PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Spoonerism

I’m trying to remember how many times I’ve seen the band Spoon, and if my mind isn’t playing tricks on me, it’s about 100 times. OK, more like 7. Although Tim, with whom I’ve seen almost every show, claims to remember about 4, which means he is wrong. What about the Esplanade? What about Northampton?

Not to mention the Roxy, where they sold the place out and yet somehow it remained sparsely crowded. Even Britt Daniel scratched his head about that one, noting aloud, “this is sold out?!” I heard afterward that the owners of the Roxy and the city were in some kind of battle, and the city was punishing the club by seriously curtailing the number of tickets that could be sold. I’m almost certainly misinformed about that, but something was up that limited the gate (not demand.)

Here’s the thing about Spoon: they became popular with Gimme Fiction and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, but my two favorite albums are their first and second. (Agreed, that’s not something about Spoon as much as it is something about me.) And unfortunately, they never play songs from those records anymore. Their second album is called A Series of Sneaks, and I have half a mind (or three quarters or maybe even 19/20ths of a mind) to message Britt Daniel and say, “You should do a few shows where you play A Series of Sneaks from beginning to end.” (In my town).

And he’ll laugh with great gusto!

He wouldn’t even play “Quincy Punk Episode” when I saw them at the House of Blues, despite his having heard me yell out for him to do so. I want to see this performed live before I leave this planet:

 

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The Dental Nazi

The meanest person I’ve ever met in my life was the dental hygienist who visited my grammar school once a year back in the 1970s.

She looked nice enough on the surface, smiled when she came in and unpacked her educational toolkit of toothbrush and model teeth, but then she’d ask a question and the answer from one of my half asleep classmates would cause her to snap: “Didn’t I just tell you that teeth are stronger than bone? So how can you tell me teeth are made of bone!?”

There may be no stupid questions, but she was here to let us know that there were plenty of stupid answers. And frankly, she thought our questions were pretty stupid as well. This may be the only thing that she and I ever agreed on: there are stupid questions aplenty, and we kids were famous for asking them.

As the grammar school years wore on, I learned to brace myself for each yearly visit by our ornery dental hygienist, brushing carefully that morning in case my mouth was to be inspected, and reminding myself not to ask a question or answer one unless forced to do so.

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Black Joe

You may not believe this, but I’m currently riding a huge emotional high. As I’m well-known for having a gloomy demeanor, to find me walking with a spring in my step must be jarring for the American public. If I’ve taken my fellow citizens out of their comfort level, I apologize. It’s just what happens to me when I see a great rock show.

The obvious question is, what show could possibly have changed my normally dour disposition, even in these trying days of political assininity? The answer is Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. (But you knew that!)

First of all, how am I able to see this band for just $17? Does Black Joe have a benefactor or something, allowing people like me to see the show at a steep discount? If not, the ticket price makes no economic sense. I can do almost nothing else in the world for $17, but somehow I’m able to see this great soul/funk band tear it up in the small Middle East club in Cambridge, MA, on the corner of Mass Ave and Brookline Street, where so much great music comes and goes. Since I may be the last person on earth who actually buys physical copies of albums, I don’t think they are making much money from CD or record sales. So what gives?

My friend Tim says bands like this are licensing their work. I suppose. But can they possibly earn enough to make ends meet in this extra large band that Black Joe totes around? I believe there were six Honeybears on stage with him on Friday night, blowing into horns, banging and strumming and so forth. That’s a lot of sweaty guys to put into hotels, feed, and drive around, all because of licensing deals and $17 a ticket in a venue that holds about 350 people.

I’m sure you’re expecting me to review the show in detail, but that would be a waste of your time. All you need to know is that I give it such a huge thumbs up that I’m going to demand that Howard go to Blackjoelewis.com, select the “shows” page, and then buy a low-priced ticket to see the band in Minneapolis. That way, he can finally see them do “I’m Broke” live and in person.

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Daily Lamentation

Have you a favorite lamentation? Personally, I enjoy Lamentations 2:10, where the elders gird themselves with sackcloth, which is still in great supply today. At this time of year, my friend Mark is always exhorting me to gird myself – specifically my loins – for the battle ahead, so that I may prevail against the enemy. Currently, the enemy is the Pittsburgh Steelers (or, as the Brits would say, are the Pittsburgh Steelers), and they themselves are busy girding loins left and right, possibly also with sackcloth.

Of course, I’m not involved in the battle, except that I’m watching with great interest.

This happens to be an excellent time in the history of our great nation for lamenting. Who doesn’t wake up these days and immediately think, For the love of Pete, look at everything there is to lament!?: our bee colonies are collapsing; you go to the mall to buy something you probably don’t need and someone decides to spray the place with bullets; the latest of the crazy North Korean dictators has the bomb and one of these days is bound to make an ICBM that won’t drop into the ocean. And worst of all, you have to look at that stupid haircut for the next four years.

I’m sure some of you would prefer not to lament, so you’re hoping the NFL games this weekend will provide sufficient escapism to take your mind off all the negative, but the fact is every few minutes you’re bound to wonder if you just witnessed someone’s brain being jostled inside his skull. Talk about a lamentation!

This is why I weep:
The enemy has prevailed
With a blow to the head
of a defenseless receiver.

I actually spent some time recently not lamenting when I saw Slim Jim and the Mad Cows do their country-fried rock thang (you gotta see them do The Immigrant Song). It was the perfect antidote to daily lamentations of girding with sackcloth. Maybe if I see more bands, the next four years will be less painful. It’s definitely something I’m willing to try.

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