Who Were You When You Were 16?

Couvo
4 min readSep 10, 2020

With the COVID crisis/the disassembling of NYC as we know it, I’ve been living back in my hometown since March now. When I’m not singing my little heart out until my moms tells me to shut up, or baking sourdough pizzas with a kind of fervor that critics have described as “uncompromising,” “hubristic,” and “have you thought about seeing a therapist?”, I like to while away my time at my old high school track.

— nothing weird, I go there to run, I swear!

It’s a surreal experience because it’s like nothing’s changed since I was a kid: the same smell of rubber & grass, that same green slope of hill off in the distance — there are even some kids always playing soccer, and I think they’re the same too. I swear I see 16-year old me kicking the soccer ball around.

I keep thinking, who the fuck was I at 16?

I have absolutely no clue anymore. What did I like? What did I think? Who was I?

I’ve been trying to answer this by digging back into the music I used to listen to, and there’s one name I keep coming back to: Third Eye Blind.

Don’t these guys just look like they’d tell you how alcohol is the worst drug for you while they’re high off their ass on the MDMA they just bought for $140/gram, before they start telling you about how GREAT their summer in Berlin was?

Yes, Third Eye fucking Blind. I used to unabashedly love this band.

But the thing is, Stephan Jenkins, the lead singer of 3EB, is an asshole. It’s not exactly a secret. I mean, half of the original band have sued him, and for good reason.

It seems like everybody who’s ever worked with this band hates them. And they hate them with a burning passion that I find fascinating. I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit doing some DEEP google searches on Stephan Jenkins/3EB and the people who have horrible things to say about them.

In short, my name is Couvo and I have a weird obsession with love-hating Third Eye Blind.

See exhibit A from Zach Lind, drummer from Jimmy Eat World:

(It’s really worth the read)

Exhibit B: John Vanderslice’s story about Stephan Jenkins being bizarrely douchey for no good reason. Check out this takeaway:

They also have this odd podcast that I’ve listened to a few times, mainly to answer the question, would I like these guys? Answer: probably not.

So can I forgive 16-year-old me for liking a band even though they seem kinda horrible?

This all boils down to a question I think a lot of us are dealing with: can we still like the art despite the artist? Stephan Jenkins is (probably) not the worst offender in the world, but the issue still stands. And it seems like it gets harder and harder every day to still love your heroes.

But does this matter?

Does any of this take away from the time I was 16, in the back of Mikey Garmen’s car, listening Slow Motion for the first time? It was after a John Mayer concert and we were parked at Ferguson smoking a joint while Stephan Jenkins sang about how Miss Jones had taught him English but he thinks he just shot her son. That was a revelation to me. It showed me how an opening line alongside the right orchestration can grab your imagination and refuse to let go. I had never heard anything like it before (I was also, clearly, very high).

Even after all these years, I remember that moment clearly. And I’m glad I do.

So what’s the answer here? I don’t know. Have you ever tried listening to the music you loved as a teenager again? I’d love to hear about it. Seriously, email me back. I’ll respond.

And, as a little prize for reading the whole way through — here’s a trailer from some horrible TV movie Stephan Jenkins once did.

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Couvo
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Musician, writer, and outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks