Pushing 40

A few weeks ago (the afternoon of New Year's Eve, to be exact), I received an e-mail that was admirably economical in its sentiment: "You are sad, old, and pathetic." I fired back in due fashion with a succinct "Happy New Year, retard," demonstrating that I may be old to some tadpoles, but I can still sling adolescent retorts. (An ex-fling of mine once told me that the thing he admired most about me was that I had "the wits of a 15-year-old." "Is that wits or wit?" I asked. It was wit, and I felt complimented.) A back-and-forth began between Charles Beene and me as he specified that (1) because I am "pushing 40" I'm too old to be going to after-hours parties, and (2) I should "take a break from the snide self-glorification and open [the readership's] eyes to something new in this increasingly one-dimensional music scene." He also informed me that (3) the "fuckin' Cha Cha" didn't need any more ink: "Yeah, we get it, it's where all you pretentious hipsters park your chain wallets, thanks."

Finally, Beene castigated himself by admitting, "Of course, I read and will continue to read every word you write, out of some morbid curiosity, so I guess I really am a retard."

I felt bad after reading that last bit, so I packed my steamer trunk and set out for Ye Olde Towne to catch Beene's folkie set at Mr. Spot's Chai House. I expected to encounter a sweater-clad kid in his early 20s, but the first thought I had when I sat down at my table halfway through Beene's set was "Where does this guy get off calling me old?" Though it wasn't my cup of chai, Beene's music was earnest and pleasant; however, his promise to cover songs by the band Toto was a sham. I asked why he didn't play them, and he said he forgot to bring the lyric sheets.

Now I ask you, for the love of Pete, what person in his or her mid-30s doesn't know the goddamn words to "Hold the Line," for Christ's sake? We all may not have liked Toto, but because most of us had our ears stuck to crappy transistor radios all summer as we sizzled under the sun (using baby oil as a protectant), "Hold the Line," "Rosanna," and "Africa" are burned into our memories as deeply as the premature wrinkles caused by all that time spent frying in the sun.

Like anyone who goes away on a trip, I bought all kinds of gifts while visiting Mr. Spot's Chai House--healing and calming balms, and even a matchbox-sized remedy for the broken-hearted--and handed them out to my pretentious hipster friends who park their chain wallets at the Cha Cha.

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Last Friday at Graceland, the Walkmen were (by my account) wonderful, but one well-known Foghorn Leghorn complained that, ah say, ah say, singer Hamilton Leithauser sounded like Bono--to which I replied, "Yeah, like when he was good." He was never good, claimed Leghorn--even when I countered that Boy, October, War, and the Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois-produced The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree were good albums. Anyway, the Walkmen and members of Hint Hint and Hot Hot Heat were prominently present at the after-hours party, dancing with the likes of Kurt Bloch.

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The next night at Graceland, the D4 headlined a great show featuring the Peels and Visqueen as openers. The D4's pink girlie T-shirts were the best merch I've seen in a decade, with "ROCKNROLL MOTHERFUCKER" emblazoned across the boobies.

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I spent Sunday at the Showbox, where the Donnas and Visqueen played a free all-ages halftime show during the Super Bowl, sponsored by 107.7 The (Rear) End. Girls shook and cried as they posed for pictures with Visqueen, but the Donnas' audience was considerably more dude-ranch style, if you get what I mean. I had my own little dude backstage: one-year-old Max Giampino (Pops is Scott, publicist for the Showbox), who wrapped his arms around my neck, put his head on my shoulder, and stroked my hair as my heart swelled and my friends shot each other looks of shock.

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Oh, and this: Matador Records is in hot pursuit of Pretty Girls Make Graves, offering to buy out their current contract with Lookout! Records, to whom they owe one more album.