18 November 2011

Times Like These

My hearing still hasn’t returned. I still sound like Harvey Fierstein. I’m still taking ibuprofen for some overall body aches sustained during the three-hour Foo Fighters show at the Garden on Wed night.   It was well worth the agony. 

For the record, the aches and pains aren’t from hurling myself off the balcony onto the hydraulic lift where Dave Grohl performed his acoustic set.  (Though if I were more spry, it could’ve happened.)

We were an assorted bunch in our friend Andy’s company box.  Life-long friends, some random cops, two amateur porn stars that one of our friends brought as dates (“We had to come together, we’re a threesome.” OK.), and a couple in their 60s who were all prim, swaddled in sweaters and suede.   All prim, that is, until the Foo’s first chord smacked them upside the head. Next thing you knew they were rocking out huge, as if high on bath salts.  

Early on, I was certain someone was going overboard, knocked off the balcony by an overenthusiastic hip check or a flailing limb.  For a few songs, I bounced around, white knuckled behind the highest glass partition. But soon I was confident I would float off the balcony, and not crash headfirst onto the unassuming Foosters below.  Thank you, high spirits.

I’ve always loved the Foo Fighters but the Dave Grohl issues are well documented.  The man is pure energy and hotness.  The music was loud, the pace frenetic.  The show, beginning to end, was an all-out assault on the senses. Grohl used the whole arena as his stage, granting everyone a piece of his intensity. On the big screen, we got some gratuitous close ups of him, head banging and wailing on his guitar and letting loose his trademark throaty growls.  We saw Taylor Hawkins beating the living shite out of his drumkit and screaming into his mic.  For a while, we ladies in the front row of the box could only stare, transfixed by rock star magic. We were absorbed into the show and were on the inside of the music looking out. It was getting hot and tingly in there.

Woo hoo, rock star magic.

James has hair

Soon, however, everyone in the box, even James, had violated the “Hands over Head” rule

Aside:  The “Hands Over Head Rule” was created by my brother several years ago as a benchmark of self preservation.  It’s typically applied to dancing, but can be applied anywhere when you're out.  The moment you raise your hands over your head, it’s time to go home.

In the Herald's early review of the show, the critic wrote something like "It's the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s 'Nevermind,' but when you see the Foo Fighters live, you can't help but think, 'Nirvana who?'  So true. Grohl won’t be remembered as the drummer from Nirvana, but as one of the great rock stars in his own right.  In 16 years, he’s more than earned that.  

“The fact that he can keep that up is fucking ridiculous.”  -- DT on Grohl’s tireless energy.    And he never appeared to break a sweat.

The songs:  A back-to-back trio of some favorites --- “The Pretender,” “My Hero” (which included the loudest sing-a-long I’ve ever heard), and  “Learn to Fly.” 

The acoustic set with “Best of You” (raw and awesome) and “Wheels.”  I’d entirely forgotten about the song “Wheels.”  You never hear it on the radio and the band said they never play it live because the only people who like it are the Germans. That was proved false. The band said if the audience sang the chorus louder than the Germans, they’d promise to play a small dive bar in Boston the next time they're in town.  Apparently, we'll see them at Sully's Tap some time in the near future. 

Other favorites:  “These Days,” which Grohl said was the most favorite song that he’s ever written. “Walk,” which is uplifting  and a regular on all of my playlists.  A bluesy cover of Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” which was absolutely riveting and even had the random cops on their feet.

I know I’m leaving so much out, there are too many stand outs to mention.

There were some long meandering guitar solos that were a bit much, but the high-energy more than compensated for them. 

The band closed the show with the the rocking, frantic "Everlong."  

The chorus:  

"And I wonder, when I sing along with you
If everything could ever feel this real forever
If anything could ever be this good again."

This left a box full of concert veterans asking the very same questions.

