When I was watching the Hold Steady play at Plush in June, I kept recalling the Art Brut show at Plush the previous May. Eventually, I walked down a corridor inside my head, opened a door, and plopped myself down in a chair so I could contemplate the reasons my mind wanted to make this connection. I failed to register several Hold Steady songs as a consequence, but did return in time to catch the conclusion to their set. What I realized, in the interim, was that the two bands are eerily similar, despite superficial differences dictated by their geographical origin, because their respective singers, Craig Finn and Eddie Argos, perform as though they were not members of their bands, but fans of them. They remind me of the Who fan who famously got to fill in for an impossibly stoned Keith Moon at San Francisco's Cow Palace back in 1973. But that reminding is itself part of the illusion they skillfully conjure. Where Finn and Argos differ is that, while the former projects delight throughout the set, the latter manages to retain the aura of the fan who loves a band so much that he hates himself for loving the band, a complex emotional response that manifests itself in flickers of hostility dotting the landscape of bliss. I bring these thoughts up now because, not only are the Hold Steady and Art Brut going to be touring together, they are going to be coming to the Marquee Theater in Tempe, where I hope, barring injury or ill will, to pursue my reflections further.
I still don't know what HBTY means. I'm sure it's deliciously kinky. What I do know is that steadfast LJer chefxh always makes sure to extend hearty wishes for happiness with that mysterious acronym to his friends on the date of their birth. Since he is having a really shitty week, I think it especially important to give him some of what he gives others. To wit:
HBTYOh, and you might send him a recipe or something to brighten his spirits. I'll offer my own here for my all-time favorite comfort food. Note the clever name:
I'm serious. Whenever I feel low, this totally cheers me up. Perhaps it's just the memory of my father referring to the meat-and-onions as Hackfleisch, but I'll take comfort from any quarter. Anyway, have a good evening, chefxh. Your many loyal readers are keeping their members crossed on your behalf.
• Make some rice, however you like to make rice, setting it aside when it's done
• Cut up some onions
• Toss them in a heated frying pan
• Add a bunch of ground beef of the leaner sort
• Cook on medium heat
• While the meat and onions are simmering, open a can of creamed corn. Or two, if you're in extra need of comfort
• Warm up the creamed corn -- gently, for it's a delicate dish -- in a pot
• When everything is ready, dump the meat and onions over the rice, then swirl in creamed corn to taste
• Don't eat too much
• Watch a comfort movie after dinner to extend the soothing vibe
Sometimes I worry that I give the wrong impression here. Like I'm cheerier than a cherry pie on a Pennsylvania Dutch window ledge. So let me do what I can to counteract any misinterpretations that might be circulating in my circle of acquaintances. More often than not, I have to fight back the impulse to misanthropy. I spend much of my time thinking how annoying other people are. Or self-absorbed. Or stupid. Or sometimes all three. It amazes me how few individuals really understand the Golden Rule, much less live by it. I have less hope for humanity than Bob did of winning a golf tournament. Did I mention that I'm weary of those who talk all the time and then complain that no one listens to them? Oh, and I should also point out that the words inside my head do not give a shit about grace or grammar. It looks like an episode of the Batman television show from the 1960s in there, but instead of reading "Pow!" and "Smack!" the bubbles all say "Motherfucker!" and "Prick" and "Cunt." And that cherry pie might well be headed for your face, whether you deserve it or not. You've been warned.