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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

UNC vs. Duke

Okay, so this past weekend I worked two catered gigs: one at UNC and one at Duke.

The UNC gig was a pregame party held under some tents that were set up by the Bell Tower on campus located right in front of Kenan Stadium.

I got there at 9am for set-up. My co-worker Tim showed up shortly there after and we got to talking about music and art and literature as we normally do. Tim said he worked the opening of the Kerouac exhibit.

The we heard the Bell Tower go off. Or at least that's what we thought. And soon after Tim's launched into the air guitar intro for AC/DC's "Hell's Bells" verbalizing the classic rock guitar riffs. Soon after I joined in with my best Brian Johnson impersonation: "Rollin' thunder across the sky..."

We started laughing.

And then, loud as all get out, we hear Johnson's vocals come screeching out of the stadium PA system.

"Oh shit," said Tim.

I short time later, the stadium PA played "For Whom The Bell Tolls" by Metallica. I made a mental note to myself that I needed to go home and play that track as loud as possible.

The crowd slowly showed up, the wine & cheese type, alumni dressed in Carolina blue eager to chow down on duck gumbo and blood marys. Shortly before game time a crowd gathered by the sidewalk.

The the football team walked a path from the Old Well on campus, down past the Bell Tower and into the stadium as fans lined either side of them cheering and hooting and hollering. They were followed by the cheerleaders and the marching band. I got to say it was pretty cool.

We broke down and I headed home for a brief rest.

The next gig was for Duke's homecoming, a prom-like fest of food, beer, wine and live band.
For 2,000 people.

They consume 20 cases of wine in an hour.

The crowd swells and moves like a paramecium: devouring everything in its way; everything in its path.
I'm bartending and all I can do is try to maintain sanity as drunken co-eds stumble around me, expecting everything ("We're Duke students! We're rich!"). By 1am the event staff bouncers are corralling the drunken horde out the door. Breakdown is a mess. There is shit everywhere. At the buffet tables, the students didn't even bother to use the plastic plates, rather they stood over the chaffing dishes like they were bowls of salsa, just picking meatballs out with their fingers and gulping them down right over it. The floor was covered in stale beer and stained with wine. Fortunately, the party planners had the foresight to lay a tarp down - now it was primed for one giant round of alcohol-infused slip n' slide.

I went to pee. The men's room was trash. A inch layer of boozey grim covering the floor and causing a major health risk. I watched one drunk guy tag his head on the brick wall on the way in, then stumble into the handicap stall to puke.

Like army ants they were. Fucking spoon fed richies who want it all and give nothing in return.

Entitlement. That about sums it up.

One of the decor guys looked over at me as we were folding chair.

"They're a whole different beast," he said shaking his head. "A whole different beast."


Finished Robert Stone's Dog Soldiers. Written in '75, it's very much in the same vein as Apocalypse Now and that flick's association with the themes addressed in Hearts Of Darkness.

Needless to say, I really dug it and plan on digging in to some more of his work.

Two weekends ago I was drinking beer with my friend Ron and telling him about Stone's book. Also mentioned to him how I finally scored a copy of Robert Bingham's anthology of short stories, Pure Slaughter Value - I'd been on the search for this one for years.

Ron laid Barry Hannah's Ray on me before I left that night.

Fuck me was that a great book.

All this reading has got me jazzed. I'm been deligently working on another short story; juiced man I am.

So today, to capitalize on my gas'ed up newfound inspiration, I went to the Wilson library on the campus of UNC where they currently have an exhibit on Jack Kerouac's On The Road. UNC has a real fucking awesome collection of Beat Lit. City Lights Books proprietor Lawrence Ferlinghetti went to UNC back in the '40s. Of course he was just Larry Ferling back then.

So one of the things they have on display is the scroll that Kerouac wrote On The Road on; it is a sight to behold - one long run-on sentence. Now I've never been a huge fan of the Beats, never got obsessive about them (save for my desire to possess every chapbook in the Pocket Poetry Series), but seeing this really put the whole Beat scene into perspective. Much like burgeoning music scenes over the years (Seattle, Minneapolis, Chapel Hill etc.), you can see how the whole thing got momentum and soon became the shell of its former shelf.

But along the way, thanks in part to Ginsberg's foresight to archive much of it through photographs, you get to discover what fueled this small group of authors who would drastically change the course of contemporary American literature. They all seemed to feed off each other; collaborating with each other; acting as another's agent; helping one type. Really, these guys were like family and the collective mindset helped them forge this new world of literature.

Man, I gotta go write!