Ghost Story (repost, Happy Halloween!)

A couple months ago it was raining like a motherfucker. A dense fog is rolling across the town like a murder mystery. It’s pitch black, somehow darker than usual, and I’m driving through an especially wooded part of town. There’s a roadside memorial hidden in the bushes that I pass by every day. I start to think about how it’s unusual that after all this time, I don’t know who it’s for, this person that died steps away from my house. What’s more, it’s always perfectly maintained, though I’ve never seen a single soul nearby.

Out of the corner of my eye I see something glimmering up ahead, silvery, human-like gliding over the wet road. I think of the story my sister told me, about how she was driving down that road one night and saw a man waiting at the bus stop, a man that seemed somewhat transparent suddenly disappear. I search the road again, looking for a familiar shape to disprove my fears. The figure is gliding, it can’t be a deer, or a jogger, the movement is far too fluid. What about speed? It’s far too fast to be human, and moving against the flow of traffic, in the opposing lane, on wet roads, in a dense fog, on a pitch black night on a road with a history of accidents? A death sentence for any cyclist.

As I speed up, the distance narrows. The reckoning is near, once I crest the hill, regardless of what is or is not out there, I will have to face it head on. I glance over quickly, terrified of what I might see. Can it be unseen? Can I live with whatever knowledge I am about to possess? Do I really want the truth?

There is a black teenage boy dressed in a white hoodie and Sponge Bob Square Pants pajama pants rocking the fuck out to whatever he is listening to on his Beats by Dre headphones while doing 45 MPH on an electric scooter.

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Simulatenously disappointing yourself and being disappointed by yourself (everything is unsatisfying) also seeing bands at Sidebar and loving New Jersey

My Mom went away for a couple weekends, and nothing has proved I’m regressing more than the fact that I was hellbent on taking advantage of it and doing something I wouldn’t do when she was around. Except I couldn’t think of anything. I guess I don’t have any real unsavory desires. I ended up just watching four or so hours of Getting Doug With High and then Bad Grandpa with my sister.

I just want to note that in the Anthony Jeselnik episode of Getting Doug With High, Anthony Jeselnik rolls a joint really fast. I don’t smoke, if anything I have some pent up marijuana-related frustration because in college smoking always won out over drinking, and there’s only so many times I can watch people play Pokemon Stadium. But, the joint rolling skill was oddly hot. I guess any sort of physical ability is a plus? A demonstration of one of my favorite reasonably well-adjusted girl phenomenon, loving the edgy-but-safe? I don’t think Doug Benson meant for his program to raise these questions.

Anyways. Went to see Calabrese at the Sidebar Tavern with Adriana & Jess, which became another bit of a psychological journey for me. In high school, the three of us went to see shows together all the time. As in, in hindsight, I can’t imagine how much money we spent on/at shows, and even if we became rich, I don’t think the sheer volume could ever be matched. It was a time of free evenings and disposable income that can only be achieved by high schoolers. For whatever reason, my mark of adulthood at this juncture was always drinking at a show. We always used to show up early and elbow our way to the front, and my idea of what it felt like to be an adult was always wrapped around the idea of being cool/detached enough to stand at the side with a 21+ wristband at the bar.

Which is kind of weird, because I liked going to shows, I liked being at the front, and what I thought feeling grown up meant was not caring about that. Freud? I guess there was a certain level of anxiety, that I hoped would go away with time/experience/self-confidence. I was always worried about getting to the show, and then getting in line, and then getting to the front, and then would I be able to see? Did I look cute? What songs would they play? Would some fat sweaty bro be welded to my ass and screaming emo lyrics all night (a real and ever present concern given the kinds of bands we saw?)

Anyway. Jess was in town and besides wanting to see her and Adriana and go to a show and go drinking and get out of my house, I thought it would be interesting to be the person that I wanted to be ten years ago, to just jam those two timelines together like The Big Chill -meets-some terrible Jake Gyllenhaal movie. This is like, one of the top forces of momentum in my life. Wanting to see what happens when you do something you thought about doing. There’s a lot of shit I feel compelled to achieve, but this one was relatively easy to cross off my list.

Annnnnnd I felt nothing. Honestly, if film/television is to be believed, redemption fuels 90% of peoples’ actions. How familiar is the plot device where some beleaguered person is haunted by some childhood memory that evaporates as soon as they score a touchdown or beat up a bully or some shit. I have vivid memories, but I could not tell you what it feels like to be anything other than what I feel like right now. Fuck if I know what it feels like to be fifteen anymore. And honestly, I don’t know if I want to know. It could be a great motivator, or it could be completely and utterly crippling to carry that around. I can recall the feeling of being nervous to the point of wanting to vomit, that still happens, and I know I used to feel that way talking to any boy in high school, but I can’t merge the two together. I can’t bring up the feeling of being that nervous talking to a guy anymore, even though I know it happened. I can’t inhabit my fifteen year old self any more, I don’t have that entire sphere of experience, just disjointed slivers of it.

