At the The Hip show with the woman and the bro, all of us pumped and ready to blow it when the band hits the stage. Opening act has taken their leave (and they were great; maybe not a great match for this crowd though). In the row in front of us a middling woman and her pack of cronies march in each with about seven or eight under their belts. The blonde is some piece of work. I can smell the cigarettes and cheap gin on her breath from here. A bloody hatchet of dye job with trying-to-be-clever glasses, double knit pants and a gold lamme shirt of some kind. Holding a cup of Smirnoff girl juice and swaying to some non-existent beat. She’s mouthing off about the seat arrangement and being a real ignorant cuss about it. My bro and his friend give her a few choice words. She sluffs them off. The lights go down and she gets up, arms in the air, drink sloshing wildly in her hand. The Hip crash into Grace, Too and she’s taken to thrusting a two-fingered peace sign into the air and pumping her hand wildly. Needless to say, she looks like an unhinged drunken mom, the kind that sits on young men’s laps at parties1. Listen woman, maybe back in the 70’s – when you were a cocaine-snorting, Southern-swilling siren – waving a peace sign at a rock show was cool. You know, CSN&Y, The Doobies, and all that shit. Now it’s not. Nobody does it. It’s devil ears or nothing in this decade and in this province. Get it fucking right.
She’s a distraction throughout the show, hanging off of guys half her age and trying to make like the party animal she probably never was. She almost tips over a few times, but manages to hold her shit. About half way through the show, she attempts some kind of jumping maneuver, like she’s trying to jump on the backs of the young men in front of her. She almost makes it. Bang. Flat on her ass to the ground. Everyone clears away, and the security guards finally step in to help. Everyone around bends over and shouts a loud BOOOO, right in her face. Dumb broad deserved it.
For some, getting old is a long exercise in trying to relive a wild past that probably wasn’t that wild to begin with. History puts a saint in every dream2, as a wise poet once said. Aging gracefully seems to be reserved for those who posess the humility to accept nature’s progress, and their own. Staying young and gold is a lovely fantasy, one that we all want to cling to, but it’s best reserved for Hollywood schlock and greeting cards. All of us are twelve inside and it is our struggle to reconcile that internal youth with our old bodies and jaded minds. There is no answer; no right way to be. There are only different versions of the truth. People and bands. Some age well. Some don’t.
1 I must credit my lovely fiance Justine for this observance and phrasing.
2 Tom Waits, Time, from the album Rain Dogs.
Folk Festival, August 2006
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?