So, yesterday afternoon while I was watching “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”–which, by the by, is one ofthe gulliest movies ever–my phone started tap dancing on the nightstand. Now, when I was in school and still socially relevant, that call could have been from any number of people. It coulda been He Hate Me, Shareef Abdur-Raheem, Bourbon Street, possible Steve Biko if he wasn’t in some form of trouble or another; I mean, there were several possibilities of who this person might be. The one thing they don’t tell you the day before they call the cops to evict you from the dormitory so alumni functions can start is, after that day, the nature of your phone calls change entirely. It might be a pal, but it’s really much more likely that this person is a bill collector or your parents–who are sometimes one in the same–especially if you’ve moved back in.
It’s so odd. There was a time when I would screen my parents’ phone calls. Those were the days when I didn’t sleep in the room next to theirs and thus, their phone calls could only be of a certain persuasion. Now? I think they’re taking advantage, abusing the privilege frankly, knowing that I’ll pick up for no other reason than my not having a good enough excuse not to. And unlike calls at school, which if not for checking in purposes were for important matters like financial aide, family news I should probably know, etcetera, these calls revolve around taking stuff out of the freezer, checking to see if such and such a cd was left on the desk, did such and such a person call and can I go over this script or that. That’s about it. So as my little Samsung was rattling face down on the nightstand, I knew it was my dad. I just knew it, and when I looked at the screen and it read “Dad,” I really considered not picking up, just to be obstinate, but I’d lost that resolve a few months ago and decided to just answer and take whatever frozen item out of the fridge, or print whatever script needed printing. (Sidebar 1: It’s 12:10 on Friday afternoon, my phone just rang in the other room, I just knew it was my dad, but actually saw a number I didn’t recognize. I was still my dad, asking about my email address, meaning he needs to send me something, probably script-related. You see what I’m saying here?)
Anyway, I picked up and waited for some utterly untaxing task that I still wouldn’t want to do–but would do without complaint because I’m actually trying to be better about that–and here is what transpired:
Pops: You working tonight?
Me: (Suspicious of this leading question that often leads to moving sets or stuffing envelopes) No, I’m working tomorrow.
Pops: Cool. I got some tickets to the Smashing Pumpkins. Wanna go?
Me: Um, sure? Whaat?
Pops: Yeah, I was just talking to the TD over at PPAC and got three tickets.
Me: Oh. Alright.
Pops: Alright, gotta go.
Before I launch into this bizarre exchange, let’s clear up a few details. Dad’s an actor/writer/director/producer/thug, and one of his projects “Moby Dick: Then and Now” is going to be at the Providence Performing Art Center (PPAC) on November 8th (Sidebar 2: This project is why my mom and dad are big in Poland incidentally). Anyway, he was apparently over there talking to the Talent Director (TD) while the Smashing Pumpkins were loading in, asked if there were extra tickets and got the hook-up. This small tale speaks volumes about my dad for multiple reasons, but not the least of which being asking about tickets in the first place. I wouldn’t even have asked.
So, me and Pops have tickets to the Smashing Pumpkins. Thing is, Pops has never heard of them and while I have, I could only pick Billy Corgan out of a line-up and think I only know one of their songs. I immediately called Shareef Abdur-Raheem to cackle, seeing as we previously had a discussion involving me and live music. The gist of the convo was my belief that working as a bouncer at a music club has made me immune to the rapture felt by people who frequent live music shows. Rif countered that I’d go ape at an Outkast or Prince show, so I amended the statement to immune to all but the mega-show. I was saying this based on that being my work environment and it being a place where I don’t associate fun. She rebutted with the fact that most of the shows I’d been to I had worked at which colors me opinion in a certain way.
Well, here was my chance I told her. She was dismayed because she, something of a tunie (which again, is like a churchie, but with music) in her own right, was not a fan of SP either. No hate, wouldn’t turn it off it it was on, just none to speak of in her considerable music catalog. The same went for me. Growing up (around white people), I was familiar with them by name, but I probably wouldn’t be able to pick them out by ear and was never compelled to steep myself in their music. Upon hearing of these tickets, Reef immediately petitioned for a mistrial. I cackled with random delight.
