Sunday, March 13, 2011

Furries on Flashcards, Oh, My!

I didn't know what to make of the flashcards. They're teaching tools, right? Visual aids to reinforce words and numerical problems.

So it's spring break at VCU and the students are gone, which makes going to 821 Cafe easier because parking is possible. So I went for a quick dinner, had my usual black bean nachos and was reading the Travel section of Sunday's Washington Post when I noticed the girl a stool away from me was making flashcards.

She had a stack of 3 x 5" index cards and a black marker and she was methodically and clearly printing words or phrases on each card.

Douche bag. Furries. Ass cherry. Motherf*cker. Fag hag.

What? Just as I opened my mouth to ask the obvious, an immense woman took the stool in between us, saying with a smile, "Sorry to be all up in your grills," to us both. The flashcard-maker hastily put the cards away and the moment was lost.

I can twist this one around in my head endlessly and I still don't think I'll ever figure out to what purpose those flashcards were to be used. I will be curious (yellow) indefinitely.

Music at the Firehouse was next and it was a bittersweet occasion. Tonight was the last performance for the original line-up of Jonathan Vassar and the Speckled Bird; mandolin/banjo player and vocalist Chris is moving to the Left Coast.

As always with this group, the show began exactly on time and with the Dish Dogs, a band from Harrisonburg. The name comes from all the band members having done stints as dishwashers in restaurants. Hell, if that's all it takes, every band in town could use "dish dogs" as a sub-title.

The flyer's description of Dish Dogs as folk, country and blues with a grin was apt. They were missing two players tonight, but put on an enthusiastic set with acoustic and electric guitars, bass and mandolin (or drums, depending on the band's preference).

There were songs written to cheer up friends who had been dumped, songs about girls who had done the dumping and even a mention of C.S. Lewis. It was all good fun.

Philly's Chris Kasper was next and oddly enough, I had seen him at the Listening Room last March 23, so it had been almost exactly a year. At one point, he said he was going to do a bluegrass song, qualifying bluegrass by saying the song was in the key of G and played fast.

He's a terrific songwriter with an interesting voice and once again, it occurred to me how well he would fit in with Richmond's folk scene.

Jonathan Vassar and Speckled Bird, along with the first two acts, were doing the third night of a three-night tour in the third month. Antonia mentioned that she had tried some Middlemarch jokes at the shows the last two nights, to no laughter. So tonight, she said, she was banter-shy.

"And they were funny, too!" she told the crowd.
"Yea, to English majors," Jonathan quipped.
"Ouch," Antonia said with a pout.

So we got no George Eliot humor, much to my disappointment, and I wasn't even an English major. What we got was the group's beautifully harmonious sad songs highlighted by Josh's eloquent cello playing and Chris' farewell mandolin and banjo playing.

Newcomers got to hear Antonia's knockout vox saw for the first time (the rest of us had been anticipating it from the start of the set) and Jonathan noted, "If we ever get famous, it'll be because of that. It's a gimmick, but I'm not above using my wife as a gimmick."

This from the man who can write a song based on a true story he only read about online, but never experienced, and make your heart hurt. In other words, they're all incredibly talented. And Chris will be as much missed by the audience as he no doubt will be by his band.

But enough about the sad stuff. What in the world could those flashcards have possibly been used for?


  1. I must find out the answer to the flash cards mystery! Someone who reads your blog must know someone who knows someone who knows. This town is NOT that big!

  2. True that. I'm dying to know, too!