When I was in college I heard adults on numerous occasions comment about their days in college and how cocky they were, how they were young and thought they knew everything, how it took a few humbling years after graduation for them to learn just how little they really did know. I specifically remember thinking about how that comment didn’t apply to me because I wasn’t that cocky, in fact I was quite willing to admit the limits of my knowledge. But now, five years out of school, I’m beginning to realize that I was young and cocky and i did think I knew everything. I was exactly what those adults lamented being. I just had no idea that I had no idea. The arrogance of college is nearly impossible to avoid because you don’t really know it’s there until you’ve already passed it.
When I listen to this Hold Steady song, part of me feels like I’m back in college listening to someone older telling me a truth that I won’t be able to take advantage of until it’s too late.
Recently, after nearly 28 consecutive of abstinence, I’ve begun entertaining the idea of finally smoking pot. I’ve never “done weed” before. Actually, my lack of experience with drugs in general would probably make Nancy Reagan very proud. But my abstinence has a lot less to do with mid-eighties government campaigns and more to do with a church reinforced indifference.
Growing up I was never all that interested in drugs. The idea of getting high simply didn’t appeal to me. During my most impressionable years—the awkward teens, when most of us crumbled like so many deep water oil wells under the intense pressure of our equally as insecure peers—I was leading Bible studies and attending bi-weekly youth group meetings, much too concerned with uncovering the lie of evolution to distract myself with narcotics. My general indifference to pot was then bolstered by a learned religious antipathy to anything my youth pastor told me to reject. And youth pastors are very very concerned with getting kids not to party. So I didn’t party.
But that was a very long time ago and a lot has changed since then, namely: I party. I drink alcoholic beverages, those once forbidden fruits of an Eden I no longer believe in. And I like them. I like drinking. It’s fun and social and goes great with all the food I’ve found myself cooking and obsessing about lately. Sure there have been some bad hangovers and more than a handful of text messages I’d like back, but for the most part, my relationship with alcohol has been a positive one.
With all the great times alcohol has given me, my once dormant curiosity about marijuana is beginning to wake. After all, in spite of how horribly annoying college hippie pot enthusiasts are, I do have to agree with them in regard to their arguments about the general harmlessness of smoking weed. While it’s easy for me to be staunchly against harder drugs, weed just seems, well, silly. Sure one can abuse it, but anything can be abused. Hell, some people even abuse abstinence. But when smoked or eaten or whatever in moderation, I’ve never witnessed an undesirable side effect in any pot smoker I know. And it’s got me thinking that maybe I should, after all these years, just give it a try.
Maybe I will Snoop…maybe I will.
That’s at least what I thought. That was my trajectory, the course I was on, until yesterday in the shower when I had almost exactly this inner monologue:
(humming) call me Mr. Flintstone I can make your bed…goddammit…I hate that song!…It’s been stuck in my head for an hour and it’s seriously driving me…flintstone? Like, flint and stone…Oh like a flint stone that that Bear guy is always using to making fires when he’s “lost” in the…Rubble…oh man, Barney Rubble! I get it, like rocks and stuff…Like a flint rock and rubble and, oh shit, like Bedrock. Whoa…that’s like, totally crazy man…like all these years and I never noticed there was a rock theme…cause it was like in the past and stuff and…huh…I wonder what the other character’s names were?…I bet it had something to do with rocks too…that’s so crazy…I’ll check that on Wikipedia when I get out of the shower…hey I wonder what the Jetsons names wer—OH GOD, I SHOULD NEVER EVER SMOKE POT!!!
Tonight while driving home from work I noticed the silhouettes of a few people a few blocks ahead, standing on the traffic side of the cars parked along the road. Very aware that it was a half hour after bars closed and that these people were most likely drunk, I slowed down and increased my attentiveness as I approached. About a block away, my car’s headlights* revealed the silhouettes as a man—African American, dreads falling over his shoulders and a loose fitting striped polo shirt— and a woman—thin, Caucasian with thick curly blond hair. Both of them were standing still, somewhat anxiously, and, what was most peculiar to me, facing the road. This struck me as odd because normally at this time of night when I see a couple standing still on the traffic side of parked cars, they are in the midst of a drawn out goodnight embrace. It’s something I see all the time and so it’s absence here struck me as odd. Neither appeared to be waiting to cross the road either since, after all, they’d been standing there long before my car’s approach could hinder any plans to cross. No, these two people seemed to be waiting not for traffic to pass, but for it to arrive. Waiting to do something to it. This was especially unsettling because I was about to be that traffic! Frankly, I got a little nervous. I mean, who knows what two random drunk people in a city with a reputation like Richmond’s could be up to? Hell, I mugged a mugger just two weeks ago!
