I woke in a wake greater than I was aware of.
Submitted by: Charles Christian
A perfect precursor to the day. Wickedly hungover and treading waters of an unknown depth. I was lost at what i did not see. It was approximately two in the afternoon when i woke. Looking at a broken phone as an incessant barrage of indecipherable messages rang from phone to satellite to phone and rattled around in my skull like broken glass in a box. Such an awful noise reminding me I’m late and I have almost no intention of keeping up with aforementioned plans from previous people. I Didn’t wake up at nine to help Darrin LaBerdia with the half pipe tree house for the Halloween party. I never made it to help Jamie Starks with putting some finishing touches on the new Tommy’s Pub. But, I will meet up with E Norah Crow and Chuck Norris to plan the space jam party on the Ostrich farm. One out of three ain’t bad…right? (that’s almost how the song goes.)
Anyway, the night before I planned on having a few beers with the band, playing some rocket league and passing out around midnight. That was until the mystics took control. Sending my roommate Mlk Jacobs into the equation with a 30 pack of budlight a gaggle of the usual suspects equipped with a handle of Evan Williams and various wines. After an unaccountable number of boiler makers and other bad decisions my bedtime went from responsible to negligence with a chance of eviction in what seemed like zero to 70mph in less than 10 seconds.
I convinced myself to meet with Miles and Kat at Chris’s Deli. Gunning my moped to 60 Mph on Independence Blvd. was another bad decision happening faster than my battered grey matter could handle. The sheer discomfort of the day shrilled my poor, dehydrated, peanut brain and made me ache to return to the comfort of my bed to not exist easily for another eight to 10 hrs. I met with Miles at the dealt spot and attempted to switch dispositions to an eager uplifted approach. Greeting him with my best attempt at friendly comradery while pretending my innards weren’t suffering a jittery collapse of rickety conditions. He happened to have an extra ice water for which I owe him my soul if its mine to give. After about 15 mins of baking in the red minivan under a bright & shiny sun in a nearly cloudless Carolina sky we saw Kat approaching the car.
“Oh, what a day. says Kat”
“Funny, I literally just said that to Miles”, I said becoming aware this was indeed a collectively estranged day.
We made our way to the Ostrich farm becoming familiar with each other’s most recent dysfunctionalities.
Between my inoperative vehicles and fictitious claims, Kat’s fugazi fengshui and all of our mixed history of odd jobs we were 3 green peas in an odd pod. Miles had his ethereal ducks mostly in a row though. His shits generally legit and flying in a straight line.
After about 15 mins of following behind a house on wheels we found ourselves on Mt. Pleasant. My Idlewild mind still spinning helplessly in a junkyard of dilapidated disdain, we had reached our destination. There on the left was a gravel driveway with a couple of cars parked and some folks with smokes and a patient demeanor. we pulled up and met with Chuck, Mike and Devin. After introductions and small talk we made our way through the farm while being stalked by monstrous looming ostriches. Evolution staring me in my face, with a brain more useless than my own.
‘This is how Jurassic park starts’… I said in a voice like a stone
Yea, stand back, they can kick you through the fence, says mike
Oh fuck that, I’m in no condition to get kicked by an ostrich right now.
Mike; Yea and they can run up to 70 mph.
Chuck; are you serious?
Mike; oh yea. They’re insane
Me; They’re velossa raptors with feathers.
Kat; speaking to the ostrich, “oh come on fella do your dance, don’t you wanna dance for me?”
Mike; “he doesn’t wanna dance cuz his girlfriend’s there. He’s shy.”
Devin; Where’s miles?
Me; “oh shit they got Miles, see this is how it starts!”
Kat; “No, he’s back there taking pictures.”
Me; Nope he’s gunna be the first to go. Wait, can you ride these things?
Mike; hahaha, no. They are not tamed at all. They are raised to be burgers.
Me; wow, the irony of evolution.
