Pylon

Crazy (live)

R.E.M. – Crazy (live cover of a Pylon song)

A friend of mine recently posted about being taken to a concert by her parents when she was very young, a toddler really, and how you don’t see that happen these days. The very next day she saw Robyn Hitchcock at a small venue where a couple had brought their two young children under four to the show. It didn’t go well.

This whole situation reminded me of this one time at work a few years ago, when we had an office lunch outside in the summer, and the conversation turned to concerts we’d been to. A younger guy in our department, he was maybe 30 at the time, mentioned that he had always felt kind of cheated because he’d never been able to see some of his favorite bands when they were still touring. For example, he lamented that his mother could have brought him along to see R.E.M. play when he was a toddler. The very idea horrified me. I didn’t even like having frat boys at R.E.M. shows because of their lack of maturity, I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted actual pre-schoolers in attendance. Hoping to end that line of thought I said that as a mom I so enjoy going out on my own, to have a break from the kids, and would never want to bring them along because I wanted to enjoy myself and not be worried about my kid.¹

But the nightmare didn’t end there. Somehow the subject changed to what was the best concert you’ve ever seen. I can’t remember what most people answered because I was gripped with panic. What was I supposed to say? My best concerts are the best I’ve seen because of how they left me destroyed and exhilarated at the same time. I couldn’t reveal anything like that to co-workers. Of course I wouldn’t have to say that but I was afraid that even just naming the show would betray a level of privacy that I would then never be able to regain. I debated lying, just pick some show that everyone would nod about and move on to the next person, but I worried that my body language would give me away. I am sure I am the only person at the table who was overthinking this thing to death. Probably because of the young co-worker’s earlier mention of having been left at home with a babysitter instead of at an R.E.M. show, I was really sweating it. If I said the best show I’d seen was R.E.M. at a 3,000-person, beautiful old theater in Providence, Black Monday 1987, would he press me for details?² There in front of everyone? I would probably have suddenly been a much cooler person in his estimation but I have spent decades obfuscating my devotions and this hardly seemed like the opportune moment to trash it all.

Just as it was nearly my turn to have to come up with something, our boss arrived and the question was to put to her. She was in her mid- to late-sixties and she answered without hesitation, “The Beatles!” I immediately declared that no one could top that so we should all just stop trying. Crisis averted.

But it bothered me for days afterward that I had been so tormented about it. I still don’t know what I would have answered. Why should it be so difficult for me to say what my best concert experience was? I toyed with the idea of telling him separately later but ultimately decided against it. I am still plagued by the fear that this knowledge in the wrong hands would be my undoing. Whether through cluelessness or maliciousness, I never wanted anyone to be able to unmask me. If people don’t know what your buttons are, they can’t push them.

When your favorite concerts are life-altering events, intensely personal defining moments, giving that away is too hard.

1. I would take my daughter with me to a show if she showed any interest but it’s only been in the last two years or so that I would have felt comfortable doing so.

2. Black Monday, October 19, 1987, the largest single-day crash in stock market history. Also, now a Showtime series. Something tells me they don’t include the awesome R.E.M. concert that night in the series.

P.S. Coincidentally, today (11/18) marks the 10th anniversary of the last R.E.M. show ever. My own last R.E.M. show was, holy shit, more than 29 years ago.

P.P.S. While I have bootlegs (tapes) of a number of the shows I went to, so far this is the only video I’ve found from an R.E.M. show I was at. Not the last, but close to it. Even sharing this video here is hard for me and I’m only doing it because it’s on YouTube and there’s nothing preventing you from finding it on your own. Dodgy quality but what do you expect for 29-year-old video filmed on a smuggled-in video camera?

Crazy

Pylon – Crazy (live)

“This is for the girls.”

The world seems genuinely crazy right now. Each and every day there’s something else to add to the heap. I keep seeing “dumpster fire” being used to explain it but I feel more like it’s one of those tanker ships full of trash, on fire, giving off toxic fumes, and it’s coming for us. You can see it and smell it long before it crashes into land but can we push it back out to sea in time?

Today was not a good day. The ceiling (do you call it that?) in my car is drooping and feels gross. The on/off button on my iPod is stuck so it’s essentially broken. These are minor annoyances compared to the anxiety-inducing Bernie supporters who are booing and shouting over progressive politicians just because they’re sad their candidate didn’t win. Look, I understand the person you wanted to win, and were really excited to vote for, didn’t get the nomination and that sucks. Really, I do. Do you know how many times the person I wanted to have as the nominee didn’t win? Nearly every time.

