I'm sure I've written in the past about how music is a very powerful memory trigger for me. For example, play Andain's "Beautiful Things" and I'm transported to Seoul, 2008. All of Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" album takes me to Shutters in Santa Monica in 2009, watching a beautiful Japanese woman wrapped in a terrycloth robe as she stands on the balcony of our hotel room and tilts her head to the right side while toweling her hair. Sia's "Breathe Me" puts me on the F train in NYC on my way to work in 2007.
Train's "Drops of Jupiter" is a song I hate, but even hated songs trigger memories. That one brings me to 660 Rose Avenue in Venice, California one afternoon in 2003. The day started with Train's bass player in a throwing-and-breaking-things domestic dispute (his girlfriend found out he'd been fucking several other women) and ended with lots of booze, some drugs and me seeing three different women naked. Including the bass player's girlfriend. [FN1]
A few nights ago I saw a commercial on TV for Halo:Reach, the latest offering in the wildly popular and successful Halo franchise of video games for the XBox. Because I find video games especially addictive, I don't own an XBox or any other gaming console and won't be purchasing Halo:Reach. [FN2] But of course I've known people with XBox consoles. One of them was a good friend in NYC who hosted a home poker game on the Upper West Side from 2001-2003.
I'm certain that anyone who's ever played Halo remembers and recognizes the game's theme music. It is stirring and iconic. Whenever I think of Halo, I think of that music. Whenever I think of that music, I think of those home games -- Sunday nights which usually ended with some multi-player Halo action before we all went home to get some shut-eye in preparation for the work week.
The games were the silly variants you often find in quarter-denominated home games (I believe we played $0.25-$3 spread limit), replete with all sorts of wild cards and crazy rules. They're the types of games I don't like to play much anymore. They're not pure enough for me. But the camaraderie of a home game is usually what will make or break it, not the games themselves. That's one of the things that Halo gave us, and the memories that the game's theme music triggers. [FN3]
Now I live in Las Vegas, where home games basically don't exist. "Why play in a home game when you can drive 15 minutes to the nearest casino and take some stranger's money?" is the typical refrain. But for me at least, home games were never about taking other people's money. They were about friends, and bonding, and blowing up aliens. Those memories will always be more powerful than winning some random pot against some random player in a random casino poker game.
FN1: I only slept with one of the three. That day. My life was more entertaining back then, wasn't it?
FN2: If this post were about video games, it would include a passage damning Katkin to the blackest circles of hell for introducing me to Angry Birds last week. Fucking hell, who sells a video game for $0.99? That's like giving away crack for free.
FN3: It also gave me my former blogging name and still-used online poker screen names.