We all have certain ideas about
ourselves. We think we're charming, or awkward, or good at math, or
bad at golf. I, for one, believe that I tend to be patient, forgiving, and pretty egalitarian. I try to
put myself in other people's shoes and not to sweat the small stuff.
I appreciate when someone is trying their best, even if it's not
really getting the job done.
the moment I set foot in an airport, all of that goes to hell. It's
every man for himself. There are so many phases of air travel-
check-in, security, boarding, just trying to walk to anywhere-
and each presents another opportunity to get jammed up by a slow
employee, an inexperienced traveler, or some oblivious,
five-foot-wide moron trundling up the jetway so slowly that you'd
swear they were actually walking backwards. When I'm in Airport
Mode, I don't give a somersaulting fuck about other people, because
there are no "other
people-” only the thousands of obstacles between me and my
It doesn't bother me that this runs counter to my overall self-image. That's life. People are full of
inconsistencies and contradictions. More importantly, we aren't just
one thing all of the time. Our personalities are much more fluid
than we realize. We all behave differently at the office versus
catching up with old friends, eating dinner with our parents,
tailgating for a football game, and so on. If I started talking to
police officers the same way I talk to my college friends- or even
vice versa- I'd probably get myself into some trouble.
What bothers me is
that Airport Mode can be downright gratifying. Sure, it basically
amounts to an adversarial relationship with everyone within a
thousand yards, but there's a certain clarity of purpose that comes
with it. Clarity- even a nasty, misguided sort of clarity- can be
comforting in the adult world, where stuff is complicated and even
the easy answers are usually hard in their own way. I looked into
this a little, assuming I'd be able to drop some science here-
something about "dopamine channels” or "evolutionary
instincts-” but all I found out is that "dopamine” might
be the most widely misused science-noun this side of "negative
reinforcement.” (Sorry, but you've never used that term
does seem to be a perverse satisfaction to go along with emotions
like indignation, enmity, and my omnidirectional airport rage. I'm
venturing deep into armchair territory here, but I am
inclined to think that this is based in something primal. There have
been obvious adaptive benefits to teamwork and cooperation throughout
human history, from our days as hunter-gatherers to the efficiency of
the modern workplace. So maybe it's just the other side of the coin:
we can't be an "us” if there isn't a "them.”
not saying we're wired towards hate or anything like that. But I do
think it's easy- particularly in this day and age (oh God here he
goes again)- to focus on the "other” in "other people” when
the "people” part should be way more important. We do it with politics
all the time: we are
rational and compassionate, whereas they are mutants who crawl out of the sewers on moonless nights to creep
into our children's bedrooms and suck out their eyeballs. That's why
it's so gratifying to watch videos of your favorite political
firebrands "EVISCERATING REPUBLICANS” or "OWNING LIBS with FACTS
and LOGIC." They are the enemy. They must be destroyed. Don't get me wrong, a bit of confirmation bias
every now and then never hurt anyone, but it's important to remember
that that kind of stuff is like junk food. It gives you this perfect
mix of chemicals that somehow fills you up and leaves you wanting more, but if you consume too much of it, it'll
probably give you cancer. Be good to people. Most of them deserve
And please stay to one
side when you're walking up the jetway.
Anyway. Strictly speaking, shouldn't
the phrase "a dick-measuring contest” refer to a competition to
see who can most accurately assess the dimensions of a given dick?
Normally this is where I'd apologize
for my extended and unplanned hiatus, but you know what? Screw it.
I was busy. I had houseguests to host. Weddings to attend
(including two in the band family! More on that later). Frozen
pipes to deal with. Part of the time I was busy not being busy,
which is definitely a thing and you should try it sometime. The rest
of the time, I was busy doing band stuff.
It's probably not a huge secret at this
point that we spent most of last month in the studio. For
almost all of March, your favorite oversized rock band that lives in
New Orleans and once maybe stole somebody's dog (my colleagues were
confident he was a street dog but I'm still not totally convinced)
has been recording sounds.
We have probably finished the
phase of album creation where we make noises into microphones.
