February 2, 2011

Man out of time

One early evening, way back in the early 1990s, I was working at a bar and Sean Garrison was there. His presence wasn‘t necessarily unusual, but he rarely does anything without a purpose, so I guess he was there for a reason that I can‘t remember. There may have been one other person there; it was early, like I said, and I was still setting things up for the night.

Next thing I recall, this obnoxious young woman was trying to talk to Sean. She was curious about something, and she was asking questions. I could tell he was getting riled; I said “Uh oh” (in my head) and found a reason to walk around the corner. I didn’t see what happened next, but it seems about one-tenth of a second after I was out of view, one of the bar stools became airborne, and the girl left in a hurry.

Nobody was hurt and nothing got broke, but nobody was particularly happy about these events as they had transpired. It didn’t even occur to me that, as the person responsible for the bar, I should probably ask the troublemaker (Sean) to leave. We talked about it, but it was like a Law of the Jungle type thing; the young lady was not picking up on Sean’s obvious body language (“Leave me alone!”), and she went right on with her presentation (which, as I recall, seemed to be designed to help Sean be more sociable and happy). She may as well have been tightening an industrial spring with no safety latch.

Still, while I saw it was a potentially volatile social situation, I trusted Sean’s discretion, and as it happened, he accomplished exactly what he had hoped to accomplish — he got the girl to leave him alone.

Years later, Sean has softened (a little). His career as the frontman for Kinghorse (Louisville’s greatest hard rock band!) came to an end. There for a while, he was a columnist in this paper, one of our city’s most uncompromising philosophers. I imagine his experience working with an editor was … colorful. Thereafter, he applied his songwriting talents to a fiercely spirited country rock outfit, the Five-Finger Discount, but that project ran its course, and now, it seems he’s given up writing and music.

At some point, he found a woman willing to marry him (the dynamics of that relationship must be unusual), and he has established a modest career as a visual artist and craftsman. His paintings are dayglo horrors, outsider versions of hell with cross-dressing Peanuts characters, a variety of animals and aliens, flying monsters. As a sideline of his interest in Medieval LARPing, he has constructed authentic-looking faux-armor shields; a set of these were purchased by the Tower of London and apparently are on display somewhere along the public tour.

Still, the most surprising thing Sean has ever done, as far as I can tell, is join Facebook. Every time I see his name on a “status update” or a link to some esoteric news item, I marvel at how times have changed.

While many of his updates tend toward more personal topics (which I will withhold from these proceedings), he can get his loyal facebos to chime in on the most mundane of topics and turn it into a vibrant affair. His post of the meme concerning the four words we would say to him if we were to wake up in jail together went on for days.

A few weeks ago, LEO ran a letter from Sean praising the paper’s “Loserville” spread. Indeed, the feature had done what he had been attempting to do with the whole of his creative energies for years: put into perspective what is real and worthwhile about our lives here in the River City, while pointing out where we are deceiving ourselves with flash and bullshit.

What a strange world. The beast has been domesticated after all, but the fire still burns. Maybe the rest of us are just starting to catch up with the facts.

For next time: While the next few weeks offer the most exciting reality television programs, “The Super Bowl” and “The Road to March Madness,” try to look away from the box and let your loved ones know you give a damn, and I don’t mean chocolate and flowers, but, you know, some people are into that crap.