Dr Strangedate, Part 4: The Groupie and One Drink Disasters.

After the general disaster of my first OKCupid date, I decided to be a little more cautious. I wasn’t going to fall into the same traps I found myself in on that first experience. I would get to know the prospective date before agreeing to meet. At the very least, a week of phone calls and emails would be my rule.

Sifting through their site is a challenge. You can never search very close to home, they only allow you to search at a minimum of 25 miles. So instead of all local singles, I would end up with a handful of people in my area and the rest would all be from the North Shore and Boston area. This was a little frustrating at times, but I figured at the very least the site was helping me expand my horizons. Foolishly, I was still under the impression OKCupid had my best interests at heart. Oh, I was so naive.

I quickly broke my own rules by agreeing to meet for drinks with someone after only one email. A pattern emerged rather quickly with the “meet for drinks” dates. Starting with a casual response to my ad and quickly suggesting we go for a drink, somewhere in the middle and neutral. And since most of my matches showed up from the North Shore and Boston, even meeting in the middle was a bit of a hike. But all of these meet and drink dates ended the same: going our seperate ways, both dissatisfied with the experience. I was always early, waiting at the bar. I could always recognize the date from their entrance: standing in thedoorway, scanning the room with an expectant smile. Then, they saw me….and one of two things happened: an outright look of “ewwwww” or that pained, forced smile, the kind you reserve for your Uncle when he tells a raunchy and inapropriate joke at a funeral.

A couple went so far as to make eye contact with me but quickly look away and rush out the door. One even texted me after dashing out the door, explaining that she couldn’t make it to the restaurant due to her inability to get a babysitter. I messaged back “Do you live in the parking lot?” She never got back to me. One woman I met for dinner in Newburyport, which is actually rather close to me. We had great conversation, a few drinks and even some dinner. I thought we were having a lovely time. At the end of the meal, she gave me a big hug and when I suggested getting together again, she started laughing loudly. “No thanks, I think I’ll pass!” There was a distinct tone of “ewwww” in her voice.

During all these disastrous little dates, I had met a woman on the site that I thought I had connected with. Her name was Emily and she grew up with the same crowd I hung out with: punk rocker kids hanging in Harvard Square. Yeah, I used to be one of those punks, black mohawk, combat boots and trenchcoat, the whole halloween costume, just lounging around Harvard Square. I have always lamented the fact that I lost touch with all the great people I used to know back then, not to mention all the bands I counted as friends. And it turned out, Emily knew all the same people! She was like a lost connection to my forgotten past. I was dying to meet her but I decided to wait. We talked, emailed and texted for almost two weeks.

Her favorite restaurant just happened to be my all-time favorite place in Boston. The Border Cafe on Church St. was just beyond my favorite movie theater to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show (which you can read about in an older post about my adventures in the square https://glassowater.wordpress.com/2008/08/03/im-a-rocky-horror-fan-or-lets-do-the-time-warp-again/ ). I had been dining there since the day they first opened their doors. Anytime I find myself in Harvard Square, you can usually find me there at some point. It all seemed so perfect. We were so alike. What could possibly go wrong?

I planned the day according to my previously established rules. Instead of meeting her outside the city, we decided to meet at the restaurant. This gave me a plausible excuse to disapear if I had to. We had spent 2 weeks chatting, so it was well established we had much in common. Our activity together was dinner at our mutual favorite restaurant of all time followed by Newbury Comics and other such window shopping activities, with a trip to Faneuil Hall planned for the latter part of the day if time allowed. I had planned the perfect OKCupid date. Right? Escapes routes, mutual interests, lots in common, what could go wrong?

I waited in the bar at the Border Cafe, watching the door. It was a cold and blustery February day in the city. Emily knew how to make an entrance: the door blew open and she swept into the room, a flurry of flying scarfs, her long coat billowing in the breeze. She took off her woolen hat to reveal platinum blonde hair streaked with purple. Scanning the room, she found me immediately and smiled. Not a forced smile, but a genuine giddy smile. And holy crap, she was so much cuter than her pictures suggested: big smile, beautiful eyes framed by librarian girl glasses. I was won over in seconds. She came running up to the bar and gave me a hug and smooched me on the cheek.

Wow, this was starting out well…..