After meandering around for a while we discussed the party business. Where the stage would be built, its height, the length and dimensions, what direction it would face, it’s ampage and power feed, lighting, weather proofing, the band’s positioning on stage, followed by equally important matters such as lighting the bonfire from the stage with a flaming bow and arrow, what to do in case of bears, security… (armed particularly in the event of BEARS or large cats, or BEAR CATS!) Then free beer for the band, and food. Where the food truck will be parked, will there be ostrich burger, vodka slushy vender is a must, Mike will have his own brand of energy drink there which mixes well with whiskey, or brandy, or vodka or well, most any poison really. Camping, parking, pricing for what to charge per car rather than per person so more people are inclined to pack into a clown car and roll 20 deep to the party so its 1 dollar a head to park and camp. bathroom facilities, The whole nine yards.
My head still pounding and stomach grumbling after matters had been taken care of, we finally agreed its bout time we bounce. Life was summoning us back to the surface. My hangover screaming in the background like an angsty little bastard tooting child and I, the neglectful mother who has mostly learned to tune it out or at least reduce it to a subtle disturbance when in focus. Kind of like when someone tunes out the dinging seat belt noise after a while until someone else brings it up, or how a cavity doesn’t suck until it touches something sweet and sets off the alarm that there is something fundamentally wrong with your physical person in that moment.
With My consciousness warbling in the back seat we drove to the gas station.
We stopped and got beverages. I Choose an energy drink to fix my fidgeting fingers and my accidental expansion of my mind. I can’t tell if I’m imploding or exploding into the atmosphere but there was certainly some sort of plosion taking place here. This feeling is enhanced when it comes to our attention that Devin has forgotten his wallet and I thought to myself , of course. This is all a part of life and the unavoidable human mundanities. I knew when I embarked upon this mission this day would not be particularly pleasant. So, with my lowered expectations I accepted the now for what it was worth and did not falter to the whiny “why me” stage. (after all it wasn’t my wallet at least.) We did spend the next hour or so back on the farm searching various picnic tables and traveled paths. I even told him he could search my bookbag seeing as he didn’t know me and I am aware of my somewhat sketchy appeal which yields the lingering elephant into the room. He declined. As it turned out he had left it in his work pants which he learned by using a life line and phoning home to his sister. At last, we were under way.
They dropped me back off at Chris’s Deli where I left the mope. It’s about 6pm and I’m not sure what move to make as I hit the road but I hit it with the quickness and head in the direction of home. I almost make it until mope says nope and runs out of gas while rolling down Monroe. No big deal, I’m used to this seeing as the gas gauge is broke. I keep a small gas canister under the seat. I stop in a storage unit parking lot to refill and pause as I am enchanted by an Audible Distraction. A voice like Amy wine house resounded off the buildings and caressed my airwaves alluring my attention across the street. My shaky mind subdued by wild blue notes ringing to and fro from the soul of some distant siren. Now I see, over yonder there’s the new common market and it has been calling my name every time I pass it. Now, litterally, it sings to me!
Bee lining it across the street like a blind lemming I approached the open window from which the sounds were escaping into the atmosphere. Surveying the set up I suddenly realize there is a drummer that I recognize as none other than Patrick Buckley. I have been trying to catch him in action for the past few months and now, here I am. I chalk this up as the day’s first of many eventual happy accidents. As I approach him I see he recognizes me through the window and we laugh and slap daps of salutation.
Me; What’s happenin brutha?
Patrick; whaaat? whats up dude?
Me; nothin man, moped just broke down across the street, so here I am. lol
Patrick; oh shit, freal?
Me; yea what better spot, right?
Patrick; nice, stop in for a min
Me; don’t mind if I do!
The lovely singer, miss Randi Johnsoon sitting on her stool with guitar in hand then turns from talking to the audience to Pat and I.
Randi; Pat! come on with it, i’m payin you here.
Patrick; i know, i’m ready.
