This week I’m reflecting on the last time I felt it was a mile to my own feet with “Kill”.
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One of the sort of tricky parts about sitting down to write this podcast every week is knowing that in doing so I have to take time to reflect on myself, and oftentimes I’d rather do just about anything but that.
While I’ve been feeling a little better about what I’ve been sharing and how I’ve been sharing it lately, as ridiculous as it might get at times, I still catch myself thinking about how I started this project and the things that were said and done in the earliest stages of it.
I’ve been trying to let go of it and move past them but whenever there is a nagging at my mind I have to believe that there is a reason for it and a reason to sit with it.
So let’s sit with it.
Back in my teens I went to a Jimmy Eat World show with a friend and while I was waiting outside the venue for our ride home, which was quite late already, I noticed somebody standing by the short fence that overlooked the water.
It was dark and I was reasonably far away from them, but for some reason I was instantly certain I was looking at Jim Adkins, far away from any lingering concert-goers, most of who had left in cabs already.
My friend that I was with was busy chatting up the hot dog vender and wasn’t missing my company, enthralled in a conversation about how much the guy makes, who his boss is and how that guy owns all the major hot dog vender spots in the downtown core.
So I’d look back at my friend and then back at the man standing looking out to the water and I caught myself thinking I should just sort of wander over to get a better look and see if I was right.
I started to, but only made it a couple steps before I thought that would be weird and creepy to do to someone who obviously wanted some space, and so I wandered back to my friend instead who was now happily munching on a sausage and wanted to tell me what he’d learned.
Hot dog venders in these hot spot locations outside of major music venues, make a killing as it’d turn out – but not so much them as the big boss who takes months of vacation at a time.
It’s a lucrative business if you can secure the permits to those locations first and then hang on to them.
The entire time my friend and the hot dog vender were telling me all about this thing I had no interest in, I’d keep glancing back to see if the guy was still there.
And he was for a while. And then he wasn’t.
So I never knew for sure if that’s who I saw that day but it has maintained in my mind ever since that that’s exactly who that was.
I’d go to another Jimmy Eat World show after that one and that would be the first one I’d make a conscious effort to meet the band by staying late after the gig had ended but, none of them ever showed.
That wouldn’t happen until a couple days after my 23rd birthday where I had a similar experience to the one I described before.
While waiting outside the Phoenix concert theater with another friend of mine that I’d convinced to come along to the show, I’d gotten the feeling that for sure, this time, they were going to come out.
We stood beside the venue near the long alleyway where bands tour buses sometimes park and with us there had to have been another 15 people waiting around for the same.
There was no one in the alley but everyone stood in their huddles of friends talking about the show, smoking cigarettes and just waiting, in case any of us were right.
I was anxious that night. I don’t often feel it come on the way it did but I can’t usually help it when it does. So I paced around, wringing out my hands, occasionally talking to my friend but mostly looking around, looking to the floor, sitting on the curb, standing up again, looking at the floor again, and then back to the alleyway.
I don’t know how long had passed but some of us had started to get the feeling we were wrong, but we were probably being impatient.
And as I continued to look half-mindedly towards to floor and think about what I even wanted to say, if anything at all, I swore I caught a glimpse of a pair of shoes in the corner of my eye walking towards me, at least 20 feet away, and my brain said, “thats’ Jim, Jaimee, look up”.
And out from the alley had emerged Tom and Jim and as I looked their way Tom stopped by two people who were nearest to them and Jim almost walked right by them before being pulled back to say hi.
And I always thought that was funny and strange, that somehow I instinctively knew it was them on the basis of a pair of shoes from 20 feet away.
It’s always made me wonder how that’s possible, because the very idea of it seems absolutely insane, doesn’t it? As though there is an energy in the air that is more aware of you than you are of yourself and your own surroundings.
I’ll give you another example of this.
When I was in my early 20’s I was working with a young indie rock band.
When I first met the band, I knew within the first minute of the first song they played that these guys were something special – they had something that most other bands, especially of their age, just didn’t have.
I wanted to work with them instantly, and fortunately I already was – I was assisting on a session of theirs with another engineer.
That day I told them they’d made a fan out of me and I was sure to grab their contact information to stay in touch in case we could work together on something in the future.
We’d end up spending the next few years working together with me engineering most of their releases and later, assisting in managing them, booking shows, and whatever else as it came up, which meant I spent a lot of time with them.
At one point the band started to have some trouble with one of the members. He was insanely talented but he had a habit of mouthing off at other bands or show promoters if he was unhappy with something, and he’d do this publicly on Facebook.
Back then, Facebook was the king of all social media and this is where almost everything happened in the virtual space.
We’d end up having to have a couple band meetings about this to tell him to cool it because it was such a bad look for the band and they knew like I knew that they had a real shot at making this a viable career path and we didn’t want anything to get in the way of that.
