I remember hearing a surprisingly insightful soundbyte on a "Behind the Music" on the topic of aging. Speaking of his erstwhile bandmate Ted Nugent's propensity of tireless juvenilia, strenuously lamentable Night Ranger/Damn Yankees vocalist Jack Blades sagely observed that "It's not how old you are, it's how you are old." While I am in no way comparing myself to the Nuge (you won't catch me bow-hunting in a loin cloth any time soon), I do try to model my life after that maxim. I turn 41 today, but I'm loathe to succumb to the stereotype. Although, in attempting to dodge it, am I only reinforcing it?
I'm happy with my age and experience, but I still resent the implication that certain things are now off-limits to fortysomethings. I remember bristling at a T-Mobile ad a couple of years back that churlishly asserted that "40-Year-Old Dads Shouldn't Be in a Mosh Pit." I spent the last two nights seeing Killing Joke, my very favorite band of all time – who I've zealously followed since the age of 16 (!!!) – lay waste to all in their path at Irving Plaza (oh, excuse me – the Fillmore East @ Irving Plaza). Last night was the second of two shows (read about the first here), finding the original foursome reformed and firing on all apocalyptic cylinders. For those keeping score, last night's set was equally blistering as Saturday's, though concentrated heavily on the Pandemonium era (given a real punch in the arm with Big Paul on drums). Highlights of the set also included another ripping sprint through "Eighties," a dubby skip through "Turn to Red" and a savage (and depressingly timely) stomp through "Money Is Not Our God," which was absolutely feral.
Fifteen years ago, seeing two high-energy, high-volatility rock shows back to back was a walk in the park. This morning, I'm achy and exhausted and stiff from dancing, pogoing and headbanging like a loon (my jumping up and down was significantly restrained on the second night, not for any lack of enthusiasm). The tinnitus in my right ear (which I've been grappling with for exactly nine years a little later this month) was shriller and more piercing than normal. A result of the last two high-volume nights (even though I sported hi-impact ear plugs) or simply what some of my fellow tinnitus sufferers refer to as "The Morning Roar". That all said, I wouldn't have missed these shows for anything. Sure, I'm paying for'em now, but as the Butthole Surfers once wisely advised, it's better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done.
Last year, my lovely wife threw a bash for my 40th. This year, I'm a little less inclined to celebrate the number "41," but Peggy just left a message on my office answering machine with the voices of my little four-year-old and two-year-old wishing me a happy birthday. And the at the end of the day, that's really all I need.
Incidentally, I did not take the photo at the top of this post (I wish). That was snapped by one Tim Griffin at Brooklynvegan. See the rest of his amazing pics by clicking here.