TWO TIMES TUESDAY LOVE.
These boys are the best.
TWO TIMES TUESDAY LOVE.
These boys are the best.
I’ve come to notice some things about my charitable tendencies lately. One of the parts of living downtown that has a steep learning curve is dealing with the bombardment of solicitation (not the tattered fishnet kind) while walking around. Not to sound Scroogian, but one must find a way to dodge the majority of these requests or risk going broke themselves. It takes an unfortunate suppression of guilty feelings at first- which still leaves me feeling miserly and villainous from time to time- or a good set of over-the-ear headphones.
Bus fare is a common request, but as a bus rider myself and someone dependent on coin-op laundry, I can’t often rationalize sparing any change, even in a sublimely generous mood. Instead, I give a polite apology but never break stride, hoping the combination of a sincere expression and purposeful walk might convey the point that I am not a person in a position to help anyone financially. I try to justify it by thinking an enterprising solicitor could easily make bus fare and then some with the sheer amount of foot traffic in the 36 square blocks of the heart of downtown, even being denied 49 out of 50 times.
Then there’s the unspoken part, the subtext. “Bus fare” may well have become a euphemism of sorts, a way of sterilizing the nature of asking for a hand-out. That’s not to imply that the purpose is usually to build a fund for a tall boy of Milwaukee’s Best, either. I’ve experienced a decent helping of embarrassment and anxiety thus far in my life; certainly, I would find a less dire term to use when asking a wary stranger if they could somehow, anyhow, part with what little loose currency they might have. “Bus fare” is more practical, more relatable to the business attire-clad men and women who have no knowledge of this level of discomfort, uncertainty, and desperation. And maybe it takes the supplicant’s mind off of what they’re really asking for for just one fleeting moment.
Cigarettes I tend to be more liberal with, though stress and a thin budget can make them as valuable to me as quarters. But the demographic of “spare a cigarette?” askers extends beyond the needy and panhandlers and the requests are much more frequent. I worried analyzing my tendencies in bumming a square out would reveal something unsavory about my subconscious, but not being a psychologist I could hardly make my way through every internal motivation for my decisions. I feel I can say in good conscience I’m less swayed by superficials than by how I am approached, but there’s an inherent hubris to the final decision of yes or no. I am the decider and each interaction like this ends with me (or rather, my brain) deciding the person’s worthiness of my precious combustible relaxation rod. Who is more deserving of the cigarette, they or I? Did the person entreat me humbly, apologetically? Do age, gender, or race still apply though I convince myself my final judgment is a (still rather arrogant) basic appraisal of worthiness?
To answer those questions with certainty is something I may not be able to do objectively. In truth, downtown is a constant theater of classism of various forms and the array of different social statuses contained within it necessarily evoke feelings of superiority and inferiority. Maybe the only way to stay grounded is to still feel both and temper those feelings toward moderation. Honest survival takes a blend of both- a combination of confidence and humility, I suppose. I can only hope to be as helpful as I can, when I can. If that means parting with one of those cigarettes I don’t need to be smoking anyway, well, it’s the least I can do.
Friends’ bands come and go in our lives. There’s that period, early in one’s twenties, when the musically-inclined commit to the dream or get the hell out while they can, and neither group can really be faulted for their decision. Many abandon their bands in favor of a lasting line of work, some scale back their involvement to the level of a hobby, and a brave few become Clark Kent during the day to fund their nights and weekends as rock superheroes. As the friends or fans of these bands, we take the winnowing down in stride, holding on to the memories of great shows and stories of debauchery to keep them alive in memory, and that legacy serves as a lasting, nostalgic camaraderie for all involved.
It’s a noble struggle for that last group- facing daunting odds and a lot of work- to continue on with a creative labor that has no guarantees. The road gets rockier and more tumultuous, with fans and members coming and going as their lives take different paths, and touring becomes more of a necessity than a whim. Obstacles inevitably arise and test a band’s mettle and we, the friends and fans, hold out that somewhat selfish hope that they won’t give in to a life of practicality and office-based jobs.
I’ve known Ringo Jones for a little over a decade now. While my life has been full of diversions and wayward paths, he has been an impressive model of stability, something I’ve come to realize in retrospect. He’s faced adversity and, at times, even tragedy in his adult life, yet Ringo has always kept a steady hand on the wheel and an unwavering work ethic. He is charismatic, charming, practical, intelligent, and insightful- the perfect combination of traits to survive the trials of fronting a band that is meant to be more than a topic for friends to wax nostalgic about years from now.
Mad Anthony has been a model of persistence and self-improvement. Ringo and guitarist Adam Flaig have been constant creative companions and friends for years and with Marc Sherlock as a drummer with both the commitment and the technique to work within the band’s vision, Mad Anthony is poised to take the next steps toward prominence in the Midwest rock scene. As a friend, I’ve seen the group become tighter, both emotionally and musically, and as a fan, I have felt that ineffable sensation of people I love creating music I love- a feeling that has only increased with each new album and live show.
Even with the departure of bassist Dave Markey, Mad Anthony has created a recognizable yet individual sound and a live show that is powerful, fun, and memorable. Their raucous, garage-based rock and roll is ideal for motivation, driving, and punching large, carnivorous animals, but since their last release, …I Spent All My Money on Speed Metal, they have shown incredible depth in song construction, with their more down-tempo numbers full of evocative guitar work and subtly emotional songwriting. This is a band that is evolving rapidly toward transcendence and it’s imperative to get acquainted with them while they’re still playing intimate venues.
Mad Anthony is on tour in the Midwest and Ontario through the end of March. …I Spent All My Money on Speed Metal is available online and the forthcoming Mad Anthony is going on presale through Kickstarter.