Friday, November 07, 2008

In which Birdmonster applauds America, shames California, and goes to Hooters. Everybody wins

Well done, America. A few months ago, you had me worried. Despite the selection of an aggressively ignorant rube as his running mate, Jowls McCain was leading in many major polls and I left for tour fearing unmitigated badness. However, our economy, a leaning Jenga tower when we departed, kept swaying, swayed further, and, while it didn't quite topple, the financial atmosphere last week felt like that Jenga tower but after somebody let a toddler high on Vault Cola and Pixie Stix into the room. Which is to say: precarious.

In the end, some say that Obama was elected because of this uneasy situation. We could argue whether that's true. Personally, I could give a shit; I'm just proud of us.

Of course, it's good to remember that not everyone feels this way. Despite what I thought was a rousing, somber, optimistic speech, the first non-Birdmonster, non-family member analysis I heard was from an obese man filling the candy machines at a rest stop in Pennsylvania. He said to his cohort, "You know how much I hate that guy," barely able to keep the anger from quavering his voice, and then postulated on how long Obama would remain alive. It made me sad. Then I reminded myself he was morbidly overweight and his job was putting Butterfingers in a coin-op vending device in the middle of Amish country and somehow felt happier. Point being: it's good to remind yourself of that. 56 million people disagree with me at this moment and many of them are handling more important things than year old Zagnut bars. But we all get on; we live together, eat in the same restaurants, talk at the same bus stops, and spend our money on each other's products. It's how the whole thing works. I lived in Bush's America for nearly a decade and made it out alive. Now it's Baby Ruth's turn.

What I'm not proud of is California. We voted for Prop Eight. I mean, really? What are we thinking here? It's like walking out the Red Lobster bathroom with the ass-flap of your overalls unbuttoned: it's embarrassing. In the words of Mark Jackson, NBA commentator extraordinaire: Come on, California. You're better than that.

I truly don't understand. I've tried. I've listened to the arguments for denying gay folks the right to marry. One is that gay marriage violates some deeply held religious tenet. Well, fine. But we separate church and state here. Nobody's not saying gays have to be married in your church. Your church is your deal: eat communion, wear a yarmulke, do the Cabbage Patch. But in America it's supposed to be about equal rights, right?

Then there are those who say, hey, gays can have "civil unions." We must protect the sanctity of marriage, meaning marriage as defined as a union between a man and a woman. On which I call "bullshit." This is just another way of saying "A rose by any other name is still a rose." Which is also bullshit. A rose by any other name isn't a rose anymore, it's a rose by another name. I'm confusing myself, but bear with me. Let's say I called someone's religion a "cult" or a "superstition." That's done with intent and with purpose, that purpose being to ridicule the thing; to set it apart; to demean it. And while the religion remains as true and vital to the practitioner of it, to those calling it a "superstition," sooner or later it becomes something lower, something more akin to throwing spilt salt over your shoulder than to the path of spiritual enlightenment. That's how words work.

So shame on you California. We actually voted to take away people's rights. That's pathetic. The Supreme Court will rebuke us in the next generation.

Meanwhile, in a less political vein, I have two things making me happy today. One is that on the compass in the van, there's a "W." That's right. We're going home. I couldn't be happier about that. My bed, my house, whatever it is I call my shabby, duct-taped semblance of a life back home is rushing towards us at a brisk 67 mph. I can't wait. And also, I can't afford it. I look forward to demeaning myself in some hilarious way for money during the Christmas season. Maybe I'll get a job at Baby GAP.

The other thing making me happy? We went to Hooters. There were hooters. And chicken sandwiches. And Allen Iverson on the Pistons. It was the confluence of many wonders. I'd never been to a Hooters before and, first off, was surprised by the clientele. I expected the five or six tables of single, fugly looking dudes with wing sauce on their bibs, but what I didn't expect were the families: Mom, Dad, and their two daughters; an elderly couple sharing curly fries, a dad with six elementary aged boys in tow. I think that last dad was planning on taking those kids to a cock fight afterwards.

Anyway, a bizarrely unbizarre experience. If that means anything.

A few band related shenanigans before I go. First off: we had a ball in Ohio at Case Western, thanks in no small part to our showmates, Ha Ha Tonka. They're incredibly enjoyable, fun Ozark-natives who do four-part harmonies and are as lovably country as that sounds. But not "walking out the Red Lobster bathroom with the ass-flap of your overalls unbuttoned" country. I needed to clear that up. Past that, we've got a show in Oklahoma City tomorrow, had a radio thing in Missouri today (it went smashingly and we'll share when we get the tapes), and another radio thing in New Mexico a few days from now and...well...that's it. Then that "W" on the compass means something: not just going home but being home. I can't quite believe that yet. I don't think I will until I'm on the couch, drinking a Tecate, looking for a job as a Christmas tree cutter-downer. For now: roll on Zach. Drive.

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