Sunday, August 27, 2006

Aided and Avett-ed

Not to disappoint Nathan, I must log the sonorous pleasure of an Avett Bros. concert at Blue Cats.

I was a little uncertain at first, sitting on the sidewalk with a current issue of Metropulse, waiting for the gate to open and, more specifically, for folks I know to show up. Enter Bill Wolf and Greg Adkins - two fellow musketeers of the married and musical variety. Yes, says I, I am not relegated to a lone barstool and an evening of marvelling at magic to no one in particular. And magic it was, but that comes later.

We secured a table and a number of stools and began to wait out the doldrums between soundcheck and opening act. I had told Greg that, being on a budget of the $10 I had in my pocket (which went to buy my way in), I was only going to have a beer if he was buying (which he wasn't). Enter, Stephen Cox. In his mischievous way, he snuck onto a seat, and was amongst us before we could raise our defenses - and he bought me a Red Stripe, the good lad. Soon after, Nathan and Britta entered in succession. Conversations began, and we were well on the way to an integrated round-table celebration worthy of our New City ancestry - not to live in the past or anything. And then the Everybodyfields took the stage, and the country boy in us all took flight, well accompanied by a girl on the fiddle and another on both electric and lap steel (cranked with enough overdrive to leave you breathless with the sheer soaring tone). Insert: small problem. Nathan was about to slaughter the sound man (who was right in front of us) and take over to avert the wealth of feedback that was being experienced. Luckily, the technician averted his own demise by passing the buck to the Avett's personal soundman.

We paused for a break after being lulled into a trusting submission by the Everybodyfields. Little did we know that we were softened up for the pummeling. After an endless thirty minutes, three gentlemen came out on stage. One, who picked up an upright bass, looked like a muscular version of one of my highschool band directors. The other two resembled later incarnations of Paul McCartney, at least as far as hair is concerned. The two brothers were clad in a classy grey and black, complete with a vest which I hope would look as good on anyone, and they donned a banjo and a guitar and began to lay siege to our castles of what music ought to be. The first thing noticeable was the banjo player was kick-pedalling on a bass drum, and the guitar player was well into the destruction of a hi-hat with his right foot. He promptly broke the pedal to it on the first song - that's hard to do, if you're not aware. For the next hour and a half, the Avett Brothers kept their guitar tech busy with broken string after broken string, never missing a beat, and never relenting.

We couldn't sit down. It had the energy of a punk rock show, but it was bluegrass (but not quite). The beer was plentious, but the crowd moved like a tent revival congregation. The devil-sold spirit of Robert Johnson didn't seem far-fetched.
After a severe thrashing of the instruments, the vocals, and the general party spirit of the place (with a tinge of an Irish pub), they brought back the Everybodyfields and finished off the entire night with Roy Orbison's All I Have to Do is Dream, and we all sang along.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Through the Eye of a Needle

Kat and I did a little babysitting today. Not much trouble, just taking her cousins out to a movie with one of their friends. We saw Tim Allen's latest excercise in goofiness, Zoom. Don't go see it without kids and a healthy appetite for popcorn. I have to admit though, I had a good time, and I liked the movie, though not in the usual Cronenberg/Tarkovsky/Polanski frame of mind. And we crowned the evening out with a trip to Pizza Inn and their fabulous buffet, lack of feta cheese notwithstanding.

Once we got back to the friend's house, the learning began. We stayed at the house with the kids while the adults were away (we are not adults, I think), and spent our time marvelling at the monstrosity of said abode. We mounted to the attic room, where there was a seemingly full-service bar, a pool table, a poker table, an enormous HDTV, etc. I would go on, but I have a tendency to get cynical. We started to shoot a game of 8-ball, but the overwhelming feeling of a deep-seated coldness was too much to really do any relaxing. Enter, the family. While they are nice people with a great sense of style, they seemed almost like the little boy who incessantly petitions his mother to look at the plastic dinosaurs that are waging war in his wonderful, creative hands. The time we spent with them seemed to almost fill me with pain for them. I longed to put my arms around my wife and sit in the quiet of our room, where the company and the small space have that sense of home, what the Germans call "gemutlig."

I don't know if they know Jesus. They didn't seem to have a grasp of beauty and love, and truth. They didn't appear to see any glimpse of Bigness and the world's finiteness and the Almighty. Once I got out of the house and began to breathe again, I felt more deeply the hope in my heart and the lack in that place. I wanted to weep in pain and be thankful all at the same time. I don't know if any of the feelings I've had tonight are right, or sinful, or holy, but I thank God that I must live hand to mouth at times, and dependent always. I can always gain the whole world, but what shall I pay for it?

My wife wept tonight over her distance from her bosom friend in Florida - her greatest wish: that she could be with him as his life seems to fall to pieces. I must certainly learn not to take my friends for granted, but that's not the point tonight. We argued because I felt hurt by her jealousy, and she felt lonely from my misunderstanding. But altogether, I am cut to bone by her sorrow, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I know this may sound strange, but I am, in some far-off place, glad for this grieving. These circumstances and friends she chose before I met her are her own, and we both knew they'd be hard to bear, and I'm proud of her for her heart, and for bearing the weight of mourning for the mournful. It's a wonderful, hurtful song that I wouldn't silence for its beauty.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A New Promise

I love moonlit nights, especially when the moon shines bright enough to cast shadows. Nights like tonight, when the waning gibbous in the east lights up the towering clouds out of the northwest, and they shine like silver in the deep blue of late evening. It always makes me feel like I'm on some pirate ship, standing in the rigging with the wind about me. The other night, she (the moon) rose the color of aged ivory, peeking out from behind a sheer cirrus veil - close enough to lingerie - and you could almost see her champagne blush. I thought of the value of people as I drove that night. I have recently started working at a Starbucks in Sevierville, and I was dismally shocked out of naivete to find the same sort of gossip there as I had experienced at Kingston Pike.

Gossip is akin to bearing false testimony. Not because some juicy, poisonous bit of news may be untrue, but because of the manner in which we bear it. When I say that my brother is rude and unseemly, I speak as if I describe the whole of his essence, when I do nothing of the sort. I actually reveal more about myself than I do my brother, as I endanger myself by saying, "You fool!" In truth, my brother is much more than my description of him, and indeed, much more than either of us can fathom. His heart is as deep water. But my ballistic words are believed, because we all know that we harbor monsters in our hearts, shackled in thin chains of human will; it's evident in our minds that mankind alone is far less likely to be good than bad. But, you might say, do we no also lie, then, when we speak good of people? No, for when I hear that my brother is a wonderful, hardworking fellow, I am fully prepared with an understanding that he might also have bad breath, because I (in all my perfection) have bad breath. However, if I hear that he is a sluggard, I am little disposed to see him as any more than such, since I bear an intrinsic knowledge of my own evil. Thus, I am plagued by an unclear and unmerciful picture of him, with no room to grow.

So, I made a promise. I am unfortunately not very good at remembering promises, so I decided to make fewer of them to keep from overloading the management. I promised myself that I would not speak ill of people. I hope that this bears the fruit of Love.

I can't wait for the next Harry Potter book. I'm a geek.