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Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Woke this morning, sat on the side of the bed and gazed at the fresh layer of snow out the window, saw the rhododendron leaves were curled up tight as pencils. I knew the temperature was around zero. In another room, I looked out another window at the thermometer. It looked like it was reading 2 degrees. I wanted to go back to bed. But the temperature and snow rendered urgency to feed the donkeys. Put on sweater, jacket, hat and gloves, a couple carrots out of the refrigerator. No camera today. This morning I used some handy things I don't know how to name that slip onto shoe soles and make walking on ice and snow easy. First time this year to try them. It was better than walking on dry ground. Each footstep had good grip. Later, I set out to go to town for prescription refill, some carrots and some cat litter. Inch and a half of crystalline, cold snow all over the car, easy to brush off. The road had not yet been scraped, but an inch and a half of snow is no challenge for a 93 Buick with front wheel drive and a near-perfect v-6 motor. It walks through ice and snow easily. Going up the little bit of a grade in front of the house we started slipping and sliding. I said, Turn around and go home. It told me this particular snow is made of ice crystals, dry and slick. There were other hills both up and down and shaded places in curves I knew would be ice if this little bit in front of the house was frozen.

Urgency to drive to town subsided. I didn't believe I'd make it the first half mile. Eventually the road scraper will pass by. It only means I won't have carrots for the donkeys in the morning. I'll take them bowls of grain. They'll like that as well. The only food in the house is catfood, two tangerines and one envelope of instant oatmeal. I have enough liquor for a few sips. Doctor told me to drink wine every day. I asked permission to drink liquor instead. I can't afford that much wine, but can the liquor and like good liquor ten times better. To give you a clue, Wild Turkey Rye 101 is the closest in bonded liquor I've found to the kind that is really good, the kind that tastes like candy and goes up as quick as it goes down. We call it mountain spring water. Every time I taste it I feel privileged, like privileged to be listening to music at a mountain music venue in an audience of twenty. Much as I'd like the opportunity to be in an audience of 20,000 listening to 5-Finger Death Punch, I'd feel privileged in an audience of twenty hearing Willard Gayheart and Scott Freeman pick and sing, not with thousands. A chance to hear 5-Finger Death Punch in concert is coming up in May. It's looking like a really good chance I'm going. It is an all day and way into the night HARD metal gig with a dozen bands at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Every redneck in the South will be there, including me, a seventy-second birthday present from friends. I can predict with accuracy that I will love every band there from first to last. I've only heard of a few of them, because I don't listen to pop music much anymore. It doesn't mean I don't like it, only that my interests are more subtle in this time of my life.

I still love a chance to get in with hundreds or thousands of twenty-somethings hopping up and down in a frenzy with the music so loud you can't hear the people all around you screaming their joy. It's such a wildly joyous atmosphere that at my age I feel privileged I am not so snooty with age that I won't allow myself to get in among a bunch of "kids" and return home charged, revived, carrying indelible memories. When the time comes, I'll be sure to tell you about it. My entire physical frame will buzz for a week. At rock concerts you see happy people everywhere. Of course there are crazies in every crowd, but at a rock concert, everybody is present for the music, and the music is so overwhelming you have  no place left inside for depression or anger. Whenever I go to a concert, somebody nearby is wearing a Myrtle Beach tshirt or sweatshirt. It happens so consistently I count on it. When I see one it says I am where I need to be at this moment. For a clue on 5-Finger Death Punch, they're rock as hard as it gets, sledgehammer striking pavement hard, post-Korn, post-Rage Against The Machine, post-rap, metal like they love it in north-eastern Europe. Melvin, one of the ones I'll be going with, told me at concerts in Moscow the entire audience is a mosh pit. I've an idea the show at the Speedway will have major mosh pits. It's mosh pit music. I'll be out on the periphery observing. I'll take camera. It will be a day for hundreds of stills and some videos too.

A couple of times in my fifties I heard myself start a sentence, "The kids these days...." The second time, I spoke with myself and said this is not happening a third time. I went to Ziggy's in Winston-Salem for sixtieth birthday to jam with Papa Roach, a California punk band of the time, be packed in with a tight crowd of the kids these days and have a good time with them in their territory. It was fabulous. They were jumping up and down all around me, everybody ecstatic. Sometimes I'd look around at them, participate in moving somebody along body-surfing over the crowd, tshirts, colored hair, piercings and tattoos, the kids these days. And I assessed them cool. I looked within at myself at their age, the people of my "days" coming out of high school and in college. Button-down collars, the frat-man look, Ricky Nelson, the Kingston Trio. They had it all over the kids of my days. I could see by looking they were more intelligent than my generation of kids, actually by so much it was kind of unsettling. The music of my days, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, was nothing like the music of the kids these days. It was the beginning of what is happening now in rock sixty years after. Seventieth birthday I went to Charlotte to see Thrice, another punk band out of California. They happened to be playing on the very day. If it works out that I do go to this concert, I'm thinking of making it a point to make every birthday I have left a rock concert celebration. I know of no greater celebration than a good rock concert. By good, I mean to my own personal taste. Dionysian ecstasy is what a concert amounts to. When it's over and everybody is filing out to the parking lots, every face is lit up in joy. Even people who looked depressed before have joy all over their faces when it's over. I feel that joy so much that I told myself much younger, never outgrow a rock concert. I've come to see rock concerts as contemporary popular theater where, by Mick Jagger's observation, it's the singer not the song. 


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