All-Ages, Ageless Tunes, and The Big Lebowski

As I turn another year older, it seems appropriate to reflect on where I am in life, and how it feels to be hovering between past and future selves. Am I standing? Am I sitting? Can I slow down? I don’t want to spill my drink.

SALES and the kiddos
SALES and the kiddos

A few weeks ago we went to see SALES during their return trip to California. This time the venue was Rickshaw Stop, and this time the show was all-ages. I didn’t realize it beforehand, but as we were lining up to have our IDs checked, I saw the black Sharpie x’ing out the backs of one pair of hands after another. It had probably been a good ten years since I’d seen those tell-tale no-drinks-allowed markers.

And then, as if on cue, a very annoyed bartender escorted two young ladies from the premises right in front of us. “These two girls are underage. And they’re WASTED.”

The guy checking IDs was amused. As the two girls tottered down the sidewalk, holding each other up, he exclaimed: “You see what happens Larry?!”

This was the second time in as many trips to Rickshaw that I had experienced a Big Lebowski reference. It seemed completely plausible that this was the guy who decided that an Off-White Russian should be the cocktail of the night for the Say Lou Lou show a few weeks prior. He continued: “This is what happens, Larry! This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!”

I laughed. I looked at MMJ and MH, who seemed confused. I was reminded that neither of them – still, to this day – had seen The Big Lebowski. I looked around at a sea of X-branded youths, lost souls from a Days of Future Past that were growing up in a post-Dude world. So many of them… probably hadn’t ever seen it either. But they proceeded to dance jerkily to every SALES tune, and even Fisher-Priced a My First Mosh Pit to the slightly uptempo bedroom pop of “Getting It On.” I didn’t spill my beer. But I certainly felt off-balance.

IMG_4365A few weeks later MMJ and I were at The Sausalito Art Festival to see Jimmy Cliff. The reggae legend still tours faithfully, and performs at what seems like at least one Fillmore show per year, but I had still never seen him live. He was my Big Lebowski. But there we were, sharing a table under the music tent with a seventy-something Marinite and his sixty-something arm candy who, after tapping me on the arm as we walked by, hands burdened with overpriced gourmet sausages and microbrews, explained: “You can sit with us. We’re screening tablemates.”

Jimmy Cliff was fantastic. As uplifting as I expected, and still possessed of a youthful optimism and exuberance that belied his four decades in the music business. And the crowd around us – of a singular demographic – did their best to catch up. This felt even more out-of-place than the Wailers show we saw in San Rafael last year; at least at that event there were some people of color, and a median age closer to my own. Here, amid canopies of fine and finely priced art, the audience sipped from GoVino cups and sang along to some of the words from maybe one song. [It should be noted that the Great Jimmy Cliff wasn’t even headlining that day. It was some local cover band that I can only assume – we had left prior to them taking the stage – specialized in Billy Joel and The Outfield.]

So where was I the most out of sorts? At Rickshaw, among folks 20+ years my junior? I knew SALES’s EP better than anyone there save the band. Or on a Sausalito pier, surrounded by folks of the same age range gap, but in the opposite direction? I still had my copy of The Harder They Come on vinyl, easily in a personal Top 5 of most-played records of all time.

Truthfully, I had a great time in both venues. They were odd experiences, to be sure, and the lyrics of “Sitting in Limbo” weren’t lost on me, but there was something oddly satisfying about claiming membership to neither scene while internalizing my appreciation for both. There. That sounds pretty g-d grown-up, doesn’t it?

Oh, and that Big Lebowski viewing party? Enough talk, already. I’m putting it on the calendar.

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