Thursday, July 23, 2009


Here we go again, we fight Then we make up It’s no way to live life Time to let it go, say goodnight For tonight, and the rest of our lives One last time down this road I’m driving you home Better off on your own – alone Each mile a memory – of better days --Lovehammers, “Driving Blind” I found a new god at about 10:30 last Saturday night. Shocking, I know. You all thought I was dedicated to that whole atheism thing. But, hey, I was just waiting to find something to believe in. My new god is Marty Casey, lead singer of the Lovehammers (and, sadly, probably best known as the runner up on Rock Star: INXS). There was a sooper seekrit Lovehammers show at the Double Door on Saturday and I heard about it from a friend. So I decided to go. Oddly enough, I’ve known about the Lovehammers for a few years and liked them pretty much from the first instant I heard any of their songs, but I was never completely sold, this in spite of the fact that Saturday was the third time I’ve seen them this year. I’m nothing if not cautious. Either way, the Double Door is one of my favorite Chicago venues, even though I walked in there on my birthday, asked for a Goose Island 312 and a shot of Maker’s and was charged thirteen %$#!ing dollars. It’s now the only place in the world I’ve ever consumed Old Milwaukee, Busch, or Natty Light, but that’s neither here nor there. Either way, El Aiche, as they were known that night, were an opening act, so their set was about fifty minutes long. A few songs in they started on “Straight as an Arrow,” which is my favorite Lovehammers song. Marty hopped off the stage and in to the crowd. I was only about five feet from the stage and he ended up about arm’s length from me and kinda stared at me as I was singing along. I was pretty much thinking, “Why the fuck is Marty Casey staring at me?” The thing is, the dude is intense. Scott Lucas is about the only guy I’ve ever seen who is as intense while on stage as Marty Casey, but Scott Lucas has never actually stared directly at me from two feet away. Scott Lucas has also never stuck a mic in my face and let me bust out two lines of “Straight as an Arrow.” So I think Scott Lucas is probably a much smarter individual than Marty Casey. But it’s all relative… I’m just telling that story because I can. A few minutes later I figured out the thing I’ve never been able to place about Marty Casey. I touched on it briefly back here, but I’ve noticed that he has an interesting presence while on stage. What I finally figured out is this: Marty Casey is the closest I’ve ever come to a rock god. There’s a certain presence that one needs to project in order to be a rock god, a certain ineffable…something. Marty Casey has that. He’s also a really nice guy. I met him after the show and he was incredibly gracious. A few weeks earlier they’d opened for the Wallflowers at the Taste and a buddy of mine saw them. He texted me and told me that if I met Marty I was to deliver a message: the Wallflowers should have opened for the Lovehammers. I said that to Marty and he laughed, said it was really cool to have a chance to open for the Wallflowers. “Yeah, but the Wallflowers haven’t done anything important for, like, twelve years.” “We’ve never done anything important,” was his reply. I stopped at my friend’s place after the show, since it was on my way home and everything. The friend in question may or may not have been my most common Anonymous, who may or may not live with Fiat Lex. But you didn’t hear that from me. Either way, I mentioned my decision to make Marty Casey my new god and that he was incredibly gracious. Fiat responded, “Well, wouldn’t you want your god to be incredibly gracious?” It was then that I realized that even though he possesses absolutely no supernatural powers and isn’t even the front man for my favorite Chicago band (it’s going to take way more than three stellar albums and a couple sweet shows to overtake Scott Lucas. Me and Local H have history…), Marty Casey is a totally better option for godhood than, y’know, god. At least the one I knew. Besides, I have faith in Marty Casey and the Lovehammers. I got an autographed copy of the new album, Heavy Crown, in the mail on Tuesday. There’s no way I pre-ordered that album after December 15th of last year.