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Echo and the Bunnymen perform for the elderly at Chastain Park.

Dear Fellow Concert-goers (aka Grizzled Old Beasts Just Like Me),

It was great to hang out with you at the Echo and the Bunnymen and Violent Femmes performance last night. Between the sets, I was taking a good look at all of you — people watching, as I do. You know, finding inspiration for this blog and other writing projects.

I noticed plenty of partial and full hair loss, beer bellies, socks pulled up too far, white shoes, varicose veins, gray hair, etc.

“Jesus, these people are old,” thought I.

That uncharitable thought was followed quickly by this one:

“Oh shit. These are my people. I’m old too.”

Dang. That was a rude awakening. I’m still 27. In my head. Forever. As I bet you are too.

 

Notice the beer (which was delicious). Then notice who is beyond the beer. Notice the cane and the socks.

How we feel ≠ how we look.

It’s depressing.

😕

But not as depressing as the thought of the geriatric dating game. Some of you were definitely hooking up (or trying to, at least). I mean, good for you.

Eddie and I ended up joking about that this morning (I’m in blue, in case you are cursed with an Android phone):

(Don’t give me flak for hating on the stout hairless men of the world. We all have a type, and that’s not mine. And they don’t like me either. So there.)

If forced, I guess I’d have to get some Botox and lipo and start cougaring. But then I’d have to forget knowing every ’80s song, including the Femmes’ repertoire.

I cannot live a lie.

Just like us (in our minds), the Femmes’ sound hasn’t aged at all.

So I think we should all agree to keep on keeping on, just as Hunter S. Thompson recommended:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a Ride!'”

Ride on, fellow geezers.
Beth

 

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Dear Dad,

The last time I wrote to you here, I had satire on my mind. This time it is to complain. Thanks to you, I feel the need to bleach my entire body. This weekend cleaning out your garage was rough.

Even before you passed, I had marshaled the troops (i.e., your son in law and grandchildren who had no choice) to get your garage hoard somewhat under control. Just one bay of the three took us almost an entire weekend, including two trips in two trucks to both the dump and Goodwill.

Since your September demise, I’ve spent many weekend days inside your house going through mounds of paperwork (Why would you save owner’s manuals for appliances you gave away in the ’90s?), office supplies (so many office supplies) and CDs (Four copies of the same Flatt and Scruggs recording? What the heck?!) in just one room alone. At least I was in air conditioning and relative comfort.

This garage cleaning, though … sheesh. Here’s what I personally handled in just three hours:

1. Empty and near-empty bottles of all manner of small engine fluids
2. Stacks of 78 rpm records
3. Hundreds of jars of dried-up model airplane paint
4. All kinds of outdated technology (a slide projector!)
5. At least 45 different species of spiders and bugs, most of them alive and ready to rumble

Some people (you) might say, “Hold on — that’s valuable stuff!” Well, Dad, not when it has been in a detached garage without climate control and regular roach bombings.

Three more trips to Goodwill and another trip to the dump, and I’m not done yet. I see at least three more days of purging ahead of me. And maybe some therapy to address my new daddy issues.

I know it’s bad form for me to be upset with you when you aren’t physically present to defend yourself. It’s frustrating, though, because I remember the week I spent — using vacation days from work, no less — cleaning this very same garage after Mom died in 2009. And you were not happy about it (even though you asked me to do it).

When I tried to get rid of your model-airplane parts, you yelled at me that you were going to get back into building planes. When I questioned the need for 400 cassettes, you said you still listened to all of them — even though there was not a tape player in sight (the reel-to-reel player doesn’t count). When I started to throw away some dry-rotted Christmas decorations, you claimed you used them “just last year” — a statement we both knew was false when Frosty melted in my hands.

I begged you to be more aggressive in your tossing. I remember saying, “Dad, please don’t leave this all for me to clean up when you die.”

Now it’s almost 10 years later and everything is exactly as I left it. Except you’ve added more. For example, what’s this collection in the corner, Dad?

I really don’t want to put my hands in that pile.

I was not prepared mentally or physically for this garage showdown. For one thing, I forgot to bring gloves, a mask, boxes and industrial-strength garbage bags. When Katherine brought out some trash bags from the house, I felt encouraged that they were laden with “rodent repellent.”*

mint-scented rodent repellent bags

That is, until I got a whiff.

Remember my last post in which I said I have a “titanium stomach and a broken sniffer.” Yeah, well, mint-scented rodent repellent apparently is my kryptonite. I could smell that very well. And my stomach did not approve.

I really needed a hazmat suit, a cheering squad for motivation, and an OSHA-approved eye- and body-wash station. I even considered another trip to the Jeju Sauna. That’s how bad it was.