Randi; who is this, comin up distractin my drummer??
Me; It’s cool, i’m comin in to check yall out. I heard you singing from that parking lot over there and I had to see whats happenin, turns out I know your boy.
Randi; Oh! That’s dope! Well get your butt in here and quit distractin him.
Me; i’m on it! Do ya thang.
Making haste I made my way 1st to the bathroom.
I met my self in the mirror and had to laugh. My moped helmet two sizes too small, thin dark green army jacket over a tight black tattered hoodie, bright blue bandanna over my face, sunglasses hiding my eyes that gave me away. I am a hot mess. A wiry disconnect reject, short circuited, half ass in full effect. after that brief cheap laugh & commercial break I exited the Zen like trance of examination and left the as-we-think-we-ism in the bathroom escaping back into the viewing lens of the looky-loos to be perceived by other’s lookin like they think they do. In other words, I took my place in a small seated crowd of commoners at the market and enjoyed the show.
I was still feeling a bit unglued yet I felt rooted by the groove and melody that filled the room. Mostly originals of which I enjoyed, some covers which felt original. They had a nice essence. At one-point Randi stopped and asked what they should be called because they don’t actually have a name which struck back and forth conversation with the crowd. I yelled out rhythm and soul gumbo. Then I recapped after the next song or so and thought, “They ‘re more so a sweet treat, like a dessert than a hearty meal. Maybe Soul Candy.” Whatever, either way, despite the name, they sounded sweet indeed.
After some time of being soothed by smooth rhythm and harmonious tunes I realized I should bring the mope over to keep it from potentially wandering off. I started to get up between songs and Randi asks me, “You’re not leavin yet are you?”
Me; no, just grabbin my bike, then a beer and I’ll be back.
Randi; ok cool, would you like to come up here and do somethin? I heard you singin along with that Radio Head cover. That was you right?
Me; hell yea, I really liked that by the way! and yes, most def! gimme a min.
Returning to the room with a Black Boss in hand and a pep in my step. I felt comfortable enough with my uncomfortable current status to make amends with my shaky constitution through the sweet release of music. A fine vibe of nervous energy flowed through me with a familiarity known only as the electric essence of stage presence. With my feet in the air and my head on the ground…I felt at home.
Randi; what you wanna do?
Me; hmmm… i’ve got an idea. Turning to pat, can you give me a beat in 5/4
Patrick; yea, for sure.
Me; Randi, can you play something in C?
Randi; C what?
ME; C, I don’t know… C
Randi; lol ok
Me; this is something i’ve been working on and I was told I generally sing it in C. so, idk let’s just run with it and see what happens.
To no surprise it went nothing like I intended which is fairly what I had expected. The rhythm at some point throughout the song changed to a 6/4 time signature, the guitar playing in C wasn’t what I was used to probably because i was really only used to singing it over bass thus far. I changed up the entire second verse on an impromptu decision and Randi actually harmonized with some of the course. I loved it! I really wish someone had recorded it and I don’t think this was strictly wishful demeanor or artist narcissism because the crowd was attentive and somewhat swaying and nodding which means it didn’t suck. We were perfecting the art of imperfection.
After that I went to get una mas cervesa which I chose to make a pumpkin beer for the sake of early cool Carolina weather.
It fit the vibe as the lights dimmed and the night grew brisk. Then a friend of Randi’s came up with her guitar. It was a girl who used to go to the Tommy’s open Mic. We met and said it was great to see each other again though we didn’t remember each other’s name. At least I suspect she forgot mine as she simply called me Gonzo, my other, other accidental alias. She played something while Randi briefly exited the stage. She used to cover some stuff by The Yea, Yea, Yeas. I could tell she was still influenced by Karen O which I loved. She was timid with a touch of grungy aggression. A 90’s child with sort of burgundy bangs in a static grey and multicolored hemp hippie hoodie. Shaking off the nerves she sang and strummed something she wrote as her boyfriend stood about 10 ft from her looking more like a manager than an admirer. Randi came back and they did a song together. Closing it out briefly after that I asked Pat what his plans were for the night. He said he and our drummer Perry Lemmon Jr were going to see Lettuce and was actually rolling back to my house to pick him up. “Cool, so you can just follow me”, I said.