* I actually forgot I’d ordered it at all. But I ordered it without hearing a note, since the album hadn’t even been made yet, only on the promise that I’d get it and it would be good. It wasn’t even named Heavy Crown at the time. It was called Let Me Out. Kinda like Idlewild’s Post Electric Blues. Hebrews 11 tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The Lovehammers promised me that if I sent them 15 dollars they’d put it towards making a kick-ass new album, then they’d sign it and send it to me. Of course, “kick ass” is subjective, but I chose to be a fan of the Lovehammers because they’ve made kick ass music in the first place. And you know what they eventually did? They sent me an album. They didn’t sent me an old tire and say, “Well, it looks kind of like a CD, maybe you just need to understand our mysterious ways. That tire will be better for you, anyway. I actually think that also means that Marty Casey is more trustworthy than the god I was supposed to place all my trust in. Of course there’s absolutely no reason you should make Marty Casey your god. You also shouldn’t believe I’ve made him mine. You should, however, send the Lovehammers money so they can keep making awesome albums and showing up at random shows disguised as El Aiche. You’ll also be helping make my life slightly better, so, y’know, I’ll consider it a personal favor… Oddly enough, this whole thing was really just a long introduction to a short idea (and a shameless plug for the Lovehammers). I was reading this post over at On Leaving Fundamentalist Christianity, um, last week, maybe. It struck me as being absolutely accurate. There are so many people who think you have to find something new to believe in so that you can stop believing in something else. I don’t recall ever getting told I’d left Christianity to go believe in something else, but my mom has given me the old, “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for everything.” In truth, quitting religion is scary. Part of the reason I have a hard time defining what happened is because there aren’t any words for it. I didn’t convert from or to anything, since there was no conscious choice on my part to say, “I used to believe in [this], now I believe in [that].” I just realized it was all a pack of lies. I didn’t know what that meant to my life, though. I had to make it up on my own. Christian apologists try to control the conversation in this case. We’re told that science is just another belief system. We’re told that atheism and agnosticism are just other religions. I bought that argument exactly once. It shouldn’t be surprising that she was the one that made it. That’s the interesting thing about realizing that my attempts to hold on to her and hold on to religion were intertwined. As much as I was willing to argue with her, I wanted to agree with her, I wanted her to be right. Because some part of me thought that if I could just agree with her I could hold on to her. I think she believed I’d leave her. In fact, I can pretty much say I know she believed that. I think, too, that she decided if I could leave religion behind I’d most certainly ditch her. She didn’t trust people. She didn’t trust me. It’s too bad, too. I mean, in the end I’m absolutely better off where I am. I would have replaced her in my life by now if certain things had happened at slightly different times. I met two great women, but I met one last May when I was still too close, still too bitter, and still too angry about being unemployed. I met the other a bit later, then spent six months coming up with excuses only to end up waiting too long. Shit happens, I guess. Sometimes the right things happen at the wrong time. The world just works that way. Technically speaking, I did walk away from her. But I only did so long after it became obvious that things weren’t working and she had absolutely no interest in trying any more. I didn’t walk away because I’d found someone else. I walked away because I had no other options. It’s kind of the same thing that happened with religion. The funny thing is that I’m still far more conflicted over what happened between me and her than anything that happened with god. Yet she thought I’d just get up and leave her behind with no regrets. The thing is, though, no one can know what's going to happen next. "Driving Blind," the song I started this post with, ends with the singer changing his mind and deciding to fight for that relationship one more time. So I don't know what's going to happen next. Something tells me that I'm not likely to try to ever get her back. Something tells me I won't make Marty Casey my new god. I think both those scenarios are more likely than me going back to the church I used to know, however. ---------------------- *I just checked my Gmail account. October 9, 2008. That has to be some sort of record for the amount of time between purchase and delivery of a physical good. Also, go buy Heavy Crown. If you don't happen to be able to find a copy nearby, I'm told there's this thing called iTunes that's very popular with the kids. Amazon's probably better, though, since Apple isn't involved in any way, shape, or form.