None of my friends should wonder why I like the show, “Hoarders.” It provides cognizance, comfort and coping skills all in one!

I realized, though, while I was doing an extended-surface and deep-body-cavity cleansing afterward that you are still teaching me even though you have moved on to the great beyond.

The lesson?

Never do this to your kids.

Mine will be lucky to get a footlocker from me, as I plan to chuck almost everything long before I kick it.

You know I love you, but I did not love this.

Sigh.

Say hi to Mom and Gram for me.

Your organized and aggravated daughter,
Beth

* Note that it says it is effective against raccoons. Two things:
1. Hando did not come with me on this adventure, so I guess it works on dead raccoon parts.
2. It does not work on live ones, or at least live rabid ones. Katherine tangled with one on the front porch just moments before we got there. (Ironic, no?) The rabid brethren of Hando then tangled with a car and lost.

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Dear Music Lovers:

If you are like me, you have playlists for various occasions. In my case, these playlists correspond to very specific occasions. Here are some examples:

1. Playlist that keeps me from murdering my attitudinal oldest son and burying his body in the shrubs outside our door:

Notes: It’s hard to be mad at your 13 year old when 13-year-old Taylor Hanson is scatting. No, I’m not ashamed to have One Direction on a playlist. Yes, “1985” resonates (I too never got a hand on a member of Duran Duran. Yet.).

2. Playlist that helps me get ready for work when I spent too much time the night before bingeing “Santa Clarita Diet” and drinking wine.

Notes: I dare you to stand still when you hear any of these songs. “Thrift Shop” is one of my youngest son’s favorite songs.

3. Playlist that allows me to let my redneck freak flag fly (and those moments I can ignore over-the-top objectification of women):

Notes: This may surprise you, but my first date with Eddie was a Tim McGraw/Sawyer Brown concert. I was a DJ for a country music radio station at the time. As I also worked as a TV news reporter, I couldn’t use my real name on air at the radio station. I wanted to call myself Moonpie Jones, but my boss wouldn’t let me.

4. Playlist to offer when someone asks you your favorite song from the ’80s.

Notes: How could I choose? So many great songs for so many good reasons. It’s shocking how Bow Wow Wow is undervalued and underplayed.

5. Playlist for when the kids are not in the car:

 

Notes: All great. All NSFW and NSFC. It’s surprising there’s no “E” next to “Crazy Bitch.” It’s definitely “E.” (Sarah K., don’t say a word to me about Buckcherry.)

6. Playlist for stress cleaning your habitat because your house in your old city STILL hasn’t sold.

Notes: It’s been a year. This is better than drinking.

7. Playlist for cooking complicated dishes like Mexican tamales, Puerto Rican pasteles and Japanese gyoza while wishing regular life could be as easy as following a recipe.

Notes: If I’m going to cook, I’m going to COOK (i.e., go all out). All-day cooking makes me feel very counterculture — counter to my usual routine — hence this throwback playlist.

I’m open to new bands. I promise! (I’m just too lazy to go searching.) Send me your top playlist and its best occasion!

Thanks for the recs,
Beth

 

From Instagram. Change 2000s to 1980s.

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Dear Union EAV:

Thank you for being the bright spot in an otherwise dim evening. Mistakes were made.

Mistake No. 1.
Going out on a school night. My friend Kalen and I thought the Star Bar would be hopping with people grooving to DJ MP3PO and Quasi Mandisco. Yeah, not so much.

Mistake No. 2
Thinking 529 or The Earl might be more lively. They were as dead as some of my favorite GoT characters.

Seen in the Star Bar ladies room

Mistake No. 3
Investigating Mary’s. It was voted Best Karaoke in Creative Loafing but I’m not sure why. We walked in the door then right back out.

But you, Union EAV, lured us in and salvaged the night. I never would have chosen a rap open-mic night, but there we were, packed in a 20-by-20-foot room with about 30 30-something black men. I’ve never felt so white. But also I felt welcomed, as we all were there to see young artists perform.

The first rapper we saw was this guy:

It was like “Showtime at the Apollo.” He introduced himself in a thick Eastern European accent. The crowd was prepared to boo this dude. But then he began rapping and earned respect.

Me: Where did he say he was from? Belarus?
Kalen: Bosnia!

This woman was one of the best of the night: a true master of the form:

Everyone was clearly having a good time. It could have been the performers. Or it could have been the result of something that formed a cloud with a distinctive odor. Or it could have been the effect of what we suspect was in the container guarded by the Punisher.

Didn’t matter. Still chill. Great fun. Like “8 Mile” without the conflict.

Then the Lyft driver for my ride home turns out to be a Peruvian opera singer.