We sat down for dinner. I immediately start talking about music. I figured this was a good place to start since we both loved music so much. I start mentioning all the bands I used to know, the people I hung out, the guys at TAANG! Records who used to have their office in the square, bringing up all the little connections I knew we had. She smiled and laughed as I talked about the old times. Finally, I asked how she met everyone from these bands, people I called friends back in the days of the old punk scene. Her response? “Oh So-and-So? I fucked him.” She then proceeded to recount, in rather colorful and descriptive language, all of her sexual conquests. “I sucked his dick, fucked that one, had a three way with them”… I quickly realized something: she wasn’t a friend of any of these people, she was a professional GROUPIE!!  Her list didn’t end with my friends, oh no. She started to recount, in graphic detail, every band she has gone back stage and serviced over the years. I was a little horrified. Is this really dinner conversation? Telling your date that you screwed, sucked and cornholed your way through all their friends? What would the future hold for such a coupling? Every time she said she was going to a concert, do you sit home with a portable STD testing kit so you can swab her and run some tests as soon as she gets home?

Once The Groupie got a foothold in the conversation, she never stopped talking. The rest of dinner sounded like this:

“Me me  me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me…. you? Me me me me me me, etc”

I could not get a word in edgewise. I felt battered into hanging out with her because there was never breathing room for me to object or to implement my escape plan. At one point, we were standing on a platform waiting for a train and as it approached, I seriously considered just leaping in front of it just to make her shut the fuck up! Finally, outside Faneuil Hall, I got a moment to myself, texted a friend to call me. We faked an emergency and said our goodbyes. She kissed me on the cheek, saying it was nice to meet me. I dashed off for the Goverment Center T station, but first I made a quick stop at CVS. Alcohol swabs were on sale that day…

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Dr. StrangeDate Part Three: Attack of the Dates From Hell! Act 1 – The First Date

When I started this adventure with online dating, I went in with hopes high. I expected to have fun and put aside any of my previous impressions, doubts or fears. I went into the experience with an open heart and an open mind. I truly believed that opening up myself completely to the experience would allow me to meet people I would normally never meet in my little life. To accomplish this, I adhered to one simple rule: say yes to everyone. Anyone who caught my attention, yes. Anyone who wrote me back, yes. Anyone who suggested a date, yes, yes, yes! I wasn’t going to deny myself any opportunity that may present itself. As it turns out, when it comes to online dating, perhaps a bit more selectivity was in order. Perhaps a bit more caution on my part could have saved me a lot of time and trouble. This was definitely not one of my smarter moves in life.

From the very first date, I had worries about my approach to this online dating world. After posting my profile, the first person to respond was a woman calling herself CoffeeGirl. Is it bad that I remember her handle and not her actual name? After only a few email interactions, she suddenly asked me to come spend the day with her in Boston. And by sudden, I mean after only two emails. “Let’s get together this sunday!” I have to admit, I kinda liked her style. She was approaching this dating thing in much the same way as me: dive in head first and get the ball rolling. No pussyfooting around with emails getting to know one another. Screw that! Let’s just go out and see what happens. I said yes to the date and we met up in South Boston after a big snow storm.

I had a bad feeling from early on that sunday. I called her asking for directions. “What the fuck? You don’t have a gps?” Sadly, I only had a phone with text capability. I had yet to graduate to the smart phone. “Oh, by the way….I shoveled out a spot for you to park in, so you better appreciate it!” I don’t know if you have ever been to South Boston, but there seems to be this big to-do about shoveled out parking spots. Aparantly, there is a neighborhood watch system to make sure nobody steals anyone’s shoveled out parking spots. And woe to the person who does. From my vague understanding of it all, I guess somehow, Whitey Bulger finds out and puts a hit out on your ass. Something like that.

I finally find my way to her house and that oh-so-coveted parking spot. She met me at the curb. I’m not one to judge someone on looks, so I usually try to look beyond that initial first impression. Not to mention that these modern websites almost require you to post a picture of yourself. What they should do is require you to take a picture right when you post your profile because, I’m sorry, she looked nothing like her picture. Straggly long straight hair, kinda blown back from her forehead, a weird puglike nose I hadn’t really noticed in her profile pics and an oddly shaped body that, at first, gave the impression that there were various large root vegetables fighting for space under her clothes. Her voice was gravelly and nasal all at the same time, an effect that I had hoped was just a bad phone connection before but now, hearing her speak in all her unfiltered glory, I realized that’s really how she sounds. “Hi George!!”

