Head high, glow sticks, noHead high, glow sticks, no — Before the concert a woman came around to foist glow sticks on us. I said "no" approximately 10 times, with added protestations about not wanting the responsibility and concern about the potential for toxic leakage. But she would not take "no" for an answer. I ended up with a glow stick and instructions to break it to light it up and wave it around during "Hold Your Head Up." After she left, I said to Meade: "Whatever happened to no means no? If this were a rape trial, she'd be guilty."
Mansplainer lists jimi etc
Curly headed guy reeks, anosmia
Fifty years, first album
The woman was not an employee of the theater, just a big fan, she said. A big fan of Argent, I guess. "Hold Your Head Up" is not a Zombies song, but the biggest hit of the band the Zombies' keyboard player Rod Argent formed after The Zombies. I did not follow Argent — it's prog rock — but I have heard the song on the radio enough to find it catchily familiar. It lends itself to glow-stick foolery in the chorus, which has a triumphant "Hold your head up WOMAN/Hold your head up WOMAN." You can stab the stick up and forward in a Heil, Argent salute on the "WOMAN." And trust me, the word is "woman," not "WHOA!" Rod Argent explained that to us.
Mansplainer lists jimi etc — Since it was general admission, you get there early and once you get that seat you want, you're going to have to sit in it for a good 40 minutes before the music starts. What to do with your time? You could talk, or you could try to read while the man in back of you talks. Who he talked to, I don't know, because he did all the talking. He was suffering from the delusion that his seatmate would admire him if he told her, one by one, about every concert he attended approximately half a century ago, complete with quotes from his father — "I don't care who the hell is playing" — can you imagine? Jimi was playing. One story like that, fine. But the man had an endless list, the next story always cued up and ready to stop the other person from offering the slightest contribution. At one point, I nudged Meade and started to lean over to whisper something like "That guy's concertsplaining" but Meade's slight smile and nod was enough to communicate to me that he and I were thinking exactly the same thing. You can't eavesdrop on Althouse and Meade doing mental telepathy in Row H.
Curly headed guy reeks, anosmia. That seat I was hoping would stay empty, the one right in front of me, between 2 couples, got filled at the last minute by a late-sixies-ish — in more ways than one — man with a big head of curly gray hair. Oh, no, he's sitting in front of me and he has big hair. Why'd I have to get the big hair guy? My problem was merely visual. (And, really, he only blocked my view of a large black box, which looked like the same box that temporarily deafened me in the right ear when I saw The Ramones play The Barrymore on May 27, 1995, just 3 weeks after we'd seen Mike Watt and The Foo Fighters.) But I'm differently abled. I have anosmia. Meade is more olfactorily aware. After the concert, Meade said: "That guy reeked of weed."
Iphones. Speaking of visuals. So distracting. Put them away, people. I considered getting my phone out to get one picture, but I thought it was too selfish, this idea that I should get one too. But it wasn't that everyone in the theater felt entitled and inclined to take one picture. It was that about 2% of the people thought it was okay to hold up their phone and video an entire segment. The screen looks very bright in the dark audience and it points back at everyone behind you. And maybe it's just me — the screen addict — but when I see the lit screen, I have to look at it. It's just riveting, even though it's nothing but an annoyance.
Diaries. There was no opening act, just 2 parts to The Zombies' performance. (The first set was a variety of things, including the aforementioned "Hold Your Head Up" and The Zombies' big hits "Tell Her No" and "She's Not There," and the second half was a second-by-second, live reproduction of the highly admired, influential studio album "Odessey and Oracle." (The spelling error on "Odyssey" is in the original.))
Between sets, I was reading on my iPhone. Arts & Letters Daily sent me to a review of a couple of books about graphomaniacs, including a woman who had written a diary that consisted of 148 volumes. The diarist, we're told, "never improves, never grows into art," because "She is deafened by solipsism." And: "Hers is probably the longest diary in history."