As we packed up and got ready to slide to the house I asked everyone if they wanted free tickets to come see our show at the Filmore Underground on Sept 15th. The young grunge singer responded with intrigue but her manager responded by cutting her off and saying “we’re busy that day”. Giving her a stern look through his dark rimmed hipster glasses. They argued momentarily and she said we might be able to make it. He turned to me and asked very flatly with out concern what we sounded like.
Me; i’d say we’re a mix of Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Him; Hate em
Me; Meets Sublime.
Him; Hate em.
Me; Meets Incubus.
Him; Hate em
Me; Meets rage Against the Machine
Him; hate em
Me; Take that and sprinkle a 90’s influence of jam band over it and put it in a blender.
Him; …Hate it
Me; Awesome, I can’t wait to NOT see you at the show!
Me; turning to the young grunge pixie, here’s a couple tickets in case you can make it, if not no biggie.
Her; Thanks! hopefully our plans won’t run too late and we’ll see you there.
It was nearly 9pm when Pat and I got back to the Gonzoplex.
The night was just beginning as we ( Pat, P.j and I) proposed toasts of whatever excuse we had to raise a mason jar of moonshine to the moon and throw the rocket fuel down the hatch, a purchase made earlier in the day from a previous gig that Pat played. Blast off in T-10 mins. They were amped to go see the band and I was ready to go out and jam. The shine even mixed nicely with a chamomile tea I made allowing the alcohol to enter the blood stream with a little more rush like a hot saki. The night was bout to get lit as fire was in my veins, coursing through like a snake bite. 10 mins turned more to a half hour as we got carried away talking to our bassist’s parents who were visiting for the weekend. I could only imagine what they might have honestly thought about the fact we were casually sipping back on moon juice before pursuing a wild ride through a marathon of a night.
We finally departed just after 9:30 or so. They split with some buckets and sticks in the back of Pat’s truck with the intentions of meeting up down town after the show. I started to roll out on my moped realizing I’m only forgetting everything. So ready to go I never got set and got ahead of myself. I made it down my block and circled back around to grab my drum, my book bag, some shakers, a tip jar, my circle K refill cup and to brush my teeth…(super fresh!) I also checked my face book because I knew there was something else I was forgetting I couldn’t put my finger on. Events, Kaylan Elizabeth Bailey’s birthday party today!
Fuck! I forgot. I said I’d go. I’ll do it, I’ll be a man of my word at least two out of four times today. Hell yea, that makes me full fledged half assed mutha funker!
I scrawl the address down in my finest chicken scratch on my left arm with a black sharpie and hit the road stopping to play my djembe as loud as I could at nearly every red light that didn’t have a cop on it, inciting confusion, spontaneous dance parties and perfect Friday night snap chat worthy moments. I was truly a jackal in the moonlit night, flying by the seat of my disposition. The I in irony was my inner vision. At any given moment, for any particular reason I could have been pulled over and, well, this story could have ended there. (Or honestly it could’ve just taken a turn in tone as I’d probably still share my humility. Which I actually am about to do shortly). Yes I am implicitly and shamelessly human and I enjoy sharing the experience with those who care to listen.
