I knew this day was coming. I’d known it for a long time; in fact, there were days when I would swear I could see it on the far horizon. But like turning points will, this one took me by surprise, and I’m kind of shaken.
As milestones go, mine is pretty benign; it involved no sickness, no pain, no loss. This was more of a philosophical or spiritual revelation. And it was not just one event – there was no single, profound road-to-Damascus moment in which the scales fell from my eyes; there was just a series of minor things that made one major point.
And that point? Simple: I just don’t fucking get it anymore.
SXSW, Austin’s homegrown music/film/interactive festival just wrapped its 27th year. And because I like to take part in what’s happening in my city, and also since I consider myself relatively savvy-in-an-old-dude sort of way, I took part in some of the festival’s video gaming and music.
This was a very bad idea. My experiences underlined a sad reality: I’m a lot closer to replacing a hip than I am to being hip.
My first stop on the irrelevance train was the gaming expo. I’m really not into video games (full disclosure: my gaming career began and ended with Pong, which I dismissed as being way too complicated). But I had to stop as I walked past one monitor and saw a soccer match in full swing.
I stood there for several minutes, marveling at the fidelity of the picture, the sound, just everything — ooh-ing and ahh-ing and banging on about how this looks so freaking real. Then I realized it was freaking real — I was watching the security guard’s TV. No wonder people were backing away from me.
And forget about music. Back in the day, my knowledge of rock music was nearly encyclopedic, and in the ensuing decades I had made a valiant attempt to keep up with new stuff.
Today? No way I can stay current. Seriously – until he played a gig here, I thought Kanye West was a discount shoe store.
And I can pretty much rule out going to clubs at night. Even if I were cool enough or skinny enough or anything enough to make it past the bouncers, clubbing means staying out past 9:30, and that’s definitely not how I roll.
But Saturday afternoon, as I was walking to the bus stop, I found myself in front one of Austin’s most popular night spots. This was a perfect opportunity, so I descended the stairs and stepped into absolutely the darkest room I have ever been in. Seriously – this place made Buffalo Bill’s basement in The Silence of the Lambs seem like Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I lasted five minutes – maybe. I’ve been going to shows since I was a kid and I would have bet that a steady diet of the Grateful Dead, the Who and reggae had inured me to any man’s sound system.
And I would have been wrong. By the time I could escape to the surface, the dubstep onslaught had caused my ears to bleed and the bass had made me poop my pants.
Thankfully, I managed to get my groove back Saturday afternoon at the Bloodshot Records showcase behind Yard Dog art gallery. These were my peeps – no skinny jeans, no mountain-man beards and for damn sure no one puking in the name of “art.” It was just a bunch of gray-haired, ear-plugged and tie-dyed old farts drinking beer, smoking weed and digging music the way god meant for it to be played – loud, fast and made with Strats, not Macs.
The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced it’s not me who doesn’t fucking get it – it’s those crazy kids. And get off my lawn, goddam it!