Breaking it Down

Without getting all “Nowadays” and “Get off my Lawn-ish” – I will say  Grohl does seem like he’s from another time.  You don’t get these types of shows any more. Bands don’t put that much effort into it.  To play a three-hour show, including a six-song encore on the final date of a long US  tour is unheard of.  The last time these sweaty, marathon shows were prevalent was in the 70s and 80s when arena rock was mainstream, before Kiss 108 and country crossovers became king.

Earlier this year, Grohl said, “Just because rock ‘n’ roll isn’t No. 1 in the commercial mainstream doesn’t mean it’s gone. All I know is what rock ’n’ roll means to me. It’s this living, breathing thing that you can see in someone’s eye.”

It’s this passion for his music that was so striking on Wednesday night. (And did I mention he was hot?)  While the set list was identical to many other shows on the tour, there was never a sense that the songs were well-worn, never a hint of been-there-done-that.  

It’s clear from his energy and enthusiasm that Grohl  loves what he does, and it’s clear he wants his audience to share in the love.  At one point, he joked: “I hate all this attention. It sucks. Being a rock star is such torture. I just want to go home.”

After more than a year of touring, they could've easily phoned it in and gone home with zero repercussions.  But instead, as a three-year-old Paulie once said, the Foo Fighters always "break it down and bring it home." 

PU Flashback:  Paulie, 3 ½,  bringing it home with his best Dave Grohl mugs and moves

Set list, Nov. 16 2011

Bridge Burning
The Pretender
My Hero
Learn to Fly
White Limo
Cold Day in the Sun
Stacked Actors
Monkey Wrench
Let It Die
These Days
This is a Call
In the Flesh?
(Pink Floyd cover)
All My Life

(Dave Grohl acoustic)
Best of You
(Dave Grohl acoustic)
Times Like These
(Dave Grohl solo acoustic into full band)
Dear Rosemary
(Tom Petty cover)

16 November 2011

Updates: "Keep Calm and Carry On"

Like intuition, writing/journaling is a muscle that needs to be flexed to stay strong.  I sat down a few weeks ago to churn out a post and realized I’d become completely blog atrophied. So, here are a few narcissistic updates to clear the cobwebs before (hopefully) getting back to the business of the PU.

Update #1: I tried to start the PU back up again earlier this year and then kind of puttered out. Somewhere between March and September, I fell through the cracks of society.  I spent a lot of time light deprived in my basement office, unshowered beneath a dropped ceiling.  There, I toiled away in my little cubby with exposed insulation hanging like a fluffy pink thundercloud over my head.  (Good morning, fiberglass.) I shuffled to and from the kitchen for tea refills on the shattered remains of Wii games that have become encrusted in the carpet.

Encrusted because I still can’t vacuum without having to lie down. I got winded slicing a crusty baguette at a friend’s birthday party a few months ago. The physical atrophy remains and is hopefully the next to go.

Update #2: Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been having a ball, living a bit too high on the hog and justifying it like Steve Dunne: “I’m not wiggy. This is hang time. I’m regrouping and thinking about regrouping.”  All the while becoming one hot stone pedicure shy of insolvency.

During the day, I was carrying on like Brett Ashley, enjoying long lunches and day drinking at the Scarlet Oak with my other friends down here beneath the cracks.

Update #3: At some point over the summer, I morphed into Donatella Versace. This video hits a little too close to the mark.

Update #4: So, I was having a lot of fun practicing these avoidance behaviors, knowing full well they were unsustainable. I’ve had up to three jobs, coupled with full-time momma hood.  Running frantic, willy-nilly, undisciplined in a non-routine. In a million places at once and never truly “present” in any of them.

Update #5: Rotational neglect has its side effects.

I mumble to myself when I’m out in public like some cracked-out degenerate.

It’s been taking an unreasonable amount of mental gymnastics to write a simple paragraph.

Update #6: Rotational neglect causes anxiety.

My counselor/energy healer who is like a Cesar Millan for humans has been helping me see the upside of anxiety.  Take your natural neuroses and channel them into something productive.  If you don’t mix it up now and again, life stagnates and you never leave your comfort zone. I’ve seen what that looks like. It’s cringe worthy.

