When I was young, and I shone like the sun, I hung out in the seedier parts of Dallas. My main dig was Deep Ellum, a slummy art community that was simultaneously a musician’s haven and douchebag central. On one corner you could find Trees, a now defunct Dallas club where the Flaming Lips performed one of their best sets of all time. On another corner you could find some biker bar with burly men dressed in leather snearing at passersby like a bulldog behind some chicken wire in a poor person’s front yard. And yet on another corner you could see a bar with a line around the block of collared-shirt, cologne soaked boozehounds with their trashy, overdressed, chintzy looking man purses they called their girlfriends (or at least their evening sluts). It was an eclectic slum to say the least.
Oftentimes I found myself at a local concert at a place like the aforementioned Trees or the Curtain Club. I went because it was 18+ and busting mailboxes with baseball bats wasn’t my idea of a good time. Also, there was always the chance of seeing some titties, which didn’t interest me in the least, but it earned me man credits that I could cash in at school to decrease the likelihood of attacks. A sidenote about Dallas music: It’s hard. Dallasites are often considered by outsiders to be country and western and folk loving folk. But that’s not true. That’s not true at all. Ever heard of a little band called Pantera? What about Drowning Pool? Besides having members that have died tragic and untimely deaths, including one who was shot on stage, these bands are heavy to the core. Their music is like a chunky Rocky Road concoction of slamming drums, shredding guitars and Halford-esque vocals. It’s the music you kill people to if you’re into killing people.
At these shows moshing was a staple. Little surbanites and big burly gas station attendants both with pent up aggression and no reasonable outlet to exercise it, such as a playground, would encircle one another and start moshing. Moshing, as you may recall, is a phenomenon that, I believe, grew out of 70s punk, where music fans stopped caring about listening to the artists and cared more about collecting other people’s teeth. The harder the music, the more shit-kicking there took place. In a nutshell, the scene ends up being an organized bar fight with set boundaries and few rules. At the end of the night, everyone goes home with battle scars, bumps and bruises and a strong sense of denial regarding one’s homosexuality.
I never moshed. Sure I’ve been dragged into the circle a few times, only to clutch a friend by the collar and scream, “For the love of God, these people are animals! Get me the fuck out of here before they quarter me to Cemetary Gates!” But it just wasn’t my thing. Maybe it’s my fragile skeleton. I have the skeleton of a lady…a lady made of glass. In any case, I still appreciated the moshers. I still understood them and looked upon them as fixtures of my environment, much like a howler monkey might look upon a three-toed sloth. Oh look! There it goes! I was young. I was angsty. I had a chip on my shoulder and was covered under my parent’s health plan.
Flash to Sunday night. I’m at a Man Man concert. Sidenote: Man Man is an amazing band. They combine a number of different genres to create amazingly upbeat, unique songs. Think Klezmer mixed with Tom Waitts mixed with Sesame Street. As you can tell, it’s not what I would call “fightin’ music.” The younger crowd disagreed and stated their counterpoint with elbows and feet flying. A-moshing they did go. I saw this and, knowing my boyfriend was very unaccostomed to this behavior, immediately planted myself on the ground, shoulders broad and hand in front of Mario like an overprotective mom with a toddler in the passenger seat coming to a quick stop. Then I found myself tsk-tsking and scowling at the pool of teenagers. Who did they think they were? What is the deal with all this pushing? Man Man isn’t moshing music! And since when did moshing become vogue again? That was our thing, damn it! You kids don’t know the first thing about moshing!
And then it hit me like misguided fist in a mosh circle. I’m old. I’m fucking old. I’m now the man that stands outside the circle and says with an expression “For shame!” I now think about the price I’d pay in medical bills should one of these young punks accidently throw a Converse at my face or stage dives on my neck (and that’d be super bad cause my neck is kind of stiff as it is). If I had a lawn, I’d tell them to get off of it. If I had a fence, I’d pay them to paint it. If I had a cat, I’d be knitting sweaters for it.
It’s a sad realization to make, but we all must make it at some point in our lives. You’re not going to live forever, and you’re going to get really uncool way before you die. So deal with it. Go to your concerts and your dance parties and your senior proms…but know this, you don’t belong. You will never belong. You once belonged. But your time has passed. Accept this, hike up your pants, wear your socks with your sandals and ride this rollercoaster called life to your grave.
WERTHERS ORGINALS ANYONE?!?