Saturday, December 31, 2005

Morning Vent

I live in a town where “cultural diversity” refers to the differing ages of unsold yogurt on the grocery store shelf. There is a coagulation of thought amongst many natives and transplants that is illustrative: smoking is the default position; gays are beyond sinners – they need to be sought out and punished; motorcycles are phallic metaphors; football players are considered geniuses; no one refers publicly to minorities in derogatory terms, yet no one seems to have a friend with a different colored skin unless that friend is Italian. Bumper stickers shout allegiance to NASCAR, gun rights, and country music. Do you think they perceive the contradiction in “Country Music ROCKS!!”?

I’m conservative, own a gun that will be taken only from my dead fingers, and I enjoy sports. But I believe that most sports figures would be in prison, unemployed, or pushing a broom if not for freakish, abnormal physical attributes. I think modern country music sucks. Hank Williams wrote and sang well; these modern idiots are stuck in a time warp fashioned by Buck Owens – a drunken woman beater (what more would you expect from a guy that called his band the “Buckaroos”?).

I do not define myself through sitcoms and network news. I cannot watch the reality shows that are so thoroughly discussed every where I go. I think that when women on television act “provocatively” that they come across as intellectually vacuous and as sluts; the last thing on my mind is my pants getting tight.

There are pockets of inspiration here which would be recognizable by people from away as indicative of “culture,” as that term is generally understood outside this bubble. There’s a coffee shop that sells photographs from local folks (Joseph Jeanguenat is a youngin’ and presents well). There’s a local band (yes, just one – Symphonic Haze; they need a sound tech badly but have some very real, if not raw, talent). There’s, um, bear with me, I’m thinking. Um, did I mention the coffee shop? Yes, I see that I did. Um, well, let me talk about the band for a bit and maybe something else will come to mind.

I’ve seen them play a few times now. Same problems. Their sound guy must have a hearing issue: the mics and amps are way out of balance. Stevie needs to upgrade his guitar so that it stays in tune; his focus is too spread to accurately do it on the fly. Dan needs to sharpen his vocals; the stage presence is there, but maybe some voice lessons would help (if Eric Clapton could do it …). The drummer and bassist are both solid. They need to incorporate the mandolin and fiddle only when it fits the song; they seem forced too often. The chick has to step up to the plate and quit going through the motions, or get out.

Positively, Stevie can play some good bits (but he does play some things beyond his dexterity; a record and playback session would make it clear to him). They own old Neil Young songs. They really get the power, timing, and vocals down. They play a lot of their own music. It can be tortured at times, but that doesn’t matter – these are kids writing and playing their own music. The drummer is in a league beyond everyone else in the band, as well as most other drummers anywhere.

Wow. A rock critic. So funny.

OK, more local culture. Um, nope, sorry. Nothing. But that’s alright. I’ve vented for the morning. One last bit. I went to a local restaurant last week that proudly proclaims to be “Vegetarian Friendly.” Turns out that phrase means that they forbid physical intimidation of veges. I ordered “Nacho Supreme” without meat. It was chips, green olives, and cheese that was melted with a blow torch. I left hungry but unharmed. Vegetarian friendly.


  1. I like blogs. I like yours. First one I found looking for guitar lessons. Take care.
    guitar lessons

  2. Ah Berwick!... The beautiful scenery, the neat and cozy little main street... The home of back water imbeciles (including, but not limited to, my parents) whose idea of going out is heading over to Walmart to spend what little cash they have on things they don't need... What more can one want??
    I try to visit as little as possible. One of the last times I was there I ended up in an authentic, ungodly pink, Victorian dress, sweating my ass off, apparently promoting the seriously lacking Historical Society at some town event... possibly it's anniversary. If it wasn't for Symphonic Haze playing I think I might be in jail for murder.
    Honestly, what kind of place has a movie theatre that only plays 1 movie at a time, and it's only there for a week??
    It's funny that no one in Philly has any idea where it is. When they ask, I tell them "Why, its right next to Nescopeck! I'm sure you've heard of that town!" Good old Nescopeck. Home of the 25 mph speed limit, so you can gaze upon the randomly delapidated house while the old man on the sidewalk passes you by.
    This was a great blog. Happened across it while looking for a Symphonic Haze video to show my friend.
    Hope you manage to get out, before they recruit you as a waterboy for their beloved football players. (Just ask my little brother, he knows the torture of it all.)

  3. You are so kind. Actually, rather than escaping Berwick, I came to it. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    The Haze may have some video tape. Some guy was at a couple shows with a camera, but no one seems to know how to contact him.

    My son plays bass and joins them at the coffee shop (singular, yes, THE coffee shop, sigh). He has 8 or 9 songs of them playing that he got from plugging his laptop into the sound board. Let me know if you would like a CD.

    Breath the non-Berwick air deeply. One never knows when fate comes knocking.