Show #38: Oberlin, Ohio

"Can we not conclude that we, as humans, can relate more to the experience of a dog than we can to the experience of an ant?"

"No, my good man. I regret that I cannot conclude that."

"Come, sir! Epistemologically, the conclusion is self-evident!"

"I'm sorry sir. I cannot conlude that this conclusion is self-evident. You may subscribe to the bankrupt logic of 'I think therefore I am.' However, in our postmodern age, this conclusion is far from conclusive."

'But, sir, I implore you—think now of a dog. Now, think of an ant. Can you not see that we, as homo sapiens, can relate more to the mammalian experience than to the ant-lerian experience? This is just common sense!"

"Common sense? Ha! Common sense to a ribald heretic such as you, perhaps. But, sir, I must inform you here and now before all these witnesses—I do not believe in common sense."

So ran an explosive Socratic dialogue I overheard whilst trying to purchase potato chips in a convenience store on the campus of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. Make no mistake—I am in full support of the college experience and the pseudo-philosophical explorations that experience cultivates. In addition, the college experience provides a unique opportunity to play obnoxious free jazz, read semiotic texts, consume large quantities of illicit drugs, eat at diners in the wee hours of the morning, and engage in spontaneous sexual encounters with individuals one may or may not know. However, before a show, I like to eat potato chips. If your explosive Socratic dialogue is holding up the line at your liberal arts college's convenience store, please continue that explosive dialogue outside so I that can buy my Ruffles.

Of course, not everyone at Oberlin is hunched over discussing Cartesian logic and Nietzche's Superman. For example, consider the gentleman pictured above. I cladestinely photographed this gentleman and his ladyfriend at Oberlin right before my performance. Though this man is seated directly in front of a loud band that is prepared to crush him with its superior aesthetics, he does not give a solitary f*ck! Rather than scrutinize the glorious art that is about to unfold before his eyes, he would rather spend his time "chilling"—that is, exchanging pleasantries with a lovely lady and, should the mood strike, checking his email on his laptop. Don't worry, this laptop will not run out of power—this laptop was plugged into the same outlet as my guitar amp.

Now, some might be reluctant to sit directly in front of a band, open laptop in hand. Some might worry that a open laptop could prove distracting to the band and its audience. Some might fret over a breach of etiquette. Absurd! Haven't we the right to check our email and talk to our ladies whenever and wherever we please? This man is a model of human freedom! This man has no concerns, epistemoligcal or otherwise. No better situation is imaginable for this man. He's got 1) his lady and 2) his laptop. Perfect!

When I applied to liberal arts colleges in the Fall of 1993, Oberlin appeared on my radar screen. I did not apply, as I found the alliterative "o's"—that is, one "o" in "Oberlin," and the other in "o" in "Ohio"—off-putting. My "o-phobia" was as good a reason as any not to fill out another college application at the time. In retrospect, I regret not exploring Oberlin further. Had I been accepted, I would undoubtedly have been able to relax with my laptop and my lady at numerous campus events. At age 32, I would have organized a 10-year lady/laptop reunion. The invitations to this reunion would be simple and to the point. "Oberlin Reunion Planned!" they would read. "Bring your laptops and your ladies! No jacket required!"


  1. #1

    Hey - you can't go wrong with the two "L"s, Laptops and Ladies. How was the show anyway? Distracted students or excited ants?

  2. #2


    Antelope made great company when we were crossing Arizona on our way to California from DC. As your music, your writing is a whole trip. Looking forward for the next stop.


  3. #3

    tears! that was classic! thanks for the chuckles.

  4. #4

    Hilarious! And although I do not perform in front of live audiences, I frequently make myself part of audiences, and sometimes as an audience member I can't stand certain obnoxious spectators. I can't imagine how performers must feel sometimes. I had a similar problem as a spectator not too long ago at a Pere Ubu show at the Knitting Factory in New York City, which is a non-college venue. Some idiots at the bar were drinking $12 Duvels and talking so loudly (about nothing nearly as urgent as epistemology, mind you) that their conversations were actually heard OVER the music (keep in mind there's several bars in the club and they chose to carry on the conversation at the one in the main space where musical activities were going on). I only mention this because other spectators like myself got so fed up that these ignorant scoundrels were actually "shushed," which is a common reprimand in public places such as movie theaters! That was the first and only time that I've heard of or witnessed a "shushing" at a rock show, but maybe more people should utilize this tool.

  5. #5

    Blogging like this will get your ass kicked in Michigan.

  6. #6

    Greydon, what kind of stupid name is that?

  7. #7

    hey ernie, maybe you should go back to camp and stop wasting bandwith.

  8. #8

    "Blogging like this will get your ass kicked in Michigan."

    If Michigan scenesters are attempting to kick someone's ass for BLOGGING then Michigan scenesters need to get a life or go play in traffic!

  9. Annoying Liberal Arts College Brat

    I'm extremely sorry for holding the laptop of the guy working the lights for your show while he went to the bathroom, next time I help out at one of your shows I'll make sure to grovel a bit more, how could I fail to recognize the aura of divine pop punk that surrounds you? Do you think I could be as cool as you if I drop out of college or would I also need a pair of aviators (great look btw, real roadtrippy)? By the way my lady friend gives great hj's, you should have asked for one!

    Cantelope rulez.

  10. #10

    Thanks for the comment, "Annoying Liberal Arts College Brat"...if that is your real name.
    You mentioned that "the aura of divine pop punk" surrounds me. I believe you meant "the aura of divine art punk" or "the aura of divine punk-funk" (Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc.) You may wish to consider such distinctions in the future.
    Also FYI: I didn't drop out of college, but graduated with high honors from Wesleyan University, a well-regarded institution (much like your own) in Connecticut. I hear that some unfortunate folks who couldn't gain admission went to Oberlin. Perhaps you are one of them?

    Bona fortuna and enjoy the "HJ's"...

    Justin, Iceland CEO/President
    Class rank: 7 out of 374
    LSAT score: 169
    SAT score: 1330
    Extracurriculars: Drama club

  11. #11

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