Friday, October 17, 2003

Home Coming

I'm at Memorial Library, where I'm resting from postering the new #1 Dad gig, which is every Tuesday at 8:00 at the Public House, 680 W. Washington Ave. in Madison, WI. You should really come. If you've never seen us, #1 Dad is the acoustic duo comprising guitarist Ed Larson and me. #1 Dad plays country music--classic country, and our own--and we fucking rock.

Having gotten that out of the way, I just want to tell you that it's homecoming weekend here in Madison, lair of the University of Wisconsin Badgers (do badgers dwell in lairs?), and homecoming parade made its way down State Street as I postered. Let me tell you, it is one nutty scene down there, and the only thing keeping it from being completely out of control is that it's early Friday evening, so not everyone has had time to put down a case of Blatz yet. Give them time.

But what I wanted to tell you about is the two snippets of conversation I overheard. Not conversations, even. Lines. I heard these from people walking in the opposite direction.

The first one involves Jamba Juice, a local smoothie emporium. The line: "Jamba Juice is, like..."

I guess you have to live in Madison to understand why that's funny.

The other line: "I smoked pot earlier today." I think this line would be funny for anyone to overhear on a city street, but it's even funnier in Madison.

But then I overheard something that depressed me a little. The UW marching band had finished parading and had sort of gathered in the middle of Langdon Street. They were getting a pep talk about the Big Game with Purdue tomorrow, and the kids in the band were yelping and chanting the way kids in marching bands do.

Just then, a group of fratty looking dudes walked by, and one of them screamed, mockingly, "YEEAAAH!!!!"

And his friend added: "GO WIND SECTION!!!!"

And I was transported back to years ago, when I was in a school band--an 8th grade concert band, which was sort of the feeder to the prizewinning high-school marching band of the fundamentalist Christian K-12 I attended through 8th grade. And I remembered how supremely self-conscious I felt about the fact that marching band members at this school were routinely mocked and ridiculed by the more popular kids, especially the football players. And I remembered how I desperately tried to act "cool" in band. Someday I'll show you the yearbook picture so you can see what I mean: I really didn't want to be in that photo that day, or in the band, period. All because athletic lunks conspired to make musicians feel bad for being musicians.

(At my high school, a crunchy prep school, these maddening class distinctions didn't exist: there was neither football team nor marching band.)

As I walked by these musicians being ridiculed, I looked down at the stack of posters in my hand for my concert, and I felt enormous empathy for those kids. And I wanted to tell them, keep blowing your horns, kids. There's nothing finer than bringing a little music into the world.

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