Jonathan Richman doesn’t believe in air conditioning. He doesn’t think that our comfort is worth expanding the ozone hole for, and he feels that “when we refuse to suffer,” we “cheat feeling.” Fair enough, but the motionless ceiling fans above the Great Hall in Toronto, whose floors are slick with sweat, are a bit of a kick in the ass. Sandwiched between my boyfriend and a pair of loudmouthed forty-somethings who are yelling out song requests and botching the titles (”play Summertime Feeling!”), watching Jonathan make eye contact with the audience and wiggle through his dance routine, I’m torn between primal rage and tears of joy. Don’t get me wrong—I take Jonathan’s words as gospel. Living them is a different story.JR was one of the great discoveries of my life. One of the hardest parts of growing up is realizing that life is actually pretty good, that what seemed like serious pain was really boredom and sexual anxiety. At sixteen, having obtained a fake ID, and, with much effort, convinced someone to sleep with me, I was content. It wasn’t easy. For one thing, I could finally see my musical heroes for what they were: petulant children with undiagnosed personality disorders. Nevertheless, my record collection remained a monument to unwarranted self-pity. When I found Jonathan, I found the idol I should have started with. Whereas most rockstars’ songbooks read like manuals for fucking up your life, JR’s is the ongoing autobiography of a satisfied person.
Jonathan called me the following evening. My mother asked me who it was and what he wanted; I told her that the middle-aged singer from There’s Something About Mary had invited me out for supper. She panicked. Of course, she didn’t need to: Jonathan is the only fifty-something I can think of who could go for dinner with a couple of teenaged girls in absolute innocence. I sat to the left of Jonathan and ate hunan tofu on rice. He talked when he had something to say and smiled otherwise. When the meal was over, my fortune cookie read, “Stop looking forever—happiness is sitting right next to you.”
I spent the following year in a state of apple-cheeked optimism. It was the simple fact that people like him existed, that it was actually easier to be happy than to be hung up on petty disappointments. I prided myself on my positivity, and took heart in the fact that Jonathan Richman would have disapproved of all the jerks who gave me attitude.
Go read the rest over here. Not if you want to, just go read it.
Pictures are stolen in the dead of night from the talented Mr. Forester of flickr.
If you have any reviews or tips for me, email me using my address from the button in the sidebar. However, I will be GONE Thursday through Saturday to go see Jonathan in Salt Lake (!!!), so don't be offended if I don't get back to you right away :)