From her house, we caught the T (Boston’s Transit system) into Boston and literally wandered aimlessly. No plan, no goals, just wandered in the cold and snow. The only true goals we had were find lunch and then find dinner later on. She was perfectly happy to wander the city, as was I except for one thing: I was rapidly running out of conversation. Turns out, Coffeegirl wasn’t much for arts, music, politics and all the stuff I love. She loved sports. Sports and nothing but sports. Nothing turns me off faster than someone who is one dimensional and CG was quickly proving to have a one track mind. And as I ran out of conversation, I realized to my horror that I was trapped in the city with her. Even if I had made a run for it, for the life of me, I could not remember which T stop was hers. I was stuck. After grabbing some excellent sushi, the one high light of the day, she insisted we go to one of the bars near TD Garden to watch the Bruins and play pool.

Me…in a sports bar.

This woman really knew nothing about me. Nor did she care. Nor did she know what city she was in because it turns out, she was not a fan of the black and gold, no, no. She was a huge fan of the Flyers, the team the Bruins were set to square off with that evening. That’s right. I know you are probably way ahead of me but yes, she wanted to go to a Boston sports bar in the heart of the city and scream and cheer for the opposing team. As you can imagine, this went over spectacularly well with the locals in the bar. Not only did she scream at the tv, badmouth the Bruins loudly and basically make an obnoxious ass out of herself, but she cursed out many patrons of the bar. She even went so far as to call an entire pool table of people a bunch of Bruins loving pussies. When I noticed the the locals starting to circle us like wolves around a wounded deer, I suggested we head to another bar and thankfully she agreed but not before some parting insults to the Bruins fans in the room. I basically had to shove her out the door before the the crowd started lighting torches and took chase after us.

After watching the final minutes of the game in a bar many blocks away, I suggested we hop on the T and head back. She agreed. I felt this great sense of relief as the train pulled into our final stop. Turns out, if I had decided to run and hop on the T, all I had to do was wait for the final stop on that line and I was there. Oh hindsight….

We made it back to her house and as my car warmed up, we sat on the couch. The silence was deafening. I was scouring my brain, trying to find something to say, some way to end the night that didn’t give the impression that I had a miserable day. And really, a day in Boston, even with odd company, is still a good day in my opinion. We had seen a good chunk of the city, Boston Common, had some world-class sushi and window shopped on Newbury street. So despite the fact that we would never have anything beyond this date, it had really been a good day. And just as I was about to say all that, she kissed me. A big sloppy, bit drooly, kiss. Not much surprises me but I have to admit, that kiss was a huge surprise. Not just because I wasn’t expecting it, and really, let’s face facts here, I had no attraction to this woman at all. No, I was surprised because she was so bad at it. I would have thought that she would have one thing she would be good at, her special talent that she thought could save the day or the date, as the case may be. Sadly, no. I didn’t pull away or avoid the kiss, that’s just rude, darnit. But wow, what gave her the impression that this date had been a success? And who taught her that kissing with your teeth was a thing? What the hell? I’ve been known to bite a lip now and then, but she went for the full on bite like she was chomping into a good ear of corn. And ladies, pay attention to this little tip: it’s not attractive at all to make loud slurping noises during what should be a simple kiss and then drooling so much that I worried about back wash getting on my shirt. Just saying.

We said our good nights, promised to stay in touch (yeah, right) and I headed home. On the drive, alone with my music, I reflected on the day. There was certainly quite a bit to process but I boiled it down to this: Those 8 hours of my life taught me a few valuable lessons. First, get to know the person better before agreeing to a date with them. Second, have a plan, an activity, something neutral and fun you can both agree on and enjoy. And third, perhaps the most important lesson, ALWAYS have an escape plan. You never know when things may turn sour and you need to make a hasty exit. There is no shame in retreat, especially when your date is annoying the hell out of you or possibly endangering your life.

There were many dates after this first date, each with their own lessons, but this first one set the bar for my experience with online dating and sadly, what followed set that bar lower and lower. More to come in the next installment.

Music or Why I Wake Up In The Morning

 

 I’m a second generation punk rocker. I came in when new wave was wiping the slate clean by mixing in jamaican rhythms and rock steady beats. Punk was still alive and still strong, but it was taking a break from the mainstream. My very first concert was The Clash, who at the time, were fusing their sound with the new wave and creating some of the best music of our generation. As the concert film says when the Clash are being brought to the stage ; “The ONLY band that Matters!” I was 9 years old when I saw Joe Strummer and the boys on stage. I wish I could have been older so I could appreciate the moment better and fully drink in the experience of seeing these rock icons on stage.

