Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Lonely Condom



Here is an editorial I wrote in the FSView and Florida Flambeau in May 2003, just before I graduated from college. My editor loved it and thought it was one of the most original pieces he had ever read. Responses varied from people that "got it" and thought it was hilarious, to people who said I was pathetic.

Four years ago, like many incoming Florida State students, I stood in line outside the FSU bookstore, waiting patiently to get my FSU ID card. After what seemed like hours, I finally got my picture taken and was handed my brand new, hi-tech ID card.

As I proudly left the ID Card Center, I slipped my new card into my wallet. There it joined the other inhabitants of my small, black leather billfold – my driver’s license, military ID card, ATM card, a couple of dollars, and a recently placed Trojan condom, which I thought wouldn’t be a bad idea to have on me. After all, Florida State University was just named the number one party school in the nation and its student body was, and still is, over 50-something percent female. It couldn’t hurt to be prepared.

In the days and weeks that followed, the condom made a home in my wallet. It befriended already established residents such as the ATM card, who every time it left brought back with it money – those transient presidential portraits who never seemed to stay more than a day or two. Money surely could never be called a “wallet fixture,” a title the condom hoped it too would never have.

When was its day in the sun, the condom quickly came to ask. There were nights, Fridays and Saturdays in particular, when it would get its hopes up. It would watch as the ATM card would get money before going to the club, the driver’s license was used to get in the establishment and the money would leave and never return once inside the club. The condom knew its role was in the closing act of a fortunate night that never seemed to arrive, the final runner in a relay race that never seemed to reach its last lap. Patiently, it awaited its baton, its imaginary arms outstretched.

Bad luck seemed to plague the provalactic. Its mere existence was cursed. Months turned to years as the condom recalled legends of unfortunate “rubbers,” as they were called in the early days, which had “dried up” and had to be discarded before ever being used. Its lack of use was not from lack of trying, the condom was told. But after the first dozen or so wrong phone numbers and several mismanaged dates, the condom started to count down the days to its expiration, like an inmate on death row awaiting execution.

Why was it here and not in the wallet of a more socially fortunate soul, the condom wondered. Others formed in Trojan factory, those with whom the condom had an almost brother-like bond, had long served their purpose, protecting their masters and dying on the frontline with honor and dignity. The condom tried hard not shed a tear of despair.

The only source of pride the condom had was in an unmistakable ring it was leaving on the outside of the wallet. A ring that if the condom was used quickly it would have never had the opportunity to make. A consolation prize in the losing game that was the condom’s depressing existence.

On May 2nd, 2003, the condom joined me as I walked across the graduation stage. With one flip of a tassel, I became an alumnus and the condom, with its four-year birthday quickly approaching, was now an institution in my wallet. It had seen many changes sweep the wallet landscape and survived them all. My driver’s license had been replaced twice, ATM cards had changed banks, military ID card expired and even my shiny new FSU ID card had fallen apart, only to be replaced with a newer, more hi-tech card.

Thank goodness the condom has two more years left until its expiration. Two more years of keeping hope alive.

Picture from this Sexual Health site.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sevendust and the HardDrive Live Tour Tampa, 11/9/2010



Continuing my concert ways yet again. This time with a show combining the locality of the Duck Down Records show of a month ago with the rock of the Berzerkus Tour show of two weeks ago.

Back when I was in college, I was really up on my rock radio bands and songs. Unfortunately, I'm not up on it much anymore. So although I was at Ritz Ybor primarily to see Sevendust, I thought it was a good idea to check out some of the other bands in the HardDrive Live Tour. Overall, I was impressed.

Aranda - I was expecting the first band to be a new group that would do little more than warm the crowd up. I was wrong. Aranda came to play. They had a classic rock vibe, which really didn't go with the rest of the show, but was very catchy. Although I wasn't really into them at first, they covered Led Zeppelin's Dazed and Confused, which is one of my favorite Zeppelin songs. And they did it well. After Dazed and Confused, the focus of the band shifted to the guitar player, who started pulling out solos and performance tricks, such as taking his shoe off and using it as a slide. Absolutely impressive. I might have to check out their albums.

Overall grade: B+

(Here is a video of Aranda covering Zeppelin in Chicago.)

Since October - Out of the five bands, Since October was the most disappointing. They looked incredibly generic, with a dred-locked lead singer and a bald drummer. I thought that fad in band composition went out of style in the mid-2000s. Then after about three songs that sounded like Korn outtakes, the lead guitarist's rig went out. Ok, that can happen. But then the band left the stage for over five minutes. Totally inexcusable. Does their drummer or bassist not know how to solo? Play some bass riffs to keep the crowd's attention. Something. Anything.

Overall grade: D

Anew Revolution - These guys impressed me as well. They were loud and had great stage presence. Their songs were typical modern heavy rock - nothing out of the ordinary - but they were good. I'd even heard a few of their songs on satellite radio. During their performance, the lead singer did something I've only seen one other time. He stood on the shoulders of the crowd and sang a verse. The only other person I have ever seen do that is Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan.

Overall Grade: B

10 Years - According to their Wiki page and website, 10 Years have been around for a while. Until Tuesday night, I had never heard of them. I did recognize a few of their songs however. Sound-wise, they sounded a little like the Deftones, a little like Finger Eleven, and a bit like Staind in their lyrical tone.

Overall Grade: B

(I think that's why as I get older I've gotten more and more bummed out on "new rock". Everything I hear, it seems like I've heard before. I'm hard pressed to find many differences between songs made in 2010 and songs written in 2000. Outside of rap-rock and small pockets of classic-rock influenced bands, most of this decade's rock sounds mostly the same to me. I don't know whether to blame this on my music ear or a growing corporate influence towards conformity. Maybe a little of both.)

Sevendust - This was my seventh time seeing Sevendust. I've been a fan of theirs since I saw them tour in support of their first album back in 1996 or 1997. I swear it was 1996, but they didn't put out their first album, which I bought the day before the show, until '97.

Anyway, they were my first concert. I saw them again in 1999 at the Orange Bowl, 2000 at Floyds in Tallahassee, 2001 in Orlando, 2004 twice at Late Night Library in Tallahassee (once acoustic), and now 2010. And they are still kicking ass.

During the show Sevendust's set list was comprised of a few songs off the new record, Cold Day Memory, a few songs off their second, Home, their third, Animosity, and even the song "Black" off their self-titled debut album. And of course, they played "Angel's Son" from the Strait Up album. I was really impressed with how extensive their show has become.

Sevendust also brought out the best in the crowd as well. Although I stood in the back of the venue for the first few bands, I went closer to the stage for Sevendust. There were people jumping, yelling, flailing, and quite a few folks throwing down in a decent sized mosh pit.

Sevendust definitely gets an A.