Whether you play the Guitar or Cello, drive a Formula Car, Descend a Double Black, or single track barely feathering the brakes, you can consider the edge of that fear envelope the very essence of edgy. I recently saw one of my favorite bands play out at the Aragon Ballroom, and thought about these boundaries. Bound by the edges of a Spanish Castle, the Aragon Ballroom was built as the courtyard of a long dead mythical King. Rising on all sides are terraces as one may build a film set or a scaled Disney version of Medieval Spain for Epcot. In Purely practical terms, the Aragon is far better as a Dance-Hall Or Ball Room than as a music venue. It's flat, (not sloped), and the stage almost never rises to the level of a great view. The audience gathers in the courtyard of a Spanish Villa, but no-one can grab a higher vantage point to see above the swarm of warm bodies, cologne and smoke. The domed ceiling is speckled with stars and comets, and the effect is novel and clever. It is almost always as hot as a July Evening in Seville. The surroundings are amusing and play well into the Spectacle of a great concert. The envelope that is the Spanish Castle enwraps the patron even if the opener doesn't. The very edge of the cosmos above rings with shrill tweeters, pushed to their limits. The Colonnade and crowd surge to absorb the rest of the ring in the room. When you succumb to a great band, you give them license to occupy a bit of space both in the room and in your mind -- for the duration, you seem to check-out. As a Child I recall the moments when I re-attached to reality after being lost in a compelling cartoon, or movie. I always thought about how One could notice the very moment that they surfaced from being lost in fiction, being completely taken by a Film, or story, but how strange it was that one could not place the moment that they submitted to being usurped in fantasy. We remember Teachers reading books to the class, some students sleeping, while others created holographic images of the characters in our heads. Being transfixed by a fiction, or succumbing to a fantasy plays at the edge of your brain someplace, where we escape. We could have stayed home, and considered any venue or gathering as the next planned attack. Do I occupy the show, or do I allow terror to occupy my thoughts. The choice seemed a simple one. I thought as the band played last night -- that if they could play more intensely, I was not sure how. I think the band may have hit that spot where they too needed to vent the week's news. The audience was enraptured, and became captive in the fiction which they wove. It sucks when you have to return from that place, but in doing so you make the escape that much more real, bringing back something tangible, if not just a t-shirt. The new normal may appear a dystopian wreck where people regularly vent with violence, and or grand-stand with some outrageous act or tweet... for global attention, and shame, just before they are imprisoned or killed. My new normal will be the "same as it ever was" (to quote Talking Heads), To flagrantly oppose mind control.
The edge of this venue's solid tangible boundaries are fictional Facades where the sound reflects from railings, walls, arches, balustrades, and ceilings, This fictional reprieve is where going for broke on a Guitar, Keyboard, or any instrument, can transcend the crazy media. Whenever we see a bumper sticker that says "Drive it like you stole it", or "No Fear", we are reminded of the adolescence of these words; Yet when riding a bike at the edge of or beyond ones comfort level, we enter the rarified air of a new threshold. The same place along the edge of comfort lies anywhere where we feel that we may break the instruments if we keep up the pace. In Tom Wolf's depiction of astronauts pushing the sound barrier for his Epic Book "The Right Stuff", we are reminded that only a special few could ever be considered to dance with such a boundary, let alone be given the keys to such a costly ride at the speed of sound. Each day every bike on the road, may have a fleeting touch with death or injury at the hand of a careless driver. Taking a bike to work by definition means navigating a churning maze where a million walls are always moving in on you. Giving up your daily pleasure ride because some madman in a rental truck inspired by a zealot decides you should, is just as whack.
On 9-Eleven, I played tennis in the shadow of Grant Park's mesmerizing sky-scrapers, there was a hush downtown, buildings were empty, asleep -- As if someone pulled the trigger on a freeze-ray and the gun rendered all life frozen at a molecular level. This was the silent moment when Chicago's Population seemed to remain home and hold their breath. I felt like the only person moving in a film where I was supposed to stop a bullet and change the course of the plot while the world stood still. Unfortunately I couldn't change the bullets trajectory, but set out to change the course of the mourning, by freeing my mind for something normal, and enjoyable. Skipping around the tennis court couldn't change the past, but we can change the future. My Game was not necessarily good, but was good enough to decompress, and to change the future. I could stay home, and be held under the spell of fear and hatred, bound by terror, or go out and do something normal.
The fact was, while the city was frozen, I saw an opportunity for court-time where I was never able to. I also saw the chance to free myself from the bond of evil that plagued everyone that day. We rode our bikes on empty streets, en route to a ritual undoing where rackets and bikes moved unfettered beneath ominous looming sky-scrapers.
A runner, swimmer, or cyclist knows similar silence, when they are in the zone, and the bubble remains sealed and silent until something shatters their dome of quietude. We cannot place the moment when we enter that space, just the time when we surface. Riding my Bike down a hill, or through a crowd of gridlocked cars, waiting for a door to swing open, and break the silence, defines the edge of the bubble where most fun occurs. Waiting for a bomb, blast, crazy person, or gunman doesn't fit into my schedule. I'm hopeful that the new normal makes outrageous acts less likely going forward if only because in the cacophony of idiots, who has time to give attention to all of them. Perhaps they will abstain because we don't pay them any mind. Perhaps like a barking dog, or raging two year old with a bag of candy they merely need to be ignored.
Defining edgy is simple; Edgy lies somewhere in that quietude, when you succumb to the music, and walk along the ledge of your own comfortable compartment. You push against the envelop where you are no longer consciously controlling the outcome. You are giving into an elevated moment to be washed over with emotion. Playing the borders you may descend a hill at mach speed, the speed at which you know you should have applied the brakes back there someplace. You coast through a sea of cars, or people, expecting the outcome to be exclusively as it is ordained, but unsure what that outcome is. When one of my favorite bands played last night to an eager crowd, it reminded me that they were playing at the very near edge of what was possible... They were playing the instrument with the feeling that they may break it. If you have ridden your bike at this boundary, ridden at the edge of where you think the gauges may crack, and or fate could change without our say so; then you have learned the word edgy.
When you succumb to a Music Event, Ride where their are crazies on the prowl, or worship whatever you wish, you wield a license to negate fear. A bit of respite, and fantasy is what you need right now. When you submit to a fast descent and push your fears aside to ride the silky fast thrum of your heart-rate, breathe deeply, Dance wildly, because this ride inflates you with fantastic clarity. Inhaling inside this dome, where the band is leaving everything on the stage, will bring back good energy. Here is a secret stash, a conservatory of good air at the edge of the manilla envelope.
When you succumb to fear, you allow someone you cannot stand, to hold you underwater. Terror allows someone who hates you, to gain control.
It may seem un-clever to read a "No Fear" sticker on one-in-ten trucks passing through the rust belt, I don't have one of them, and it's not (necessarily) my motto, but they may be onto something. If you've scoffed at a simple phrase or motto then perhaps you owe it to yourself to ask why. To stay home when loathsome terror cautions against an adventure, is as silly as shaming someone's sacred sticker temple. See if you can glean some inspiration and keep moving on.
If a zealot drives a truck down a bike path, or a crowd's killed by a cowardly shooter, then I don't want to read their bumper sticker agenda. Terrorism is mind control, which you have been winning against for many years, right?
Edgy is an antidote for mind control. Now may be a great time to embrace the edges.
Blurred coastline passes