RING! RING! RING! My alarm went off at 3:15 a.m., an hour, that in Nicole’s words “nobody should have to get up at.” But I needed time to wake up, shower, eat breakfast, and get to the train station to get to Washington, DC for this show, which I wouldn’t be able to go to if not for my presentation at the National Popular Culture Association conference, which, this year, was being held just up the road from me at the Marriott Wardman Park in DC. Maggie dropped off me off at 4:30, where I was met by my colleague, Elizabeth. Nice person, a brilliant scholar on anything English literature-related, complete Anglophile. The usual academic conversation occurred before I went into my reading, writing, and napping.
At around a quarter to 10, the train arrived at Union Station, where I quickly changed into my conference clothes (button-down black shirt with stripes, black pants, black shoes, black leather shoes). I dropped my suitcase off at the hostel, and since I was feeling pretty zombie-like and couldn’t check in, I went to a place called Recharj, which has “nap pods.” For $9, you can rent a pod for a half hour where you can just take a power nap. It’s a new concept, but a neat one (I’d love to be able to use one of those at my workplace).
After my nap, I went to the conference hotel, registered, caught up on some work e-mails, and had a Po’Boy sandwich at this restaurant called Hot Juicy Crawfish. I splurged the extra dollar on Cajun fries, which turned out to be way spicier than I like my fries. There’s spicy, and there’s, well, THAT. Anyway, Christina and I met at the hotel after lunch, and we caught up at Starbucks. A fellow scribe and singles activist, she was able to get me inspired to continue my work, and she rightly made fun of my torn-up notepad, which reaks of battle scars from the shows it’s boogied at with me. In addition, the following hilarious dialogue exchange took place:
Christina: I may be going to Virginia Beach to see my sister in late June.
Me: Damn, I’ll be out of town.
Christina: You won’t be at another concert, will you?
Me: How’d you know? (I then laughed for about a minute or so; if we hadn’t been in a Starbucks or other public place, it would have been ten).
Me: Yeah, the three concerts I’m going to this week are it for another month. Then I’m going to New York, where I’m going to three concerts three nights in a row. And then off to Colorado a month later where I’m seeing another three in a row.)
(Christina’s eyes literally bulged out of her sockets).
The conference presentation, on singles’ rights in the academic workplace, was very well-received, and I think it turned some heads. During the Q&A portion, Christina, who was my Special Guest for this conference, taught the term “amatonormativity” to the group, many of whom scribbled it in their notepads.
After I booked it from the conference to the hostel to check in, unpack, and change into my concert gear (Phish T-shirt and jeans), I met Nicole (3/16/19) at this taco place near the 9:30 Club called El Ray. Tables were a tough grab, but I was lucky enough to find two seats at the bar. The atmosphere (bars inside with a table-lined garden outside) reminded of the Rathskellar, this incredible German restaurant in Indianapolis I ate at when I presented at this same conference last year. The tacos at El Ray were amazing, the conversation even better. We talked music, cats, travel, work, life. I knew the concert was looming, but I was enjoying the conversation. Finally, we parted ways at about 9:15, but I figured the show wouldn’t start until at least 9:30.
I was wrong. The bouncer told me the band had started fifteen minutes earlier and he stamped my hand with an 8:15 on it. Liars!, I thought. It’s the 9:30 Club; bands aren’t supposed to start until 9:30! Oh well. When I walked in, there was maybe one spot available by the door. Wall-to-wall people packed the place. Almost immediately after I got situated, somebody aggressively pushed me out of the way so he could move forward. He did the same to others. This is a city club, we’re not at the Norva anymore, I thought. Tangent: The 9:30 Club wins the Most Colorful Venue Award from me thus far. Its posters and overall “guttery” feel remind me of an old-school New York punk club like CBGBs (a regret of mine is never having gone there). They also have a visual history of acts that have played there, expressed in CD form. The shelves house CDs from artists and are organized by year (i.e., Walk the Moon played there in 2014, so a CD is cataloged under the year “2014”). This was my third time at this venue: first was in August 2016, where I went to see L7 solo (“Pretend We’re Dead”). My second time was two months later when I took my ex, who I’ll call S, to see Yonder Mountain String Band, where we had our first of many spats (shudders). I guess that’s why she’s my ex.
Annnnnnnyway, as the show moved on, I was able to locate space and slowly move my way to a closer spot (I didn’t feel like shoving my way to the front; I figured I’d just let it happen organically, and I got as close as I wanted). Being in that show was like being in an aural kaleidoscope. That’s how I’d describe anything Les Claypool’s involved with. I wore my Phish shirt in tribute; I own no Primus gear, and the last time I had seen him was when he performed with Oysterhead back in 2001 at NYC’s Roseland Ballroom. The band busted out with Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine” and they played the Beatles’s “Tomorrow Never Knows.” I thought I heard a “Jerry was a Race Car Driver” tease after “Astronomy Domine,” but no dice. I was a little bummed they didn’t encore with that. It would have also been cool if Trey Anastasio had showed up and they busted out “Oz is Ever Floating,” my Oysterhead tune. I guess a man can dream.
Another highlight was exiting the show. The hallway is tiny, so we were exiting practically in a single-file line. I’d never seen anything like that. Sucks if one has an Uber waiting. At any rate, my head hit the pillow pretty roughly, and I was out like a light once I hit my hostel bed.