Now that the damnable pandemic "is over" (I actually found myself uttering that phrase recently), I can finally take in a good old-fashioned rock show again. And I deserve it, having had 18 months of my precious early-mid-life stolen from me by the evil virus.
Prior to the unwelcome arrival of the bug in spring 2020, I was in possession of three sets of concerts tickets, including the horn-driven afrobeat New Yorkers Antibalas, and that Australian bad seed himself, Nick Cave.
And also Pussy Riot! Having by that point in late winter spent many an hour pedaling my bicycle while wearing an un-mandated mask not unlike the variety of balaclava used by those rocking Muscovites, I could not imagine myself donning one on a sweaty rock club stage, as the anti-Putin collective did nightly whilst hollering undecipherable epithets into microphones.
These days wearing a face covering indoors in sweaty nightclubs is pretty much required. Look, if that's what's required, I'm in.
Tickets started going on sale in late spring,and I snapped them up for Thee Oh Sees and The Mountain Goats, even though it seemed entirely unlikely that these shows would ever happen, given the rise of the malevolent delta variant of COVID-19. The tickets represented hopes and dreams rather than actual plans.
But those awesome concerts really did happen, as did a recent show by the Garden State punk outfit Titus Andronicus at the Sinclair in Cambridge, the best venue in the history of small rock show venues. Playing their second album in its entirety, Patrick Stickles and his bandmates brought back the energy that had been missing from my very late nights for a year and a half.
Unlike Pussy Riot, Titus band members didn't bother wearing balaclavas or any other face coverings while bellowing into mics, but for obvious reasons indoor mask mandates don't extend to touring punk bands while they are on stage.
Back in the old days (like, 2 years ago), I could conduct a team meeting and be completely certain that no one was listening to me. They'd be talking amongst themselves, surreptitiously passing love notes to one another, launching spitballs at the crown of my head when I would look down at my notes, and so forth. This would leave me with no choice but to clear my throat and bang my gavel, shouting, "there will be order in this meeting room!"
Now, with only the sounds of Jeb from communications munching on potato chips and Gail from finance trying but failing to squelch nervous laughter, I'd return to the topic of whether the annual employee summer outing should be held at a newly established ax-throwing pavilion, or instead at a beer garden. Or both (ax throwing first, needless to say).
But now, over Zoom, I get silence, even though there is collectively more noise surrounding my team members than ever: dogs are barking, kids are screaming, spouses are running the blender in the next room over to make smoothies. I hear none of it because everyone's audio is muted. Which means I also get zero reaction to anything I say. "Any questions? Thoughts? Opinions? How are things going? Does the lack of any discernable reaction indicate that everyone's doing OK? Is that a yes? Would you please raise your hand to indicate that you're alive?"
Hands go up. People are still alive, if maybe not entirely well.
When you encounter an advertisement of smiling people handing varieties of Yoplait yogurt to one another other, you probably think, "Hey, gee, those people are passing along a healthy, fermented dairy product, packed with hundreds of millions of good bacteria that aid in digestion."
What do I see when I view the same advertisement? I see a lot of single-use plastic.
I am almost 100% certain that one cannot buy yogurt in any form in my local supermarket without it being packaged in plastic.
Wait! That is unless my supermarket happens to offer one of the Yoplait brands that appears in that same commercial, which turns out to be a French variety of yogurt called Oui. The process for this variety may be a little different than others, but I care less about that than the fact that Oui comes in a "glass pot" with a foil top. When packaged as a 4-pack, cardboard is added. Ergo, no plastic at all.
Yeah, I know, you don't really care. Because "plastic is recyclable." Oh is it? Maybe sometimes. But just because you throw your waste into single stream recycling bins doesn't mean it will ever get recycled, at least according to this scary Frontline report, with horrifying images of the oceans and beaches awash in unrecycled plastic.
Anyway, you might not think or care about it and keep on buying your yogurt in plastic packaging. Meanwhile, I am going to start shopping for yogurt the way I shop for eggs: avoid the plastic packaging.
(Since when I have ever gotten environmental on you in these pages, anyway?)
It seems like just yesterday – ok, maybe two or three days ago – that the Red Sox were disencumbering the 2004 Yankees of yet more American League Championship hardware by winning the final four games of that seven-game series to cap the most excruciating and scintillating era of sports in my lifetime. The series included Dave Roberts' stolen base and tying run, an 11-inning game, a 14-inning game, a bloody sock, and the absolute pummeling of the despised (by me) Yanks in the Bronx. My life was changed forever!
Prior to that moment, everything was shit. I had nothing to live for. Sure, I had a wife who loved me (well, liked me – I think) and a dog who loved me as well (well, appreciated that I fed her), a house, a good job, and bike. But I also had one hell of an attitude and clothing that fit poorly.
When the Sox finally won a World Series after 86 years of frustration, avenues of hope opened for me. I became the head of a large corporation and everyone, even my dog, became effusive with adoration. (You can fact check that; I'll give you some highly reliable sources.) People threw jobs at me for which I was completely unqualified. To show my appreciation I rose to the occasion, mostly by taking night classes. I became famous in the quiet sort of way that humble people like myself become famous, which is to say not terribly famous at all. Still, people looked at me differently. They said that I had a bounce in my step, which people had formerly misinterpreted as a limp. Ha, me, limp. Not a chance!
Anyway, today those same Red Sox (sort of) will be playing those same Yankees (kind of, ish,) to determine who has the right to lose to the Rays in the divisional series. (Why does the world have to have Rays anyway!). A one-game long series in which you win or go home. No six-game lead-up to the final chapter or any of that other nonsense!
I'll be watching. Will you?