Monday, October 23, 2000

'Tis of Thee

My country ‘tis of thee
Take swings at each other on talk show TV
Why don’t you just go ahead and turn off the sun?
We’ll never live long enough to undo everything they’ve done.

“’Tis of Thee.” Ani DiFranco.

I’m confused about a few things. I saw Ani in concert this past Saturday, and I have to say overall I was sorely disappointed. She wrote several tunes which I absolutely love and hold dear as some of the best folk guitar music I’ve ever heard. She played none of them. She played the girl power tunes, to an audience composed largely of adolescent lipstick lesbians, middle-aged ‘real’ lesbians, and an assortment of people who generally felt negatively toward men. I had hoped that her music would transcend the boundaries of sexual preference and gender-politics, (as the Indigo Girls did wonderfully last year) but she played to the crowd. Mercilessly. The two hundred or so guys sitting in the 3.000-person theater walked out of the place feeling like great big targets. To top it off, I had very poor seats, and the lighting and sound were some of the worst I’ve ever heard and seen. Her annoying backup band (including brass) continually drowned out her beautiful voice. I wanted to slap the saxophonist, who evidently was under the impression that his part was the melody.

The only saving grace of the entire show was about halfway through when the band took a break and she sang all by herself in a little pool of purple light at center stage. She sang the song I quoted above, and for about four minutes, every person in the room felt like Ani was singing for them alone. Her voice carried as clear as if she had been whispering it over the soft tones of her guitar from across a room, instead of a hundred years away. The audience was utterly silent through the whole performance. You could have heard a stomach growl. It was an absolutely stunning performance.

The second thing I’m confused about is why I’m writing journal entries now instead of stories. I guess I got the feeling that no one really liked them. I liked them, but I’m never consistently creative. At least this way all you wonderful readers out there in DyingDays land can hear from me more than once a month.

I played paintball yesterday. It was a sublime experience. It felt like at once the coolest squirtgun fight I’ve ever been in, and simultaneously like some of the intense parts of Saving Private Ryan. I recommend going and trying it out for someone who has never done so before. There’s really nothing like the sensation of being shot at for the first time, or of drawing a bead on a frantic opponent who’s gun has jammed.

I was born in the wrong era.

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