February 29, 2012

As time goes by

Late last year, I saw an article in The Courier-Journal, written by Jeffrey Lee Puckett, lamenting the closing of the Southgate House in Newport, Ky. Therein, he recalled one trip we took together (with a few other friends) to see Guided by Voices in the early ’90s. It was the first time either of us had seen a show there. It was a stunning introduction to the facility.

Back then, you could sit on the front lawn and gaze out upon the Ohio River as it stretched out in both directions. There was a brilliant, unobstructed view of the Cincinnati skyline. (An entertainment complex blocks this view almost entirely now.)

There were bands playing in three different parts of the building that night, and there was a kid playing for tips up on the third floor, trying to make enough cash to buy a ticket for the show on the main stage. They even had the cupola open for anybody who wandered up to the top floor and climbed the ladder. What a great place!

Jeffrey’s article, however, included a couple errors, neither of which are particularly significant, but vaguely noteworthy. He misidentified one of the other passengers in our car on that trip, but, of course, this was almost 20 years ago, and we have each made the same trip dozens of times since, with any number of fellow travelers, so I’d chalk that up to conglomeration.

Elsewhere, he suggested my car was unreliable and that I was known for breaking down on I-71 between here and Cincinnati. I’m not sure, but I don’t think any of my cars ever broke down along that route on any occasion before that night, so it rankled me a bit when I saw my vehicular reputation smeared in this way. Still, there have been a couple incidents subsequent to that trip that might have skewed his memory. One memorable excursion involved an attempt to drive my friend Kelly’s Toyota to Bogart’s. (Kelly is not her real name.)

The memory of this trip crossed my mind recently when I ran into Kelly at a local show. Her little car started spewing steam and smoke just as the Carrollton exit appeared on the horizon. We made it to a gas station and called AAA, certain our trip was over, but we ran into some fellow Louisvillians headed to the same show. So, we squeezed into the back seat of the much smaller car and jammed to Slint as we made the second half of our journey.

We hit Bogart’s just as the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion took the stage. I can still remember the brightness of Spencer’s yellow, long-sleeve button-down shirt as he thrashed on his guitar, falling on the floor as he played.

Until very recently, I wasn’t sure who it was who had picked us up. I didn’t know the guy at the time. A couple days after seeing Kelly last week, it occurred to me that it might have been a fellow I had become acquainted with recently through Facebook, so I messaged him. He said he remembered giving somebody a ride to one show or another at some point, but he didn’t remember who or when, but then I remembered one of the other passengers, and he remembered, too, and the whole picture came clear.

It’s funny what will stick in one’s memory. A few years ago, I ran into Bob Nastanovich at a wedding, and he asked me if I remembered the first time we’d met. I didn’t, so he told me about a snowy night, years earlier (probably 1991), when he and Britt Walford had gone to see a movie at the Vogue in St. Matthews and their car broke down. My girlfriend and I happened to be at the same show, and although we didn’t know those guys very well, we gave them a ride back to the Highlands. Bob told me he’d always heard I was a jerk, but he never thought that was so. I told him to keep that opinion to himself, damn it.

I find it odd that I didn’t remember the incident. I still can’t. I have no problem remembering those times when I feel bad for doing something rude. Maybe if I’m nice all the time, I will be able to forget my life completely.