It would be almost 10 years before I would get to see Joe Strummer on a stage again. In that time, my interest in music grew and grew. One of the great things about growing up in New Hampshire during the 80’s was that there wasn’t alot to do. I know, that doesn’t sound right and at the time, I know I was a bored kid but that boredom forced us to go out and discover things and make our own fun. I lived by the ocean (still do) and most of my fun involved going to the music store in the mall, buying the latest vinyl (later,tapes), heading down to the beach and listening to music. The two things became intertwined for me: music and the ocean. Each having their own rhythms, each supplying a soundtrack for my life. Many summer nights, we would sit on the rockwall, listening to everything from Michael Jackson (yes, just like everyone else, I owned the Thriller album) to the Dead Kennedys and of course, my beloved Clash.

For awhile, I had two record collections. One was the stack that I let my friends listen to all the time, full of the mainstream silliness (Duran Duran, Flock of Seagulls, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Motley Crue, etc) and then there was the other collection. The other collection was my little secret, only brought out on special occassions. Full of the Clash, the Jam, the Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, the Ramones, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, MC5, Blondie, Iggy and the Stooges, Fugazi, Minor Threat, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Dead Milkmen and not to mention countless local bands and Boston bands of the street punk era. This was the collection I kept hidden from the ‘preppie’ crowd because it was uncool to be a punk. Despite the treatment I received from the people in my school, I wanted desperately to fit in. I dressed conservatively, pretended not to really like the very thing that moved my soul. I was just as fake as the people I spent my days with. When I was outside the confines of my small town and hanging out with kids who, like me, held in this secret love for punk rock and all it stood for, only then did I feel like I was myself.

Finally, in my sophmore year of high school, I came out of the closet and revealed to everyone that indeed, I was a PUNK ROCK KID! I dyed my hair blue, bought some combat boots from a surplus store, a long black trenchcoat from Chess King that I proceeded to cover in patches and pins and even a metal chain that ran across the back of the shoulders. I had a dog collar necklace with a padlock in the front, just like Sid Vicious. My jeans were torn in the knees and patched with band patches. Literally overnight, in the eyes of my peers at school, I went from normal kid to punk rocker. As my friend Jeremy put it : “Wow, you must have had one hell of a weekend!”

The reason behind my boldness wasn’t just to live my life as I truly was but I was influenced by other people in school. I grew up down the street from Joe King, the lead singer for the Queers. No, they were not a gay punk rock band, the name was picked in the early 80’s and it stuck. One of his band mates was a guy in a grade below me named Chris Barnard (B-Face) who had the same kind of transformation: one day, he looked like any other metalhead kid in the school and the next, he showed up with orange spiked hair and was rocking the whole punk rock halloween costume. People were shocked, but accepting. I thought if he can do it, why can’t I?

My experience was vastly different. My assumption of acceptance was based on the experience of a kid who was already popular and in with the cliques at school. I was already the freaky outsider kid to begin with. Add the colored hair and combat boots and well, now I was the scary outsider kid. Fights and trying to avoid them became a daily occurrence. I tried out for football when my hair was cut in a mohawk and was beaten by most of the football team for the way I looked. The beach, never the most accepting place when it came to strangeness, became a dangerous place for me since other kids, looking for any reason to fight anyone, always seemed to make a beeline for me. Usually, I would hear “Nice hair faggot!!” and then be tackled to the gound and have to fight to get back up. Ah, good times.

But it wasn’t all bad. By now, I was old enough to drive and had friends who could drive and we would head down to Boston for shows together. We found TAAANG! Records, who used to have their headquarters in Cambridge MA, down the road from Harvard Square. This was my refuge, my home away from home. We would hang out in the square or in fron of their headquarters, meeting bands, talking with musicians, hanging out with other punks and all going en masse to local shows. I became part of a ‘scene’,  I belonged. I found a place where the freaks and punks all hung out together for the love of one thing: the music. Boston was wild back then: one wrong turn and you would end up in Roxbury which, if you grew up in New England in the 80’s, getting lost in Roxbury is one of those horror stories everyone understands…. The Boston scene was amazing! Every weekend, we would head down to Harvard Square, meet up with the rest of the crowd and head to shows. I loved it! I lived for it! I would make it through another miserable week at school and my part time job just so on the weekends, I could head into Boston and join my people. And on the rare occasion we could get away, we even snuck down to NYC to see a show at the classic CBGB’s. That was almost like a religious pilgrimmage when we set foot in that club. My first time was to see the Exploited, I’ll never forget walking in and seeing a wave of mohawks lined up in front of me.

