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Problem Child

pcEditor’s Note: Assorted emergencies have precluded updates; in light of recent news about Malcolm Young please enjoy this Best Of World View from August 2009.

Pervasive summer fog punctuates another longish San Francisco stay and by trip’s end my condition mirrors area weather: low, even, and not letting up anytime soon. The flight is thankfully shorter west-east. A late life first time father takes advantage of his infant son’s only silent in-flight interval, picking the kid up and making raspberry sounds on his forehead. Junior starts wailing again and I’m about to deck a sexagenarian. I restrain myself admirably, endure the rest of my air time, and cab it home from Kennedy. The apartment is clean, left so by my landlord renting it back for a mid-summer stay. A cold slice awaits me, the air conditioning is on, and my eyes and brain readjust once more to the readjustment. Except this time the blur hangs a little longer and something in my brain feels even funnier than usual. I chalk it up to geographical ambivalence, barometric fluctuation and Eastern Daylight Time. Chalk it up to too many things to chalk it up to.

Wednesday rolls in – high eighties, sweaty and charcoal dark by mid afternoon. Foreboding skies threaten to the point of no return. An uneasy, day-long pressure builds with each taken and held breath like a thumb over a cranked garden hose. Isolated, large splatters of rain hit the window and a blue chunk of forked lighting touches down blocks away with a throbbing, charged electric buzz before a slam of punishing thunder sets off a half dozen car alarms. Water slashes in vertical sheets, hard enough to pull leaves from branches and sting the paved street on contact. Something inside of me adjusts and the thumb pops off the nozzle.

Friday night I’m waiting in an exceptionally long line at Penn Station, hundreds winding back from a ticket machine spitting passes for a new rail line to Jersey. A dozen equally long lines twist and stem from identical machines and I figure I won’t be getting to where I’m going ’til midnight. But things tend to move fast in this city and people generally know what they’re doing. I make good time to the front and purchase a ticket to Secaucus and an adjunct rail to the Meadowlands. I’ve received birthday tickets for hard rockin’, boogie-woogie madmen AC-DC. Seeing them at Giants Stadium is a last chance rite of passage and noting that I’m too old for this shit is beyond irrelevant. I soon find myself in a passenger car, shoulder to shoulder with fans twenty years my senior and junior. “Ladies and Gentleman,” the conductor cracks over speaker, tongue firmly in cheek, “welcome to the AC-DC rock ‘n’ roll train ..” Mayhem.

It’s ten pm, skies have parted and rain stopped. Angus Young, all fifty-four years and five foot one inches, is selling it in his schoolboy uniform like there’s no tomorrow, convulsing around a massive stage and hundred yard catwalk like an epileptic Red Bull pitchman on a jittery day. The young couple in front of me of love it. He bolts for the aisle to join a Jersey muffler shop worker, playing Beavis to the older dude’s Butthead, horned fingers thrust and heads thrashing in crazed syncopation. She hangs back at their seats, dancing fluidly with her beautiful self, a pole-less untouchable stripper shattering the adage that youth is wasted on the young. It occurs to me, the thing about this band .. they’ve never taken themselves too seriously. The show rages on with relentless pace amid a stage decked with two huge, horned, inflatable schoolboy hats with capital “A’s” in front. A massive, wrecked, still-smoking locomotive protrudes above the drum kit with the numerals 666 across the nose. ‘Hell’ isn’t some solemn, spooky metalhead stance for this band; just a metaphor for no tomorrow. Fireworks explode in rapid-fire succession after the midnight encore, spectacularly anticlimactic when paired next to what Angus has left on stage: two gallons of sweat, a pint of blood, and every bit of himself. Rarely does one feel so compensated having put down twenty-nine fifty on a ticket. House lights come on and a thick cloud of smoke hangs over the Jersey night. Another New York day ends.

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