My Log as the Navigator of the Ship Inside the Bottle
Posted by PintofStout on August 20, 2007
The past weekend can be summed up by saying I supported the arts – the art of wine-making, brewing, film-making, and music. As a singular piece of art in itself, my weekend was definitely a bit on the abstract side. Friday found A___ and me rearranging the furniture in the living room to facilitate completely cozy and lazy watching of the television. We’ve done this before and often, and it works out nice for cuddling close and reclining at the same time. Popping the cork on a bottle of Wilhem Red, a sweet concord concoction, we settled in to watch a free On-Demand movie. After one glass of wine, A___ is out for the count, so I proceeded to finish the bottle while finishing the first movie and watching another.
All of this has no apparent effect on me as I wake at a moderate hour and, when I finally exit my bed, go for a quick jog before doing some simple barbell exercises for a little while. The rest of the day is planned around attending a private party entertained by the likes of Corned Beef & Curry. The party is the fourth annual party of the hosts, who we know from attending the same bar to see the band playing the party. It is a weird mix of family friends and near stranger, such as us. The hosts are gracious and welcoming and provide free beer (to people who they know from drinking much in a bar) and ask only for a covered dish. T___ came with A____ and me and enjoyed the entertainment and libation while getting some video footage for posterity. I partook of the refreshments in moderation since I was the driver and the only one who knew where we were. It wasn’t terribly late driving home, but I drove in silence so as not to wake my sleeping passengers. I was happily asleep in bed at 1 AM.
The next morning we stayed in bed and slept until the crack of noon. T___ had left just prior to our emerging from our room, so we called him later to make plans we would never fulfill. The effort of getting out of bed was too much for us and we proceeded to lie about and talk about making some breakfast until almost 2:00 in the afternoon. When she could stand it no more, A____ made some kielbasa and canned potatoes and we ate. When finished eating, I found my way to lie back down on the couch and Autumn was online. After some time passed with her online and me dosing on the couch, she sees that another band, Ceann, we frequently try to see when in the area is making a music video that night in Pittsburgh and invited people to come bar-hop with them. We danced around the issue for a while, not wanting to appear like stalkers, but also not having been out of the house on this chilled rainy day. A____ didn’t have to work the next morning and I had slept most of the day, so we thought “what the heck.” A call to T___ added him to our party as well, despite his and my obligation to get up and work in the morning.
So we showed up at a bar on the lower end of the south side of Pittsburgh, a notorious night spot on weekends with more bars than a Turkish prison, just minutes ahead of the band. The video is for a song they have on their new album entitled “Rave, Rant, Lose Pants,” the song being “Pittsburgh Makes Me Drunk.” As they put it in a MySpace announcement, it was to be a metaphorical video featuring the band getting drunk in Pittsburgh (what a job)!
So stopping off in as many bars that would let them film on the way down the street, having a beer or a shot in each one, we merry band of three (A____, T____, and I, the driver once again) tagged along to get drunk on a rainy Sunday evening. I was surprised at how many places wouldn’t allow the filming to take place, and therefore turned down the sure purchase of about 11 beers on a very slow night for these places. I guess liability or anxiety in our surveillance society trumps immediate sales. I, being the driver for similar reasons as the previous night, started out with a beer in the first several bars and then started skipping one or two in a row until my intake was diminished to stealing sips from A___’s beers. The logic of designating the largest consumer of our group, and the one most able to consume in prodigious fashion, while the other two sat out nearly as many rounds is skewed; damn my navigational skills.
The night was progressing along as normally as it could until we reached a bar called The Intermission. Inside of this bar were a gaggle of women or girls or whatever with pig tails. This wasn’t that odd, but shortly after we arrived a small ,white, very naked man entered from the street. A few minutes later a member of the band followed suit, and the losing pants title became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the last of the nudity. I’m all for nudity, but I like the polarity different than what we had.
The nude found their clothes and we then jumped in our vehicles to head over to Oakland near the University of Pittsburgh campus for more bars. The first stop was a place called Gene’s place, the inspiration for the song Denny’s Bar off of their first album. A seedy hole in the wall, Gene’s is the perfect habitat for the likes of our party. It is also around the corner from the pizza shop that gave T___ and me two free pizzas as they were closing. Out timing was perfect, for once. Two more stops for us in Oakland, one of which refused to let them film, and we were on our way home via the south side once again to drop off some folks. We arrived back home at 3 AM and I still had trouble falling asleep. Six came early for T___, no doubt. I cheated and stayed in bed until seven.
It was probably not the smartest idea to go running about with a road band on a non-conventional schedule and conditioned to drink the night before having to work. Oh, well. I think it was worth it as I glanced into a world slightly different from mine and had a hell of a time doing it. I can always sleep tonight. It also gave me some insight into their music and how it came to be what it is.
The juxtaposition of fun, carefree humor and serious business is displayed in the business of getting the work of the video done quite professionally while “performing” for the video beer after beer. The same dichotomy is evident in their songs, which are mostly original, fun, light, and occasionally silly, but some also carry worthy questions about who the Irish culture are with an honesty usually only possible through humor or art where it can be obscured enough to offer the insecure and uncomfortable the chance for cognitive dissonance. The questions come via the now popular – and mostly made up – culture surrounding the Irish and their descendents in America, and beg questions about identity and individuality inside of groups real and imagined. In the songs “Almost Irish” and “Green Beer,” from the “Almost Irish” album, they call out – and then proceed to join in – the silly group dynamics of false identity and ridiculous custom. (I touched briefly on this topic in Raise a Glass, Throw a Fist, partially inspired by the aforementioned songs.) If questions are raised in these two songs, “The Last Ones Standing” on the newest album answers them; to wit: (paraphrased from lack of liner notes on hand) stop worrying about who we were, and start worrying about who we are going to be;” a pertinent question not only for people of Irish descent but for everybody.
Indeed, the whole persona of the band is one of breaking out of stereotypes and pigeon holes and finding their own identity with humor and gusto (as stated nicely on the CDbaby.com write up of the first album). Considering the energy they put into the effort on stage and off, pinning them down to anything as old and cumbersome as the “tradition” Irish-American culture would be extremely difficult. After the delightful evening of escape from the rational last night, I want them to be successful in their music careers; yet, selfishly, I also hope they remain accessible on the level we have thus far enjoyed for the last year and a half.