The music brought us all together,  misfits finding camaraderie through punk rock. Some weekends, we even hit The Rocky Horror Picture Show (but thats a whole OTHER blog) but for the most part, we would hit shows at the Rat, Middle East, The Channel, old Lansdowne St, Cask and Flagon. I’m surprised I have any hearing at all these days… 🙂 

In 1989, I saw the Pogues for the very first time in Boston MA. This was an eye opening experience for me. At the time, I was so wrapped up in being punk, that other music had been left behind. And some of my old favorites, including the Clash, had been collecting dust at the back of my record collection while the more hardcore punk was getting some regular airplay. My friend Garrett played the Pogues for me while we were heading to Manchester NH for some party. I almost had to pull over, I was so overwhelmed by the sound. Traditional irish music mixed with punk aesthetics and rhythms. Amazing!! I was thoroughly taken with them and knew that the next time they played here in the states, I was going. For so long, my musical vision had been narrowed but the Pogues really opened my eyes and broadened my interest. Suddenly, I was listening to Sinead O’Connor, the Pogues, the Chieftains, etc. All music I would have scoffed at earlier, I found myself wrapped up in.

The Orpheum, Boston MA: I was right near the front row when the show started. Some forgettable opening bands had finally cleared the stage and the Pogues were ready to hit the stage. There was some delay (we would later find out that they had to revive Shane McGowan who was found in a drunken stupor in his dressing room) but finally the lights went down again and the unmistakable opening of “IF I SHould Fall From Grace With God” started up. Shane was shoved onstage, beer in hand and began belting out the song. I was entranced, like the first time I had ever heard punk rock, the music became a transformative experience. This was beyond a rock concert, it was a cultural awakening for me, reminding me of the joy and power of music.

And there, standing behind Shane, playing guitar and singing along, was Joe Strummer. Unannounced, unbilled and totally by surprise, there was my punk rock hero, singing with the Pogues. I was awe struck. My hero, the man whose music changed my life in many profound ways was here again, here at a moment where I was discovering this new sound. He looked as happy as ever. The Pogues gave him lead singing duties on a couple songs, but mostly, he was back up for Shane. They did a cover of the Clashs “London Calling” with Shane and Joe sharing vocal duties and I wanted to cry. That one song felt like my worlds were colliding: my old punk rock life and my new soon to be adult life. Joe had obviously mellowed over the 10 years since the first time I had ever seen him. Older, grayer, more mature but still able to be a rock star.

The following year was college and that same year, Perry Farrell put together the first Lollapalooza tour. Alternative music would burst onto mainstream radio, no longer condemned to the world of college radio. And our little club, the misfits, the rejected, the disaffected, the downright crazy kids that had kept punk and alternative music alive on the fringe, would be thrust into the spotlight and the outcasts became the mainstream. The scene changed quickly from a reclusive little club and shows in dingey bars and clubs to arena rock shows and record moguls. Gone were the intimate little shows we loved and cherished. For those of us who were there from the beginning, it was hard to adjust and grow with the music. I learned to change and evolve and grow beyond the halloween costume and punk postering to a genuine love for all music, but at heart, deep down in my soul, I’m still that teenager with the blue mohawk and the combat boots and I’m looking forwad to the next show.

Boston, Boiled Dinners and Sirsy, Part 3

 

So after the frozen desserts we enjoyed, we did our Rocky impersonation up the stairs to Government Center. For anyone who has never been to Govt center in Boston, there is a massive set of stairs leading from the Faneuil Hall area up to the large open public space that is Govt Center. Every time I hike up those stairs, you can’t help but hear the Rocky theme going in your brain, even though I’m usually out of breath at the top of the stairs and not able to jump around. Though I have been known to throw out a “Yo Adrian” from the top of the stairs….much to the worry of other passerbys.

We cross the street and finally, we were at the Kinsale. I sincerely love this place: it’s a small irish themed restaurant and bar, great food, good choice of beers, a little refuge amidst all the the offices along this road. The people there seem to be sincerely pleased to see anyone wander in and the door man acted almost embarassed to be asking us for money to come in. ($5 cover to see Sirsy) When we first parked, Dawn and I had run in just to use the bathrooms and so I could show her where it was before heading out to dinner, and as we were leaving, the doorman thanked us for stopping in. Dawn looked at me and said “did he just thank you for coming in and peeing?” I laughed.

