‘Allo, readers! Thanks so much to all of you who came out for Friday’s reading and shindig. I had a blast, and I hope you did, too. I wrote last week about my youthful notions of what adulthood might look like, which of course were based in reality but lost amid the cultural upheaval of digital life. After Friday’s reading, when I thumped along on my bass for three songs, and took the mic for another with The Crooked Beat, my one-off Clash cover band, it was only the second time in the past 25 years that I’ve performed musically in public. (The night I sang Nancy Sinatra’s “Boots Are Made for Walkin'” at a piano bar in Hell’s Kitchen to a roomful of gay men, well that’s a tale for another day …)
So yes, being well north of 40 years of age, and doing the punk thing of starting a band before I knew how to play (I’m in month 10 of my bass lessons), it was a great rush, and a blast to keep time with a bunch of capable musicians.
This Thursday, from 5-6pm EST, on wobc.org (livestream), is my last radio show for the fall, and I’ll be spinning discs in tribute to the upcoming winter solstice. I’m hoping to cram the hour with no fewer than 30 of my favorite short and sharp punk and post-punk tunes. Please tune in, and be safe out there.
Happy Sunday, folks! It’s been a delightful Thanksgiving holiday, with lots of fine food, drink, and friendship, along with the lone rehearsal for The Crooked Beat, my Clash cover band, for our one-off, 4-song gig at my book release party on 5 Dec in Oberlin. (If you’re interested, send me a note @ djaphasia [at] gmail dotty com.)
In thinking about this event, though, I think back to being 12 years old, a couple years before I traveled to the UK and my life changed forever. It was my father’s 40th birthday, and the accompanying cake and presents spoke volumes: just 5 years before, in a joint birthday with a life-long friend, the cake was decorated in the image of a Budweiser can. Now, the cake itself was in the shape of a casket, and the primary gift was a black sweatshirt with a sans serif “40” on the front. The message was clear to the kids: live it up while you’re young, because when you’re 40, it’s over.
It was, of course, nearly all in jest, but only nearly. My father stayed plenty busy with work and coaching, and had stopped playing basketball. (Chuck Taylor’s didn’t offer aging ankles much support.) Soon he stopped playing softball, in part because of his commitment to my sister and me, and our extra-curricular activities. But my image of him was a paragon of adulthood–much more so than the past 10 years, actually, since he moved into an “active adult living community,” but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
Between now and then, though, it’s as if anti-trust suit was brought against the age-based monopoly of “youth culture,” and now 60’s the new 40, and sometimes with embarrassing results. Eloquent rants by folks my age about the corruption of today’s adolescents by shiny screens are sustained with impressive durability–unless, of course, they receive a text mid-way through, and then there’s no way in hell not to respond with lightning speed.
So, while I’m delighted to have my first book come out this relatively late in the game, and to be picking up bass guitar at my age (well north of 40), I remain ambivalent about the second endeavor. I’d like to think I’m playing at being a bassist to keep up with my daughter’s growing musical prowess, and not because I had some notion that youth-is-only-a-mindset, and that my glory days in music lie just over the horizon.
Soon enough, perhaps, I’ll be the sort of grown-up that my Dad was at this age, and then–once I’m acting my age–perhaps I’ll have more credibility asking the youth to act theirs.