A month ago I left for Europe with Night Birds armed with the laptop I’m currently tapping away on, my camera, and a change of clothes. Now a couple weeks after our return to the US of A, my morning brain on the train is wondering why I’m not typing daily. Dare I say, cranking out daily updates from the tour van in Germany, Hungary, or Finland formed a habit? I guess time will tell. But for now, I feel the need to write and, maybe just maybe, you’ll want to read. I’ve got a handful of ideas in the pot that still need some time to simmer though. For today, I thought I would give you a birthday screed, since 38 has got me by the ankle presently.
I turn 38 tomorrow. Say it with me – thiiiiiirrrrrttttyyy-eeeeeiiiightttt. Hearing it as a booming chorus is probably the only way it can sink in. At the risk of inducing one of my annual existential bug-outs, I feel the need to reflect. A birthday is a birthday is a birthday and they are like assholes, ya’ know. And also after a certain point birthdays don’t fucking matter. 38. I can’t think of a more meaningless number. Sure - the Author giggles to himself in a quiet train car – keep telling yourself that. If the number is now meaningless and therefore the significance of a birthday is hollow, then I guess I can mark the day as an opportunity to inventory the past 3-6-5. See how I did that?
Not as an effort to cling to the last fading wisps of my youth or prove my virility, I found myself on two hardcore punk tours this year. I traveled with a European band through America and an American band through Europe. And both of those bands intersected nicely on both continents for a pair of memorable nights (here and here). When Government Flu hit the States straight outta Poland, I was psyched to have a seat in the van. My son had just turned one year old. Family and friends celebrated sweetly with us. Balloons, cupcakes, party favors. Just a few days later, I temporarily abandoned fatherhood for hardcore - busing it down to DC in order to catch up with old friends, hear good music, and mosh. Then I got in the van to catch up with old friends, hear good music, and mosh in a different town. I more or less did the exact same thing when I was 24 with Tear It Up and Fast Times. But now I’m 37. Go figure.
Two months ago, I was sweating bullets at work over various deadlines and projects and the eventual quarterly performance review during the days. The evenings were spent sweating bullets over pending home-ownership and monthly budgets and moving logistics. In mid-July, I was off to LA for a work assignment. 12 hours after returning from that trip, my wife and I closed on a house. Three days later we moved, then another three days later, I was standing at Newark’s international terminal with Night Birds for a two week adventure across 12 countries. See above about temporarily abandoning fatherhood, but this time throw in any and all familial responsibility. I left my wife and son in a new house full of boxes.
I didn’t necessarily give any thought to my age as we pogoed from country to country. My main concerns were centered around having a good time, having some food, and then having a place to sleep. I mean, those needs tend to transcend age, right? It’s really just the context that makes it more unique than say, the average 37 year old dad with a nine-to-fiver. But really, how unique is it? Bands young and old do this shit all the time. Maybe they crash in a hotel or maybe they crash on the hardwoods like many a night on the NBs tour. Not a ton of difference.
I’m certainly not the old guy at shows in New Jersey or NYC. No way. One of the advantages of living in the general area of the punk rock primordial soup is there are all sorts of great weirdos who have just been around since day one. I suppose I’ll join their ranks one of these days. Or maybe I already have. I guess it’s all relative. Still, it threw me for a loop when I wore an SSD shirt to a show and some young kid asked me if I had seen them back in the day. What the fucking fuck?!
I still mosh at shows, only now I’m way more cognizant of flying fists or diving bodies. When shit gets out of hand, I immediately think through the ramifications of dealing with a broken nose. I don’t mosh as often as I used to, and when I do, I basically have the flu the next day and I’m sore for a week.
When I was a kid, the first hard rock, heavy metal, whatever bands I got into were Kiss, Motley Crue and Iron Maiden. I purchased an overpriced cassette by the middle one at Six Flags one summer night. Girls, Girls, Girls. The video for Wild Side is what did me in. For some reason, I was hooked. It was one of my first tastes of rebellion. They looked like the dirtiest, heaviest creeps ever. The lyrics were so intense too. “Papa won’t be home tonight, found dead with his best friend’s wife.” Whoa! “No escape, murder, rape.” Crazy! “Our father, who ain’t in heaven, be thy name on the wild side.” Holy shit! I mean, how did I sneak this past my mom? Except, one time while blasting a second generation dub of Shout at the Devil, she asked me “hey wait, are these guys satanic?” My reply – “YES!” I told Vince Neil that story at a Borders book-signing a few years ago and he was kinda taken aback. Glad I could freak both of them out.
My passion for loud music and seeking out adventure via good rock-n-roll certainly hasn’t abated with age. Year 37 is as telling an example as any. Tomorrow night, after a lovely day on the Shore, I’ll abandon my family once again. May they breathe a sigh of relief though; I’ll just be gone for the evening. Got tix to see Motely Crue. As I stand there in my cheap seats, I’m not sure if I’ll be thinking about being a 38-year-old jerk or being a perpetual kid or being a father. I suppose I’ll just be thinking of good tunes and where I can find more of them.