The final Ask Dr. Hal show (or: My lack of hipster stamina)

I’m going to have to become something of an apologist at the beginning of this post, because apparently I’m getting older and becoming a bloody milquetoast wanker when it comes to staying out late. I tried earlier this month to go to the Monade show at the Bottom of the Hill, on a Friday night at 10pm, but when Friday night rolled around, I was so sleep-deprived from the work week that I just ended up crashing early. Last night, same deal: I heard from my squidy friend Scott over at Laughing Squid that the last Ask Dr. Hal was upon us, and I wanted to see what I had been missing, since I hadn’t really known it was going on until maybe the last month or two. I figured I’d head down to the Odeon, grab a drink, catch the opening acts, get some good photographs from a strategically-picked vantage point along with Scott, and maybe even learn something new, an arcane bit of trivia dispensed from the good doctor.

That looks really good on paper, you bet. Allow me now to give an accouting of how disappointingly these plans would unravel. Or maybe would have gone better if I were hardcore, which I have since realized I am not.

Finding a vantage point: When I got there, I had to push my way in through the stretch along the bar. Up front and to the side of the stage, I found Scott, and we had a fairly decent spot, even if we couldn’t see Dr. Hal. We tried moving to the other side of the stage, which made for better pictures but too much light (and it was hot enough as it was, what with all the people in there). Scott managed to score a chair for himself, but only one—no worries, since he’s one of the regular irregulars, he definitely had dibs. But over on the side, the floor was wet and Dr. Hal was saying something about how the side passageway should be clear, so I moved off again. Our original spot was now overcrowded itself, so I shifted priorities and tried to get a drink.

Getting a drink: Never happened. When I could finally made it to the bar, and by that I mean “teetering precariously over some guy sitting on a barstool while leaning on the bar with one hand and hoping no one bumps into me too hard,” they were too busy for me to get served before the crowd shifted and I got moved away.

A space to call my own… and the cameraguy’s, and the fire extinguisher’s: Somehow I got lucky and a space opened up in front of me, one that would move me closer to everything and put me on the other side of the low separating wall from Scott’s table. I jumped right in. It seemed like a good idea, until I realized I was right near this one cameraguy with a tripod set up just next to me, meaning I’d have no room to lean to the right.

Did I mention all the cameras? I never had to worry about this event being documented, as there was one other roaming guy with a video camera, and no less than four, count ’em four video cameras on tripods. I’m not sure who was recording and who was part of the show, as they shot the action to throw up on projection and monitors above the bar, but documentation? Covered.

Back in my nook, I couldn’t lean left either, since there was a support pillar right there. That left me the option of leaning out from underneath the fire extinguisher and craning my neck. And not standing up too quickly becauase Cameraguy’s elbow was right above my head as he worked his camera. Hooboy.

Chicken John’s address: “Where the fuck have you people been the last five years?” admonished Chicken John, owner of the bar and Dr. Hal’s emcee. He had a point.

Nice Pants The opening acts: Here’s where the moments of delight were to be garnered. Nice Pants are a violin/ukelele duo that played beautifully. Catch them around town if you can. Dr. Hal sang a couple songs with them towards the end, including “My Blue Heaven” which had me imagining it was 1923 with us all sitting around the parlor as we listened to the Gramophone.

Jelly Donut Then came Jelly Donut. He’s… well, he’s… look, there’s no way to understate this: he’s a guy in a giant jelly donut costume rapping and freestyling. Really. It’s as soberingly brilliant as you might expect it to be. No, I’m not even fucking with you. Seriously. He and his homeboy performed Maximum Wage and did some freestyling off some Dr. Hal-esque questions the audience left for him.

Q&A: The actual Ask Dr. Hal portion got started late due to a missing member, whom they finally went on without. They opened with Pete Goldie reporting on satellite pictures received from Saturn, followed by Dr. Hal’s intended closing movie (since their missing member KROB—that’s “K-Rob”—was still missing). By the time KROB returned and they finally got to the first question, I had reached the point of being unable to withstand the crowd, the heat, the neck-craning, and the fast-approaching-witching-hour-with-work-in-the-morning, and decided to bail.

Getting out of the bar: Did you ever go through a haunted house or fun house where the walls of a hallway are all pushed in, so you have to squeeze through the foam or cushions or what have you, you can’t see in front of you because the walls are completely shoved together, you have to fight to get forward, and you don’t know where you’re going until you’ve made it to the other end? That’s what it was like to try and get out of the bar, except I could see the door and a bunch of heads, and I felt a lot of bodies pushed together. My mantra was “Sorry-sorry-pardon-me-sorry” as I wedged myself between any sort of opening in the packed mass of spectators. I ended up knocking this one guy off-balance and back a bit (though he had extra space to be tilted back into! where did that extra space come from?), which seemed rude even if accidental, but what can you do? At least I had mass on my side.

Me, the next day: Sore ankle from standing on it funny in shoes with no ankle support. Still kind of frantic in giving the interview I had to give, but I suspect no one noticed. I have no hipster stamina anymore, it’s so sad. I’m going to have to turn in my lab coat and goggles, and switch to wearing penny loafers and L.L. Bean.

Scott’s got pictures. I have a set, up to a point. Wish me less weenie-ism next time I go out.

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