We rounded the corner of the restaurant and there was Mel and the gang setting up. Grins and hellos were had, but I knew they were busy, so I quickly introduced Dawn to the band, then made a hasty retreat to the far end of the bar to sit and relax and enjoy a drink. I am always paranoid of being a pain in the ass and getting in the way when they are setting up their equipment. To be honest, I could probably help with all that since I used to do the sound whenever a band played at my college station or the folk music/open mic nites at the pub on campus. (Note to self: Apply for roadie job with Sirsy…heeehee) But Rather than offer my assistance, I leave them be and Dawn and I find two stools to hang out at. The waiter, a guy with long hair who, ACCORDING TO Dawn is a dead ringer for Mitch Hedberg, even though I don’t see it. Anyway, this waiter, the last time I was here, was good at picking the right beer for me. Whenever there are too many beers on tap, I like putting it on the waiter to pick something for me. This time, he picks an ESB and Dawn has a jack and coke. Mine arrives and I tell Dawn that I like this beer, very hoppy nutty and bittery flavor. She laughs and says she loves her jack and coke because its very jacky and cokey.

As the band gets ready, we survey the crowd. Because this is a business district, there were a lot of stuffed suits. The kind of people I work with, the sports and boobs crowd. As we are drinking our drinks and making fun of the people, Dawn notices that people keep looking at her then looking above her with concern on their faces. Getting more and more paranoid, she informs me that people are staring at her. I point up above her head….there was a tv with a basketball game on. Dawn then turned a lovely shade of red.

Finally Sirsy start their first set. We make a beeline for a table right in front of Sirsy. That familiar feeling of joy I get whenever I hear Sirsy is aparent when a big grin pops up on my face as I sing along. Dawn looks genuinely surprised at this transformation in me. She happily mocks my singing along with the band. But I notice she is rockin out too. After the second or third song, Heidi comes skulking around the corner…..She had told me she wasn’t sure if she was coming tonite due to her appointment with an old friend. But sure enough and true to form, H had brought her friend along for the Sirsy festivities. Surprised and happy, I gave h a big a hug and introduced her to Dawn, whom she had heard so much about during the Kate Chaos but had never had a chance to meet.

This was the high point of the evening for me. Two friends who had stood by me through all the chaos of the past few months in one place with a band we all loved. As a side note, I realize this is what I wanted all along but the ex would never allow: hanging out with ALL of my friends and having a good time, not just the ones that she approved of. The week before at the Parting Glass had the same feeling and putting Dawn into the mix just made it alll that much sweeter.

After giving up our table to some women who were ordering food and needed a place to sit, we hovered around Guario’s table o’stuff. The First set ended and we hung out with the band and H and Dawn chatted with each other as well as the band. Virgil and I got into a conversation about music involving Jon Zorn, Mr Bungle, Naked City and various artists and musical styles. He turns out to be a fan of experimental music and I was pleased to have someone to talk to about this stuff. When I used to do my radio show, I would play stuff by Praxis and the Boredoms, not to mention John Zorn,Naked City, Mr Bungle, etc and a lot of people get confused when they hear this glorious noise. The mixtures of styles and influences all melded usually into one song was baffling to some listeners, but I eat that stuff up…I love the musicianship of being able to do a full on punk rock noise song then stop on a dime and turn it into a jazz odyssey, then stop again and turn it into a blues song, then funk,then back to punk. I love that. And ultimately, I think that’s what I love about Sirsy: there is no definable style to their music, it’s a mixture of everything. Put simply: They sound like Sirsy. There are elements of jazz, funk, alternative rock, indie aesthetics, its all there. That’s why I have become such a fan. The mixture of styles and influences coming together for one coherent and original sound without coming across as derivitive or imitative. Music that moves you without sounding like anything else. I love it.

During this Break, Greg was working the crowd with the set list, asking for requests,. I told him I wanted to hear Fine. That song gives me chills every time I hear it. Greg asked if I was staying through the third set to which Dawn gave me a look and I responded “well, up to Fine, then we have to leave” Greg smirked and added it to the list.

The music started up for the second set and I fell in love with These Are Days all over again. Mel and the band have mastered and reworked this song to make it their own. I used to drool over Natalie Merchant when she would dance around on stage singing this song and I never thought anyone could make me love the song more.  As my friend Dawn said later in the car, Mel’s voice on that song is similar to Natalies, but she manages to do so much more with her range and vocals than I have ever heard Natalie attempt. As a side note, I have to agree with Heidi, I’m not sure people are listening to the lyrics of Lie To Me when they start slow dancing to it.

At some point during this set, Dawn and I were talking about something, probably her making fun of me for singing along again. When I talk, I do tend to be a little expressive and make hand gestures and it was during one particularly wild gesture that I backhanded a waitress. Right into her chest. Whoops. Now, this was not a bad backhand, wasn’t like I pulled a karate move and knocked her on her ass or something, just my hand connected with her boobs. I was embarassed, I never saw her coming up behind me as she was, so it was totally unintentional. I was expecting the waitress to be upset, but instead, she just laughed and without missing a beat said “That’s the most action I’ve had all night…” I smiled and said “Geez, I feel like I should tip you now” to which she just laughed and went about her merry way. I guess working in an environment where people intentionally grab your ass all nite, having someone unintentionally backhanding your boobs is a pleasant change of pace. I was still embarassed though.

