Saturday, May 14, 2016

It's Only New Until It's Post

One of the more unlikely perks of being the upstairs tenant is being a fly on the wall to youth.

My living room windows are directly over the downstairs porch, so when the windows are wide open - as they've been for over a month and will be until practically Halloween - snippets of conversation from the guys downstairs waft up for my amusement.

Often it's music geek talk because they're all VCU students, musicians and spirited enough to want to discuss things passionately while dragging on cigarettes. A couple of days ago, I overheard bits of a conversation about post punk, but not enough to establish the direction of the conversation.

Naturally, the next time I walked by the porch to find them strumming and earnestly discussing, I stopped to clarify what they'd been talking about, namely whether they'd been discussing actual post-punk or the more recent post-punk revival.

When I asked, they got the same confused look they had when I'd asked how they felt about Prince dying: vagueness, a little confusion, curiosity at my interest.

Explaining the difference to them seemed to be as appallingly illuminating as when I'd ranted about why three guitarists should know Prince's place in the guitar pantheon. They knew nothing of the original post-punk movement. Nothing.

The lively conversation I'd overheard bits of centered entirely on the post-punk revival, that is, Interpol, Editors, Franz Ferdinand, all very much 21st century stuff. I'm shaking my head in disgust that that's as far back as their musical memory goes before realizing that they'd been about six or seven years old when those bands had hit.

To them, the revival is ancient history and the original post-punk era lumped in with that period when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

So I lectured the boys (yes, I'm calling them that) about Joy Division, Husker Du and the Waterboys, hoping to impress upon them how completely differently that music registered after short, fast and hard ruled. They nodded, but the names meant nothing to them. Hell, they didn't even know all the post-punk revival bands I threw out.

This is when I go on with life and give up trying to expand their horizons.

My date tonight was Pru, who arrived in time for a glass of Rose and a recap of recent events before we set out for dinner and a show. On the way out, we found a package cleverly hidden under the open-weave doormat downstairs (this is the UPS driver's pointless attempt at camouflage) and I delighted her by opening it on the spot.

It may be a while before I live that down.

At Saison Market, we took seats by the window with a view of street theater to eat Spring salads - proprly May-like with fresh peas, asparagus, charred Chevre, coriander vinaigrette, pea shoots - and a cheese plate with Meadow Creek Dairy "Grayson," sweet pecan crumbles, pickled ramps and whey on it. It was way good (lame, I know).

Tonight's theatrical entertainment was Cadence Theatre's "4,000 Miles," a play about generational adjustments when a 21-year old shows up in Greenwich Village to visit his fiercely independent 91-year old grandmother after riding his bike all the way from the West Coast.

He's every millennial cliche: bearded, unwilling to eat food that isn't locally sourced, eager to follow his unstructured path in life and it's only when he skims his dead grandfather's book on fighting the good fight for Communism that he gets a glimpse of what he's not.

"I thought I was non-cynical, but Grandpa took non-cynicism to another level," he says before offering his grandmother "a hug from a hippie," which, by the way, he was not. The concept of a hippie culture revival is laughable because of the movement's inability to exist outside of a specific time in cultural history, a fact that seems to have escaped playwright Amy Herzog.

There's no denying the satisfaction of seeing two generations separated by 70 years hit it off in small ways, whether it's smoking a joint together or discussing a shared admiration of Marx, but I have to question a 21-year old male character who tells his grandmother, "Stop, it's making me sick for you to talk about her body that way," when she suggests the woman could stand to lose a few pounds.

I have no reason to believe that those words ever came out of a 21-year old man's mouth, except when written by a woman.

Look, I've got years of experience with things men of all ages say and that one just doesn't sound likely to me. In fact, it sounds stilted and totally implausible.

Sorry, boys, I pre-date the original post-punk movement.  Shoot, I pre-date punk. I should know.

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