Thursday, August 16, 2012

In No Time At All

Time is something that most people don't spend a lot of time thinking about, but it can be treacherous at times. That Einstein was one smart sum' bitch and he figured out a lot of things that very few people understand. Time dilation for instance, which is not unlike what happens to your eyeballs after too many drinks. This is why sometimes time seems to fly right by and sometimes it just seems to drag on.

While it's true that many folks accuse Rockabillies of being stuck in a time warp, I can offer no defense because it's absolutely true. It 's not that we're stuck in a time warp like, for instance, the Amish. They ride around buggies, claim to eschew any type of connection with the outside world and dress in funny clothes. Hey wait a minute... that does sound suspiciously like Rockabilly. Seriously however, the Amish and their strict doctrine have succumbed to modern technology. They will use generators and cel phones because they have no physical connection to the English world ( ie copper wires). To me that sounds a bit like bullshit, but heck, what do I know about weird xenophobic cults ( or want to know for that matter).

Therefore it's not that Rockabilly culture is stuck in the past, but rather its followers admire the aesthetics of a certain time period. We all have cel phones, computers and and MP-3 players and some greasers even ride around Acuras with all them new-fangled electronics. Just try fixin' one them suckers; an older car harks back to a simpler time and is much easier to fix. You will waste a lot of time trying to find parts for it however.

Time seems to surpass its own linear nature sometimes and some trigger can compress that time and immediately bring you back to that very moment which is frozen forever in that fleeting thing we call the past. One such recent trigger was something as innocuous as a vinyl record. These days, vinyl is relegated to staunch collectors or maybe audiophiles. It seems to be making a small comeback of sorts, but nothing significant.

I recently visited my good friend Amos, a music aficionado and good counterpart in the pursuit of time warps. He showed me a brand new record that he had just purchased ( JD McPherson; I urge you to check it out) and then proceeded to do something that I haven't experienced in decades; he unwrapped the record. The sound of the crinkling cellophane immediately evoked images from the past. I was transported back to 1997 as I vividly remembered the very last time that I had opened a brand new record. It was Southern Culture on The Skids' Dirt Track Date. I thought it strange that a mundane activity could produce such accurate memories, while I couldn't even remember what I had for dinner the night before. Such is the power of time, although the large shots of Woodford Reserve that he was pouring me pretty much eradicated any other memories of time. All I remember after a certain point is a lot of slurring and a real wobbly bike ride home. I had no idea what time it was.

The vinyl flashback made me think of other time warps.If you will notice the date of this posting, most of you will recognize the date. Today is the 35 th anniversary of Elvis' passing. Much has been written on this subject, so I will be brief. One thing is for certain for people old enough to remember this seminal cultural event: most people remember exactly where they were when they heard the news. It is a crystal clear vision that transcends 35 years. It also unfortunately transports us back to a decade of butt-ugly clothes, dumb haircuts and even dumber music. It was a decade that also saw the lowest ebb of style from the Big Three which resulted in some astoundingly ugly cars. Memories of the King notwithstanding, some time warps are best left where we found them ; in the past, lost in the sands of time.

Another friend of mine recently told me an amazing story. It started off innocently enough with an unrequited high school crush. For most people, it would there firmly in the past as a vague memory. Life went on for my friend and the object of his desire as they both entered the work force, married,  had kids and dealt with the hands that Father time deals us all. The two followed separate time lines that crossed a few times but incredibly converged some 30-odd years later. My friend, who was ( like many of us I'm sure) an awkward teen at the start of this time line, one day found out from that very same woman  that the feeling had been mutual all those years ago , and at that very moment the clock was set back and time compressed 30 years into one minute. These two folks are some the incredibly lucky few who were able to beat the unpredictable vagaries of love and time.( I wish I could go back in time and kick my 4th grade teacher in the ass, that mean ole piece of.....never mind).  Einstein would be confused, Captain Kirk would be proud and Amish wouldn't know what the hell is going on because they don't own calendars. I am pleased to report that the happy couple is doing well .

 The day after my bourbon-fulled evening at my friend's place found me asking myself two things; what the hell was the name of that bourbon and where did the time go. There's that pesky time dilation again. While it's true that high end Kentucky bourbon plays tricks on time ( and your mind), just having a good time in general just seems to make time whiz right by. When something sucks, time just seems to creep by. Maybe some of you out there had some dreary job when you were just starting out. Think of the drudgery of mind-numbing repetitive tasks. As slow motion visions went through your head of jumping off a bridge or setting fire to the shop, the seconds seems to go by at a slow creep, mocking you with every tick.

The same applies when some motor-mouth grabs your attention and sucks the very life force out of you with some interminable inane story. I guess it is socially ingrained in most of us to politely listen and discreetly try to walk away at the first opportunity. While this clueless time-waster  babbles on we will smile and nod but our minds are racing. Time is dragging and our brain is over-revving with thoughts like " Shut-up-shut-up-shut-up" , " Faa-aack! " "Oh Lord strike me with a bolt of lighting right now". These time wasting situations are the unfortunate consequences of living in a civilized society and some people seem to either have all the time in the world to bore the living shit out of an unsuspecting person, lose track of time in general or just not give a damn about your time. You may sometimes feel like punching them in the face, but you instinctively know that you may end up doing time.

There are a few exceptions to the commonly held notions of social interaction. If a random stranger starts some pointless conversation  with you, it is perfectly acceptable to walk away. You can also pretend to answer your cel-phone. The self-absorbed yammering fool will be too busy flapping his gums to notice that the phone did not even ring. If some deranged crackhead wants to start talking to you (this is inevitable if you happen to make even the slightest eye contact) you are well within your rights to simply tell him to fuck off. These crackheads have nothing but time on their hand, but nine times out of ten the first thing to come out of rotting teeth-filled mouths is to ask if you have the time. What the hell do they always need to know what time it is? Do they have to make an appointment with their dealer? Or maybe their shopping cart is in the shop and they have to pick it up. Or maybe the street sweeper is on its way and all the cigarette butts will be gone.

I don't want to sound trite, but life is short and time is fast. That dang time dilation will often confuse you with contradictory evidence and cause you to ask yourself esoteric questions such as such as why do pay checks take so long and why does rent come up so fast. Time will play tricks on you and you usually end up in the longest line at the super market. You might get angry and ask why the slightly brain-damaged cashier is taking so long to do the transaction as your beer sites helplessly on the counter getting warmer by the second.  The only advice I can offer is try not to kill time, it will win every time, so fill that time line wisely. Find cool ways to spend your time, have a good time with your friends and never look at the clock on the wall ( the folks in Vegas figured that out long ago; there are no clocks in Vegas).

And another thing... oh wait. Look at the time. I gotta go; it's time for a beer.

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