here, here's what I'm talking about.) I like the part when KH murders Thurston and steals his guitar. Apparently she busted his lip, according to Wikipedia. 

Kathleen Hanna is super-individualistic. Duh.

But of course the best thing about "Bull in the Heather" is Lee! That is, all the segments with Lee jumping up and down on the bed, playing his guitar, with whoever that punk dude is. LEE LEE LEE, Lee is the best, we love Lee so much forever.


"Little Trouble Girl"! Here are Kim Gordon and Kim Deal, tra-la-la-ing. One time when I was like 28 or something I went on a date with this guy who was the quintessential good-on-paper dude; it was very boring and depressing. And afterward I called up my friend and made him meet me for a drink in Venice Beach so I could rant about the wrongness of everything, and then "Little Trouble Girl" came on the bar jukebox and I was like, "Ha! Good call, Universe." But really it was validating, to be reminded that I exist on the Kim-and-Kim side of things.


Sonic Youth + feelings is a funny thing for me. I think they're one of the few bands I love more for how they sound than for how they make me feel. For the most part I can't really rely on them to shake me out of a black mood or blur bad feelings like heartbreak or homesickness into something sweeter; I just like getting lost in their songs and how they swirl around or scrape against you. But "Disappearer" is heavy on my heart and it always has been. When I was a teenager I loved listening to it in the middle of the night and really indulging its melancholy, to the point where I made myself nostalgic for the version of myself that existed in that moment - kind of insane, but it was wonderful too. And the video is perfect - dreamlike and scary and gorgeous and sad - and Todd Haynes was the perfect person to direct it. You know that part in Velvet Goldmine where the sky's blacker than black but the stars are all shiny and glittery and magic? That's how Sonic Youth makes everything feel sometimes. Dark but shimmering is a good dynamic. It helps.


  1. My partner totally just bought that exact orange hat Lee is wearing, and we totally didn't remember that's where we'd seen it before!

    Oh, Titanium Expose...my Goo LP has a huge gouge in it on that song, that's what you get when you play records drunk.

  2. And "100%" features early appearances by young Spike Jonze and Jason Lee.

    Something about the way the curly-haired brunette dances reminds me of a girl at a party in an afterschool special. Or maybe Shannon Hoon.

    1. oh that's right! i'd forgotten it was spike jonze