The next thing I go to read to pass the intermission time is the David Sedaris piece in The New Yorker, which I'd blogged but hadn't yet read in its entirety. The first thing I see when I click through is:
David Sedaris has kept a diary for forty years, during which he has filled a hundred and fifty-three handmade notebooks. The following entries, which document Sedaris’s years in Chicago, have been taken from the forthcoming book “Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977–2002),” which is out on May 30th from Little, Brown.153?! That's more than 148, the number of volumes in "probably the longest diary in history." Kind of surreal to find that statement refuted numerically in the very next thing I read. And then there's the whole idea that the graphomania of the diarist is inherently limiting. People who write obsessively like that are solipsists, going nowhere. The career of David Sedaris tells a different story.
Rain. When the concert let out, it was raining and the car was 5 blocks away. No umbrellas or rain gear. It's funny how you can go years and years without getting soaked in rain. We're pretty good at avoiding getting caught in the rain, and I could have avoided it last night too by accepting Meade's offer to wait under the marquee...
... while he got the car, but I wanted to be with him. Enjoyed driving home with the rain on the street lengthening the lights...
... into glow sticks.
Fifty years, first album. The Zombies first album — which made up much of the first set — was an important part of the record collection that mattered so much to me in the mid-60s, when I was a teenager. The album came out in 1965, when I was 14. It was strange to think of being that teenager half a century ago, listening to that album on a record player something like this...
... and now to be so much older and to be hearing the band live, and they're older too but they sound just the same. One of the original Zombies has died, but the rest, along with me, are still living in the world, still enjoying the same songs, played the same way.
What would the person of the past — the me in the bedroom with the record player — have thought if she were to know that she'll get to see The Zombies live, but it will be 50 years from now, and it will be these songs — "Tell Her No," "She's Not There" — sounding just about exactly like this record she's playing over and over?
I think she would have found it very weird. In 1965, 50 years ago was 1915. No one was excited about songs from 1915 in 1965. My parents were still clinging to songs from 20 years ago, from 1945, and I thought they were hopelessly stuck in the past. In 1965, everything seemed to be changing every year. Just 2 or 3 years ago seemed very different and already replaced by much more advanced material. Ah, but no, in 50 years, you'll still be in love with the mid-60s music, and you won't be home alone — like you are now — with records. You'll be out in a theater jam-packed with people who feel the same way.
Whitest crowd. I said it to Meade as we were standing in line and I said it again as we were in our seats waiting for the show to start: "This is the whitest crowd I have ever been in."
Standing os. Standing ovations. I have never experienced so many standing ovations. The Zombies got a huge standing ovation just for walking out on the stage. For both sets. And they got a standing ovation after every song. And they got at least a partial standing ovation in the middle of some songs. At first, I could appreciate all the love, but after a while, I was getting cynical. All right. Settle down. Or even despairing: Now, mere clapping will seem like an expression of hatred.
I did some research. Are there too many standing ovations? Here's Ben Brantley in the NYT:
I would like to make the case, officially and urgently, for the return of the sitting ovation. Because we really have reached the point at which a standing ovation doesn’t mean a thing....And here's the English point of view, from Michael Henderson in The Telegraph:
The S.O. (if I may so refer to a phenomenon that no longer warrants the respect of its full name) has become a reflexive social gesture, like shaking hands with the host at the end of a party.
Or, to put it in cruder and more extreme terms, it’s like having sex with someone on the first date, whether you like the person or not, because you think it’s expected.
Although the standing ovation purports to honour the performer, it is usually about the person who stands. It is, more often than not, a gesture of self-reward, or self-congratulation. It is a way of saying: “I have paid a few bob for this ticket, and I have got my money’s worth.”...Ah, I wonder what The Zombies thought of us Americans, us Madisonians. We, most of us, must have thought, flattering ourselves, that we were showering them with love, rousing them to higher an higher heights. So eternally youthful, so bursting with energy. That's what the standing o-ers seem to think of ourselves. But perhaps The Zombies, being English, are more like Henderson in The Telegraph, and they'd prefer a more modest response. As John Lennon once said:
But this canker in our theatre-going is also rooted in a narcissism that has spread through all parts of life. ... It is about letting it all hang out, without embarrassment – or, as some pop psychologist put it after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, it’s “emotional literacy.” Ah yes, of course.
At cricket matches, the cameras love to linger on those odd folk who dress up as Saracens and cavemen. Even at the rugby, a game played and watched by manly chaps, every try offers an excuse to let off rockets, metaphorically and sometimes literally. And to think they used to shake hands and say: “Jolly well done, sir!”