The second set ended and Rich came over to me. Out of the blue, he suddenly asks me why my screen name is glassowater. I smiled. This was a well worn story that I have related over and over again since 1997 when I first used that as a login for yahoo. The first time I sat down in front of a computer at the now defunct Cybercafe in Portsmouth NH, I needed a login to start my internet adventures. So I tried all sorts of names. I wanted something original and provocative. Something that would make people think and smile and perhaps, a name that could change the world. However, no matter how many times I tried, they were all taken. All my usual logins were all taken: Riff Raff, Pugsley, FrankNFurter, all were taken. I tried for hours for something original and exciting, to no avail. They were all taken. Then, in the midst of my despair, I saw it. In the dim glow of the computer light, there, illuminated before me was….a glass o water. My heart stopped. Could that work? Would it be taken???

I went to the yahoo page and entered Glassowater….and yes, it was approved….The hallellujah chorus started up in my brain and from that day forward, on any system I log into, I’m always glassowater or a variant thereof.

Rich looked amused by this. I guess he liked the embellishments I made to a simple story of finding a login…Then Mel comes over and asks the same question and in the retelling, she giggled at my silliness. I informed her that I would have to leave during the third set, probably after Fine to which Mel gave me a big hug and thanked me for showing up.

The week before at the Parting Glass, Heidi had been very upset with me. After the gig, I didn’t go right home ( a four hour drive) but instead, I stuck around and chatted with the band and everyone else. This annoyed her because she was worried about me having an accident on the ride back, knowing that I would not get to sleep properly since I was going straight to work. The feeling of doom coming from her was palpable. This week at the Kinsale, she was happy and smiling. She told Dawn and I how she felt so much better about me driving around late at night with a co-pilot in the vehicle. And Heidi wonders why I call her Mom now…heehee. We let her know we were leaving during the third set and got big hugs from her and her friend. The set started up and I settled in for the final few songs I would get to hear.

About four songs in, a huge grin comes across Mels face and she looks at me and says “this is for glassowater”. And Fine started up. This song kills me everytime. I love the imagery (someone having a bit of a meltdown in a grocery store in the middle of the night), the musicianship is masterful, the antics are hysterical and it is the best example of Mel going through her entire range in one song. And the middle, I can’t tell you how many times she has gone into that and the entire room has completely stopped. People milling around at the bar, watching sports, suddenly turn wondering what was that? Every time I get goosebumps. This song is a great example of the power of this band that will never be translated onto cd. This song is my main reason to see them live. It’s overpowering and wonderful and you don’t want it to end.

I was happy now. I had heard the song, even had it dedicated to me (swoon) and my friend Dawn was now a fan. We gathered up our coats and made our way to the door. Smiles and nods from the band as we exited to Virgil singing Fire, I bowed to him as we exited the Kinsale out into the cold night.

Boston, Boiled Dinners and Sirsy, part 2

 

So after the glorious boiled dinner, Dawn and I staggered down the stairs and out into Boston again. Our Mission??? DESSERT!!!!

Ok, I know, I’ve been on this kick to lose weight. Last year, I lost over 60 lbs. The problem is…I kinda gained some back…*sighs*

Recently, my good friend H (and even more recently, C) started running. Not just running mind you, but running for a marathon. She joined a group called Team In Training, which raises money for research into different cancers and such. At first, I was intrigued by this notion of getting into shape to raise money for disease research. Then, as time has gone by, I was amazed at the change in H. She has a passion for running and this cause that I wish I had.

So, as an experiment, I started trying to jog at the gym. Usually when I step on a treadmill, I do a fast walk at best. Most of my cardio has been done on an elliptical machine, which, as it turns out, is far far far far easiser than jogging. My first attempt at jogging on a treadmill resulted in worried looks from the people around me. There was this feeling in the air like someone was getting ready to call an ambulance. I barely lasted 10 minutes. It was a humbling experience. I was so proud of my hour long elliptical machine sessions I thought that progressing towards jogging would be so easy. I was way way way way wrong. After 10 minutes of jogging on the treadmill, I thought I was going to die. After a few months of slowly adding time, I’m up to just making it to 30 minutes. Barely…. I can manage this about 3 times a week. The rest of the time I’m in there, I do the eliptical and weights. So, I’m really trying to work on the weight issue…all I know is, my clothes are getting baggier and baggier…which is a wonderful thing. I wish I was in the kind of shape I would need to be to join H and C in the Team In Training program, that kind of goal setting would work wonders for me.

