Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Market Walker...

One of the benefits of living in Arlington County—in addition to the continuing proliferation of bike lanes and the burgeoning bike culture in general—is the eternal possibility, however slight, of running into an icon of the local punk rock scene at, for example, the neighborhood Whole Foods Market. After all, the "Dischord House" is located in the Lyon Park area. And Inner Ear Studios, birthplace of such notable Fugazi offspring as "In On the Kill Taker," "Red Medicine," and "The Argument," to name a few, is located in the Shirlington area. And given that even legends of punk are occasionally compelled to venture out into the throng to shop for food, I guess the wonder is that I haven't run into him before.

My girl and I had just stopped to pick up something cold to drink after biking from Clarendon to Old Town, Alexandria, then on to Shirlington (where we were waylayed by some Belgians at Capitol City, while outside the heavens darkened and the skies opened up with another downpour), and finishing up back where we started. Grabbed a handcart, stepped inside, checked out the fresh produce, meandered a bit. Looked around.

Odd, but even from the back I recognized him immediately. The hat was the clincher. Nudging my girl like an excited schoolboy, and with a directional nod of my head, I said in a low voice, "Hey, that guy right there, that's Ian MacKaye of Fugazi. The guy in the hat." She looked at him, then at me, and said, "Are you sure?" All I said was, "Watch this." I walked up to him, mindful of the fact that overt idol worship, however benign, is generally considered an intrusion by the recipient, and casually hit him with what can only be described as the most banal of questions, to wit: "So, are you guys planning on getting back together?"

The ensuing conversation went something like this:

IM: "Who's that?" (Slight play-off. Sidelong glance.)

Me: (Nothing to lose.) "C'mon, man. Fugazi?"

IM: "Oh...yeah." (Damn. Recognized.) "Yeah, well, Fugazi is an open thing; I mean, we never broke up. We're just there. Doing some different stuff right now. It's an ongoing, open (extends arms slightly, congenially, palms up) kind of thing. Who knows?...oh, I'm (politely extends hand) Ian."

Me: (Shakes hand, introduces self.) "So, no plans to play Fort Reno any time soon, huh?"

IM: Well, yeah, we played a show there a few years back. And, uh, I'm playing there with Amy as The Evens on July 31st, so..."

Me: (Fuck. Saving face.) "Oh yeah, yeah, sweet. We'll be there."

Then out with the camera for an obligatory photo request—accompanied by an ameliorative apology and a thanks, which elicited a good-natured laugh. He popped off his hat, quickly struck a pose, and—voilà! The whole exchange lasted less than five minutes. Surreal.

We said goodby and left him to shop in peace, a quiet, pleasant, unassuming guy in shorts, a nondescript t-shirt, and skate shoes, no sign of the powerful hurricane that used to (and may yet again) explode on stage, steam rising from his shaven head like a displaced spirit in the cool of an autumn evening...

Regardless, I've got a good idea where I'll be at 7:15 p.m. on July 31st.

POSTSCRIPT: There's a humorous scene in Instrument—Jem Cohen's workmanlike documentary of compiled shows and interviews spanning the life of the band—that comes to mind just now. MacKaye is on stage and, dismayed, stops the show to point out a hooligan in the crowd who is apparently kicking the shit out of someone. He says something like, "Hey! You! Badass! I saw you man, I saw you outside, before the show...you were eating an ice cream cone! All happy and laughing like a little kid. Now you're in here beating on someone. You ice-cream-cone-eating-motherfucker!"


Tim Wise said...

Heeheheeh... Market walker. You are funny.

gmr2048 said...

To his question of "Who's that?", you should have come back with "that one really good band you used to be in...Minor Threat". Tho I suspect the rest of the conversation wouldn't have gone as well as it did. Nice photo. I probably wouldn't have had the nerve (aka "balls")to just waltz up and start talking. Very cool encounter.

Rob said...

Super cool!

troegenator said...

he looks so much older. you shouldve said minor threat though.
everyone gets old, its ok.

The Instigator said...

Gotta love Ian. If you haven't checked out the 20 Years of Discord, it's amazing.