OK, time to get this party started again.
It was around this time last year that I was reveling in the discovery - thanks to a "Best of 2007" recap on NPR's All Songs Considered - of a handful of CDs (or downloads or whatever we're calling them now) that would quickly go into frequent rotation on the ol' iPod. The latest releases by Ray LaMontagne, Arcade Fire and The National, none of whom I'd listened to before, were particular favorites. I liked The National's "Boxer" and Ray LaMontagne's "Till The Sun Turns Black" so much that I eventually also bought earlier albums by both of them.
Another disc I picked up last year was Armchair Apocrypha, the 2007 album by Andrew Bird. I had been a big Bird fan back in my wild-n-crazy Chicago days*, mostly on the strength of The Swimming Hour, which he recorded with his excellently named band, Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire. But the next few albums didn't really do it for me and I was nonplussed by his performance at Lollapalooza** in 2006 (although that might have been because I was wearing a cast on my foot and it was roughly 300 degrees), so when I finally heard Armchair last December, it was like a big sonic hug.
The point of all of this is that I was very pleased to learn that Mr. Bird is playing a show here in L.A. next month to support another new album... and even more pleased to learn that Ticketmaster let me pay them all sorts of ridiculous surcharges (seriously, why don't they also add 10 percent for the privilege of looking at their web site?) to secure two pretty decent seats to said show. And even more pleased, if that's even possible, that the world's most beautiful wife has agreed to attend said (said?) show with me. Because going to concerts on school nights isn't usually her thang.
In a very hackneyed sense - a hackneyed, musical recommenation sense - I guess you could say I just gave you the Bird. Which might not really be that funny, but for reasons that'll become clear in about five seconds, it reminds me of a strange thing I saw during our mini-vacation last week.
We were sitting at an outdoor table, waiting for our food at this ridiculously great roadside cafe in Big Sur, when we heard a car horn followed by the distinctive metal thud-crunch of two cars colliding. Being native East Coasters, we fully expected a nasty brouhaha, or a at least a kerfuffle or set-to. Certainly, someone could have - you saw this one coming, right? - flipped someone else the bird.
So we turned to watch the crashee, a twentysomething woman, jump out of her Hyundai. Realizing her car had sustained no noticeable damage, she broke into a huge grin and crowed to the crasher, a seventysomething man in a Jaguar: "It's all good! Noooo problem!"
And then, as if to remind everyone watching that we were squarely in the middle of the land of the supremely laid-back - and I'm not making this up - she hopped over to the guy who had just backed into her car and gave him an emphatic high-five. "It's totally OK," she gushed. "Plus, it's a rental car anyway! I don't care."
A little hard to imagine the situation going down the same way back home. Kumbaya, my lord. Kumbaya.
* Not actually very wild-n-crazy.
** See? A tiny bit wild-n-crazy.