Monthly Archives: January 2010

Collide at the Fox Theater

Howie Day
The Fox Theatre is wooden and open, with levels and standing balconies, and a wooden bar in the back. It’s small and private and smack in downtown. I came in to it to Serena Ryder wailing like that train in the distance, a running smokestack haunting and lonely in the Canadian wilderness, sometimes harmonizing and sometimes screeching off the tracks. Her hair is chunky and untamed. All in all she’s independent and Wild Wild West chunk-streaked with French punk drama singing into the wind.
Serena hits some very well rounded notes, she tosses out some well-rounded lines. Her is heavily punctuated and makes “heh heh heh” precisely onomatopoeic as it nips obnoxiously after her Lucky Strike voice. It would do well in an SNL skit. Despite the laugh, the lights flash purple on her black spanks and her dress mushrooms, reflections of her visit to Paris. She sweeps you into the atmosphere of a New Age bookstore with heavy incense on a flame behind her that creates a mood for the tarot cards at her merch table. Serena is a magnificent choice of tourmate for Howie Day because her fatality and cynicism fits the many pockets of hurt singles that are waiting for him to tell them how it was. But this is all I can really say for Serena Ryder because, although she was happy to talk and I could have had my palm read in the meantime, I opted for Howie Day and left Serena’s time slot free for an infatuated groupie.
It’s not that I object to mainstream pop, it’s that mainstream pop crowd tends to draw a mainstream crowd, most of whom were drunk or at least buzzed by the time Howie Day stole the stage. It was a party of tipsy, nicotine-coated Michaels, Kellies, and Andies from The Office, with Ryan up at the front leading them on in a theme song – every person in that audience was five, ten, fifteen years older than me, and it seemed a given that either Collide or She Says had carried them through every deep water in their lives.
But of course he would be absolutely charming. Howie Day is the boy next door… the one that hooked up with Britney Spears while they were in in rehab. These days, he is taming the tiger and his new album, Sound the Alarm, is a collection of reflections pondering life’s pathways. Day says that represents “the end of one era and the start of another.” Despite the new leaves, he’s still the same sweet, sensitive artist that attracted Britney.
The boyish smile speaks camaraderie: the man is good with a crowd, and Day is a master at packaging mainstream sentiment honestly and humbly. I could practically float on the vibe he evoked in all of those pre-midlife crisis victims. “Everyone loves to love a lie.” The revelation? Popstars and celebs have feelings too, and Howie Day seems to have an aptitude for being the spokesman. It fits with the rebel persona. And in the crowd, listening to him, all I could think was that he is speaking for a lot, a lot of people who may not have particular depth, but who certainly have a lot of what they do have. The tipsy two-stepping women in their mid-40s that I skirted around seemed to agree.

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Manitou Springs

CoSprings is great, but just right around the corner is even better. Manitou Springs is a mountain hippie community, a former commune that’s now a yuppie hang-out. I’m at the Matte Factor, the commune capitol. A mountainous hippie cult, which I’ve been told is some sort of separatist Christian sect, started this wee hideaway and peopled it with spiritual baristas and a spiritual beverage to make the new Eden. An entire coffee shop devoted to yerba matte: what heaven is this!
I’d love to know more about the commune, so maybe that story will come later.
This is a golden afternoon. In the square outside is a circle of djembists and musicians playing soundtrack music. A friendly native offered to show me the town and so I got to see a bit of the park and the old-timey arcade gallery with gorgeously tacky pinball machines and squealing town kids – I could almost hear Musee Mecanique in the background. You should ref to the article below to the full story according to ME, as transcribed after a heart-rending midnight interview.
Back in the Matte Factor, the yerba sanctuary, I’m sitting again at my little wooden table by the window over the stone bridge, where I settled after I had hidden in a booth and been seated with Amanda, a girl who was zenning out while knitting at a table by the door. There is a very helpful doorman who just moved here too, from Mountain Home, Ark, – the same little scrabbleville near Springfield, Missouri that is the home of Motorbikes, right? He actually arranged my things and plugged in the laptop so that people wouldn’t trip on the cord to make up for the resettling.
Barista one was great, but Barista II wins hands-down for friendliness and interesting conversation topics. This is an ideal place for catching good tidbits – not only is it a tiny shop, but there are actually interesting conversations going on everywhere about things that you’d actually want to hear about – UFO, nutritional horrors, conspiracy theories. I could write a novel here. I should write a novel here! Barista II has very blonde hair that frisks up around his ears in that full-of-fun fly-away natural look that kills on Ashley Green, aka vampire Alice Cullen, as you can see, but it’s loaded down with Brill cream like a civil war general’s. Actually, I think he might be Custer’s incarnation sipping yerba matte.
“Look at that llama!” says the intellect behind me. I look out the window at the stone bridge and see a man leading a very large snowy white llama across the bridge. The llama is plodding, and a very large, white llama-like terrier trots after it. Manatou Springs is now my favorite place ever. The houses are climbing the hill and hippie chic shops are lining the street colorfully; it looks like Wallace, Idaho, will when it’s discovered. Hey, maybe I should be the one to develop it and cash in! This place is great.

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