Last Friday night, I attended a ZZTop concert. I offer up the same excuse as did Adam--it was my wife's idea. There are few people less likely to attend a rock concert than myself. I have not been to one since...well, actually I have never been to one. I guess I am just not much of a music person. And while several of their songs are clever, I was never interested enough to actually buy any of their music. In short, this is nothing that I would have ever, ever done on my own initiative. I would have been just fine, sitting at home with a good book.
My wife is much more of a music person than I am, and was enthused about seeing ZZTop's performance. The venue was a local auditorium known as "The Oil Palace" (how Texan is that?) Her enthusiasm aside, my wife is not exactly rock concert material, either. I suspect that she was the only woman there in pearls, wearing Merle Norman cosmetics. Also, as she is a absolute teetotaller, I was the one who was more in sync with the, ahem, festive nature of the crowd (and yes, you do meet the friendliest people in a beer line.) We both enjoyed ourselves--as much from people-watching, as from the music. And it's kind of like the opera--after you've done it once, you don't ever have to do it again.
A good friend of mine likes to lament the downward trajectory of our nation ever since LBJ, Vietnam and the 60s. I suspect this crowd would supply ample ammunition for his premise. But I thoroughly enjoyed this crowd--friendly, fun-loving and gregarious. There are worse things.
I do not like to be in a crush of people, so we waited until most had left the auditorium before we started to leave. The clean-up crew was already at work, sweeping the aisles clean of the hundreds of beer bottles laying about. They had their work cut out for them, as everything had to be spic-and-span for the next day's event. Our local tea-partiers--Grassroots America--We the People (GAWTP for short, and yes, they use that acronym themselves.) had a big rally planned at 4:30 Saturday. Then at 6, Governor Rick, local Rep. Leo "Birther" Berman, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert were expected to fire up the crowd in anticipation of the headliner, none other than Glenn Beck himself.
I would venture to guess that there was virtually zero overlap between the Friday night partiers and the Saturday night patriots. The GAWTPers were a well-scrubbed bunch decked out in red, white, and blue, fervently worshipping the Trinity of Freedom, Faith and Free-Enterprise, rared-up and ready to "take their country back." The coverage in the Sunday morning paper did not disappoint. Rep. Berman told the crowd that "Obama was God's punishment" on America. Glenn Beck challenged these latter-day Patriots to ask themselves some searching questions, such as : "Do you believe this is God's land?" and "Do you believe our Constitution was divinely inspired?" He reminded the 4,500 in attendance that "the American flag is a symbol of God's Freedom." In my little corner of the world, it is craziness such as this that passes for conventional wisdom.
I am afraid that as a nation, we are beyond saving. And as a culture...well, I think we are pretty much screwed, as well. But as John Lukacs has noted, living at the end of an age is not such a bad thing, if you are aware of it: So living during the decline of the West--and being much aware of it--is not at all that hopeless and terrible. If I have to go down with the ship, I think I will cast my lot with those Friday night rockers, rather than the Saturday night patriots.