Anonymous said...

I have a feeling you're gonna send me that, so I can determine what songs I saw at the Taste of Chicago.

And oh my dog, how good are The Lovehammers? Seriously?

Fiat Lex said...

Yay we got mentioned in a Gedspost!

Silly Marty Casey and being humb--I mean, pragmatic. It'd kind of sad that to qualify as "important" these days one's actions must be acknowledged by the major media outlets we all find so frustrating and annoying. Maybe the Lovehammers can break some kind of internet sales record and achieve notoriety that way. I'd be cool with that.

And yay for Lorena! You and Lorena are two people I admire very much for your ability to humanize the deconversion process. It's about the story, about reorienting one's internal narrative so that it doesn't revolve around the "unsaved-saved-walking in the lord" paradigm.

Those still functioning within that paradigm, as well as those of us learning to live outside it, need to hear the individual stories. To avoid the common error of trying to fit the round peg of individual narrative into the square hole of Christian cultural stereotypes.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you're late to the worshipping Marty game, Geds. Dude's got something, that ineffable something that would make him stand out in a crowd of millions. He'd be a rock star if he worked at a coffee shop his entire life. Some people just are.

"Stand for something or you'll fall for everything." Yeah. Hmmm. Am I not standing for something over here in atheismland? Have I not stood for reason and logic? Is that not something?

Anonymously posting Personal Failure

Geds said...


Something might be arranged, especially since we might be going to see the H tomorrow...


I think you've been mentioned before, just not by name...

Also, I like that idea of re-orienting the internal narrative. It really captures exactly what I try to do rather eloquently.

Personal Failure as Anon:

Um, why aren't you posting as, say, Personal Failurey posting Personal Failure?

Also, that question is part of the re-orienting of the narrative. It's assumed that you have to believe in something to stand for anything and you have to pick from the list of pre-approved things to stand for.

I think it has something to do with a default assumption of external morality. I'm incapable of choosing my own morality, so if I don't let someone else do it I'll just wander around and get myself in trouble.

Of course my mother also thinks I'm doing my level-headed best to become an alcoholic, which couldn't be further from the truth. Mostly she just wants to find excuses to freak out, get all melodramatic, and tell me how to live my life...

It's a good thing I bought the extra-strength cord cutting scissors.

G_V said...

And you know what they eventually did? They sent me an album. They didn’t sent me an old tire and say, “Well, it looks kind of like a CD, maybe you just need to understand our mysterious ways. That tire will be better for you, anyway.

I know this wasn’t the point of your post, but merely a tangent on your way there. But this hit me like a ton of bricks so I want to rant and whine about it.

And this is the Internet*, dammit—so why shouldn’t I?

Right now my cousin and her church-mates/Christian buddies are trying to make sense of the old tire God has given her, despite their belief that they had a receipt for something kick-ass. A year ago, she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, metastasized to the liver. But there was chemo, there was surgery and for a while it looked like she was cancer-free, so there was much rejoicing that God Had Healed Her.

[Me—I was never so optimistic. Everything about her situation was medically a precise match to that of a close friend of mine, who died eleven months after diagnosis.]

Last month, she started having a fresh variety of abdominal issues. There were tests, and the result was her doctors determining that she is terminal** and it’s just a question now of balancing time with quality of life.

And in her blog, she worries that her situation is stressful to her friends, who believed that God Healed Her and that this is causing some of them to avoid her or doubt God. Or otherwise experience the sort of cognitive dissonance that comes from Beliefs and Reality Colliding.

And it just makes me so ANGRY. Because why should she be wasting time and energy on this? Why should other people’s theories on God keep them from loving her and showing her how much she means to them, if they really are her friends? She should be spending her time loving her family and friends and doing the things that are important to her. Not trying to make excuses for the Sky Fairy delivering a tire when they thought they had a receipt for something essential.

*However, the Internet is sometimes surprisingly small, so I’m semi-anonymousing myself, so a Google search of my usual handle won't pop this—I don’t want to add to her burden by leaving any chance she could stumble on me ranting about her friends and her beliefs.