“I’m going to a Smashing Pumpkins show with my dad.” I wish someone had called me that afternoon to make plans just so I could say that. It’s like saying “You ole pooh butt something or other.” Just funny. Anyway, 7:30 rolls around and we head over to PPAC. As we looked for parking, it dawned on me that Pops and I were about to be the peculiar Black people at a rock show. I’ve seen it often in my line of work. Perhaps that’s how the Black people I see at the shows I work–which are mainly rock-oriented–end up there. I’m sure some are fans, but maybe a healthy amount are there because they randomly procured tickets and decided to just say fuck it and go. It would certainly explain a lot.
So we get in and get our tickets and get shown to our seats and Pops leans over and says, “First boonkie spotted means the other buys drinks.” I won this easily, seeing as I’d had my eye out from jump. I should also probably mention that “boonkie” is the term my parents use for Black people in a generally white setting. Don’t mistake this with Uncle Tom or some such, this is literally just talking about the raisin in the mayonnaise. So, the opening act was basically Cold Play without any lyrics and entirely too long and essentially worthless. It’s not that they weren’t talented, I guess it was just music better suited to being in the background, the kind of stuff you should hear when you got to the planetarium or IMAX or something. After those clowns put me to sleep, they prepped the stage for SP, I passed the time trying to spot more boonkies. I got two; one guy might have been Indian, but I’m taking him.
After about thirty minutes, Smashing Pumpkins came on, everybody stood up, and I couldn’t help but think, “I stand up for the music at my job and now I’m standing up for music at leisure?” I know the energy of a show precludes sitting in some instances, but I think the fact that it was similar to the music that I get paid to stand up for and that I had no personal investment in the show, made my calves tighten up that much quicker. Still, the show was solid. Good performance, intriguing light show. It was a spectacle. Something I’d recommend if you were a fan and didn’t work live music for a living. I add that last part because, during a song I wasn’t particularly invested in, I decided to hit the bathroom and on the way, saw a bartender from work and we sat and talked for ten solid minutes about being sort of bored, not because the show wasn’t good, but because we weren’t doing anything. Spectating was not enough. It’s possible we might have enjoyed it more if she was pouring drinks and I was throwing drunks out the side door (though it’s counterintuitive because if I was throwing drunks out, I’d be in a different mind set altogether).
I went back to my seat and Pops said, “Ready when you are.” No disgust or anything, I think he was just done seeing the Smashing Pumpkins. We stayed for a few more songs, and I in fact heard the one song I thought I knew–a song I rather enjoy–, and then broke out. Saw the Pumpkins for about an hour and we were good. Oh, and the third ticket my dad had gotten? Ma said she was going to meet us there, but Dad didn’t seem to optimistic when he left it at the box office. Well, maybe half an hour after me and Pops got home, Ma comes through the door and was like, “I went to the Smashing Pumpkins.” Now this could have been turned into an incident, but instead there was laughter. The whole situation was a little too absurd to even be mad.
On a fairly random night–let’s be honest, it was completely random–I think the big winner was Pops. The guy had never heard of the group and got tickets anyway, just to see what they were screaming about. When I asked why he got the tickets, he merely replied, “Because I could.” I don’t have empirical evidence to prove this, but I think a lot of people get less and less willing to try new things as they get older. And while I don’t think he’s a new Billy Corgan disciple, I did see him grooving a bit out of the corner of my eye, appreciating the music if not loving it. I find it takes a certain kind of gulliver to go and give something a chance based on nothing other than “Why not?” We should all be so lucky. Peace to the white whale.
Penultimate Thought: I secretly love grey t-shirts.
Final Thought: I find it amusing that people seem to neglect to mention that Bill Cosby has a history of questionable conduct with women.