Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Don't Romance the Ghosts

I heard the title of this post in a different context recently but it has resonated loudly with me as I've been thinking about the Pressure Boys shows coming up this weekend. JennySlash says at least 3 times a month that she hates nostalgia and it took me awhile to understand what she meant but I get it now. As I was riding home from work yesterday, the following descriptive thoughts struck me.

One of the things that I discovered in working in and then owning a rock club is that the morning after the show, there is a half-inch thick layer of black dirt that I realized after awhile was a combination of dead skin cells, sweat salt and dried beer. And the smell of such a place at 10am in the summer after a good show is indescribable. If you've ever walked down, say, Division in Chicago on a warm Sunday morning, you'll know exactly the smell I'm talking about - a horrid mix of stale sweat, stale beer, stale urine and probably a bit of vomit thrown in. Now, if I remember that smell and it reminds me of the time that we owned the club and I shudder a little bit thinking of sweeping that dried sweat up surrounded by that smell - well, that's a memory. If on the other hand I think about that and smile and think only about how great it was and wouldn't it be fantastic if I could do it all again starting right now! - that's nostalgia. That's romancing the ghost. It's bullshit. And it can be dangerous.

Owning the Rhythm Alley was brilliantly cool and I loved it and thinking about seeing the Boys again, who were the mainstay of our calendar while we ran the place, is giving me a huge happy, not only because I enjoyed the band but because they were and are incredible people that I got to know at least a little bit and who I like very much as human beings. But it also reminds me of those mornings sweeping sweat, the days I struggled to stay awake at work or to drive home after a show, the massive debt the whole experience left us in and the empty space in our lives where our friend Stacy used to be. Those, kids, are memories - the good and the bad. I wouldn't trade those times for any amount of money but I wouldn't want to do them over and over again.

So all of that being said, I cannot WAIT to see the Boys, but to see them and hear them as they are today - not trying to recapture something that is long gone. No ghosts, just old friends and some frickin' awesome music!



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