My Happiness or Break Lite I had one of those days recently----you know one of THOSE days when everything is stacking up against you like a traffic wreck. One of those days when modern life is just too darn hard and inconvenient. One of those days when in the middle of day, you say fulk it and decide to see the band instead of a free movie. Besides music be the food of love, so play on (Give me excess of it!), and movies are. . .well. . .they weren't invented when Shakespeare was writing.
It started in the morning. As I was driving to my money job, a police car pulled up behind me then bleeped the sirens as I pulled out from a traffic light. WHAT! I thought as I pulled over. It turned out my brake lights were not working. I was shocked, amazed, I honestly did not know. Honestly, I know about the weird sounds my car makes when I steer and that it sometimes doesn't start on the first try, but I had no clue about brake lights. In an act of supreme generosity showing both humanity and community spirit, the police officer did not write me a ticket, and I was honestly and sincerely gonna take care of it.
As I drove to the office, I counted at least a dozen broken brake lights. Sometimes, brake lights break. We brake a lot in LA. Upon arriving at office money job, I promptly took a coffee break and read through my car owners' manual. It turned out the brake lights would be easy to replace----just get some bulbs. Found auto parts store after work, bought bulbs for $4, and installed the next morning with minimum fuss (although I did back my car into a drain pipe and dented it and had to fix it). But I'm moving ahead---into the calm future, back to THAT day.
With my life in a state of calm (sorta), I turned my attention to my office. It is a very dysfunctional place, but what is dysfunctional without a bit of fun??? So I try to keep the fun in dysfunctional. Or I think of it all as the Titanic, and I'm Kate Winslet----so if one day you find me floating on a piece of furniture blowing on a whistle, well, it all sank. But there's no Leo character at the office and no gun-waving lunatic ex-fiancÚ either. So maybe the office is more like a train, an antique train chugging and winding its way through a mountain pass. IthinkIcan, IthinkIcan, IthinkIcan. No, no wait, there's more, a lot more. Tornadoes of melodrama----big giant twisters of melodrama tearing ass through the countryside--- the unsuspecting get sucked into them and spit out. So there's been a lot of sucking and spitting in my office lately. I try to keep my head down and stay dry.
As the day progressed, I realized that I had to do something, I had to make plans for something, I couldn't go to sleep that night thinking about brake lights and office melodramas. Then I remembered that Powderfinger was in town.
Powderfinger is an Aussie band. Their album, Odyssey Number Five, is awesome. They have a new album, Vulture Street, which is not available in the States. I don't remember what possessed me to buy Odyssey Number 5. I went through an Ozzie bands phase a few years ago (The Cruel Sea, oh yeah). I think I was also going through an Odyssey thing (as in Homer) too. Right now, I'm kind of in an Inferno thing (as in Dante). Rings of hell----yep, sometimes I'm living it.
I think what clinched the whole Powderfinger idea in my brain on THAT day was that since they're Australian, they're not in LA every week. Powderfinger was the key, the one, the thing that would it all better. Yes, I would go see Powderfinger in the middle of the week on a school night.
After job and brake bulb buying, I went to the gym. I mention the gym because even though I had a kick-ass workout, I also pulled my back---which was not pleasant the next day. It was my own darn fault---I broke form and didn't breathe right. Still, the one day in over a year that I pull my back out is THAT day.
Down Sunset I drove as I munched on raw veggies and searched for parking. It's times like these that I miss New York, and I'm surprised that more people in Los Angeles don't just park in the middle of the street out of sheer frustration. I guess it's because we're all so nice out here---we're really so NICE out here---can't you see how freakin nice we are.
I finally lucked out with parking and found a $10 lot with an empty space. I locked my car and skipped down the street, across the crosswalk, down past the Key Club and the Search for America's Next Top Super Model wrap party. By the way, if you're 5'8" and want to feel short, walk past a gaggle of super models. I slowed down as I arrived at the Roxy. Ticket, over-21 wrist band. And I could hear it. The opening band had already started.
I walked in the room, and the opening band, the Red West, was on stage. The Red West---try saying that ten times fast. They were adorable. Four boys who could have been maybe 21. The bass player had the beginnings of a mohawk. The singer had a white collar shirt with no tears or stains. He looked like he just left his temp job to gyrate around the stage in a hyperspastic way. You could just tell he wanted to be Bono, and he could sing too. I was impressed with the cuteness. I wanted to adopt them---those cute boys singing their rock songs. They were pretty good too---you could tell they practiced. Awwwww.
Then a break. I purchased and drank a $6 Corona in a plastic cup. I realized that the entire LA ex-pat Aussie population was in the room. I spoke with one girl who loved powDARfinGAR and had seen them 33 times. I kid you not, 33 times, she said. I don't think I've ever done anything 33 times and still kept count.
Then Powderfinger (aka the adults) took the stage. Most of them were in dark blue collar shirts. The lead singer guy, Bernard Fanning, was in a black and red stripe shirt. And they all had good hair---not big hair, mind you---it was well-conditioned.
Yep, there's a reason I'm not a rock critic---I'd probably ask bands about hair product and if they can iron their own shirts.
Then Powderfinger played---most of the songs were off Odyssey Number Five.
If you treat me like a dog And keep me locked in a cage I'm not relaxed or comfortable I'm aggravation and rage.
It's Tuesday night. I haven't even hit my hump day yet. Will this week ever be over? And then what? And then what?
It's coming round again The slowly creeping hand Of time and its demands It settles in its place Its shadow in my face Undignified and lame This life well it's slipping right through my hands These days turned out nothing Like I had planned.
No kidding. Get bumped by a drunk blonde guy. Whatever.
Come and rescue me From in the water deep Careful now don't lose your aim The road ahead is clear again I haven't found it yet
I remember listening to them on a bus in New York on those days when I would just ride the bus to get somewhere even though it would take twice as long. Or those days when I got on the bus and didn't know where I wanted to go and just go.
Welcome to the saving grace There's a sunset on the road Reappearing as we go
There's a guy in front of me with glasses and a baseball cap. He's older than me. I think he's having a religious experience.
And you'd sleep through heaven Just to get to hell
Bumped again by drunken blonde guy. Whatever.
Tell me where I'm Supposed to begin An unhappy life working Some kind of dead end job For everything you thought you had Has gone from worse to bad
We all start singing to that one. We all know the words. This song is sooo our lives. But then it springs out in the bridge.
But it's not my kind of scene oh yeah Footprints on the other side Remind me where I've been oh yeah I'll watch from the other side.
I needed this. Not a full-on party night---just a little break----a break lite.
Of course they came out for an encore after the ritualistic clapping. Their last song was the song I'd been waiting for all night:
So you come in and put your bags down I know there's something in the air How can I do this to your right now If you're over there when I need you here
(BIG GUITAR, BIG CYMBAL CLASH)
My happiness is slowly creeping back Now you're at home If it ever starts sinking in It must be when you pack up and go