THE GLIMMER OF INSIGHT
Sometime around 1978 I was thrown out of an Irish bar in San Francisco because of
my tendency to be overly honest, even in the midst of a hostile crowd. Things had
been peaceful enough until I thought I’d offer my unsolicited apolitical views to the
drummer of an ideologically driven Irish band. They’d spent the last three hours
revving up the crowd with loud, raucous revolutionary songs and, while they were
busy up there challenging the gods with their shouted tunes, I was reflecting. If you
can agree with me that once you’ve heard three Irish revolutionary songs you’ve
heard them all at least twice, then you might guess my state of mind. I’d had a few
beers as well.
So, during a break between sets, after the other band members had put down their
instruments and made their way through the adoring crowd to the bar, I shoved my
chair back, rose, steadied myself, turned and stumbled to the apron of the stage to
address the drummer. He was conscientiously tuning one of his drums when I came
up, and I waited for him to acknowledge me.
“I guess it must be pretty easy playing the part of the big bad revolutionary 6000 miles
away from the action,” I slurred.
Of course, when he saw me approaching he had expected to hear me gush about
how great their show was, so, he was shocked. And, because many poseurs seem to
take offense at the uncalled-for intrusion of reality into their act, he decided almost
instantly that he didn’t like me. He thought his band-mates might not like me too, and
signaled them to put down their drinks and come back to hear what I had to say.
But, first he wanted to be sure he’d heard me correctly. “What did you say?’ he asked.
I know that simple, undeniable truth often treads upon the bloated self-assurance of
mindless ideologues, but I wasn’t trying to insult the guy; I was merely making an
“I SAID,” I began arrogantly, “it must be pretty goddamned easy for you big tough
revolutionaries singing about the glories of violent revolution 6000 miles away from all
the action.” I gave him my most charming smile.
As fate would have it, rather than clarify things, repeating my thoughts only lead to
further misunderstanding and, I soon found myself surrounded by a swelling crowd. I
remember it in a haze; we were like magnets of the same polarity, as they advanced it
propelled me on ahead and right out the door. The next thing I remember clearly is
standing on the sidewalk with a very large—massive—bouncer warning others to go
back inside, and shutting the door behind them smartly, before turning to me.
“Are you soom kind oov a fookin’ idjut?” he asked.
I looked at him for a long time, studying his face. It seemed like a reasonable
question, and I was giving it the thought it deserved. It was certainly one explanation.
“Are you?” he demanded.
“No,” I said meekly.
He looked down on me with the kindness of an older brother, shook his head, sighed
and said, “Jist go hoom then.”
He turned and walked back into the bar, leaving me alone on the sidewalk to think
about things for a bit, before wobbling off in a generally homeward direction.
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