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March 27 1998, Friday


t was another day of busting my ass moving the things an antique store sells, as well as the related paraphernalia used to sell it. Jessika and I headed over on our bikes at 10am, and were soon joined by Morgan Anarchy. Temperatures reached up into the 80s today and arranging objects in that rental truck put me a hot environment. But it was gratifying to pull my weight in this way, and Morgan and I work well together. Interestingly, being on the job and working hard is the only alternative I know to socializing with Morgan (and even Jessika) around a supply of endless alcohol. It was like an alternative drug, like one of us had said, "Hey guys, let's take some WORK today!" I found myself wanting to have a career as a simple labourer. It felt so honest, so much like a service to humanity, especially in comparison to that slack shift I used to pull doing the night shift at an internet service provider.

something hilariously offensive that Nikolai once told Dave

"I do anything [name of "employer"] tells me to. If he told me to put the Jews in that oven...

[indicates big ancient scary furnace at the edge of the parking lot, one that had long ago been yanked out of one of the adjacent buildings, complete with thirty-foot smokestack, and left to rot away in the elements],

...I'd do it."

[Just so you know, both Nikolai and Dave both have Jewish ancestors, so they get to tell jokes like that, see?]

back to the story at hand

There was lots of cold pizza left over from yesterday's lunch, and that served as a fulfilling breakfast. But for lunch something else seemed more appropriate, so our "employer" told us we could charge anything we wanted at an adjacent café (interestingly, the café is the tenant for the whole building and had been subleasing the bulk of its space to the antique store until the café decided to kick them out).

After a final run to the new space, I went with Nora and David on a drive to Ivy (12 miles to the west of Charlottesville) to drop off some furniture at another antique store there. One of the pieces broke a leg in transit, and David explained it to the customer saying by saying it was a "clean break." They accepted it anyway, after a little deliberation. During the whole drive both to and from Ivy, David and Nora discussed the seamy underbelly of the business, leases and contracts in which their antique store has been entangled of late. None of it meant anything to me, except for the level of worked-up they got over it. Not only would all of this mean even less to you, the reader, but it violates the spirit of my "employment" to discuss these things any further.

When I returned from Ivy, Jessika and Morgan had already left. I helped out with lots of heavy lifting for the final round of packing, then the day was done. As a token of his appreciation, my "employer" gave me all of the lesser liquor from his liquor cabinet. This was "rot gut" to the likes of Nora and him, but to me, it was $$$ I didn't have to spend for the basics of vodkatea.

On the ride home, Charlottesville seemed to be throwing a massive spontaneous party in celebration of the first warm rainless Friday night in months. All of Jefferson Park Avenue smelled of barbecue, while front porches seemed to be at last justifying their construction costs.


ack home, Deya was cooking catfish and Jessika was proudly declaring special rules for her new leopard-skin "day bed" (a kind of couch, really). It had been yet another perk of working for the antique store. A few bottles at a time, I brought in the many bottles of booze I'd carried back from my day of hard labour. We decided to hide them all away lest they prove too tempting to Morgan Anarchy.

The catfish, by the way, dated back to the Matthew Hart era. He'd tried once to cook a piece of it and gave up when it seemed to take too long. Deya did a great job with them, covering them in batter and frying them up. I don't know what river they came from but they weren't too funky.

A whole bunch of white smoke from burning electronics came pouring out of my stereo as I played Slayer's South of Heaven (a used CD that Monster Boy tracked down for me). The smoke was terribly noxious, but interestingly, the stereo didn't suddenly stop working (as usually happens when the smoke leaks out).

At night, Deya, Jessika and I drove over to Ray's nearby house (where Morgan Anarchy lives rent-free these days) to pick up Morgan en route to the Tokyo Rose to see a performance of the Richmond band known as Drunk. Morgan was wearing a grey three piece suit we'd dumpster dived yesterday at the antique store. It fit him well and he looked distinguished, though he still smelled like a gutter punk and he still wore his various gutter punk accessories. We were delayed at Ray's waiting for a 12 pack of beer Morgan had sent for, and by the time we set out for the Tokyo Rose, we'd been joined by Ray.

