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Oxford Bridges Falling Down

April 25, 2013

photo by Daniel Torres

My grandmother is plowing her way deeper and deeper into her ninth decade of existence.  I suppose to marvel is the appropriate course of action.  Spreading my thanks around to whatever deity she so wholeheartedly believes in for allowing us the pleasure of her continued health, wisdom, and embrace is overwhelmingly á la mode.  But does her aging necessitate a blind eye cast by  those of us along for the ride?  Does the simple fact that she predates television and hydrogen bombs guarantee her a day-to-day exempted from even the simplest of social graces, like actually listening (preferably with the benefit of her scarcely utilized hearing aid) to the questions I pose in her direction?  Or am I meant to suffer the cold, Easter-borne slap of her hand and her confident declaration that I am a “faithless heathen” with the loving smile of a grandson trying hard to conceal his exasperation with an increasingly snide and ruthless old lady addicted to equal parts CNN and CSI?  If the saying suggests that we’re to “kill our father[s],” what, then, are we to do with  our grandparents?

In some cultures, the elderly are put to pasture.  The has-beens are shunned and left to starve to death.  The artists-formerly-known-as are relegated to the bargain bin.  The rising stars snag an Achilles and take a half-assed foray into commentary.  We lose Friendsters to Myspaces, turn Myspaces to Facebooks, and ditch Facebooks for Instagrams.  We’ve barely had time to catch our Iberian-bated breath wherefore Das Reich has blitzkrieged their way to victory.

What I mean is, we are all dinosaurs.  The trick is knowing how close the comet is.

I have many friends that would furrow their brow at the thought of trading in their wedding vows, or mortgages, or diaper expenses for a hundred person show in a Bridge Town strip mall clinging to life support.  I’ve got relatives that actively suggest reallocating my hours away from the slip and slide of an Oxford Manor soiree to more prodigal endeavors.  And even in my most stalwart of moods, I would readily admit that an away-we-go with a sixth (sixth!) drummer is, at best,  an experiment fraught with a healthy dose of if, ands, and buts.  No one wants to be the one to take the soldiering dog, riddled with cancer and hobbled of gait, out to the shed with shotgun in hand.  Worse, no one wants to be that soldiering dog.

We get older.  The youthful exuberance of our more formidable days is tempered by the chips to our teeth, the cricks in our neck.  We make lifelong friends that lose their life long before their time.  We bury our heads in the sand, concentrate on the swirling fancies aloft in our own meager heads, and by the time we look up again the places have changed, the faces have been replaced, and the names land awkwardly in our mouths.  If you choose to stick around long enough, you become self-conscious of how you look, how you sound, the way you comport yourself.  You offer a high-five with the faint notion that the practice has been put on extinction, that the kids these days are up to chest bumps or hip thrusts or some other, more far-fetched display of camaraderie.  You schlepp a D-beat into an Indie Rock party and hope you’re not too completely out of style, that the laughter will still be too faint to be recognize as such.

Here are some words: staid, predictable, recycled.  Here are some others: vital, relevant, burgeoning.  The balancing act between the two requires the dexterity of a Romanian gymnast.  Or the willful ignorance of a Norman Bates-ian hack.

What I learned this weekend was: my blood still flows.  I may have a foot in the grave, but my head is decidedly in the clouds.  Thirty is just the number of years it took for me to fully understand the import of a stage-less stage dive.  Three decades were placed between me and my rebirth at Oxford Manor.  Someone said to me at one of these past two shows that they thought we had broken up.  I suppose it’s a fair question.  When is it appropriate to take my grandmother out to the shed?  How close is that comet?  I suppose these are questions I have a hard time answering.  There are too many songs left to write.  Too many shows left to play.  The noise still gets me.  The music still gets in the way.

Thanks all.  Stay tuned.

al/DANGERS

3 Comments leave one →
  1. lamenadim permalink
    April 25, 2013 7:33 pm

    I always enjoy reading your write-ups. The show on Sunday was the most fun I’ve had in months and the good vibes that night were great to be around. Thanks for doing what you do, looking forward to the new stuff and seeing you guys again.

  2. May 8, 2013 6:01 am

    You.

    You are the reason I am what I am.

    People died, diseases were acquired, and trust was broken. I was depressed, and in a slump, and my guitarist forced me to attend a show of yours when you toured my town. I didn’t want to go, but he knew that it would be the best thing for me. Exhausted from work, osteoarthritis in full-swing, I stood motionless next to the stage as my hate for you grew. The things you sung about, and the breathless banter between songs made me uncomfortable. The things you screamed conflicted with things I thought, and, in fact, believed throughout my entire life. For the first time at a punk show, I was challenged instead of patronized.

    “Say something new or say nothing at all.”

    It was you who taught me to question your beliefs when you feel the need to believe them, and we’ve never even exchanged words. It was you who taught me to question myself, the “us” I identified with since my mohawk-sporting mother birthed me, and everything else. Yeah, I know the world’s fucked, but HOW and WHY was it fucked? Yeah, we shout “unity”, but HOW and WHY is community amongst subcultures (or even in general) important? Droves of brainless anthems got the ole backspace and I started questioning – and challenging – everything. Not to naysay, but to find roots of problems and assess them. I aim not to be a thorn in any side, but a fulcrum point to reach new heights. And all of this is not in a subjective manner, but rather, in an objective one. No pacified centrism will be tolerated. The people contributing to detrimental facets of first, developing, and third worlds… the people watering down our art forms… the people raping the good will of good people for personal gain… They all have names and addresses, and you can cite references that prove that their self-interest is their main motivator. You can show people this by asking questions and asking them to question these things on their own. “The goal of the artist is not to provide answers, but to ask the questions.”

    “Tolerance” became synonymous with “apathy”. To “allow’ one to conduct their lives in manners you know you could scientifically prove were contradictory to their goals became passively condescending.

    Because of you, I have no patience for bullshit. I’m not crediting you with any of my revelations (amazing how far a little inspiration can go, eh?), but you were definitely the catalyst in challenging my beliefs in my own subculture.f

    And now, I’m taking the ethos of that subculture and planting it into others. I’m saying things that need to be said, calling out the hacks, and apologizing to nobody for my lack of censorship. The level of honesty and self-awareness in my art is inspired by the words you’ve screamed. “Dangers” is everything punk is supposed to be. I am not afraid to admit that I am fallible now. I’m human. And I’m imperfect, and that’s okay. I will never have all the answers, and I’m never going to be perfect, but that doesn’t mean that I’m ever going to stop aspiring for both those things.

    So whether or not you stop playing music, doesn’t fucking matter. You are what you are, and you always will be. You can’t go back in time, edit those lyrics, and un-inspire us. The things you have accomplished have been immortalized. I know this because the things you have inspired me to say within my art has brought kids my way who have said to me what I am saying to you right now. The things Dangers has done, and the consciousness you stand for has been immortalized. The band can stop, but the repercussions of the band’s existence it will not.

    One of my songs stopped a young girl from slitting her wrists on January 2nd, 2012.

    And another young lady on April 29th, 2012, messaged me saying the same thing.

    I would not have written those songs, were it not for you.

    This is all I do now.

    You’ve given me purpose. Thank you.

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