Day Whatever: Vignettes, Time Shifts, & General Beaches

Posted: June 27th, 2013

The road keeps rolling. It rolls out before us and right back up behind us. Like a bottle cap snapped from sticky fingers—zing—we’re launched—spinning across the continent. Five days, five cities. One night it’s Rochester, NY, the next Asbury Park, NJ, on up to Hampton Beach, NH, and down to Newport, RI. Then, in ‘the wee small hours of the morning,’ we coast into NYC. A dizzying pace, it’s only just begun.

When I try to recall what’s happened, the places and shows come at me like vignettes in a time shift. Whether a moment, a song, or an encounter, each one unique.

One moment, I’m in Rochester. Every time I look up more people are in front of me than before. Heads, literally and figuratively, as far off as I can see, are smiling and happy. Thousands upon thousands are getting’ their Party in the Park on. From Happy Hour Hero to a quick fried Meat, this is the right way to kick-off a Summer Tour.

Later that night, a young couple emerges from the crowd, sidles up to the merch table. She slinging abuse at him with way too much ease—it’s at the comfort level of a 20 year marriage, not a couple who’re just dating. But what the hell do I know about dating these days? It was entertaining enough—especially over an f-bomb t-shirt. He, on the other hand, seemed well disposed to take it. His jaw was unhinged and each eye looked like a quivering mass of protoplasmic jelly. Stewed as he was, he manages to pull a credit card out of his wallet to pay, and then was dragged off by the spawn of Attila the Hun. They disappeared quickly, into the sea of heads—too quickly, when I saw the credit card still on the table. But that’s that. It’s not the first time it’s happened in moe.ronville. I yelled out his name, but it was the middle of Billy Goat.

The next thing I know, I’m listening to Bullet at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Yes, if your life’s spinning by in vignettes, that’s how it happens. You can be on a Great Lake one moment, and the Joy-zee Shore the next. A cool breeze kicks in off the Atlantic, the day moves along. And then there’s Bullet. I was interested to see what the storm, Sandy, had done to the place. I’m happy to report nothing. I was told it knocked over a fence and that was it. The place filled up slowly. People stuck in traffic in a mad dash to the shore. By the end of the first set, the Stone Pony was packed, filled up and out. I hear Rebubula. Then speak with someone who has never been to a moe. show. I give him a Buster sticker and welcome him to the party.

For life’s a party, or a beach, yes, it can be a real beach. Ah, Hampton Beach … the smell of the briny sea, fried dough, and rancid urinal cakes waft on a summer breeze—just like I remember it in high school. People by the tens of thousands troll the strip in their cars and on foot. It’s shoulder-to-shoulder here, everyday, all day, all summer long.

Yes, mi, once upon a time, your humble correspondent would visit the jewel of New Hampshire beaches to kick up sand and participate in the communal micturition waist deep in the icy Atlantic. As a teenager, I didn’t understand why the shores of Hampton Beach were noted for its amber froth and the warmest current north of Cape Cod. Now I do, yet hope it’s a joke.

Though it was only a couple summers in my adolescence that I went there to seek out action, I learned a lot. Stuff like, French people come from Quebec, not France; and never walk on the sidewalk in your bare feet. It’s not for walking. It’s an ashtray for smoldering and burning cigarette butts. Not all policemen serve and protect. And a crowded summer resort and state park is an excellent place to build a nuclear power plant. Yupper, when the zombie apocalypse begins, you can bet it will begin there.

Nevertheless, the Casino Ballroom is a special place in the pantheon of American venues and the whole live performance culture. Since it opened in 1927, it has hosted the biggest names and bands in any genre of music, from Louis Armstrong to Led Zeppelin, from Duke Ellington to Janis Joplin right up to your favorite band, moe. I would highly recommend seeing a show there, at least once.

I know I’d like to, at least a full show. The first set was a blur. I didn’t tune in until Recreational Chemistry. It was sometime around the crescendo when the crowd went nuts. And then Ka-boom! Time is shifting. I surfaced sometime during YOY (always had an affinity for that song), and then the blur set in again. Next thing, I’m standing on the loading dock watching the last of the equipment going on the truck. It’s somewhere between 2 am and 3 am, and I’m f-bomb tired. I yawn. Relish an ice-cold Gnarly Barley—the world’s greatest ale. I yawn once more.

Suddenly, I’m watching the equipment pulled. I’m in Newport at the Yacht Club (pronounced “Yatched” by people in the know). It’s a few minutes after 9 am, and everyone is grumbling about the bizarrely, early load in (we’re not a bunch of f-bomb farmers, Homer!). Before we turn on each other, I drift off in search of coffee.  Something sexy, like an espresso. Even that early, though, Newport is busy. It’s an old British colonial seaport town known for its fabulously, stupid wealth (i.e., wealth gained by tapping into the vein of stupidity that runs through the American psyche). It’s Sunday morning and the crowd is pounding the pavement hard in the intellectually vacuous pursuit of nothingness. And they pay big bucks for it. They’re hitting every boutique and shoppe (pronounced “shop-PAY” by people in the know) up and down Newport’s quaint little retro-colonial cobbled streets. I begin to rethink my theory on the zombie apocalypse starting in Hampton Beach...

I shouldn’t be so damn cynical, I know.

My friend Fonebone told me I’m a jaded f-bomb.

I have no reply.

Strains of Bearsong are coming at me. I know what’s next. Another time shift.