Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Of Staplers and Lies

The first lie I remember telling – the first one with knowing, deceptive intent behind it (beyond just the white lie fibbing of telling Mom “no” when you did something wrong and you really did do it) – was sometime around second grade. I remember one of my classmates had a mini stapler in his art box, and I was somehow convinced I needed to have one too.

They sold them at the drugstore at the corner of my street, so I knew where to get one and how much it cost and everything. I told my mom I had to have one for school. I remember her being skeptical about the whole additional-item-that-wasn’t-on-the-original-school-supply-list story, but I tried to be as convincing as possible. My mom was a school teacher in the district, so I have to believe my naiveté emboldened me in my lying, otherwise I probably would never have attempted it.

I have fuzzy memories of my mom or dad talking about sending in a note to the teacher about why this mini stapler was necessary or some such, and me dancing around the issue telling them that a note wasn’t necessary and that I really just needed to get this stapler and couldn’t they just give me the money so I could go up to the drugstore and buy it myself and then everything will be fine. Please?

I did end up getting the mini stapler. What I didn’t realize was that the Swingline people had somehow conspired with my parents and found a way to cram a seemingly unending amount of catholic guilt into the box with it! I don’t remember if I have ever confessed to the con before now. It’s as likely that I cracked at some point shortly after acquiring the mini stapler as it is that this is the first time my parents are hearing about my scam. (Of course, being a parent now and having that instinct of knowing when your kid is trying to pull one over on you, I’d be pretty surprised if my parents didn’t at least suspect I was completely making shit up at the time.)

Regardless, the guilty echoes have always remained. (Why else am I writing about it over 30 years later?!) I wish I could remember why that mini stapler was so damn important to second grade me. Ultimately, I have to figure it probably wasn’t worth it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

In My Highwire Days

The Psychedelic Furs
30 March 2012: The Kent Stage, Kent, Ohio

When I think of Kent I think of near-indecipherable streets and crappy parking options. I remember alternative nights at JB’s back in the ’80s, and getting into trouble behind the bar on the train tracks. But the college town setting was appropriate for this night as the Psychedelic Furs infused a boost of energy into the New Wave throwback nostalgia of Adam & Jeff’s ’80s Alternative Rewind Adventure.

After some pre-concert noshing and imbibing around the corner at Ray’s Place, Tracy, Jeff, Anna, and I made our way through the damp sprin
g air to the Kent Stage. What the venue might lack in ambiance, it more than makes up for with acoustical warmth, and when Richard Butler began singing “Into You Like a Train” to kick off a crisp 16 song set, you knew everything was going to be alright. Easily transporting the audience back 30 years, Butler’s gravelly, melodic voice was as rock solid as it’s always been. Seeing people we knew from high school and the old Akron punk scene only served to reinforce the wormhole effect.

Looking like he just rolled off the bus in an endeari
ngly rumpled dark suit, Butler’s joy seemed unstoppable as he shared high fives with the first few rows throughout the night, autographed an album from the stage, and connected with the audience of old schoolers through broad smiles and genuine appreciation. Fueled by a row of Coca-Cola cans on the drum riser, between songs he was all theatrical bows and pogoing.

Singing along with his brother despite not being mic’d, co-founder and bassist Tim Butler continually worked his way back and forth across the stage, s
triking the requisite rock star poses as necessary. With saxophonist Mars Williams and drummer Paul Garisto, who’ve both been with the band since the mid-’80s, the Butler brothers were joined by long-time Furs touring keyboardist Amanda Kramer (Information Society) and newcomer Rich Good on guitar. The playing was loose and engaging, matching the frontman’s playfulness.

Together with the charging opener, “Pretty In Pink”, “Imitation of Christ”, “The Ghost In You”, “Highwire Days”, “Love My Way”, and “Heartbreak Beat” were all highlights. For me, though, the peak was the mid-set appearance of “Heaven”. Butler’s performance embodied all the reflections of my youth… the perfect pop nuggets of late-middle school, the transformative alternative churning of high school, the postpunk reminiscence of my shared history with my wife, and the music-fueled camaraderie of close friends.

Looking for all the world like they were having as much fun as the fans reveling in their collective timelessness, the Furs delivered what the show closer promised: Forever Now.

(All photos by Adam and Tracy Besenyodi.)