Nestled in the corner of a parking garage that leans over the Mass Pike, you’ll find Bukowski Tavern (one of two in the Boston area): gunslit windows, prosaic graffiti on the bathroom walls, and an extensive microbrew selection. If you drink every microbrew they carry – and the list is near five hundred – you get a glass of your own to hang above the bar with a number and an author’s name engraved on it. You pick the author. Other than that, and the name and the location, Bukowski shares all the elements of well-loved bars in American cities: narrow walls, dim lighting, low ceilings and a crew of regulars. It’s also one of two places in Boston where I’ll order a hot dog.
I had two hot dogs with fries before going to see Ted Leo at the Paradise on Saturday. I arrived in time to see the second act: The Obits out of Brooklyn. They have a solid, four-on-the-floor 70s/80s punk sound that I took to like a mule to crabgrass. All four of them look like they’re no younger than their early 40s, so they may have been 80s punks. Or at least they grew up on that sound and wanted to hearken back to their childhood. Either way, they loved what they were doing and I loved their sound. I bought their CD from the merch table.
Standing in front of me – three rows back from the stage – were a couple in their 50s who looked like they’d just come from dinner at the Olive Garden. The woman had curly white hair and a cardigan of like hue; the man looked like he should be wearing a tradesman’s ring, or at least have an IBEW cap tucked in his back pocket. I wondered who they thought they were here to see when Ted plugged his guitar in and the older man went wild. His wife was clearly there as a favor to him, or else was the more laid back of the two. But the old man was bobbing back and forth, pumping his fist with the rest of us young punks. We ended up screaming the chorus of “Ballad of the Sin Eaters” at each other. He knew every song I knew, and I knew a lot.
My biggest fear – and the reason I blog so obsessively – is that I’ll get old and forget the antics of my youth. My biggest hope is that getting old won’t stop the antics. That there’ll be a bar with my name on a glass, and that there’ll still be a club with bands I want to see.
For the encore – the final song of the final stop on their tour – Ted Leo and the first act, the Screaming Females, covered “Since U Been Gone” at maximum volume. Thanks to them, now I got what I want.