We missed the first band and caught the second, which was playing when we arrived. It was Ohia, a sit-down ensemble with a calm aversion to distortion and respect for Randy Rhodes. They played some calm, collected music, occasionally with just a pronounced country flavour. Morgan and Ray hated it immediately and went off to the railroad tracks to drink beer and throw stones.

I would have liked the music had my friends been a bit more supportive. Deya thought they were okay, but Jessika was indifferent and kind of drunk as well. She ended up spending lots of time chatting with Amy from Memphis and the various girls who used to hang around the Curious Digit guys. For my part, I found myself mostly interacting with Cory the Former Coffee Cart Girl and Natalie and Elizabeth from Blond House. John from Blond House was there as well, and he's looking more and more like a wild and crazy artist with each passing day.

Later when I found those who I'd come with drinking their beers on the railroad tracks in the back, I joined them briefly, but Ray had adopted his usual social mode, being a showoff by harassing other guys like me and Morgan. I quickly became bored with them and walked back into the show.

On the way, I came across the members of Ohia out in front chatting with Paul (one of Wacky Jen's housemates). I was immediately recognized by one of its members, a little guy named "Sparky." I slowly remembered who he was. He used to hang out with all the student radio station/Féve (Oberlin's first coffee shop) employee types, sort of like a theoretical hybrid of Charlottesville's super-cool Higher Grounds types with the musically erudite Plan Nine and Tokyo Rose employees. Anyway, Sparky used to work at the Féve and I seem to recall him playing in a few shortly-lived bands. I had a certain respect for him then because he was so little, so "with it" and so highly regarded, and I was surprised (even a little flattered) that he remembered who I was after all four years. What was his big memory about me?

    Evidently he was one of the few people who witnessed me pulling one of my Oberlin-era pranks. One evening in September, 1994, Roger (this British punk rock Oberlin student) and I filled a couple long fluorescent light tubes with paint and tossed them high up on one of the massive windowless front walls of Mudd Library. It took the college a whole day to clean those walls, and the then-new president of the college even wrote a special editorial about it in the Oberlin Review, saying it had cost $700 to undo the sabotage. A trace of the paint can still be seen on the wall, and every time I see it I feel a certain malicious form of pride.

Anyway, now Sparky is touring the country with his band ("Ohia" is, he says, a Hawaiian word) and tonight he and the band would be staying with Paul, Wacky Jen and Darius.

I introduced my friends to the band when they came along, though I felt a little weird about it since Ray and Morgan had been making so many derogatory comments about them. At one point I enthusiastically told Jessika "Look, it's Sparky!" and she assumed I was coining a new adjective, not that "Sparky" was the little guy's real name.

Somehow I ended up with a free copy of an Ohia CD [which I'm listening to now]. I suppose you could call it "low fi folk goth."

The next band, Drunk, was even slower and even sadder than Ohia. They feature an antenna-wearing accordion player I call "Antenna Boy." But Morgan and Ray were not impressed. They hooted insults from the couches between songs. Sneered Morgan rhetorically, "You call yourself 'Drunk'?" When he couldn't take this behaviour anymore, Darius got up from the sound board and offered to buy them a free beer if they could contain themselves until the end of the show. Later Tyler said something equally condescending. Jessika was obviously irritated that everyone there was treating two of her friends like little kids, but she had her own personal bias in this matter. An important thing that she was failing to take into account was that if you only want to hear music that's acceptable to the likes of Beavis and Butthead, you probably shouldn't go to a Drunk/Ohia show. I guess Jessika was nostalgic for the old days when Big Fun would invade the Tokyo Rose, when we were unified in being out of control. It made more sense then, when the shows we crashed were back-slamming punk rock.

one year ago
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