Anyway, so back to Boston,….we went out in search of desserts. When you are in the Faneuil Hall/Quincey Market area, there is only one place for me: the ice cream place insode the market. It’s the very end of the building and amazingly expensive (can you say tourist trap?) but they make the BEST ice cream around and they do smash-ins. For those who don’t know, that’s when they take a few scoops of ice cream and take your favorite toppings and proceed to mix the two. Heavenly!

I had Death By Chocolate ice cream with oreo and mini m&ms…I was in chocolate overload! Dawn ordered a fruit based frappe (or as she said “Frapp-ay”). This dessert was a sgnificant deviance from my self imposed exile from sweets, but as Carolyn can attest too, my will power isn’t that great. A few weeks before, she and I shared some chocolate concoction at the Amherst Brewery….but lately, I have purposely tried changing my diet along with the new jogging regime so having ice cream the other night was a big failing on my part. A delicious, chocolatey, decadent, dripping down my chin failing…..*drool* Going to this ice cream place is almost a tradition for me every time I wander into Boston…been going there since I was in grade school when we would stop there on field trips on our way to the aquarium or the museum of science.

We wandered into the center rotunda of the market and sat down for a few minutes, enjoying our frozen treats…until the folk singer started up. Now normally, I enjoy folk singing, but this guy was awful….just made me think of all the worst stereotypes you could through together about folk singers combined into one warbling acoustc guitar slinging guy. He started in with Puff the Magic Dragon and I darted out the side door. Dawn followed, laughing at me. She could tune it out, but as soon as he started that song, his voice seemed to hit a nerve that caused me to race from the room. Finishing up our icy treats, we headed back outside to trek up to government center and on to the Kinsale.

Boston, Boiled Dinners and Sirsy

This is from January, 2006.

Last Friday, I went to see Sirsy again, but this time it was special. My friend Dawn was finally coming to see them with me. I had tried on several occassions to get Dawn to come along to a show, but I swear, everything short of natural disasters and alien invaders got in the way of her being able to go. Every time we would have a trip mapped out and planned and something would happen to cancel everything. This time, it was supposed to be Dawn, her boyfriend and Dawn’s sister to all come along. And true to form, things started to fall apart….First, Dawn’s sister dropped out, claiming difficulties with her now ex and moving,etc…then, Dawn’s boyfriend wasn’t sure if he was coming because he had an early appointment on saturday morning, then he couldn’t come at all due to circumstances beyond his control…..

That left just me and Dawn….I waited all day for that fatefull phone call from Dawn…”I’ve had an accident”, “The Car won’t start”, “aliens have landed and taken over Brunswick, ME”. But no, none of that happened and she met me in Portsmouth. I couldn’t believe it, we were actually going into Boston for a show…and a boiled dinner.

Now I know what you are thinking: why go to boston for a boiled dinner??? Why go all that way for something you can boil the shit out of on your own time. Well, for D, it was something she hadn’t had since she was a kid and for me, growing up in New England, a boiled dinner is a tradition.

We found our way into Boston with no traffic and pulled right into the parking garage next to the Kinsale. Wandering out intot the cold streets of Boston, we made our way towards Faneuil Hall and Quincey Market, in search of one of the best traditional restaurants in Boston: Durgin Park.

After checking the menu to confirm the existence of the boiled dinner, we darted up the stairs and were greeted by a kindly older gentleman who greeted us with a sly grin. I could tell he thought we were a couple. He said “let me show you to a quiet table” and immediately plopped us down in the middle of the restaurant surrounded by families enjoying their dinners, loudly. At first, Dawn didn’t get the joke. She leaned across the table and said “didn’t he say he was going to take us to a quiet table?”

I smiled. Having heard of this place all my life, I knew the story. They have a tradition there of having the waitresses act rudely and basically treating everybody equally. I loved it. You saw waitresses telling people what they were getting, people laughing and playing along. Great atmosphere. After briefly scanning the menu again, we ordered our boiled dinners.

When the food came out, it was amazing, the corned beef was falling apart and the vegetables were done just right. I devoured my plate of food, thinking I ate too fast when I looked over at Dawn’s plate which was almost as clean as mine. We leaned back in our chairs and fought off the urge to nap right there in the restaurant…..

After Dawn paid for dinner (she owed me one) we struck out into the cold again in search of dessert……

more later…I have to go to work