I guess I just wonder if a sense of redemption can exist when you don’t remember what the hell you’re redeeming. I’m never really satisfied with things and I wonder if I’m incapable of contentment or I just have an inaccurate concept of what accomplishment should feel like from watching too many movies or if I just haven’t done anything I truly give a shit about yet.

Which was totally thrown into stark relief when one of the bands was Dave Baksh’s new band. Standing three feet away from one of my childhood heroes. If anyone has ever tried to furiously remember their preteen years so they could give themselves an emotional high five and try to drum up some sense of accomplishment it was me in that moment. But I got nothing.

Traditional band review!:

The Jasons

HOLY SHIT IF THERE WAS ANYTHING I INITIALLY FELT REALLY, REALLY NOT GOOD ABOUT IT WAS THIS. There are still plenty of places in Baltimore I would not want to go. And not going into Baltimore much, and having never been to the Sidebar before, I was not sure if the place I was in was one of the places I should not be. Then these four dudes come out in Jason masks, and my first thought is, oh shit, I am in a black metal show, and not the kind that’s fun for people without priors. Someone is going to start pig squealing a song about rape. I was genuinely intimidated. And then their singer opened his mouth (presumably, as it was obscured by the hockey mask) and out came melodic, fast, tight pop punk, interspersed with  humble sounding stage banter in an adorable Jersey accent. There was a Ramones cover. I think me and Adriana exchanged several completely stunned looks throughout their set, of like, are you hearing what I’m hearing? Are we really finding a bunch of dudes from Jersey in hockey masks weirdly adorable right now? They do have a song called “We’re Gonna Kill That Girl” and did throw around a fake severed head but I have a good feeling about these guys.

Black Cat Attack

I started playing an internal 20 Questions when the band was introduced as being from Toronto. Thinking of what genres would be complementary and what notable musicians could have formed bands together since I left. Somehow, I was tipped off by an amp that read “Sweet Gravy Brown.” ? I swear to God, I’ve never heard that moniker before, but my brain went ‘Oh, it’s Dave Baksh’ like that was the most natural connection in the world. Then boom, a guy appears on stage with a ’41’ tattoo and I’m left feeling simultaneously like a fucking oracle and totally creepy. I might be kind of in love with their singer. Her voice was incredible. Amazing soaring-then-screaming-then-soaring-then screaming thing going on. She sounds a bit like a little kid, like a way more operatic Annie Hardy maybe? I kept thinking about Dario Argento, I have no connection to make there which is why I will never be allowed to write real music reviews, but something told me this band could score a Dario Argento film. Also Dave Baksh plays like a fucking animal. He was so fast my eyes were having trouble processing information. Like the Cris Angel of metal. Searing, brah.

Darrow Chemical Company

Here’s another one I didn’t know what to make of. Maybe I just have an innate fear of people from Jersey, even when I don’t know they’re from Jersey. Once again, Jersey won me over. Jersey has a rough exterior but on the inside just wants to drink beers and play rock music and be loved. That’s all speculation, but that’s what I took away from this band, a Jersey love story. It helped that their singer reminded Adriana and I of Bray Wyatt. After writing that sentence I realize that may only be a positive for us. They kept fucking up the intro to one of their songs, and in complete disregard for performing 101, restarted two or three times and shit-talked their bass (?) player for fucking up, then profusely apologized. And it worked. It was one of the most endearing things I’ve ever seen. Their singer said something to the effect of, ‘if we’re given the opportunity to be here and play for you, we should at least play it right.’ You’re breaking my heart Jersey.

Calabrese

Oh my Goooood. These guys are so adorable. The greaser/psychobilly thing has always been Adriana’s territory, and to be honest I never fully understood it, but I am fully on board now. My teenage self is telling me to shut the fuck up about what they look like, and only discuss the music, but fuck that, aesthetics are important. First of all, they’re brothers (biologically.) They’ve all got leather jackets with matching Calabrese Brothers back patches, so it’s like if The Outsiders made sweet love to Hanson and were standing at your locker with a cigarette and bringing you a mixed tape. So yeah, I want in. I think this is what people in artist development are after now, musicians that can create their own little universe. Only this seemed a lot more organic and a lot less boring. Immediately after the show, I was just like I’M GONNA JOIN A FUCKING GANG. I’M GONNA FIND A GUY WITH A CAMARO. That’s what music is about right? Realizing you want to find a non-homosexual Elton from Clueless?