Well, at last I'm catching up on breath, sleep, family and cat time, food. And able to reflect a little from here.
I loved what people have been saying on the Gomez board about all of us -- regardless of who traveled to Chicago for the rock band's one-off-in-the-U.S. reprise of their first album -- never having to explain this Thing, this Love of Gomez, within this community. That was cool enough to experience last week; even more astounding was reality warp of suddenly being in the midst of a social occasion with the band in question. How many people ever get that chance?
More than one who has was in our midst have had that chance. ocean was a great example. (I loved meeting him and the fabulous Kim, whom I will share a plate with any time. Thanks to them, I had an amazingly fun trip to Chicago. I only hope in retrospect I didn't ask too much of their time!) Anyway, ocean has hung out with the Grateful Dead (and never found them all that gracious, truth to tell), with Robert Plant (his personal rock god), and with many others. He saw the Who with Keith Moon (I was just a couple of years too late); he saw seven of the fourteen shows Little Feat recorded for their live Waiting for Columbus album, can you believe?! (And which I had not been aware was made from so many shows.) Incidentally, ocean's trodden much of the same ground I have locally, too, having lived in my hometown, although he apparently interacted with a separate bunch of people along the way. He remembered some of the bands-about-town I do, like Tommy Bolin and Candy Givens of Zephyr, but not the awesome fusion powerhouse Fly and the Zippers or Dusty Drapes and the Dusters, who my mother was dancing to when she went out after she and my father split up. But enough about me -- what fine and fun people to hang with. I felt I'd known them for years.
And everyone was like that. centrechick, whose first-ever concert by anyone was Gomez, October 2, 2008, at the Vic Theater in Chicago, had been saying something about how one of the band members had more interesting content in his little finger than she did in her whole self, but I completely pooh-poohed that (on film, no less). She's awesome, and what's more, she's starting to Get It that she's not only just fine the way she is but maybe a lot more. I found myself as starstruck meeting jman and mrs. jman as I was meeting the band, especially after someone said to me, "I've heard she would fly to New York to buy a pair of shoes." And later I realized why I called jman "Jason" when I first met him: online I think of him and jasondent (who could not be in Chicago with us) as "the two Jasons," for some inexplicable reason. (Keep reading for more goofy misunderstandings.)
Cutest couple: guest & mr. guest. The way she looks at that man reminded me of how I feel about my sweetie. Dancing with mr. and mrs. rocknroll and Kat and guest for a while was amazing, and then it was fantastic going wild with ocean up front and center, and SweetErina and Barb up front too and squirrel and Drew and Stella and musicsaves (whom I may not have met) and rabidog and Bri and Kat and Fenn and the gracious and lovely mytvc15 and her significant other and I'm sure I'm forgetting lots more all around me. I kept looking around with amazement and gratitude at the crowd, just as I used to do at Dead shows. And it's easy to look back and say it in hindsight, but it was not possible for me not to see myself there. I feel I'm just as proud of making that experience a reality as centrechick said she was, in the cab with me and her friend Mitsuko on the way home. She'd just called her mother to let her know she was fine and on her way back to her hotel. Then she said to us, "Just so you know, at home, I don't even go to the movies by myself. So this is big for me!" Like Shannon, our new front-row kindred spirit, centrechick picked the right time to make things happen. She and lots of us talked with a bunch of the guys in the band. Olly was awesome. He's such a gentleman. I instantly regretted turning on my camera but I honestly didn't know what to do with myself and all the questions I'd had for them ("Where did the song 'Rie's Wagon' come from?" "Are you going to keep making records and touring together?") had long flown from my brain in the vibrating hum of the moment.
It was fun sharing our baby pictures, though. I do so love Ian, and have since before a phone interview in which he told a very simpatica me how he "loves the 'ladies' in West Hollywood," where he had just moved with his new wife. Back then I confessed his songs had me believing he was a gay junkie, and he laughed and said nothing. Later he'd said, "Sure, to some extent I do put on a persona onstage." (Does he remember that interview, or has he done too many -- and was he still drunk on the brandy Alexanders from the night before?) Look, there are faghags, and there are Ian-hags. Guess which I am. I'm sorry but the guy is freakin' cute. And he also has a very cute little one whose name in the din of the bar Mrs. ocean and I both misheard hilariously ("Was that m-u-e-l-l-e-r?" and me at dinner with Brains the next night: "Oh, his name is the Hawaiian word for chicken wire? Interesting!") Tom I love for his mind and wit. But I couldn't really think straight enough to have a good chat with him or Olly, or even approach Ben, with whom I may have the most in common out of all of them. Blackie and I had a pleasant jaw about racial segregation in Detroit and other places.
