A year into the pandemic, many people are struggling with their mental health. We remain isolated from one another even as vaccinations promise the end of social distancing. One student, sophomore James Jones ’23, feels he has found the key to not just functioning but thriving in these uncertain times. “I listen to ‘Californication’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers every day,” said Jones. “It fixes everything. My life is perfect. Better than therapy.”
His claim rang a little hollow with this Misc reporter. While I am a firm believer of listening to one song over and over and over until you’ve learned every rhythm in every voice in every verse, bridge, hook and chorus, in all my years of only listening to one song at a time, not one has ever “fixed” my whole “life.” So I dug a little deeper.
Mickey Rich ‘23, Jones’s roommate, had a different perspective on his roommate’s listening habits. “He needs help,” said Rich, “And at this point, so do I. He plays it every second of every day. I’m not exaggerating. I have to go to Zoom class in the parlor because he won’t turn it off. If I ever hear ‘Californication’ by The Red Hot Chili Peppers one more time, I don’t—I mean, I’ll snap. I can’t be held responsible for my actions anymore after that.” Jones elaborated on the ways that one song has fixed his life. “It’s made me realize I can’t be held responsible for my actions. And when you realize that, that it doesn’t matter what you do because y’know tidal waves can’t save the world and whatever, it’s better than therapy. I can just let all my issues go and say ‘It’s not my fault.’”
Rich commented on the extremes to which Jones has taken this realization. “Yeah so him and his girlfriend were in a fight because of something he thought she posted on Vassar Confessions—I mean it could’ve been anyone honestly it was so vague, like about someone’s favorite pooping spot on campus or something—anyway, there’s that line in ‘Californication’ that’s like ‘Destruction leads to a very rough road but it also breeds creation’ or something,’” Rich shared, “Yeah. He thought he was trashing her room, but he actually trashed her neighbor’s room. Those guys were PISSED.”
Jones’s girlfriend, who asked to remain anonymous, declined to comment beyond saying, “Tell him to stop proposing to me by asking me to be his ‘Fairy to the world.’”
Jones’ friends have tried to intervene. “He keeps saying it’s ‘better than therapy.’ I don’t know what that means, but I do know that trashing his girlfriend’s room stemmed from his inability to differentiate between his automatic negative thoughts—particularly mind reading, blaming others and catastrophizing—and a mindful understanding of his emotions and triggers,” Jones’ friend offered.
The friend continued, “I know therapy isn’t for everyone, but one RHCP song isn’t working either, so I don’t know. I just want to be a good friend. I keep offering to let him listen to Mr. Bungle with me but he’s not into it.”
In the meantime, Rich has been working to clearly define his own boundaries.
“I’ve already caught him singing ‘Californication’ shirtless in front of a green screen sky a few times, but I think as soon as he tries to bleach his own hair, I have to take some serious action.”