September 17th, 2012
Sometimes you just have those days. You wake up on the warm side of the pillow with a drool stain and maybe you didn’t need to watch another episode of Damages and have one last beer. It’s Monday and you’ve got a days-long spell of work staring at you. Let’s say you try to rescue it by going and getting a bourgeois meal at your favorite pizza place (which is Slice, by the way). But at said pizza place, the last table at which to sit is next to two fat-tie-wearing attorney types who remind you of Arthur Frobisher and Ray Fiske. They have long finished their pizza and are shooting the breeze on a long lunch break talking about white middle-aged men stuff. Then two women in their 40s walk in and order pizza by not looking at the young woman behind the counter, but by tapping pies and saying “I’ll take one of these.” You could tell the young woman behind the counter was not feeling these bitches; she’d clearly just gotten through a busy lunch rush and the arrogance and attitude being pulled by these dowdy Negative Nancies was unwelcome. I use the word bitches knowing full well that I do not know these women, that they may be lovely, loving and kind-hearted individuals. But that’s not what they were giving our innocent Slice counter girl. Counter girl wanted to jump across that plexiglass pizza hood and wrap her hands around her neck. I could feel it. In fact, I kind of wanted to do it for her. But I didn’t.
Then you pick up a couple things at the Rite-Aid on Chestnut Street. Bad idea. Items found, you wait in a customer-heavy line with three cashiers. Why can’t they just get their act together and get the CVS-style self-checkout machines? Rite-Aid needs to step it up. In said line, a muscly young 20-something meathead gets behind you. He’s eating something rank from Subway; a tuna melt with mad raw onions and some kind of aromatic odor. Tuna was just what I guessed. It was pungent. We spent about two minutes with his sandwich-eating two feet behind me. I paid for my stain stick and shave gel and hustled away as I heard the checkout girl condone said sandwich-eater’s behavior saying “It’s cool, I eat and walk all the time. I just don’t care!” She said it as if it were a badge she earned.
But last night, I was gifted a six-song 45 of vinyl by the Plague Dogs, a Philadelphia-based and Philly-pressed (Sit & Spin Records) self-described metal/crust/punk band. Here’s their Facebook page (even crusty metal punk bands have them now, too). It brought a distinct sense of zen to my Center City existence. I put the vinyl on my phonograph and as it started to bark at me with aggression and grit, I realized, life isn’t that bad. These guys, at least in this moment they captured in the studio, have a deeper and darker sense of agony than I. With song titles like “Bastard Land,” “Barren,” and “Ugly As Fuck,” you realize that stinky sandwiches and rude white people are just not that awful. And any kind of hate you had, or aggression you felt as created by strangers and the daily grind, is manifested tenfold in this noise and it feels great to just let it go. It’s strange how sometimes, when you’re feeling a certain way, the impulse may be to put on something soothing (like my go-to, Frank Ocean, for instance). But other times, you need the complete opposite and when you’re fuming with frustration, a little metallic crust punk blaring at you brings you to a happy and peaceful place.