A hundred years ago, my mother’s mother’s father, Frank Broad, was a lumberjack in northern New Hampshire. This weather inspires heartache and complaint, but it’s important to keep things in perspective and recognize that Portland, Maine, in the year 2018, really isn’t that bad.
Back on December 6th I turned 40. Because I’m blessed with the vigor and attitude of a two-year-old, this number didn’t really affect me, and I carried on being my usual silly self. Two weeks later, though, the Spirit of Seniority came to collect his due. I was exiting a venue (which shall remain nameless, lest I sully its fine name) and had to hoist my chair up a brief tumble of stairs. I had done this effortlessly many times in the past, but now that I’m a decrepit 40-year-old, when I hoisted my chair this time it felt like a pirate shoved a burning sword into my back. I softly belched, “Oh shit!” and sought refuge in my chair. Like the Little Engine That Could, I struggled home and flipped my pain-splattered carcass into bed. Sadly, sleep wouldn’t even flirt with me that night. If I was perfectly still, my existence was tolerable, but the slightest move sent me twitching in agony. In the morning, when I tried to sit up to transfer into my chair, my spinal column felt like it was filled with lava. Luckily, I had a phone by my bed, so I called some relatives and laughingly explained the absurdity of my dilemma. They set me up with an ambulance, and though I am an atheist badass the fine folks at Mercy Hospital set me up with some pain pills and much-needed muscle relaxant. My recovery was tepid, but by way of gradual improvements I was once again raring to conquer the world by New Year’s Eve.
New Years in Portland always present the dilemma of there being way too much shit to do. Fortunately, my poverty and lack of transportation narrowed the field considerably, and I was happy to see Kenya Hall’s Stevie Wonder cover show at the State Theatre. I met Kenya back when she was a bartender at The Big Easy, and even though I am a lame non-drinker, our similarly grained senses of humor sealed our friendship. The show was a whirlwind of sass and funk. Being the jocular blob I am, at one point I was laughing so aggressively that Kenya said from the stage, “That laugh can only be one person!” and called me out on my infamous foolishness.
Musical jubilance aside, the cold temps make me grumpy like an unfed cat. January is loathsomely snowsome, and the icy sidewalks flirt disaster like an unpaid pimp. But on the 12th I went to see my favorite salsacore bad boys, el malo, at Blue. They’d evacuated most of the tables and chairs so the audience could dance. I got a tray of cheese-littered nacho chips for my tongue to dance with. It’s hard not to be ecstatic with great music in your ear and genre-appropriate food in your belly!
On the 20th I went to the Portland House of Music and Events to see Andrew Bailie do a show. The opening band was Bootstrap Cannonball, with singer/guitarist Nate Soule, formerly of The Mallett Brothers Band. This band’s songs had a twangy texture and a guitar-driven body that brought Johnny Cash to mind. Next was the hip-hop trio Beards, with Dave Gutter acting as DJ while playing guitar and keytar, Thommy Kane and Shane Reis on vocals, and a one-song cameo by the distractingly gorgeous Anna Lombard. Singer/guitarist Bailie was backed by another guitarist (Max Cantlin), two bass players (Stu Mahan and Colin Winsor), two drummers (Dan Boyden and Chris Sweet) and keyboardist Tyler Quist. The music they played wore the sock of classic rock and was evocative of early Clapton. There were as many musicians in the audience that night as there were on stage, which is always a good sign.
My great-grandfather cut down some trees but also planted the seed that eventually led to me. While reaping the rewards of a well-lived life it’s important to leave a legacy for the unseen future, because we all feed our needs and fell our trees, but the gifts we give aren’t always ready to be received. As cosmologists and philosophers know, simple things enable complexity and complex things, if tweaked in just the right way, enable simplicity. Keep the fires burning and stay warm!