Arriving at the party feeling loosy goosy and wavy gravy I parked the mope on the side of the house and swung around back to meet and greet the party people of the evening. It was starting to swing into momentum as Aarodynamics was setting up in the basement. There were many faces I’ve never seen as well as some I recognized. I enjoyed shooting the shit with the random folks in passing but never stayed in one place for long. We would jam with my djembe, converse, spit flows, salute the birthday girl, cheers, hug, high five, take a sip, take a shot, things of that nature. Then Aron got down and kicked out the jams and made booties shake in the collective basement boogie. A couple people got on the mic and I rocked some rhythms and danced with my drum. All was well until something hit me down low. After about a half hour as people had somewhat dissipated through party osmosis I made my way upstairs passing people like traffic. I was on a mission headed directly for the bathroom. I got to the door, locked. Outside in the hall I did my Michael Jackson bathroom dance for about 5 mins which felt just shy of eternity. Uncertain of what was actually in store, I attempted to go to go outside to water a discrete patch of bushes in any nearby shady corner. Power walking into place I whip out in mid motion and just prior to sweet relief clench what could have been a pyroclastic explosion. This was more than I bargained for. I had only intended to water the bushes not fertilize the grass. Fuck, back to the bathroom. With a quick wind sprint and a little bit of lucky timing it was open. Door swings close, lock, unbuckle, unbutton, then a knock and a voice. Just outside the door, then, “hey the birthday girl needs to use the bathroom!!” I paused, and sighed… Fine gawd if this is how its gotta be you owe me this one. Pants back up, buttoned, buckled, unlocked, door swings open. I swoop past the masses of bystanders, the birthday girl, drunken gaggle of newly confident white rappers in the kitchen, the isolated phone calls in the hallway, out the door by the cooler kids buzzing around ice breaker conversations to the side of the house where the mope awaited my great escape. I was backing it up when a car pulled up and a drunken low brow started shouting at me.
Guy; Ethan!!! c’mon !
Guy; C’mon dude! Get, get in the car
Me; sorry guy, you got the wrong guy, guy.
Guy; Ethan! get in the fucking car dude!
Aaron come out of the house and makes an attempt to mend the situation.
Aaron; hey, shut up man.
AAron is telling someone to go get so and so as I’m starting the mope.
Aaron; pulling the Irish goodbye?
Me; yeaaaa, no one’s gunna remember any way and I gotta roll.
Aaron; yo, SHUT THE FUCK UP!!! Thats not even Ethan.
Me; shit, good luck man, i’m out.
Aaron; Aite dude, thanks for comin by.
Me; Thanks for the invite man!
Rollin down the road slow and steady at first to check my dexterity and to prove to my self and any one else watching that I can drive responsibly then gunning it and cursing every god forsaken speed bump down the side street. I hit the nearest corner gas station, jumped off the bike went inside and to my dismay, both bathrooms, occupied. I wait and try to casually play my drum and not think about how close I am to either sweet relief or accidental massive embarrassment. One minute goes by, then another. fuck it, i’m out. Back on the bike cutting across the entire intersection, hop the median, fly up the side walk to the Q.T gas station doors, hop off the bike, awkward butt clenched power walk into the bathroom. By some good grace I find a mostly clean stall, still laying down the eagles nest on the seat then all in one swoop, dismantle the drum from my back and drop trout. I barely made it. Small victories!
Now on my way down town I decide I need to refuel.
Sliding into Dominos along the way I walk in with drum in hand and kick out a lick I ask the young lady if they have any messed up orders that they were going to get rid of. She says not at the moment but hold on, She talks to the manager and comes back with a smile and says I can make you a small one topping, what do you want? I thank her dearly and say pineapple please. She hooks it up and I get on my bike now carrying a drum, a bookbag and a small pizza. Flying through the night with a smile, stopping occasionally to dine then dash down the path to the next adventure.
Finally I arrive outside the Epicenter between one and one thirty in the morning. The usual crew of drummers and randos are there doing their thing in full swing. I smashed two slices of za and gave the rest to them, leaned back on the bike, struck a beat ripe and loud and reveled in the echoing abyss that was the city filled with rhythm. People passing by danced and tossed cash but the shining moment was after about 20 mins or so when a tall blonde Swedish queen stopped to talk with me. She said her name with an accent that made it hard to understand over the drums yet her eyes and charming allure made it hard to realize the drums were even there.
