Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Late Night" - SOTW - March 2, 2012

When you leave your last bar of the night, you are either going home to crash or you aren't. During your 20's, on those golden nights that never end, "last call!" was like a conductor tapping his baton for the Main Act to begin. (On the extremely rare occasion when I hear it these days, its more like a cry of mercy). The question then became, "what are y'all doing late night?" Not that time mattered, but "late night" ran from around 1:30 a.m. until approximately 4:00 a.m. (daybreak for the unfortunate). It most often involved a "party" at some unlucky soul's residence. Beverages were can beer and liquor drinks only. Even if there had been a keg at some point, it was gone before the revelers left for the bar hours earlier. The sub-activities depended on how depraved a group you were running with. One constant was noise ordinance shattering music played through overloaded speakers that someone's dad had purchased with a year-end bonus back in '78 and kicked down to the kids when he upgraded to Bose Accoustimass. To try and give "late night" any description from there becomes hard. It could involve anything from costumes and karaoke to property destruction.

Getting from the bar to "late night" typically involved a drive (by a hand picked designated driver, of course). The soundtrack for that shuttle was critical for setting the mood. That's why the "shotgun" call was so high stakes after 1:00 a.m. Given that the vehicle was often stuffed over capacity, it wasn't an easy call and drunk people aren't shy about advancing (lame) requests. That's why max volume was a necessity. In a car with predominantly women, something "fun" from the sorororock category worked best. In a car o' dudes, you'd usually choose something a bit more "angry." (Don't worry Zach, we'll give that one the full treatment later). The distance of the drive mattered. A swing from Buckhead to Virginia Highlands gave time for a something more "jammy." The shorter bar > late night haul necessitated something punchier. The ultimate late night short haul (with a longing nod to the Moondogs > Timm Valley Road gauntlet in Buckhead via Pharr Road) is the 2.4 miles of Lumpkin Street that lie between the old Gus Garcia's sector of downtown Athens and the little anonymous red brick house that sits on a curve on Westview Drive at the intersection of that street and ... Westview (a/k/a the most confusing intersection in Athens). That's where my friends Wes and Asa took up residence in the fall of 1997. It was the kind of gloriously decadent setting that would seem made up if it wasn't true. Minds were lost there and GPA's shattered. It's just a few hundred yards north of my home now. Every time I walk by it pushing one of my girls in the jogging stroller I just shake my head and thank Heaven that I'm alive.  

If last call at Tasty World came and went circa '98 and a Land Rover Discovery full of dudes poured out (not having managed to "hook up"), your Early Evening Song of the Week for March 2, 2012 was the ultimate soundtrack for the short haul back to Westview. Played at volume setting 32 (on a scale of 1 to 35 through a 400 watt sound system), this haunting quasi-literary flower power anthem is one that would have you staring out the windshield contemplating the Meaning of Life one second and pounding on the dashboard with exuberance the next. (Hearing it now, I can't help but imagine Hunter Thompson standing at the back of the Matrix Club in San Francisco in fall of '66 staring at Grace Slick and the "house band" work the kinks out of this song.) Here's to "late night's" past! Have a safe weekend, and get to bed early! 


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