I was supposed to record a Licks single, interview my heroes The Cramps, and get this fish wrapper out last week, but instead, my grandpa died. Grandpa Popi had had Alzheimers for seven years, so wed lost his mind long ago, but the loss of his spirit came rather suddenly. So, before you could say $700 is the best you assholes can do for a bereavement fare?!?! I found myself on a plane bound for my birthplace, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
South Dakota sounds an awful lot like Siberia to most Americans, as in why would anyone choose to go to, much less live in a place where the most hallowed attraction, Wall Drug, is an old drugstore that gives away free water to parched travelers? But I LOVE it. To me, South Dakotas endless rolling prairies and the patchwork quilts of family farms dotted with quaint little churches has always seemed like a metaphor for the human soul. This is a landscape filled with longing and peaceharsh and tranquil all at once. I never feel more inspired than when Im back under those enormous skies. The long shadows of autumn at twilight are the most heartbreaking thing Ive seen in years, stretching skeletons of pioneer houses to impossible sizes, then enveloping them utterly in darkness. Ancient barns blown to treacherous tilts by the winter winds look like theyve been there forever, yet seem simultaneously so out of place on the lonesome plains, kinda like tilling up dinosaur bones in your cornfield.
We lay my dear Popi to rest on a hill overlooking those gorgeous plains. It was chilly and the autumn sun was mellow like in paintings from a century ago and my tears finally escaped my eyes when they folded that American flag and saluted my grandmother, cuz deep down Im the most romantic, patriotic fool ya ever met.
I flew back to the West Coast the next day, then flew down to Texas the day after. In the most rock-n-roll week of this year thus far, I played the grieving granddaughter one day and the happy high-society bridesmaid the next. My college buddy tied the knot after a two-year engagement and I and two other women who were the saving graces of the hell that was my alma mater, Williams College, flew down to give her away. We four, as tight as could be in college, are now a doctor, a teacher, an advertising exec., and a stripper/rock-n-roller. We got manicured, pedicured, and hair-styled, then donned our gorgeous ice-blue full-length A-line dresses, cut low in the back and with pretty satin buttons all the way down to the tail-bone (I found this very sexy, somehow!). My dress plus alterations came to a whopping $400, while the sort-of-dyed-to-match and very ill-fitting shoes were a mere $40. My faithful readers will know that if Id had my choice, thatd be a $40 dress and a $400 pair of shoes, but we four did look absolutely fabulous. More tears and waterproof mascara at the breathtakingly beautiful wedding ceremony and then it was off to dance the night away at Houstons grandiose Museum of Art. The sixteen-piece band even played Zoot Suit Riot, which I despise, but it was fun. Lord knows my wedding will likely be shotgun-style, the bride in hot pants, stilettos, and a stretchy tube top with a transsexual Elvis impersonators dubious blessing, but it was grand to see how the other side lives.
In closing, let me remind my dear readers that this is the month to give thanks and celebrate and let a little ritual into your life. My college pals and I met in Religion 101 where we learned the difference between the sacred and the profane. Its a little bit more complicated than a rosary and a swear word, or even getting up on stage with a guitar or no clothes on, it is something I call collective effervescence (look it up) and I, Viva las Vegas, hereby command ye all to go forth with friends or family and celebrate what makes humanity so gosh darn special: the heartbreak on the inside and the healing of communitas. Go oneffervesce!