Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Let's Eat Grandma

My evening was both punk and posh.

At Plan 9, I saw an exhibit of dozens of old show posters from the '70s and '80s, some of them ratty and torn. Nothing could have been more appropriate.

Besides cataloging former Richmond venues, some I'd never even heard of, the posters were a glimpse into another time.

From NY...Sonic Youth at Rockitz.

The Ramones with Suzy Saxon and the Anglos 5/28 at Cellar Door.

Husker Du at Benny's.

Henry Rollins at Kelly's Club 17.

GWAR at Shafer Court.

From Boston...GangGreen...$1 off with VCU ID...Goo Goo Dolls at Rockitz

As far as getting to the meat of the matter and ending with a touch of civility, nothing beat this show poster:

On Saturday January 3, Honor Role and the Good Guys will blow the fucking doors off of Rockitz
You are invited to attend.

A few flyers had nothing to do with music and everything to do with social issues.

Gun Control, one began before continuing with, "Attention, gunslingers" and went on to outline a surefire method for gun control. Step 1- Pick up your gun. Step 2 - Place the muzzle  below the base of your skull behind your ear. Step 3 - Pull the trigger.

We were mincing no words with that one.

Whether you cared about the punk scene in Richmond all those years ago or not, the flyers were a fascinating time capsule of an era when they were all hand drawn and nobody worried about political correctness.

I could only hope to see a flyer these days (not that many actual flyers get posted; everything is done electronically) that promised to blow the fucking doors off a venue.

But life isn't just music and good times. Sometimes, it's about absent commas and misplaced apostrophes.

Back in 2004, I'd been entranced by British author Lynne Truss' book, "Eats Shoots and Leaves."  How could I not have fallen hard for her insistence on proper punctuation?

A woman, without her man, is nothing.
A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Hell, yes, I'll happily read a 204-page treatise on why punctuation matters. And I had more than once. I'm one of those geeks who thinks it does matter.

Now, lo these years later, Truss was visiting the Fountain Bookstore to read from her new book, "Cat Out of Hell." Unlike "Eats Shoots and Leaves," the new book was fiction but I didn't let that stop me from going to the reading.

She thanked us repeatedly for coming out to hear her on a rainy night, but what better weather to listen to a Brit?

She was a delightful speaker, her blond bob swinging as she spoke and her talk full of the kind of British words we Yanks have long since cast aside for no good reason.

Seaside, mobile, lollys, carpark and keen were only a few of the expressions that came out of her mouth that they still use and we don't. She even felt obligated to define mobile as "cell phone." Sadly, our international reputation is that of a doltish culture.

That said, I'd never heard of Hammer Films until she explained that it was a highly successful British film production company best known for a series of schlocky Gothic "Hammer Horror" films in the '50s, '60s and '70s.

Apparently when the franchise was revived a few years ago, the company also sought to have a publishing division and asked Truss to write the fifth installment in the series. As a big fan of the Gothic novel originals, she'd said yes, eager to explore the concept of cats, those slaves of Satan.

"I loved their structure," she told us. "Things were presented as truth even when they weren't." So it developed that in her new book, the cat of the title speaks to humans, usually with disgust or disdain.

She read three sections to us - "crazy bits" was how she described them - before taking questions from the crowd.

What immediately became clear was that the small audience was made up almost entirely of cat lovers. I'm not sure why they even let me in there.

Practically everyone who raised their hand during the Q & A had a cat of their own anecdote to share. One woman admitted to having 20 cats. Several people cited scientific studies about cats.

One of these things is not like the other and clearly I did not belong in this group.

But before I left, I did ask Truss to sign my copy of "Eats Shoots and Leaves," purchased a decade ago at Fountain Books and well worn from repeated readings. I have to admire a woman who can write an entire book about punctuation and have it make the best seller list.

When I left there, book in hand, it was for a friend's house. She'd invited me over for wine and conversation about our upcoming plans.

Pulling out a bottle of Moet et Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne for the occasion, she poured out two glasses, complimented my shoes and the evening was off to a lovely start.

Over the next few hours, we talked about so many things - where we'd like to travel, how to be better about forgiveness, why being in the fast crowd holds no appeal - while taking tangents to others - women trying to prove they're one of the men, castor oil usage and narcissism.

We're both Geminis so we can ricochet and lob conversational bombs with the greatest of ease.

By the time the bottle and evening were gone, we'd fine-tuned our plans, discussed what happily ever after really means and shared a lot of never-to-be-repeated gossip.

We also concluded which was the correctly punctuated sentence.

 A woman: without her, man is nothing.

And no, that wasn't the champagne talking, just a couple of Geminis having a good laugh.

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