That's right! The noises have been made, people! THE NOISES HAVE
BEEN MADE. Now, we're at the part where we all sit on our hands
while some highly experienced and motivated individuals do things
with those noises. I do not know exactly what those things are, but
from what I understand it involves blood magic and a fair amount of
chiseling. These individuals chisel our noises into audio
files known as "rough mixes,” and as those "roughs” (that's a
bit of insider industry lingo for you) trickle back to us, we provide
feedback (sometimes referred to as "nitpicking-” another industry
term), and like twenty-two thousand emails later, we'll have some
songs, at which point we'll have to figure out which ones to use and
how to package them and a bunch of other stuff.
It's a process.
In the meantime, our touring outfit is
now 15.38% more married! Our dashing bassist, George Gekas, and our
often-spotted-dashing-across-the-stage production manager, Amy
Pertuit, both had like, just the BEST weddings. Amy, the
newly-styled "Queen in the North,” had a stunning mountainside
ceremony followed by a lot of drinking and dancing. It was featured
in a listicle! George, on the other hand, stayed close to sea
level with a beautiful waterside ceremony officiated by a close
friend, also followed by a lot of drinking and dancing. Highlights
included an inspired reading of a modified version of Mary Schmich's
famous "Sunscreen” column and the sassiest lip-sync
performance of the Spice Girls' "Wannabe” in the history of
music. Congratulations, everybody!
I blew my nose the other day and when I
pulled the tissue away, my eyes were stinging and there was a
chemical odor hanging in the air. I thought that maybe the tissues
had caught a stray misting from some bathroom cleaning product, but
after a brief investigation I realized that I had mistakenly
purchased not my usual Puffs Plus Lotion, but rather Puffs Plus
Lotion "With the Scent of Vicks,” which apparently exists. Who
asked for this? How did it get past quality control? What focus
group sat around a conference table at Puffs HQ and agreed that yeah,
the thing that their soft, soothing tissue papers needed was a fresh
coat of menthol dust? They must have known this was a terrible idea.
The Vicks logo is pretty easy to miss. Could they have done this
intentionally, knowing that the only way they could sell
such an inferior product would be through chicanery? Their website describes the scent of Vicks VapoRub as "comforting,” which-
unless you spent your formative years downwind from an ammonia plant-
is a lie.
Also, why isn't there an apostrophe in
"Vicks?” According to this timeline, they apparently dropped the apostrophe sometime between 1919 and 1931. Why did
they do this? Did the printing company try to charge extra for
punctuation? Was it because of Prohibition? Too many flappers
dancing the Charleston? Whatever the reason, I am outraged.
On that note, the friend whose album
I'm plugging today is Jennifer Hartswick! Jen is an old friend
of the band. Between her work as a solo artist, as a member of the
Trey Anastasio Band, or maybe just the like forty-bajillion times
she's sat in with us on vocals and/or trumpet and burned the place
down, she is probably a familiar face to many of you. Anyway, Jen
recently dropped a single with her friends Nick Cassarino and Christian McBride, and it's lovely:
Nick and Jennifer have been touring as
an acoustic duo. There are only a few dates left on their current
tour, but hopefully they'll do more soon, because this is a really
special show. A couple of us had the opportunity to catch them in
Nashville last week, and BELIEVE ME it was electric. When musicians
have real chemistry, they develop a sort of ESP and they can move and
stop and shift and crash together in perfect sync, like a school of
fish suddenly changing directions all at once. It's really something to behold. Plus,
like, good songs and singing and instrument playing.
And yes, technically I'm plugging a
single, a tour and kind of a general concept rather than an album,
but I think I'm going to broaden this segment a little so I don't
have to wait for someone I know to release a long-playing record of
eight songs or more every time I want to tell you about people I know
who are good at stuff.
Anyway. Jen Hartswick. Good at stuff.
That's about it! Yeah, I think that's
it. Definitely, definitely nothing else coming up in our world
that's worth talking about hereOH WAIT WE'RE GOING ON TOUR NEXT
WEEK. Heavens, I miss it so. See you there hopefully!