**As long as I whining, I’m going to point out further details that make this situation even suckier than it first appears. When she was a little girl, one of her brothers died at 22 of a rare lymphoma, and about fifteen years ago, another brother died of side-effects of hypothermia due to an accident caused by AIDS dementia. Plus last year, her mother lost an eye to cancer, and her father died of Parkinson’s disease. Oh, and one of her children is autistic. A god that CAN heal but chooses to smack around one family like that is hardly worth trying to make excuses for, much less worshiping.

Sorry for the ridiculously long rant…

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog! I was at the "El Aiche" show that night, and saw when you got to sing into the mic. I was a bit to your left, front row, in front of Billy. Tall chick with curly-ish light brown hair and glasses, rockin' out madly.
Did Marty choose a line for you to sing that even somehow fit you? He is famous for doing that....maybe he DOES have supernatural powers after all! ;-)

Yeah, whatever that ineffable "it" is, Marty has got it in mass quantities. He is too humble--he has done many important things, such as writing and performing music that has kicked the life back into many people who were sleepwalking through their lives, and such as raising money for quite a few charities with his benefit performances.

Everyone needs to get that long awaited new CD that Lovehammers just put out. It is so cool and very diverse. Why are these guys not riding high in the music business already?

I hope to see you at another LH show. By the way, they are like eating potato chips--you can't stop with just 1 or 2.
Rock on!

Geds said...


Well, it may not be the entire point of this particular post, but you did pretty much find the thesis statement of the entire Critical Mass series.

I don't have stories quite like yours, but I have plenty of stories about having to make up how god provided something. I have even more stories of listening to people say, "I asked for this, and I got that, and I realized that god is so good because I just didn't know what I really needed." It's foolishness and attempting to make the facts fit the story.

It might have been a flip comparison, but sometimes those are the best way to get the point across. And I'm terribly sorry for everything that's happening (especially because I'm somewhat sure I know who you are, at least in that internet way, and we've crossed paths a few times before). You and your family have my sympathies, for whatever that may be worth.


Would you be terribly offended if I said I don't remember you? Most of that weekend was a weird blur. And I didn't even get close to drunk. I just hadn't slept well the week before and my brain was moving a bit slowly. Also the Double Door is dark and I'm far more auditory than visual in my memory storage capacities.

And believe me, I'll be at more shows. I was going to go to the August 21st show at the Arboretum, but Seneca's inexplicably swinging through town one last time that same night. When they go home they go to Ireland. When the Lovehammers go home they go to Chicago. So there's a bit of pressure to choose the former...

Funny story, though: I didn't watch a minute of Rock Star: INXS. I hate reality TV and don't much care for INXS, so it didn't make much sense. A couple years ago I was lamenting the state of rock music and made the statement that the only guy I could think of who could save it was Marty Casey.

The guy I was talking to said, "What, you mean the guy from Rock Star: INXS?"

That was the first I'd ever heard anything about that. What's especially weird is that I'm pretty sure that I first started hearing about the Lovehammers at the same time as the show. In fact, it's entirely possible that I heard about the Lovehammers because of the show. I know I was out at WIU at the time, and I was there from '04 to '06. So I don't know how any of that happened.

Either way, thanks for stopping by. And I'm sure we'll both be at Lovehammers shows in the future. I'm the same guy who went to a Peacemakers show on May 15, then Local H shows on May 21 and 23, then another Peacemakers show on May 28 of this year. And that second RCPM show was in Milwaukee.

Anonymous said...

Ah, no problem, Geds! :-) You stood out because Marty hadn't done the "get an audience member to sing" thing yet, and it's rare for a guy to get the opportunity.
Hey, if you want to check out some of my photos of Lovehammers and other bands, visit my photo website:
I wasn't taking photos at Double Door, though--I was in the mood to do some major rocking and headbanging, and the guys did not disappoint! :-)
Enjoy the other shows you've got coming up!