50 feet before driving past these two suspicious people, my senses acute, right foot ready to slam on the gas or brake pedals depending on what the situation demanded, I notice the girl reach down quickly towards her waist. My mind immediately began a list of threats this action potentially posed, leading to a debate which, in that way one can carry on full conversations in the split-second of an adrenaline fueled moment, went like this:
"oh no she’s grabbing a gun, I’m going to get robbed…wait…maybe it’s something else…like maybe she’s going to throw something…maybe she’s drunk and she has like a grapefruit that she’s going to throw…wait, why would she have a grapefruit at 2am?…I don’t know I mean, maybe she found it…but who is this person earlier in the day tossing a perfectly good grapefruit on the ground?…I never said it was good, it could have been rotten…gross! rotten grapefruit all over the car…shit I hope it’s not a rotten grapefruit…etc."
Right as I was about to duck from what just had to be an imminent grapefruit or gun attack, the girl yelled “woooo!!!” and then pulled her shirt up to her chin, revealing what I’m gonna go ahead and, making an educated guess** here, estimate as, factoring in of course, the forward vector of the thrust and the arch in the back, B cups.
Relieved I wasn’t the victim of any late night armed car jacking or rotten fruit target practice, but rather a simple drunken flashing, I did what any man in my position would have done…
I’m in the middle of answering an email interview for a music magazine in Japan. Since I’m assuming none of you will ever read that magazine, I figured I’d include a question that seemed relevant to the people who read this blog that may be curious as to the thought process that went into writing lyrics for my band’s last record. If that’s not you, skip this and carry on with your day.
I’m also very very interested in how this interview will read when translated into Japanese.
You entitled your new album “Rebellion”. Would it be a rebellion against what? And did you have any inspirations for lyrics and songwritings for Rebellion?
In March of 2009 I sat down with a copy of Dostoyevsky’s, The Brothers Karamazov with the intent of re-reading a famous chapter titles, “The Grand Inquisitor.” It had been a number of years since I had read the book and while I had remembered being impressed by that chapter, I had forgotten what it was specifically about. So I set out to refresh my memory. In order to get some context, I decided to read through the chapter that preceded “The Grand Inquisitor,” a chapter called, “Rebellion.” In it, one of the characters makes an incredibly moving and reasoned argument for, not atheism per se, but living outside of organized religion and theistic belief in general. Ivan, the character making the argument says, “It’s not God that I don’t accept…only I most respectfully return Him the ticket.” His brother, whom he’s been talking with, responds that what he said is rebellion. Ivan replies, “Rebellion? I’m sorry you call it that. One can hardly live in rebellion, and I want to live.” The instant I read that last sentence, I knew that the next record my band made would be about that in someway. For months and months I wrote in a journal about what it meant that one can hardly live in rebellion. I decided, in so many words, that rebellion is hardly life because it is not original thought. There’s no creation in rebellion, only rejection. It is saying no. And while that is a very important thing to do at times—especially when young saying that you are not something can actually be quite profound, it was for me—it is not, or at least should not be a lifestyle. If you live only by rejecting things, you are hardly living. Personally, at the age of 27, this resonated deeply with me. I have had my rebellions and for the last few years I’ve been somewhat in a purgatory of non-belief. The real challenge has not been in rejection, my rebellion gave birth to a nasty and quite virile cynicism, instead my challenge now is in finding something I’m for. And that’s hard to do because it makes you very vulnerable. To say “I like ____” is to stand in front of the arrows of others’ judgment. Lyrically at least, this record is all about examining the inefficiencies of rebellion and then exploring the much more difficult part of the quote, the “and I want to live.” Asking what it means to “live,” to move beyond what is “hardly life,” well, that’s really really tough. And all these songs are about that in their own way.
Go right now not later seriously it just takes a minute and it will be so worth it I mean what were you really doing that was so important that you don’t have a minute to spare and frankly since you’re reading this I’m thinking you have minutes like plural minutes to just piss away so why piss them away when instead you could go and get this record which is good and will make your previously almost pissed away minutes good minutes instead like valuable and enriching minutes now and fun and maybe they these new great minutes maybe they will make you want to do something better with subsequent minutes than just sit around and read horribly unpuncuated blogs with misspellings and everthing that are a total waste of time to read most of the time except on those rare occasions when they tell you to download a record that is free if you want it to be free if you just click on this link right here.
Between this fake news story about cigarettes helping to end global warming and this real news story about the attenuated lives of smokers actually reducing the cost of health care, there’s never been a better time to light up! So go for it kids! Steal your dad’s carton of reds and make the world a better place!