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The burden of hobnobbing

June 24, 2010

First, apologies again for the crappy picture, taken from last nights Pipes You See, Pipes You Don’t performance at Caledonia. I left my camera at home, so I was left to use my cell phone camera (which actually takes decent pictures when there’s a proper amount of light, such as this one of my lunch yesterday) or nothing at all. So I snapped one of Pete Erchick and John Fernandes and hoped for the best.

Anyway, the show last night was excellent. The newly formed Goons (featuring Andy Gonzales on guitar) opened, followed by Iowa’s Poison Control Center (whose guitar player remarked that he was worried about playing a show with his “entire record collection” in the crowd, referring to the prominent musicians taking in the show). PYSPYD was the headliner. Top to bottom, it was one of the better ways to spend a Wednesday night.

As is often the case when an Elephant 6er plays a show in Athens, the crowd featured no small number of other members of the collective. I’ve remarked before that this is a good thing for my purposes, putting me in the same room with folks who aren’t always the best about returning phone calls, and in that regard, tonight was a success. But I want to talk about the stressful element of this dynamic.

You know how, when you’re at a party with a lot of people you like, you want to talk to everybody, but you end up sucked into a conversation with just one or two people and end up neglecting all the others? That’s sort of what happens. Except, instead of feeling like I wasted a social event, it’s a missed opportunity. Networking and so forth.

So I have to take an embarrassingly professional approach to what would otherwise, if I weren’t writing a book about these people, be a relaxed social event. I have to weigh talking with one person who is a focal point of the book against talking with another who, while not as prominent in the narrative, is someone I haven’t had nearly as much contact with. It’s this elbow-rubbing calculus that always makes me feel a little weird. It’s a recreational atmosphere that I have to approach with a delicate businesslike attitude.

To some extent, my entire time in Athens has been characterized by this neurosis (which I acknowledge is probably a far smaller deal in actuality than it is in my own head). I have time to myself, of course, but I can’t afford to alienate any of the dozens of people I’m writing about down here. So if I’m perusing the shelves of a used book store or hanging out in a coffee shop or even grocery shopping, I have to be consider every move I make. I can be a paranoid person to begin with, and this certainly doesn’t help. To maintain the level of trust I’ve built with these people — and ideally to build it further — I need to come off as intelligent, perceptive, cool, etc. It can be a little draining sometimes, is all.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Marc Clair permalink
    July 1, 2010 8:27 PM

    why is the seated bearded guy without pants playing what looks like a dog?

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