I always have the best time when I say, “Yes, and …

So thanks, and maybe I’ll see you again.

Sincerely,
Beth

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Dear Tommy Stinson,

You now have the distinction of being the star of two of the weirdest nights of my life.

One was back in The Replacements days in the ’90s. You and I shared a moment, but that’s a story for another day.

The second was Saturday night at the Atlanta show of your Cowboys in the Campfire tour.

My usual partner in crime was indisposed, so I drug my long-suffering husband out to the luckily very early (7 p.m.) event.

I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this:

There’s a reason I don’t like Bob Dylan. WTF are you singing, Tommy? You were a bass prodigy. Besides The Replacements, you were the bassist for Guns N’ Roses and Soul Asylum. What are you doing? I do appreciate wanting to try something different (I’m president of that club), but …

Sigh.

When the merch selling began, I knew what I wouldn’t be buying. (I’m so sorry; it’s just not for me.)

You know what I did buy? Your Co-Cowboy Chip’s spice blend.

That’s right.

I went to a concert and bought Uncle Sippy’s Seasoning Blend. And because this wasn’t strange enough, I decided to get it signed too.

Apparently, Chip used to be a chef.

Here is Chef Chip telling me that this is NOT a rub, and I should not use it as a rub.

While you were signing my souvenir, one of your people said I should let you take a selfie of us.

“He takes the best selfies,” the guy said.
“OK. Sure,” I said.

So you took a selfie. This is the result:

It certainly was not what I anticipated. But you were so nice to amuse a long-time fan.

Anyway, thanks for an odd night. We are two for two.

And Eddie and I were home by 9:30.

See you in another 25 years or so.

I’ll expect the unexpected.
Beth

P.S. Tell Chip the seasoning blend is delicious!

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Can you hear me now? Oh yes.

Dear George Clinton,

Thank you for a great show Sunday night at the Buckhead Theatre. While I was giving up the funk, some questions came up:

  1. Where does one find the sparkly mother-of-the-bride tunic you were wearing?
  2. Is this tunic available at the same place where this accountant-by-day found these pants?
  3. Does your concert rider specifically request a swivel desk chair for your onstage breaks? (Note that I do not begrudge you your breaks. I know you are 76. I’m just asking about the chair. I think you need something more befitting a legend such as yourself, Dr. Funkenstein. A throne, maybe.)
  4. Why do you need 55 people on stage? Only 16 were singing or playing an instrument. The others were taking selfies and videos.
  5. How many songs did you actually play? I know that you started around 9 and by 9:25 you had only played two. I do love that you give the audience their money’s worth. And I can’t say that I wasn’t warned.
  6. Why was Santa in this South Town audience? Don’t you perform any farther north (or any closer to Christmas)? Shine the spotlight on him to help him find the funk. (Or am I missing something?)
  7. Why can’t music be the conduit to end racism and other social ills? Your audience was made up of black, white, old, young, straight, gay, North Pole residents, Atlanta residents  — all smooshed butt to back. We were having a party, y’all.

Still feeling supergroovalistic, thanks!
Beth

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Dear Patrons of the Bar I Visited Friday Night:

You are the reason I don’t go out much (though there are other reasons too). I needed to do reconnaissance for a PR project, so I willed myself to exit my home, collect my friend René, and head to Metalsome Karaoke: karaoke backed by a live band.

René and I get ready to rock.

 

This was our view during the karaoke extravaganza.

The night started out great, but quickly went downhill. Why?

The Drunk Girl
I’m sorry (not sorry) I had to hip check you. René nicely asked you to stop flinging yourself against me. You would not stop. And then you took the stage, and we saw that you were way past the point of reason.

The Bouncer
This guy took himself very seriously. It was like he was guarding U2. “Come on, dude,” I thought. That is, until the above tried to rape the guitarist onstage. And then I understood why the bouncer was on high alert.

The Predator
The girl in front of you clearly wanted to watch the band and “singers.” She did not want you humping her. I promise.

After a badly botched rendition of “Bitch,” by a friend of Drunk Girl, René and I decided to leave the comfort of our Stage Left perch and explore the rest of the bar.

That was a mistake.

We waded through the beer soup on the ground floor up the stairs to find two more floors of sweaty bodies. All the guys were short, aging, puffy frat boys. Exhibit A:

Yet the women were Size Zero model wannabes. Exhibit B:

The men outnumbered the women three to one. And there were so many people! There had to have been fire code violations.

Me trying to get out of the bar

When we finally made it through the press of bodies and landed outside on the sidewalk, I apologized to René. He looked over his glasses at me and said:

And that’s why I don’t go to straight bars.

Got it.

Still drying out my shoes,
Beth

* Reference for title

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