Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

An Episode at The Bird's Nest

I fingered the cold pop top on my PBR, served with a napkin, as if the back room bartender thought me a sloppy drooling rube. Just because I dribbled before. Just because I asked him if he sold pork rinds. Although they agreed to host this Snuckafoo show, The Bird's Nest at 2500 N. Southport could not contain both “Pete's Dilemma” and the low rumble of imminent class-warfare. When the uprising came, maybe I would be gentle. Probably not.

I uncrossed my arms and took a seat at the bar. The fifth beer had unlocked a cell in my mind and out crept my inner friend Shame, who I call Shane. “Who's up for making mischief tonight?” he whispered. I ignored him and smoked to “Light Up or Leave Me Alone.” My orders came from Steve Winwood via Pat Reilly, who drowned out Shane's quiet insistence that all rules are “just social constructs.” Shane likes anarchy. He laughs constantly and is fond of urinating for arc. It would be several beers before Shane had any real power.

With face alight, George sung “Feel Like Dynamite.” I did not feel like dynamite, but rather black powder. If ignited, I could make a startling noise and a bright flash in the dimness. I could split the bar in half and turn glasses to shrapnel, which would whirl in the air and melt into bass clefs before piercing any flesh. If the drinks were too expensive for some, looting would follow. The song ended to whoops and applause.

With no thoughts coming from the microphone during “D-Cell,” I looked around the bar. A bald man danced, head red with exertion. A big girl smiled with big red lips. A chick in red frills pecked at her vodka tonic. Cigarette smoke drifted around the band, and the black curtains behind the stage gained a reddish tint. Soon they would turn crimson, and the uprising would begin.

In a sudden blurry rush came a bluegrass version of “Fast August Nights,” an explosive drum-filled “Let's Spend the Night Together,” and “Mr. James White,” leaving no room in my head for discontent, just pleasure. As the last note struck, I went to chat with friends, knowing I had another full set to foment.


Pat, George, and Dave, with eyebrows raised, made my eyes well with their a-capella introduction to “You Never Give Me Your Money.” Then came drums and bass and keys and guitar, and I laughed. Where had the money gone? I'd spent it on booze. Was there nowhere to go? There was the bathroom. Why was the bathroom filled with people talking on their cell phones instead of pissing? Because of rich assholes.

Upon returning, in front of the stage stood a man in a gray cardigan sweater with permed hair. I could have never imagined a perm could look attractive on a man, but it did. His friend, a tall and sculpted pussy, wore jeans faded not by time, but by the rural youth of Singapore. Their friends, two girls (how I love two girls), sipped Ketel One and Red Bull. The bar was quiet for one moment, and then “Advice for Neddy” blew in great hot waves out of the speakers, and I thought that these four would surely catch fire beneath the wrath of Pat's guitar. I would put them out with gin. I would have trouble with the bottle pourer.

During “Good Times/Bad Times” I sauntered through twirling homemade clothes toward the wall to the left of the stage. There were two windows, and where a third window should be, a mirror: two windows to the outside and one to the inside. I could see Hondo in the mirror. His bass thrummed in my head. I couldn't help but wonder what I looked like in that mirror. Would I have a halo or great horns? Would there be tiny orange flames in the black of my eyes? I stepped over some cords and almost reached the mirror before a hand reached out and pulled me back. I had obstructed the microphone that was recording the show.

Brought back into the outer world, I behaved in accordance with “Sexx Laws.” The idea of uprising faded into general good feeling. I picked up my feet and put them down, not really in time with the music, but who could see my feet? Cardigan and crew still flaunted their wealth in my field of vision, but perhaps the comforts of goods and services were not necessarily at odds with the dangerous joy of drinks and music, Snuckabooze. Perhaps when I got home, I would buy a Roomba on eBay. Perhaps I would stop squandering my social capital by taking my pants off in public to show everyone my haircut.

“Hey,” said someone.

No one had spoken to me. The voice had come from within. Shane.

“Weren't you proud of your haircut?” he asked.

“Well, yes.”

“Well who are these fuckers to tell you when you can and can't take your pants off?”

Shane was right. I bought another PBR with napkin. It was cold. The band played “Tonic.” The Yuppies were looking at me funny, and I didn't like the lack of fear in their eyes. Something would happen soon. I sat down on a barstool to wait.

The was a rumble from beneath the bar. I stood up and made my way to the crowd on the left side of the stage. The ground rumbled again, and the air filled with rainbow pixels like after a blow to the head. The first chords of “Mr. Brownstone” flew from Pat's guitar, and the pixels multiplied a thousandfold. Bright needles shot from Dave's drums. The curtain behind the stage was blood red. Wild eyes shined in the half light. The crowd became hysterical, jumping up and down. A tall ball of flesh colored flame obscured George's keyboard, and Hondo's bass was a giant syringe full of sweet painkiller. It passed through my ears and into my brain. The plunger depressed, and there was no more brain, just red like a sunset. Echoes of laughter reverberated through my head, and it was my own laughter, and I was holding my pen out like a knife and slithering toward the right side of the stage, toward my enemies, and Pat called out...

It's your thing. Do what you wanna do...I can't tell you who to sock it to.

My shirt wet with sweat, I stood directly in front of the man in the cardigan sweater. The convulsive laughter had vanished, replaced by a feel-good groove from the Isley Brothers. My mouth stretched tight in a dazed grin, but my head felt clear and clean. I slipped my pen back into my pocket. The man smiled.

“I really like your sweater man,” I said.


I turned around and did the locomotion back to the ecstatic pack.

For information, pictures, and Snuckafoo tunes, click here.


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