So many things on the internet can be taken to extremes even when they weren’t intended that way and then those things can be branded on you for like because people, inherently, have difficulty with letting go.
More than that, they have difficulty with forgiving.
One night after one of the band’s shows I was talking with the vocalist who always made a point to come find me in the crowd after he’d said hello to some fans and ask me how it sounded; was it okay? If he’d felt a little off during the show he’d look for validation – not to say he was looking for compliments, but rather an honest take on the show from someone he trusted in the crowd.
Most of the time, I’d say they’d done great, because most people in the crowd are just not paying attention to the same subtle nuances that the band is aware of and this band in particular excelled at live performing.
Another member of the band came up to us during our talk and pointed into the crowd.
“See that guy over there?” he said. There was a guy who looked about their age in the crowd, inconspicuously talking to some other people off by the stage. “That guy’s going to be our new bass player,” he said.
He didn’t even know him yet.
“Watch,” he said, and walked over to him.
And sure enough, not long after this conversation, he did join the band replacing the former bassist who had set his attention to other priorities.
I always thought that was funny how somehow, instinctively, just by looking at someone in a crowd of strangers, you could make a claim like that and be right about it.
Every time I think about this it takes me back to that day outside the Phoenix concert theater.
There was no way I’d have known those shoes, from 20 feet away, belonged to who they did.
They were regular sneakers.
My far-sight vision has always been bad.
I used to wear glasses and I wasn’t that night.
It’s just sort of funny to think about.
And now I’m going to fast-forward this story to last summer outside the Metro in Chicago after the band played Bleed American in full.
If you’ve heard me talk about that show experience before or read my blog on it, you know I didn’t have the greatest experience and there’s still part of me that’s bummed out about the whole thing.
But despite my own experience, I’d felt like the band must have felt great performing that record and so maybe this time I’d have better luck and not be so insecure about what I wanted to say to them after the show.
Of course we were still in the throes of Covid and I didn’t expect them to stick around afterwards, but I’d been hopeful since I’d planned a full 5 days in the city with that goal on my mind.
When I shuffled out of the theater I walked first to the left where a group of people had started congregating to collect the friends they’d arrived with, smoke a cigarette, and call their Ubers.
I figured this would probably be the best bet to see the guys after the show since, like the Phoenix, there was a small alleyway here, and, another tip-off, some security guys.
But I didn’t want to be in this small hoard of people even out in the open air so I walked a bit away from them all, across the street where I’d have some space to breathe and wait.
I was wasting time on my phone when I looked up a while later and realized the small hoard of people had now turned their backs to me because someone was standing by the gate of the alley.
And it was dark out and I couldn’t say for sure at first but I thought to myself as I looked at the shadowy figure in a hoodie, “this has gotta be Jim”.
I hesitated for a minute, not wholly sure it was, and then thought, “I should just wander over a little closer to be sure.”
So I did and as I got about half way across the street I was certain that’s who it was and found myself an opening in what appeared to be a line of people looking to say hello.
As I got closer to the front of the line I’d notice Jim seemed to be a little anxious, shuffling around the way I tend to, and he even seemed to make a point to walk me a little further away from the crowd of people when I’d finally made my way to the front.
There was better light there which was great because I’d hoped for a photo.
Unfortunately for me I hadn’t in any way prepared anything to say because I’m usually someone that feeds off of whatever it is the person I’m talking to is saying in response and, on this night, Jim seemed too anxious or too eager to get out of the crowd to want to talk very much to anyone.
So I fumbled my way in and out of things I wanted to talk more about but ultimately settled for a photo and walked back away from the crowd across the street.
And I stood there for a bit trying not to make it horribly obvious that I was looking for another opening in the crowd and feeling like it was at least a mile to my own feet.
For at least a few minutes I was molded firmly to the concrete on the sidewalk.
I wanted to at least say that I was so excited they’d played Bleed American because I’d never heard them play most of those songs live before and it was actually such a great show, even if I wasn’t able to show it then.
And as the thought crossed my mind that I’d flown all the way to Chicago for exactly this moment that I was standing in and across from, I sucked up the courage to walk back into the small crowd of people and stood before the intimidating security guys and tried to grab Jim’s attention the same way I’d try to grab the attention of the bartenders at a busy club – politely waiting for them to notice me instead of shoving my money in their face until they served me.
I’m not exactly the aggressive type.
And Jim turned around and left and the rest of the guys didn’t come out.
And so I began to walk back to my hotel which was at least two hours away by foot which meant I had more time to reflect on myself and my experience and in that moment I wanted to do anything but that.
So I spilled my guts out into the void of Twitter, instead.
Not exactly a great look and not something I’m keen to do most of the time.
Because I feel like I can rarely say in the heat of the moment what I really mean or in a way that makes coherent sense and then later I find myself even more frustrated with myself for allowing myself to do that.
How silly all of this might look to anyone not in my own head, heart, or shoes.