for July 2, 2003
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for today's rant...
[Inscrutable Links: John Peel Says "Hi". FM106.3 Staff List. FM106.3's 1988 playlist.]
It's A Thing He Has...
by Your Diva, Robin Pastorio-Newman
When Jonathan Richman tours, people go a little crazy.
He usually plays one date in an area and moves on to
the next, leaving packs of rabid fans stomping
individual feet and muttering naughty words. Last time
he came through New Jersey Jonathan --
"Who?" you yawn.
"Jonathan Richman," Your Darling, Your Diva, Your One
True Love sighs.
"Jonathan Richman who?" you insist.
"Weíve been through this before. Did you see Something
About Mary despite its being a humiliation humorfest?
Heís the gentleman walking around and playing guitar.
His music has been featured on many soundtracks. His
song Ice Cream Man currently graces a Kohlís
commercial, and if youíd ever devoted two important
hours to watching Repo Man, you would have heard Pablo
Picasso. His song Road Runner is one of the best
things ever recorded. Itís not about a bird."
"Oh. That guy. Listen, Iíve been busy..." you opine,
but really, letís move on, shall we? Last time
Jonathan came through here, heíd played the Court
Tavern in New Brunswick and that was that for this
area, which meant the Court was packed to the rafters
with crazed Jonathan fans who werenít polite about
wanting to hear any noise their quiet hero made.
You: Are you going to see Jonathan Richman on
Your Friend: Nope. Donít feel like being shushed.
Jonathan plays early shows. Itís a thing with him.
Other artists and bands want to play later, Jonathan
plays earlier, so the bar got calls all day long about
what time heíd go on. The official party line held
that heíd take the stage between 9 and 10. Our party
sat down on upstairs barstools at 8:30 and the
upstairs bar filled to uncomfortable, then
hassling-the-doorman capacity before 10. The door to
downstairs opened after 10. Then real weirdness began.
The downstairs air conditioner was off. Thursday, the
temperature soared to 100 degrees in some places and
by 10:30 p.m. hadnít dropped much. The bartender
reported that Jonathan wanted the AC off, "Some kind
of phobia or something." Oh. A phobia. Well, heís
allowed, right? Youíd order your rock stars
factory-fresh and full of phobias if you could,
wouldnít you? Sure. As the basement filled and time
passed, the temperature and humidity made the normally
dank room feel like an indifferent Texas teenagerís
forgotten terrarium, where a couple hundred people
passed for the tiny frogs. Finally, close to 11:30,
Jonathan strapped on the guitar. A voice from the
crowd: "Whatís with the air conditioner?"
"I had them turn it off because air conditioners can
be quite loud. Weíre going to have a musical
experience, not a comfortable experience." Which
statement kind of answered his next question: "Why
doesnít anybody dance anymore?"
You got me, brother, but Iím busy in this face-plant
where I fainted from the heat.
The crowd loved song after riotous song. I Was Dancing
In the Lesbian Bar caused a roaring singalong. Soon,
the heat, the late hour, the incompatible fans, some
indefinable something caused some lunkheads in polo
shirts to talk near the stage, louder than the
performer, who was most certainly well-miked. And it
wasnít just one lunkhead, there were lunkhead pockets
throughout the room. Conversations about stocks and
options floated down the bar. It was bizarre, and who
has the patience of the forebearance to pay $10 for a
show they canít hear over some drunken idiotís lame
financial advice? It was about this time it became
clear our evening was nearing its conclusion.
So there you are in a club basement with 200 of your
closest friends packed body to body and youíre each
wondering if the life insurance your job offers will
pay your beneficiaries in the event you die a
beer-soaked sweltering death when you couldíve just as
easily gotten up off your barstool and made a break
for the exit and since staying until you pass out is
probably walking that fuzzy accident/suicide line
beyond which your unprepared family has to cough up
the cash for interment you get up and go home. Later
you may discover the two pints of water you drank
while watching a few minutes of Julia Child on
Biography -- very interesting, by the way -- does not
stave off the kind of dehydration that keeps even the
experienced swinging rock fan in bed most of the next
But it was Jonathan. And people go a little crazy.
©2003 Robin Pastorio-Newman
All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.
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