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.