Monday, October 27, 2008

The Lodge

Current temperature: 56 degrees
Number of hours of wakefulness: 6.5
Number or hot beverages consumed: 3

I think I have listened to and liked music my entire life. I remember the first small show I ever attended. It changed my interests entirely. I have never been the same. Live music is something I have been very passionate about ever since. However, after nearly thirteen years of going to shows, watching bands, meeting people, being disappointed, I have developed a cynicism that I am not entirely proud of. Shows are rarely fun for me and I think I have figured out the slightly shameful reason why.

All those years of shows have spoiled me dreadfully. Not only did I attend shows, I also put on shows (with the help of the very best of friends). I didn't just listen to the bands music, I also knew the bands. They stayed at my house. They ate dinner with my family. We kept up after they went back on the road and, in a select few cases, we went to visit them and stayed at their houses. This is not normal but it became normal. Now, when ever I go to a good show, I can't help thinking that, though I love the music, I would much rather be sitting, talking over a pot of soup.

That said, I was given free tickets to see Ray Lamontagne on Saturday. TJ and I drove down to Austin very last minute and caught almost the entirety of his set. It was a strange show with strange attendees, strange seats, and strange sound, but it was also beautiful. The sound was perfect and, because we were sitting in an old theater very far from Ray, it was very much like listening to his records. Mostly, I realized, I would like to sit down with Mr. Lamontagne and talk agriculture, though I was thrilled to get to see him live (the tickets were about $40, a price I find fairly inconceivable). He is a beautiful, complicated, and very talented man.

Afterward, TJ and I decided to walk down 6th street and find a bar that he remembered and have a drink before heading home. We walked and walked and walked and then finally heard a man yelling, "$2 drinks at THE LODGE!"

You may not know this, but The Lodge is one of our favorite places. Not long ago TJ wrote the beginnings of a rap song about going to The Lodge. He figured that a Lodge was the furthest thing from a club and it was about time someone cornered that niche in the market. It goes something like, "Going to the club, gonna crunk you up. Going to the Lodge, gonna sex you up. . ." etc. We aren't quite sure what he means by all this. Nevertheless, it has been amusing us for a while now. Back in the end of August we spent a night in Fredricksburg (ten of us) and stayed in a small motel which we affectionately named "The Lodge". At some point on that trip it was decided that our house could have no other name. Hiewismordinka House or Fun House, neither could compete with The Lodge.

So, back in Austin, this opportunity could not be passed up. We entered The Lodge, ordered our $2 beverages, and stood in awe of the stuffed moose, longhorn, and bison heads which adorned the walls. The antler chandeliers were a personal favorite. It is not, in general, a very impressing place, but the very fact that The Lodge does in fact exist as something other than our small yellow house, makes it worth frequenting. I was briefly (ever so briefly) a little sad that I didn't live in Austin.

On the drive TJ and I discussed our respective futures. I don't much like discussing the future. It makes it hard to see or breathe. However, I have been doing some thinking. I think I might like to farm. I'm not very sure of this statement. Farming is much harder than I would like my life to be. However, I think it might be the most just thing that I could choose to do. A conscious choice to be poor, to work harder than your returns, to care for the neglected bounty of the land. Farming is a dying art. The average age of farmers in America is 50. If young people do not shoulder the hard, often thankless job of agriculture, some day soon we wont have any. As the bumper sticker says, "Where would we be without Agriculture? Naked and hungry." I think there should be a program of worker "adoption" created to address this issue. Farming is hip right now and being brought to more and more peoples (specifically young peoples) attention. If a program which partnered willing young farmers with already established farms and farmers existed, this problem could begin to be addressed. Here is what I propose: A young person such as myself (though more decided and dedicated ideally) is "adopted" on to a farm. They work side by side with the existing farmer, being paid wages, or sharing in the produce, or whatever, until the time when the existing farmer desires to retire (be it five years or twenty five). Then the farm passes on to the well trained, now quite experienced, new farmer. This way existing farms continue to exist, knowledge of the land and crops and all other necessary farming things gets passed down, and there is no need for this willing and probably poor young person to slave away under debt after buying their own land, which is scarce and expensive.

I will leave you with this from Tolstoy:
" To his disciples Jesus says, Choose to be poor; bear all things without resistance to evil, even though you thereby bring upon yourself persecution, suffering, and death.
Prepared to suffer death rather than resist evil, he reproved the resentment of Peter, and died exhorting his followers not to resist and to remain always faithful to his doctrine. The early disciples observed this rule, and passed their lives in misery and persecution, without rendering evil for evil.
It seems, then, that Jesus meant precisely what he said. We may declare the practice of such a rule to be very difficult; we may deny that he who follows it will find happiness; we may say with the unbelievers that Jesus was a dreamer, an idealist who propounded impractical maxims; gut it is impossible not to admit that he expressed in a manner at once clear and precise what he wished to say; that is, that according to his doctrine a man must not resist evil, and, consequently, that whoever adopts his doctrine will not resist evil. And yet neither believers nor unbelievers will admit this simple and clear interpretation of Jesus' words."


Amy said...

ATTRA is sort of like that. And Journey Person program in maine, sort of, their MOFGA stuff. But a GOOD idea. Escept, what about estate taxes? Do you like how I spelled escept? That's how I meant it.
Good to see you, too. Good. I wish we could see more of eachother. When I go to Waco it's overwhelming, snesory-overload, all of these people I love RIGHT NOW. Goodness.
It was nice talking on your bed.
Bring TJ! Or Jessica. Or Kris. Or just yourself. Or your sister, or anyone you like that we might like, too.
You get the pictura.

Amy said...

I agree with you on much of what you're saying, but I would also say : farmers don't have to be poor. In fact, they shouldn't be. That's a big part of why agricultural is the way it is today.
The laborer is worthy of his hire.
Perhaps they can't spend their time (gas and money) in the city if they choose to live in the country, and perhaps they can't eat out once a week and buy fancy schmancy town clothes, BUT, if you choose to live in the country and farm, you choose to live in the country and farm....People have life boredom and don't live in their homes but somewhere else, and can't understand how there's plenty of entertainment to be found at your own home, in the country, no less.
(that's another subject, for another time)
I just know that people, young people and old people, get out of farming because it doesn't pay. And big ag doesn't.
But I wouldn't want to perpetrate the idea that if you farm, you're poor, and it's a lifestyle of total sacrifice. Some people really enjoy it, and are not "poor", except perhaps in the eyes of the modern city socialite. Perhaps smart farmers aren't in loads of debt to keep up with smiths or joneses or whatever they say, but that's just wasting. All is vanity.
I'm not saying that there isn't virtue in being poor, but I think if you're running a business, be it small, be it large, and you are if you're selling something, even vegetables, you should pay yourself well for your time and effort. There's absolutely no reason that good farmers should make less for their efforts than your average professional businessman, in my opinion, in correlation to what it means for them to be comfortable. Farmers can be "professionals", too. And good farmers will demand that. I think it's a self-respect issue that goes deep into our culture. (ie: the people with dirty hands and skin darkened by the sun, the ones that sweat, don't deserve much money...)
Also, without agriculture, we might be artless, but we wouldn't be naked and hungry. What about hunter/gatherers?