Thursday, January 01, 2009

Craving atmosphere in 2008

In the nick of time, I fulfilled my last 2008 New Year's Resolution. I made three resolutions last year, based on my craving for a certain atmosphere rather than a desire to improve myself:

1.) Eat at The Flat, the tiny Creperie on Water St. that has fascinated me every time I pass it on the bus. It's just a tiny take out window in front of the bus stop, squeezed between a loading dock and another building. To me, it is evocative of an urban scene, something we in Prettyville are always chasing.

2.) I resolved to see The Falsies--a Charlottesville band, which I did not do, but I did attend a party at which the lead singer was also a guest, so I'm counting that one as fulfilled too.

3.) My last resolution was to attend a show at the Gravity Lounge--a downtown music venue. The name "Gravity Lounge" made me imagine a rarified atmosphere of people who dress better than me and who are serious about music. My radio station--a no-commericals "community radio" station that plays "alternative" music, was endlessly promoting Gravity Lounge shows of bands I'd never heard of. I imagined a secret club of coolness. Plus, the name made me wonder if there was a health fad devoted to gravity that I was unaware of.

Yesterday, (New Year's Eve) I finally made it to the crepe place. I had a chicken, spinach, onion and cheddar crepe and ate it in a sunny corner of their patio while I read a library book. Perhaps I will return and try the nutella crepe, or even treat the kids to the butter/sugar/cinnamon.

As for my other resolution, I've now attended three shows at the Gravity Lounge, the first being an experimental jazz show. We met a bunch of people from work and during the break, we drank beers on the sidewalk in front of the bar so that some of us could smoke. One of our friends, who'd just returned from a trip to Tennessee, remarked that if we tried taking our beers out of the bar in Tennessee, we'd probably be shot. Conversation turned to a doctor we know who gives a lot of rectal exams--not because he is creepy, but because he is anal thorough. Another friend, who'd just returned from dispensing free health care in the third world, remarked that a doctor who tried that in some of the countries she'd visited would be beheaded.

We returned to the show: "This is very serious jazz," the man next to me remarked. Indeed it was. It was supposed to be a tribute to Bob Dylan, and I'd naively assumed the band would be performing Bob Dylan tunes, which they were, although so deconstructed they were hardly recognizable as music, let alone as Bob Dylan.

This reminded me of some stop sign grafitti I'd seen in our neighborhood. Are you familiar with stop sign grafitti? When someone uses the "Stop" to impart an important message for society:

Our old neighborhood on Buffalo's west side had :"Wearing Fur," "Rape," "War," and "Eating Meat" scrawled on all our stop signs. One day I was jogging in my own neighborhood here in Charlottesville and saw that someone had scribbled "DECONSTRUCTING EVERYTHING" on our stop sign, and I thought it made a neat comparison about life in Buffalo vs. life in Charlottesville and the priorities of the citizens of these two cities. Also, I am sure the STOP WEARING FUR signs are exactly as we left them, back in 1998, whereas STOP DECONSTRUCTING EVERYTHING was quickly replaced with a clean stop sign. It was close to the road that tourists take when they drive to Monticello.

Anyway, I listened to the very serious jazz and after I'd exhausted the thought topic of stop signs, I thought about how we lived in a place in which people can drink beers on sidewalks without getting shot (although not smoke cigarettes in bars) and give rectal exams without fear of beheading and what a fine example of a free society that was. I think I was on my second beer at that point.

At any rate, the Gravity Lounge no longer holds any mystery for me.

If you were to scrawl something on a stop sign, what would it be?


  1. I'm inclined to pick up some of these stickers:

  2. Stop! Check and be sure your directional signal is on!

    I cannot imagine "serious" jazz--but huge credit to you for using your resolutions to expand your horizons:)