So what’s weird is that this weekend I’m playing drums for a bunch of high-schoolers who are staying at the Double Tree Hotel at Jantzen Beach. Jantzen Beach used to be a huge amusement park back in the 40s and 50s, but is now just a big mall with some hotels. The last remnant of that era was recently closed and is rumored to be converting into a Krispy Kreme. I’m playing for a protestant denomination called “Christian Missionary Alliance”, which I’ve never heard of, but, unfortunately they don’t do any tricks involving biting heads off of rabbits, or wrangling reptiles, so it’s ok by me. The band’s job is to play music and have the kids sing along; we make it easy for them by projecting the words to the songs on a couple big screens on either side of the stage. We’re there to lead the kids in worshiping our Lord and Savior, which is a little odd at this kind of event because we’re on a stage, with about a million spotlights on us and all sorts of fog machines going off and we’re up there, in front of everybody, making a tremendous sound. It was like that on Friday night, but on Saturday night, it was different and better, thanks to a life-size cross in the center of the room, and everybody’s chairs facing it. So the band wasn’t quite so much the focus anymore, and that was a good thing, I think.
Christian youth culture is a very very odd thing. I’m not sure I ever understood it. I do know that when I was 14 I would have been thoroughly unimpressed by a man doing card tricks for the Lord. Also, youth leaders everywhere take note: just because you have a video camera doesn’t mean you’re funny. Wearing an afro wig doesn’t mean you’re funny. 5 guys lip-syncing to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” isn’t inherently funny. I’m sorry, it’s just not. If I were a youth leader at a church today, I would do things different than how I’ve seen them done. I think kids aren’t given the respect they deserve; if the intention is to really challenge kids to mature and act like adults, you can’t begin the ceremony with a 50-minute “Mad-Lib” about vomit, French fries and a farting. It’s just so condescending.
Anyway, in the midst of this Christian conference weekend, I skipped church today and did homework instead. Today’s homework involved finding out how to say, “I hope to one day gain money because I play electronic games” in Spanish. I also did a little research on some Radiohead lyrics, specifically “My Iron Lung”. “A total W.A.S.T.E. of time”. I found it stands for “We Await Silent Tristero's Empire”, which is a reference to Thomas Pynchon's novel "The Crying of Lot 49." In the novel, W.A.S.T.E. is an underground system of communication, with Tristero being a personification of goodness and humanity and decency in a dystopian world, much like the world in “Brazil” or “Delicatessen”. As we all know, W.A.S.T.E. is the official brand of Radiohead merchandise online, which is kind of hilarious in it’s ironic self-aggrandizing.