Tilda; No, Just Tilda.
Me; Oh, Tilda. I love it.
Me; My name’s Charles.
Tilda; I love this, what do you call it?
Me; the drum? Or this drum circle?
Tild; This! Motioning with her hands to this moment in its entirety.
Me; This is a djembe that I’m playing and “THIS” is called busking.
Tilda; I love it, I love live music. Are you in a band?
Me; I am and its funny you should mention live music. (Pulling two tickets from my pocket) You and a friend should come see our band play this fri at the Underground. The tickets are free.
Tilda; Ohhh, i’m leaving soon. I’ll be gone by then. I’m also here alone.
Me; Alone? Sounds adventurous!
Tilda; Sort of, i’m visiting family in South Carolina.
Me; Sounds fun!
Tilda; Do you do this for fun or for money?
Me; Both. You never know what your gunna get. Both with experiences and or cash. It’s exciting.
Tilda; What do you do for job?
Me; Well, You’re kinda looking at it. Street performing and other odd jobs, Farmers market, move furniture.
Tilda; You move furniture? You’re little! I’m sorry, not little, but you are short…
Me; It’s kool, i’m aware I may be vertically challenged but I pack power and I got the know how (I said with a wink and a smile.)
Aside from her relentless teasing and poking fun I knew she liked me as we kept talking and flirting. By the grace of some lucky star I got to steal two kisses from her before we parted ways. One for goodbye and one for the helluvit. She was beautiful, and I’d probably never see her again. So, it goes and so it went, we parted ways with a smile.
About four blocks away was my usual spot that I told Pat and P.j to meet me at later after the show. I drove up with zero expectations of them actually being there but low and behold as though my eyes and ears deceived me, there stood the two buskateers in the frey. No, this was not a mirage, this was a plan gone right in the dead of night. Just as bars were letting out around two, two thirty. The queen city witching hour of the freak’n weekend. I jumped off my bike and joined the rhythm lighting up the block like a fire fight. We had some dancers, small gatherings and gaggles of boppers, by standers, passerby dollar droppers, stumblers, mumblers, snap chatters, corporate latters, pan handlers. We didn’t make big money, but we had a hell of a time. P.j and Pat were still lived wire from the inspiration of just seeing Lettuce and I was high on the vibe of the night. After getting a hookup on free za, giving out 15 to 20 more free tickets, copping 15 bones for jammin with the Epicenter crew, and kissing a princess my night was already made. But, the cherry on top, the extra credit, the kicker, my crew actually showed up at the end of the night and we closed it out by kicking out full blast bombastic beats till 3:30 am. I know it was 3:30am because a cop came and told us. Time to shut it down. We were so amped that we didn’t even notice that everyone had practically gone home. Even the homeless were drunk and passed out and had stopped asking us for money. We agreed it was time to leave but before we did I gave the lovely aggravated lady in blue a ticket to the show. She hesitantly accepted and said “I better not half to come back here again”. I said “no mam, promise you, we’re out.” Then p.j throws in, next time you’ll see us is at the show.” “we’ll see” she says, and drives off.
Me; Well fellas, I’ll see you back at De Casa?
Pat; sounds good.
Me; kool, i’ma make my way in a min. First I gotta go see if I can find my Swedish queen, she said she might go get pizza so I’ma swing by fuel and see if there is any luck left in this night.
P.j; haaaa, good luck sir.
Me; i’ll catch yous dudes at the house.
Me; true, we’ll see
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I am notoriously bad with directions. Regardless of the fact that I am down town on a regular weekend basis I still manage to get lost coming back EVERY TIME. So, as I got back to the house roughly an hour or so later I truly wished I had a sweet ending to this epic adventure where I saw Tilda one last time and shared a last kiss, a conversation or even a pizza, but all that happened was I circled the city at least 3 times and sang obnoxiously to myself while freezing my ass off. Still, what a day.