field trip the light fantastic!
In the interest of seeing for myself the state of contemporary culture, MJE decided to emerge from my bubble and personally experience just what the heck the modern world is up to, other than what I read in the failing new york times’ style section. To wit, MJE took the bold and virtually unprecedented (at least since 1973) action of attending a concert off the rez. And I’m not talking about some old fogey classical music thing, no ma’am, this is a band revered by millenials, the ultimate arbiters of what is hip and cool, like those jeans caked with fake mud that sell for $475 at barney’s.
So MJE and an intrepid clutch of other grey beards trekked to the nearest thing that might be described as a population center not too far from “ancient oaks” where the OB&C and I reside among an eclectic community of well heeled, attractive and extremely active seniors. In my estimation, not to rag on the young college grads living in their parents’ basements and playing super mario brothers 24/7, they probably get more done in a day than those millos do in a year. That said, because MJE is so very young at heart and interested in staying au courant, I’ve adopted a millo schedule and do only that which is absolutely necessary to ensure my perpetual contentment. Onerous duties such as paying bills, answering the telephone, getting out of my pajamas or pausing mid-binge watching the first season of fargo, or the latest episodes of better call saul are forestalled as long as possible. So the mere act of getting dressed, being chauffeured (the FOM, or friends of MJE, are well aware of my irrepressible bon vivantness and understand that my ability to competently operate heavy machinery or drive a car after I’ve exhausted myself delivering alcohol fueled witty repostes is not in anyone’s best interest) to a pre concert cocktail party, and walking to the venue involved an herculean effort on my part. However, there is no rest for the weary, because once I arrived at the entrance I had to elude four levels of security measures designed specifically, as far as I could tell, to separate me from my cup of non-house wine. Look, MJE didn’t get where I am by being intimidated by some adhd twenty something in a breezy spring frock and kitten heels, nor by the subsequent older larger, more intimidating uniformed security person who searched my purse, nor the metal detectors followed by yet one final security drone whom I easily ditched in the crowd. Just to be clear, this place paid about fifty security people and rented half a dozen scanners to maximize the sales of three buck cups of crappy wine? Not cost effective, my friend. And a real buzz kill.
Returning to the metal detectors, as I said MJE don’t get out much, but since when does a small town music concert in an old theatre require security worthy of the entry to the tel aviv airport? Perhaps all that screening should have been an early warning sign of what lay ahead, that maybe whatever we were going to experience in the next few hours might evoke passions from the audience so heated that actual violence might ensue. However, because MJE was intensely focused on skirting the authorities and hanging onto my vino I didn’t give it much thought. But next time, assuming there is one, if I see that number of security hurdles I need to vault, I’m just gonna amble over to the nearest bar and catch up later.
Hailing from a different era, when schedules actually meant something, our gang of geezers arrived promptly at 8:00 found our seats and and perched attentively waiting for the music we had paid to hear. Instead, some young person of indeterminate gender who appeared to have just rolled out of bed, came onstage and began what we later realized was a lengthy introduction to the opening act. Words like psychedelic, avant garde, and stream of consciousness were part of the delivery but none of it made any particular sense so we just sat there. Then the phenomenon that we had just heard described, shuffled in from stage left. Man this guy looked like he’d just been dragged from his refrigerator box under the overpass. If this was part of his schtick then he totally nailed the homeless, drugged out, burned out, crazy person character you avoid making eye contact with. A couple of trombone players silently crept onto the very back of the darkened stage. Now I don’t know about you but I bet if you’d bought a ticket to hear what you thought was sort of an R&B band and instead you got a homeless guy and two trombones you’d be weirded out too. Then he began to speak.
And speak and speak…and speak. Meanwhile he slowly made his way to a synthesizer and started to bang away. Whoever programmed this instrument was either the crazy guy whomping the keys or someone who deserves a grammy for best comedy album because most of the racket it made sounded more like animal noises than musical notes. There was a high pitched terrier, a parrot, maybe a cat or two and then some that I just couldn’t quite put my finger on. All the while the guy continued to ramble on above the din about what I know not, I wasn’t even sure what language he was speaking. My compadres and I sat slack jawed, completely flummoxed. One thing’s for sure, I didn’t want to side eye any of them because I knew that would result in a meltdown of uncontrollable, disrespectful guffawing. But he finally went one terrier over the line sweet jesus and the dam broke…it was all out muffled hysteria from then on. The rest of the audience was dead silent, either in on the joke or pretending to get it to demonstrate their total hipness. MJE however had had enough and made a bee line to the bar, where everyone else in line agreed they too couldn’t stand it anymore and really, really needed a drink. After a minute or so the rest of our pack stumbled out into the lobby looking like dazed hobbits emerging from mirkwood.
When we rallied and re-entered the venue the musical act we had paid to hear, st francis and the fractured femurs, were entering the stage. The fractured femurs featured an impressively eclectic collection of musical instruments not traditionally played ensemble: flute, snare drums, a cannonball thumb piano, balalaika, jews harp, harmonica, accordion, bass, triangle, and most impressively the rarely heard aztec death whistle. A white-hot spotlight trained on the standing mic center stage. Finally out flounced st francis, who looked freakishly like truman capote, wearing a cape that was less liberace and more like the lead thing the dental hygienist lays on you when you get a tooth x ray. He dramatically shed that to reveal a sparkly purple jacket, black pants and blinding golden slippers. The band struck a chord and st francis went to work, howling and growling into the microphone, striding around the stage and working his limited dance moves like his life depended on it. To MJE he came across as a suburban white kid trying to sound like a seasoned black 60’s soul singer while executing lame knock offs of routines little richard and james brown killed fifty years ago. Bless his heart.
That said, a good time was had by all, a night to remember, for sure. MJE needs to get out more.