But I couldn't sustain anything that night: it was a little too loud, and the air was filled with too much pressure or some other ineffable substance that resulted from our all being thrown together in close quarters. I probably affected the mix by turning on the camera. I felt like the folks from the board had been warned I would be filming, and if anyone wasn't up for it, they'd let me know. In that time, that never happened, except for a feeble wave of a hand from one woman who continued talking with Tom when I swung my lens around toward them. All evening she kept saying no pictures (which made me suspicious -- does she have something to hide?) and later I heard she said "I never post there; I hate the board," but I don't think she really minded having Tom's attention while I was filming. I noticed, though, that I finally filmed the whole neon word when I panned around her while she talked with Tom: ASS. I could not help laughing when I realized what I'd done. All night most of my pictures and videos had only included the "SS" -- the word rose from the floor toward the ceiling, in enormous capital letters. But I had picked that moment to finally work it all into the frame.
Another hilarious moment culminated in my apology to mr. mytvc15 for not realizing who he was in the gang. I got dizzy and sat down. He was just the most welcoming and warm person; I thought he was the owner of the bar. He was being all chummy and was clearly a local, and when I got woozy he was one of the couple of people who asked if I was all right. I needed a Coke, and I asked him for one. He was so funny. "A Coca-Cola?" he asked, drawing out the long vowels. "A Pepsi-Cola? A diet cola?" "A cola-cola," I said. "No diet. Just cola." I needed the sugar. I'd just had a weird experience. I started eating appetizers and was enjoying one of the little roll-up baked bready tubes with pears and cheese and bacon inside, but then had a bite of the bruschetta and thought I was going to die. It's like it sapped my strength -- something about too much sharp vinegar. It was weird. I'd succumbed to my dizzy spell right after that.
"What is your name?" I asked him, and he said, "John. To you: John-John." And John-John-to-me as I think of him now was so attentive. I admiringly watched him dance through the room, mingling and smiling and chatting and making sure everyone was having a good time, and still not knowing he was part of our group I leaned over and said to Kim, "I want his job!" "What?" Kim said. It was hard to hear in there. ocean just laughed. "He's clearly in the hospitality industry," I said, full of admiration, like a groupie. "Well, yeah; he's a chef," Kim explained. "He is?" And then it all came out that he was mytvc15's husband and therefore one of the hosts. I felt sooooo silly, and not for the first time that evening. "I still want your job," I told him later, once I'd found out what it really was.
I told guest the next night that I had been so gullible that day. But it wasn't just that day -- it was all weekend. I believed everything I heard. (Me, asking about the three-song soundcheck we'd missed when Kim and I went for a walk before the pre-show free gig at Yak-zies, across from Wrigley Park: "What did they play?" Fenn: "They played 'Dude (Looks Like a Lady)." Me: "Really!")
Unspoken perhaps were all the questions that lurked in our minds about whether any of the band knew us by our board names/personas. I got a nametag but never found the marker, so never had a name all night. It's become a repeating motif: Gomez still don't know who I am, darn it!
But that's the nature of inspiration, right? That's why I went: to see what I could make of this, to see what parts are about Gomez and what parts are about me. To see who I am next to all of this. To go be me with some new people with whom I had something important in common for a few incredible hours of my life that I will never forget.
It was so intense meeting each person and seeing who they are "for real." I don't even believe it's still fair to say that face-to-face is the more real representation of the self. I think some of us are our truest selves online. But it was great fun to get this whole new layer of information about who we really were in person compared to all those online personas.
And I loved that I came right up against my own quirks: my gullibility, my glomming-onness, my social awkwardness (that I refuse to believe is a call for medication), my manias (I couldn't find things; kept wanting to change things that were perfectly fine). My desire to document everything, to set it down before I move on, to make sure there's a relic to savor later.
Something about the entire experience reminds me of getting back to my kidness, too: what I thought was important when I was little and still had some of that boundless optimism about the world and my place in it. I saw some before pictures of someone like that recently and I wonder what happened, and how I can make sure I never lose that sense of possibility. I love, as I've said here before, volunteering at my daughter's school so I can see the kids, so I can be another person who really tries to see them for who they are. They love that so: they sparkle so much when you do it, really peer in there and wave to them right where they are. That bright optimism is something I don't feel every day. But I did feel it when I decided to go to Chicago to unite with all these kindred spirits. And it absolutely was great fun to peer in and wave and hug and shake hands (and even a boob -- oops, sorry, rabidog! But I am quite sure you were the best possible person whose boob I could have squeezed upon meeting in person for the first time!). It was a delight to see who was who and how each person seemed to react to this amazing situation.
Again, it's more anecdotal evidence for that community-size notion that posits a community of 200 or fewer people is ideal and gives its participants a chance to have unique roles, to know each other better, and to reduce hierarchical distortions of relationships. I think we have that here: a community of around that size that was represented by a subset of folks who gathered in Chicago on October 2 to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of a band's first recording. Now that's a club I am truly a part of. It was wonderful to spend a whole weekend without having to explain it.
I am a little skeptical anything like this will ever happen again in my life, but I loved, loved, loved being a part of it and will never forget it, nor regret taking the opportunity to hang out with my favorite band and their friends for a few incredible hours.
06 October 2008
Well, at last I'm catching up on breath, sleep, family and cat time, food. And able to reflect a little from here.