Prevent the madness!,_Dhaka,_Bangladesh.JPG

We have a fantastic thing in San Francisco that I previously taken for granted: breathable air.  Thank you, coastal winds. Next time you catch me without a sweater and mess up my hair, I will try to remember that I owe you one.

On Wednesday night, I went to see Head Over Heels, a big, brassy Elizabethan-ish musical by Jeff Whitty (whom I met one time, so I am pretty much famous) featuring songs by the Go-Gos.  You're not wrong. That is a lot going on.  And you haven't even seen the costumes.  The good news is that we did get to hear "Vacation"; the bad news is that as soon as the last note was sung, the stage manager called called an "unscheduled break" and cleared the actors from the stage to keep them from dying of smoke inhalation. The audience waited around just in case a friendly breeze happened by, but, ultimately, after 45 minutes they canceled the show. I suppose it's possible the audience could have died of smoke inhalation during the break, but we didn't.  I retreated to my hotel with hair smelling like I had been sitting way too close to a campfire.  Smokey the Bear was right.  Forest fires are no joke. 

I guess I never thought about them as weakening the nation exactly, but when hundreds of people can't see a Go-Gos musical through to the final curtain, what is American coming to?

The next morning was, if anything, even smokier. I wasn't sorry to leave it behind, which I thought I would do swiftly, but I'd gone hundreds of miles before I saw a hint of blue sky. During those long, smoky hours, I learned anew that the radio stations of America take a very limited view of of the musical landscape. Aside from the aforementioned hundreds of songs about Jesus, it would seem that are only three songs in the world. One of them has to do with a woman who's sweet as sugar; one of them has to do with shutting up and dancing; and one of them has to do with leaving the bar before you're too wasted not to cheat on your girlfriend. Over and over and over again. Except!  Once more there was a brief public radio respite (a show called Rhythm and News).  My favorite was "Rivers in Your Mouth" by Ben Howard.

Not surprisingly, I had never heard of Ben Howard. Apparently, I am alone in this. Oops. Sorry, Ben Howard. It seems that you are famous. In my internet poking around, I discovered that he's playing a show in Berkeley in a few months and in the full flush of new fandom, I thought I'd buy a ticket.  Ha.  Ha ha ha.  Here's what I won't be spending to hear that one song I heard on the radio that time: ninety bucks.  And those are the cheap seats.  I'm sure my shock and horror on this front is further evidence of my geezer status  (à la: "When I was a girl, concerts cost a NICKLE."), but hell's bells. The truth is, I just don't enjoy huge concerts enough to spend that kind of cash.* Please don't tell any men this. for fear I will never be coupled again.  If online dating profiles are to be believed (related query: are they?), men are only alive in order to go to concerts.  Are there thirty bands playing?  Do you have to stand in a field for hours with thousands of drunken strangers?  Is the ticket $425?  SWEET!

What were we talking about?  Oh. Right. I'm home and I hereby like the music of Ben Howard. He even did a Ben Howardly plaintive cover of "Call Me Maybe," which clearly amused the heck out of him. Carry on, Ben.


*Please note, exceptions will be made for Tom Waits.