Saturday, April 11, 2015


Melanie and I saw the Decemberists Thursday night at Charlotte Fillmore. This was our second trip to the Fillmore and, even though it is a corporate hellhole, it sure has excellent sound and sightlines. I did notice that the venue now has some benches against the back wall. I credit my Twitter rant from a few months ago for the installation of these benches. The first time we went we stood for hours and our backs were killing us at the end of the night. I took to Twitter asking the club for benches against the back wall for old people to take a load off. This week at the Decemberists show I see benches. All credit to me. Or not. But I like to think I made a difference somewhere in my short little life and if all I can claim is benches for old people at the Fillmore I'll take it.

The only picture I took with my phone because, really, why bother? You can't see shit

It was a good show and the second time I had seen the band. It was the first time they had played Charlotte and lead singer, Colin Meloy, remarked on this early in the night and he was visibly surprised by the lack of crowd response to this announcement. I think he misunderstood what he is getting with a Charlotte crowd. A good percentage of that crowd probably isn't from Charlotte and haven't lived here for long so they don't have an emotional attachment to the group's first Charlotte visit. And there are those, like me, that have already seen the band and had to drive a couple of hours for the privilege. So the response was probably a mix of, "So what? I've lived here since August" and "Duh, it's about time, you sons o' bitches."

A Decemberists show is a unique experience. The nature of that band denies it any of the "dig me, I'm a rock star" vibe you can get from some shows. I was reminded more than once of the Flaming Lips show I saw in Asheville several years ago. It wasn't so much a concert as a performance. I don't know if that is the right word, that makes it sound boring, which it most certainly wasn't. It was the first time I witnessed a lead singer ironically tell a crowd during the singalong portion of a show when he brought us down to a whisper to then imagine the line we were singing. But that is what makes the Decemberists fun, they're different.

I will recommend that if you go to see the show stay until the end. They are doing a two song encore and the song they end with is perfect.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

No More Football

I am no longer going to watch football at any level. No more NFL. No more college. When I visit my old hometown I will no longer go to the high school football games. This decision has been percolating for several years now. I first started having misgivings about football when I read about older players like Earl Campbell who were physically damaged by football. I remember reading that Earl Campbell couldn't walk up stairs because he couldn't pull his feet back. For a while I could brush that off. Everyone knew football was brutal and physical payments later in life were inevitable. It's the old cliche, the guy in his 40s with the trick knee from that high school football injury. Even I have damage from football. The middle metacarpal in my right hand has a bump in it from a break I suffered my freshman year on the gridiron. (That was a weird injury because I don't remember how it happened. At some point late in the game I remember my hand hurt like the dickens. I even returned a kick off with that broken hand. How dumb was that? Although, I did catch that kick with one hand. How awesome is that?) The revelations about the head injuries the players suffer and the suicides of players like Junior Seau have been pushing me to give up the game. Even Terry Bradshaw has admitted he is receiving treatment for memory loss. What I learned about subconcussive blows almost caused me to stop watching last year. I then decided to give the sport one more season and then give it some serious thought. It was Chris Borland a young NFL player retiring at the peak of his career, literally giving up millions of dollars, in order to preserve his health who gave me the final push I needed. As Frank Deford pointed out during a recent NPR piece football may soon go the way of boxing where those from a less affluent background make the choice of financial gain with the later trade off of health issues. He even goes so far as to call football "indefensible." I think he's right. How can I sit on my couch and watch a player like Troy Polamalu literally kill himself for my entertainment? I can't any longer. Goodbye, football.

I have only one last step left to completely wall myself off from football. I need a new Tervis Tumbler. My current tumbler has a Carolina Panthers logo on it. I need to go to Tinder Box at the mall and get a new tumbler. I wonder what the chances are of them having a Detroit Tigers tumbler?

Friday, April 03, 2015