Clinton/Kaine is not an exciting ticket. We don’t need exciting though, we need to pack the bench on the Supreme Court and get whatever we can through Congress. Push for more progressive and inclusive policies from the inside. It will be work but it won’t be impossible, like it would be if Trumppence and the orange shirts should come into power. I can’t understand how the prospect of that doesn’t terrify the vast majority of the nation, but especially anyone who claims to believe in what Bernie was preaching, and that you wouldn’t do everything you could to prevent it.

“There are no answers, only reasons to be strong”

I’m not crazy.

(The Pylon live album came out today. Get it here.)

Stop It

Pylon – Stop It

Hey! Kids! I’m in the crunch phase of a project at work and it’s the end of the school year, there’s a lot going on. Still, I did drive to work today and I did listen to a tape in the car so here we go. This Tape Deck Tuesday was just one of the cassettes where you wanted to have some albums on tape for the car or Walkman and not because you were creating some masterpiece.

Side A:
The Replacements
Let It Be/Stink

Side B:
The Replacements – Stink
Pylon – Gyrate

I’ve already written about Let It Be so I’m going with the Pylon track. Also because I just finished reading No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes, an oral history of City Gardens in Trenton, NJ. I was only at City Gardens once, to see Pylon in 1989. It was right before I graduated from college and I think now what lucky timing because if they had come through just a few days later, I would have left the area and missed the tour.

It’s no surprise that I first learned about Pylon because R.E.M. covered Crazy and talked about them a lot back in the mid-80s. I love that song. I had to know more. I can’t remember if I bought Gyrate or Chomp first but I have them both still, complete with the DB Records order form inside to order more great stuff! No matter which album I had first, I became a devoted fan. Some of the songs are just fun. “Precaution” comes to mind. Or “Read a Book.” You should see the way my kids look at me when I sing “Turn off the tv! You can learn more try to do without it.” Others are bit more nuanced, even if Vanessa is kind of shouting the lyrics as much as she is singing. Some of my favorite song lyrics are Pylon lyrics.

Speaking of books again, I really enjoyed the City Gardens book. If you had never been there, or weren’t aware of its legendary status, I’m not sure it has a lot of appeal. There are recollections of shows from band members who performed there as well as staff and club regulars. Since I was only there the one time, I didn’t really have much knowledge of the scene back then but I liked how each chapter/year began with a list of that year’s top 10 hits. Nothing could have been further from those top 10 than the stories that follow the listing. I’m not even a fan of most of the hardcore bands that are featured but I can appreciate how City Gardens was an oasis for kids in the area.

1989 was a period of time when Pylon was active in their on again/off again way. They had yet to put out Chain but a CD had been released that was a selection of songs from their two early albums. I loved the show. It was a small crowd, which always hurts a little, but on the other hand, I had plenty of room for dancing. Now rock & roll now!

My show may not have made the cut for inclusion in the book but I’m very glad that City Gardens existed and that I got to see Pylon there. I still have the t-shirt I bought that night and I consider it to be one of my most prized possessions. Sorry to say I have no idea if Jon Stewart was working the bar back then.

 

 

No Clocks

Pylon – No Clocks

Here we are, back to Eastern Standard Time. Boo. Hiss. Bah humbug.

I hate this day. So many people just adore the day we set the clocks back because they think they gain an hour of sleep. Unless you are a childless person who has to set the alarm and be at work somewhere early Sunday morning then no, you do not get an extra hour of sleep. You wake up at whatever time you would wake up and, if you’ve set your clock back before you go to bed, it is whatever time it says it is.

What you lost, however, is an hour of daylight at the end of the day. I guess if you live significantly farther south or at the western edge of your time zone, this isn’t such a big deal. Here in New England we are at the eastern edge of the time zone and from now until after the winter solstice, it’s all down hill. Let’s weigh it up. One hour of sleep, if you actually woke up, looked at the clock and said, “Oh good, I can sleep for another hour!” and then successfully fell back asleep on this one Sunday, or plunging darkness at the end of the work day for the next two to three months. Hmmm.

Overly dramatic, maybe. I think I have undiagnosed (because I’ve never done anything other than bitch about the darkness) Seasonal Affective Disorder and my office is a windowless interior space so to leave at the end of the day and have it already be dark, just depresses the life out of me.

I went to the grocery store late this afternoon and the clouds that had covered the sky for much of the day were breaking apart with the last rays of the sun lighting them up with amazing colors. I stopped to take a picture. It was 4:44 p.m.

sunset

The sky at 4:44 p.m. on November 3, 2013

Pretty. But I would find it much prettier if it had been more like 7 p.m. If only we could spring forward in March and then never fall back.