The Society Page

by Cory Tracy

Sexy Neckbeard Manifesto 

I’m usually cool with being a low-key nobody, but am nevertheless susceptible to random fits of flashy weirdness. Being a brain-damaged invalid allows one to skirt certain social protocols — I get away with shit! In my latest attempt to milk this benefit, I have given myself a neckbeard.

I am a broke-ass bum and wear my laziness like a merit badge, so while I keep my face somewhat manicured in the summer, in the winter I embrace the spirit of laxity and, from October through March, just let that shit grow. Late last winter I had one of my occasional flashes of brilliance: “Cory, this year when you trim your beard, leave the bottom-most inch that grows on your neck unshaven!” I obeyed this scurrilous impulse and, since May, have been totally rocking my neckbeard.

Most folks don’t notice it at first (or are unwilling to admit that they actually see the dead muskrat tied to my neck), and when they do notice it, they are repulsed. Fortunately, those who know me just laugh it off as one of Cory’s adorable little eccentricities. The possession of a neckbeard allows me to cautiously entertain the whimsy that my face now has a totem-like influence, imbued with shamanic powers of mischief. (Like I need an excuse to act more mischievous!) The power of the neckbeard, when alloyed with the power of my crinkle-crankle voice, allows me to embody the trickster archetype. Wheelchair anarchism indeed! (This, by the way, is not a good method to pick up chicks.)

On June 10, my friend Reggie Groff and I went for a walk/roll on Cousins Island. It’s a relatively small island (two square miles) and has a well-maintained trail that follows its perimeter. The path is fairly level, so I hope heaving me around the woods didn’t tax Reggie overmuch. After Reggie worked up an appetite and plenty of motivation to kick my ass on the chessboard, back to mainland Yarmouth we went, to a restaurant called Gather.

Yarmouth in the summer reminds me of Kennebunk: the old architecture lends it an air of rural sophistication, but the locals’ eyes are on the prize of all that tacky tourist summer money. Gather looks like it was once a small meeting house or auditorium. The bar and tables are where the townspeople or audience sat, and the kitchen is up on stage. One of the specials was a strawberry rhubarb coffee cake that demanded my immediate attention, followed by a serviceable plate of French toast. As I was stuffing my belly and Reggie was deflating my ego on the chessboard, we were serenaded by a five-piece acoustic band that made you feel like you’d gone back in time to the Depression era.

My dermatological puritanism will not allow me to sully my flesh with disgusting suntan lotion. This results in some minor discomfort, but I have deemed that better than the oily alternative. After morning hijinks with Reggie, I went to the Old Port Fest to catch some music and a sunburn. I’d Internetted what music would be playing on which stage and, as usual, gave my allegiance to the WCLZ stage at the intersection of Fore and Silver streets. I built my nest in front of the stage at two o’clock for an hour of Spencer Albee, followed by an hour of Serena Ryder, followed by an hour of The Mallett Brothers Band.

Spencer is an old favorite whose music acts as a cure-all, and Serena came down from Toronto, Canada to share her appreciation for America’s blessings and faults. I pride myself on the eclecticism of my musical taste, but country music is officially my least favorite thing to listen to, well outside my sphere of tolerance. Nonetheless, the Mallett Brothers get my approval and I gladly sat through their hour-long set.

I think a strong cause of my dislike of country music (and Republicans) is that it always seems to embrace the cliché and never threatens to break out of its mold. The Mallett Brothers have found the sweet spot between honoring the musical tradition they’ve received and reaching ears in this ever-changing world. What else can I say? I have a soft spot for local heroes! #DISRUPTTHEFLOWWITHWHATYOUKNOW!!!

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