Can you guess where Colin Meloy’s as-yet unborn child was conceived?
So, there I was on an otherwise ordinary Thursday night, attending Colin Meloy’s solo show at The Town Hall in New York City. Myself being a skeptic at heart, and in the midst of a large city and operating on insufficient sleep, I wasn’t really sure if I was in the right place. Naturally, then, I set about seeking out signs that I was in fact in the right place. Fortunately, a number of things suggested to me that I had made it to my destination.
While milling about outside on the sidewalk, I noticed another young man, in much the same way as everyone else out on the sidewalk with us, milling about with me. What was unique in this case, however, was that he was ostentatiously reading a seemingly well-worn copy of Roxana, Or the Fortunate Mistress (despite it being the newly updated Penguin Classics version, you know, the one with the black as opposed to the sea foam spine). The bookish unite! The most public of readers arise and show us all what you’re reading! This was the second sign that suggested I was in the right place.
Inside, the venue was replete with hipsters. In fact, one might say that this very congregation of the hipsters could definitively say that one was in the right place. Nonetheless, a crowd of hipsters does not a Colin Meloy show make; I needed something more. Granted, these were bona fide hipsters. To my left, cds just purchased at Tower Records (for about $17-18, a steal!) were being shared and discussed (everyone should know what you’re listening to and, better yet, that you’ve been into it way longer than they have); to my right, antediluvian garments—hats and scarves, really—were continually adjusted in such wise as to be modish. In the air, I detected the scent of Pabst Blue Ribbon, insouciance, and manufactured ennui. There were overmany tight jackets, the tightest of the tight; hipster, yes, but still I needed something more. The couples looked incredibly cool and incredibly bored; of any given hipster couple, I could not tell who was too cool to be with the other, in much the same way as I could not tell whom between them was too cool to be at the show in the first place. Everyone seemed to be checking everyone else out. Faux poutiness, sidelong glances, and attitudes three city blocks long were the order of the evening. I noticed many a sideburn and tattoo touted about. The tattoos captured my attention, as never had I seen meaningless ink in such a quantity as when I followed the debate in the economics literature as to whether or not individuals can agree to disagree (I’m kidding, I actually cared about the economics articles). Allow me to comment briefly on two striking specimens: 1) a girl some five rows ahead of me was wearing a shirt that draped down, exposing her back (not exactly winter wear), upon which one could see some terrifying amalgamation of angel wings, overblue ice crystals, and disaster; 2) a man sitting directly in front of me sported a shaved head and, behind his right ear, a tattoo of a small arc over what, to me, took the form of two letters, “SK,” though I didn’t think he had ever read Fear and Trembling let alone The Concept of Anxiety. As frequent as the appearance of the pout and feigned boredom, as frequent as the sideburn, tattoo, and tight jacket, were the acrylic-framed glasses, brown of black, your choice. From time to time, economists have joked that “we are all monetarists now,” or that “we are all Keynesians now.” Looking upon these bespectacled ones, I tended to think that “we are all librarians now.” It was at this point that I realized: cumulated, these experiences constituted the third sign that I was in the right place.
The fourth sign arrived like the daily shock of daylight. I noticed a girl downturned to her lap, busily scribbling in a small notebook there. She moved her pen furiously before the first act and, thereafter, between acts whenever the house lights went up. But, what was she doing? Was she penning sensuous verse? Rapturous prose? Feverishly scripting her one true love letter to the world? Sketching the object of her heart’s desire? Was she committing to words a passion whose fire was so pure and true that it was sure to immolate anything, any obstacle between it and its object? Was she writing a grocery list?
Oh, yes, I almost forgot to mention: Colin Meloy1 played and his set of songs was quite enjoyable. I’m even willing to wager that everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves as well.
1Colin Meloy, you know, the fellow I met on the sidewalk outside of The Town Hall shortly after I arrived there. In person, he looks just like he does in pictures and he sounds just like he does on the radio. Go figure! He's slightly shorter than am I. This was my first sign that I was in the right place.