The freelance lifestyle isn’t working anymore. I need a place to show up, at least a few days a week.

“Keep Calm and Carry On”

Sometimes you receive little signs, flashes of intuition, that gently nudge you toward a certain path.  Sometimes you get actual, concrete signs that become a new mantra.

Over the summer, I found a card with a portly pug on it. The pug was wearing a sign around his burly chest: “Don’t Feed the Pug.” The photo’s caption: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” I was familiar with the photo because I’ve had an 8x10 glossy of it posted over Vito’s food dish in my kitchen for 5 years.  It was the October photo on a 2006 calendar, except the caption on mine is: “Round Mound of Hound.”

“Keep Calm and Carry On.”  I liked the sentiment so much that I stuck it on my whiteboard as a wee mantra.

About two months ago, I got a part-time job at a local make-up and skincare boutique.  I’d been looking for a way to supplement my infrequent freelance checks, and honestly, just wanted to have someplace to be other than my basement office.  At the very least, I figured being surrounded by anti-aging products would keep the inner hag at bay.

To the contrary, it awakened her.

The last time I worked in retail, it was 2001. It was pre-kids, pre LOTS of things, pre the past two years of shite. Pre-perspective.  So, after spending a few Saturdays being run ragged by a mannerless and self-entitled clientele (a.k.a missing my kids’ games to wait on hags), I realized that this was not going to work. Either that or that I was going to end up going all Ninja with a bottle of Glycolic Wash on the next person who came in with Wellbutrin eyes.

I walked to my car that evening, quietly berating myself for making another poor occupational decision, even a part-time one.  I was wondering if I could even trust myself to make the right one; to not waste my precious times on things that are clearly not right.

There’s a store near the boutique where I covet everything in the front window. They sell trendy clothes, bags, cool jewelry, trinkets, vintage reproductions of old signs, old postcards with kitzy bumperstick philosophy and punchlines: “I Childproofed My House But They’re still Getting In.”

This night, right there in the window, like a blue and white beacon, was a painted sign, blaring my mantra:  “Keep Calm and Carry On.” I ran inside and purchased it, along with some vintage postcards.
Keep Calm and Carry On.  There is still a certain weariness (as Pablo says) here, but I’m continuing to clear out the cobwebs and get back (as the Beatles say).

So, PU, let’s try this again...

10 November 2011

I'm Tired of Chickens

 *** A pre-post poem from Pablo Neruda says it all, but I will say it in my own words as soon as possible. More of my own nonsense coming soon. *** 

Excuse the melodrama; I've been drinking. 

I love this.

"A Certain Weariness" by Pablo Neruda

I don't want to be tired alone,
I want you to grow tired along with me.

How can we not be weary
of the kind of fine ash
which falls on cities in autumn,
something which doesn't quite burn,
which collects in jackets
and little by little settles,
discoloring the heart.

I'm tired of the harsh sea
and the mysterious earth.
I'm tired of chickens-- (best line of a poem ever)
we never know what they think,
and they look at us with dry eyes
as though we were unimportant.

Let us for once--I invite you--
be tired of so many things,
of awful apertifs,
of a good education.

Tired of not going to France,
tired of at least
one or two days in the week
which have always the same names
like dishes on the table,
and of getting up--what for?--
and going to be without glory.

Let us finally tell the truth:
we never thought much of
these days that are like
houseflies or camels.

I have seen some monuments
raised to titans
to donkeys of industry.
They're there, motionless,
with their swords in their hands
on their gloomy horses.
I'm tired of statues.
Enough of all that stone.

If we go on filling up
the world with still things
how can the living live?

I am tired of remembering.

I want men, when they're born,
to breathe in naked flowers,
fresh soil, pure fire
not just what everyone breathes.
Leave the newborn in peace!

Leave room for them to live!
Don't think for them,
don't read them the same book;
let them discover the dawn
and name their own kisses.

I want you to be weary with me
of all that is already well done,
of all that ages us.
of all that lies in wait
to wear out other people.

Let us be weary of what kills
and of what doesn't want to die.