Living within the confines of a sub-culture such as Rockabilly can be unintentionally insular. It leaves one immune to outside influences and the gregarious nature of it's participants leads them to seek out like minded people.
In this greasy world, being surrounded by mind blowing hot rods, talented musicians and people sporting vintage clothing seems altogether normal and commonplace. By being immersed in this counter-culture, the fact that it really is a small minority is often over looked.
This point was driven home to me yesterday in a very abrupt fashion. It was as if someone had slapped me across the face with a very large dead fish. The overwhelming scope of it was unleashed like a torrent of excrement and it left me in a state of bewilderment.
I had decided to attend a weekly Saturday afternoon Rockabilly jam that has been held at a venerable drinking establishment for almost two decades. I made my way downtown a little too early and found myself with some time on my hands.
As I aimlessly wandered around, I somehow ended up smack dab in the middle of douchebag central. The intersection of Douchebag Avenue and Fashion Victim Street.
There is a street here called Robson. Once a quiet neighborhood street lined with local businesses, it is now a shopping mecca and a monument to rabid consumerism.
Keep in mind that I was all jacked up in full blown Rockabilly regalia. In the bright afternoon sun, the extra dollop of grease in my pomp glistened and my dangling wallet chain reflected the sunlight right into a few douchebags' eyes. I had a pocket full of cash and guitar picks and was ready for action.
The only problem is that I wasn't at the bar yet, and to further the fish analogy, I was attracting attention like a trout flopping around in the bottom of a boat. Yes indeed, boys and girls, that afternoon, I can assure you that, it was I who was the freak.
As I made my way amidst the throngs of people, I wondered why a lot of them were scowling. Some of these contemptuous looks were directed at me to be sure, but most were just scowling for no particular reason as they hurriedly made their way to their next desperate purchase.
Most were lugging various shopping bags sporting over priced clothing emporium logos. Others were dudes doggedly following their wives/girlfriends carrying said bags. Their strained expressions spoke of confusion as the wives scurried about looking for something else to buy. Something. Anything.
Nobody batted an eye when two of these fashion shock troopers in a Porsche SUV made an unsuccessful attempt to execute a u-turn right in the middle of Robson street. I received some perplexed looks as I muttered, "Nice fucking driving".
The excessive amounts of make-up notwithstanding, I also observed that a lot of people's skin looked funny, a sort of rubbery consistency. I also saw a lot those Dorito colored tans. The kind that looks that they rolled around in a vat of Doritos and came out with that radioactive orange glow.
Not usually being faint of heart, I was starting to get scared. Growing tired of the rubbery scowls and the orange-tinted sneers of contempt, I made my way out the crowd and found a coffee shop. As I sat on the patio for a much needed break, I contemplated my surroundings.
In one of my previous posts, I had described different varieties of douchebags. On this day, however, there were even more varieties that I could count. There were the pre-requisite Ed Hardy sporting gangsta wannabes of course. There were a lot of dudes wearing weird looking suits complimented by those long square toed shoes that look like they have been squashed by a Mack truck.
The rest defied categorization. It was an assault on my visual cortex. A kaleidescope of colors, outrageous outfits and some of the dumbest haircuts I have ever seen formed this huge blob of nondescript human activity. It was starting to look more and more like a circus, and come to think of it, some of these people bore a close resemblance to clowns.
As I gazed up at a recently erected 60 story condo tower that trumpeted the fact that some units were going for a mind searing 17 fucking million dollars. A glass box in the sky for an obscene amount of money was something that I could make no sense of.
I had had enough of this maelstrom of weird clothing, cars blaring hip-hop and stinky hot dog smoke wafting from a cart on the corner. I made my way to what once was a oasis in the middle of the city, the local HMV store.
I speak in the past tense because what was once a sanctuary where I could spend countless hours in contemplative silence sifting through thousands of CD's, is now a hollow shell of its former grandeur.
The cavernous enclave was virtually devoid of people as I made my way upstairs to where the ever shrinking music section was relegated. It seems that HMV sells almost everything but CD's.
I half-heartedly looked through a few sections, but was not surprised that I couldn't find anything that I wanted. What made this experience even more surreal was that they had an "Easy Listening" section. I thought about that for a second. Easy Listening? What the fuck...?
I felt weird enough browsing for CD's without a single other customer present, but I thought to myself that only the truly deranged would come up here and willingly buy a CD from the goddam Easy Listening section.
The extremely bored clerk seated behind the counter at the cash register looked at me derisively. Yet again, I was the freak this time.
It was time to make my way to the bar. I walked down the street still sporting shades as the sun began to slowly set and I could feel the anticipation. "Ooo-wee, am I gonna get liquored", I mused. My booze-fueled revelry was soon to be interrupted by what sounded like a thousand banshees on fire.
It seems that some teen idol was playing that night and there were throngs of pre-teen girls milling about everywhere. The high pitched screams of rapidly fired "oohmygawd!" filled the air, and some were so high pitched that only dogs could hear them, judging by the bunch of dogs that were howling and attempting to flee (or maybe that was the bums, I can't remember).
The commotion was caused by yet another teeny bopper band that was playing on an outdoor stage on a closed off street as a prelude to that evening's larger concert. I couldn't walk fast enough to distance myself from the shrieking, but it didn't matter; in matter of minutes I was going to have a guitar, a beer or both in my hands.
As I arrived at the bar, I went up the familiar staircase that evoked memories of good times and many drunken episodes of greasy and crazed behavior. I moseyed (yeah, literally moseyed) up to the bar and finished that first beer in about three seconds flat. The band started up and old friends began to arrive.
The sense of relief and palpable contentment began to wash over me as the righteous music permeated the air. My turn on the stage came up and I rocked a couple of tunes with a twangy guitar that had graciously been lent to me by a honky tonk playin' buddy. When my tunes were done, I had to run to find a mirror because the guitar strap had messed up my hair as I removed the guitar. It ain't easy being greasy.
I washed down my tunes with ice cold beer as I drank the rest of the evening away with crazed conversations, loud beer talk, louder beer farts and the ensuing howls of laughter that inevitably follow.
Booze, buddies and Rockabilly, that's what I needed, and let me assure you, that I won't venture forth from the warm embrace of my greasy Rockabilly enclave for a while.