please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Suicide and Outdoor Rock n' Roll Shows

It should be of some historical note that the night before The Swell Season played here, at the zoo, some guy threw himself off the roof of the stage and splattered in a big, embarrassing puddle at their feet.
This was somewhere in California, I believe. Apparently the gentleman was distraught over recently being left by his erstwhile lady love-interest, and figured he'd express his feelings in language she -and all of us- could finally understand.

That's the thing I don't remember about the story: whether or not she was there. Because this is a story told by stagehands, to stagehands. I immediately Went There, and so did everybody else. We all envisioned the ex-girlfriend there, and the minute he hit pavement, was all like, "Randy, you're such an asshole!" or, "You never do anything right!"

Ha ha ha ha! Seems like it really freaked out the band though. They were "restrained," to hear a favorite bartender of mine tell it.

Meanwhile, sometime not long after the picnic that my union local hosts, a young fool also decided to kill himself. I'd never thought a lot of him, and in this he resembles what few other people I've personally known who've "committed" suicide.
He was walking home, and stopped on a trestle over McLoughlin Blvd. He most likely sat there a while, based on the pile of cigarette butts. And then he either fell, was pushed, or jumped onto the busy thoroughfare below.

Last conversation I'd had with him was on the subject of...Fuselage grind? Undercarriage wear?
Well, he walked up behind me at the Dew Tour build earlier this summer and asked, very frankly, "Rich, what do you do about Gig Nuts? You know, when your balls chafe?"
Knowing full well that he had a relatively new baby in the house, but also because this was the answer, I said, "Diaper cream. You know like Desitin?"

Sure, sure he knew. The next time I saw him, I asked how that method was treating him, and he said he hadn't tried it yet. Again, let it be said that I never thought much of the guy. His white supremacist tattoos pretty much said it all for me. 'Oh, good; you're an idiot,' I thought, and didn't really feel like I had to give much effort beyond that.
As much as other folks I work with might like to say, "Oh, those were just jail tats," oh no they weren't. They were way too elaborate and professional-looking for that.

But in his defense, Steve would say about them that they were just reminders of a bunch of stupid mistakes he made earlier in his life. But this was also before kind of putting one of the few black people we work with on the spot: "But you don't have a problem with them, do you?"
And no, no; surprisingly this black man surrounded on all sides by white people he has to be nice to said that no he did not. As is often the case with this local, I just stood there and shook my head.

And when his kid was born last year, I congratulated him. We all did, of course. He had some wanna-be-deep shit to say about how he had some pause at bringing another person into this world, "especially these days, you know..."
As some who have read my shit for a while know, this is one of the dumbest things you can say, in my opinion. Pretty much no matter how you slice it, right now is a better time to be a human living in Western Civilization than any other time.
Would you like a simple metric? How likely are you to literally shit yourself to death and there's absolutely nothing anyone can do about it? Yeah, that's what I thought. "These days..." sheeeiiittt...

And he didn't hear that, because he was an idiot. He really was. From his rarely-smiling countenance to his ever-present death metal shirts, dude was a fucking simp. Of the dead, only the truth.
I liked that history, happenstance and simple truth made him the son of a man who decided late in life that he always had been a woman, inside. Hundred per cent true: it was literally as quick as: oh, there's Steve and his dad, at one gig, to oh, there's Steve; and who's that lady he's talking to?

I never asked him what he thought of his dad's transformation. I imagine it was one more thing for him to just not get. But I approve of what The Universe was up to on that one: ah. Intolerant, are you? Love your father, do you? Well...
For the record, I have no indication that he was awful to his dad about this, but then again, it's been a couple years since I've seen the man who is currently the late Steve's mother, so I dunno...

So why'd he kill himself? I don't know. Like I said, I kinda made it my business to steer clear of him. He was No Fun. I imagine his wife and kid are overwhelmingly impressed at how deep n' brooding he was. He just had to do it, don't you know? YOU JUST DON'T GET IT!

Heh. Sleep well, asshole.

So let's see.
That all happened in the middle of the runoff from Lady Gaga/American Idol/ Dew Tour, but that also fell right in the middle of that run From Hell:
Chicago, Crowded House, Doobie Bros., Two days of Bob Dylan with John Mellencamp and a band comprised of Harrison Ford's son and Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin's son. Vampire Weekend in the pouring rain, Pavement and a '90's northwest rocker's class reunion.

Those who were there for all of it will describe it in the apocalyptic terms usually employed by Civil War veterans who went all through the summer months unsure if they'd ever see sanity again. It's hyperbolic, but all the same, so true.
Little moments of beauty abound though, as always: late at night, we're all done, and signing out, getting ready to go home. We're all raiding what remains of the deli tray in catering, and I realize that right alongside me is this older Australian gentleman who is just as serious about getting the last of these coldcuts as I was: the lead singer of Crowded House. He smiles and says something comforting in Aussie. We're all just people clawing at the same buffet.