Those left in town, adults now, talk about how it’s not like the old days. They can’t party like they used to. And besides, even if they could, it just isn’t the same anymore. – Party Out of Bounds
I’m sipping my too hot coffee, watching three young adults try to figure out how to fit a ten foot couch into an eight foot truck bed. I mean, they’re technically young adults, but I figure I’ve got at least a decade on them age wise so they’re “kids.” Darn college kids. How dare they youth about like that.
It’s moving season in Athens and while we year long residents are grumbling about the sudden surge of terrible drivers, the kids are figuring out where to pay the water bill and who the local weed dealers are. Classes will begin, kids will drop out, bands will form, the scene goes on.
Athens is the weirdest of the weird: a town that never changes but is different each time you pass through. Sky marring apartments litter downtown now and the “hip” place to be is shifting further to the west each year as the rents in Normaltown and Barber rise. The kids don’t dance and the townies just can’t.
But every year there comes a small crop of music loving folk who mourn the fact that they were too late for it all. Wide-eyed and wondering, lamenting the loss of the days of wine and booze. The days before HOPE and high rises, before AIDS, before Athens went corporate.
Here’s the thing though. They didn’t miss “it.” None of us missed “it” because the “it” is ongoing all of the time and your “it” may not be my “it” but “it” is still your “it.” Sure, R.E.M. is retired, Pylon is gone and replaced with the swell Pylon Reenactment Society, Neutral Milk Hotel is still overrated and Five Eight underrated BUT the magic isn’t gone just because you were born in a different decade, folks!
As the infinitely wise Gordon Lamb will tell you, “everyone’s gotta get born sometime.” Do I wish I had been old enough to appreciate Bowie while he was still around to be seen? Fuck yes. But I get to see all that comes after, all the art he inspired and all the new Bowies that people younger than I will be jealous that I got to see. That’s no small thing.
I’m sorry you won’t get to see the Modern Skirts at their peak or dance with a young not quite famous Michael Stipe on a Tuesday night. I’m truly sorry you didn’t get to experience the trip that was Tasty World. I’m thankful you missed DT’s Open Mic night.
They say life is what you make of it. That goes for your time in Athens, too. Join a band and make your own music. If you want, WUOG is still alive and fucking kicking, go find them. Make friends with the door folk at the Watt and Caledonia. Go see bands. Find them out and the magic will come to you.
It was never the water or the red clay or the location; Athens’ magic comes from its people. We have been so fortunate to continue putting out amazing acts that can define decades. But you won’t miss “it” unless you really try. You’ve got more resources to find and BE part of it than any of us had when we got here. SO GO.