Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Determine to Live Through the Day

Stay with me here, I'm going to try to take you from shoegaze to Nippy, aka the past 48 hours.

Conveniently after a weekend away, Amtrak deposited me back in Richmond half an hour before a show I wanted to see was set to start. I have to admit, Bandito's isn't my favorite venue, but it had been too long since I'd seen Glass Twin and I liked what I'd heard online of Mon Chere.

Besides, I was overdue.

If we don't count musical theater, it's been ages since I've seen music and while I'd thoroughly enjoyed Cold Cave at the Broadberry, that was over three weeks ago and, frankly, I'm not okay with that. To address that, I put up with the excessive air conditioning (C'mon, Sunday's weather was exquisite), questionable smells (I don't even want to know) and overly talkative show attendees (why talk while standing 8' from where the band's playing when you could simply move to the large, uncrowded bar on the other side of the glass door?) like a trooper.

No surprise, the only people I knew were two of the guys in Glass Twin, talented musicians I'd been fans of since their 2008 days in their last band, Marionette and their smiling projectionist. Like that band, Glass Twin does old film projections on the wall behind them as they play for additional stimulation.

Familiar as a few of those clips are, I marvel at how easy it is to lose yourself in them while the band plays.

The band has evolved since I saw them last, with two new guitarists (one of whom is sharing vocal duties with Kevin the drummer), including one who announced that the next song was going to change our outlook on life. The sound guy apparently took that to mean it was their last song and when it finished, he immediately cued up music.

Only problem was, the band had two more songs. Awkward. One guy tried to help the sound guy's cause by yelling to the band, "How're you gonna top that anyway?" which was at least a left-handed compliment.

Actually, Susanna, Mon Chere's singer said it best when they finally took the stage a few minutes past midnight. "How is Glass Twin so amazing every time?"

What I'd heard of her band online had piqued my interest because of how many of my hot buttons their sound included: a fabulous, big female voice, electronic and shoegaze. Count me in.

Despite the annoying drunk quartet shouting at each other while Mon Chere played, I enjoyed their sound live every bit as much as I'd thought I would. Their online trail only dates the band back to 2016, so chances are they're very much in the "playing out often" stage and I can check them out again.

When I finally deposited my bags at home at 1:15, it felt like a very long time since I'd gotten on the train at 6:45.

The dearth of eateries open on Monday only made Metzger's Monday Funday - a NOLA-themed night of fundraising for No Kid Hungry and Chefs Cycle - all the more appealing. Funny part was, it wasn't chef Brittany who'll be cycling come September. Seems she volunteered her husband to do that.

What she was willing to do was make a big pot of gumbo (for the first time ever, she said), offer raw or grilled Tangier oysters (any questions which I had?) and donate the proceeds. Meanwhile, the bar staff had come up with some appropriate Big Easy type cocktails.

While they didn't have an absinthe drip, I must have shown enthusiasm while ordering an absinthe frappe because my partner followed suit. It may have been my first, but it's a drink I should know because not only is it a superb summertime refresher (simple syrup, soda water, mint), but there's a 1904 song about it.

At the first cold sip
On your fevered lip
You determine to live through the day
Life's again worthwhile
As with a dawning smile
You imbibe your absinthe frappe

Some might see it as mere early evening drinking, but I see it more as cultural education. If not for that drink being on the menu, I might never have upped my theater literacy by learning about the turn-of-the-century Broadway play, "It Happened in Nordland" and its most enduring song.

Well-chosen New Orleans music from various eras played on the sound system and a lot of the people who came in lived in the neighborhood. Since they're not usually open on Mondays and it's the first of these monthly events, things were as uncrowded as I've seen Metzger in eons.

We'd come early just in case and the bartender said they were ready to be slammed, but when we headed out nearly 3 hours later, it was still very civilized. I don't know whether to to feel glad for us or sorry that more fundraising wasn't accomplished.

I've had a lot of suggestions lately to be more selfish, so I may just go that route.

This morning while out walking, I had one of my finest moments when I came to where Clay Street is closed at Harrison. When I walked that block last week, I dutifully walked blocks out of my way because of the signs saying the street was closed because of all the heavy machinery and the dug-up street.

Today, I just wasn't feeling it and joked to one of the construction guys that he was impeding my progress. He grinned and pointed, "Come right on through!" so I didn't hesitate. As I passed, he said, "You look great!" which was nice and all, but nearly as good as being allowed through.

Meanwhile, the guys at the other end of the block gave me the look that said, how the hell did you breeze right past our boss? In my defense, all I did was state the obvious and he offered a solution. Not a big deal.

I didn't have time for a detour because I'd stacked my day full: an interview done at the Kroger Training Center, of all unlikely places, being interviewed myself (a highly unusual role for me) and a meal in service of my hired mouth took me right up to movie time and an opportunity to satisfy my inner documentary dork.

There were two main reasons I wanted to see the new Kevin MacDonald film "Whitney." Critics have been raving about it and Whitney Houston was the very first concert I saw when I moved to Richmond in 1986. I hadn't chosen it (my husband had) but in hindsight, I can say that if I was going to hear that one-in-a-million voice, the time to do it was the '80s before drugs ravaged it and her.

Like a good documentary that teaches me things, I learned that Whitney's interpretation of the national anthem had been inspired by Marvin Gay's version, done before an NBA championship game. Even more impressively, there was no rehearsal. Her music director wrote out the music and played it for her once and she said, "I got it," then went on to sing it in a way no one could ever forget.

And while I'd seen "The Bodyguard" when it came out, I had no recollection of what a big deal it was to show an interracial relationship. When asked, Whitney said she was just glad that her character was a strong, black woman. I'm guessing that didn't occur to most of us in 1992, either. She was also the first major musician to play post-apartheid South Africa, not to mention looking fabulous in a bejeweled  yellow turban and gown doing it.

The audience at Criterion was mostly women and a lot of them didn't hesitate to answer back, advise and admonish people on screen. You could hear how appalled some of them were when Whitney's Daddy sued her for $100 million. Whose father does that?

Of course, one of the earmarks of a good documentary is holding your interest even when you know what's going to happen and I'm here to say that MacDonald had talked to all the important characters except Whitney's lesbian lover (although she was shown and mentioned extensively) and they were remarkably candid about some very difficult subjects.

Oh, yes, and her nickname from childhood was Nippy. In one weird scene, she tries to address Nippy as Whitney, but can't. Then she has Nippy call up Whitney and that works. Some deep stuff there. Or at least I think there is.

What really matters is that I've now caught up the blog, so life is worthwhile again.

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