“Hey kids, rock and roll
Nobody tells you where to go, baby”
We got to this lunch place not a moment too soon – it was 3PM on a random Tuesday afternoon, late for lunch but perfect timing for the last of the unsweet tea mixed with lemonade. We got to chat with Mr. Weaver D himself, he had time, looked up from his paper. Nice guy, seemed self-assured and fulfilled in the way everyone wants to feel. Maybe we caught him on a good day, maybe we were projecting, since that’s the way everyone wants to feel. Or maybe he is the King of this domain, Weaver D’s, Athens, Georgia. He knows the public, he talked, he listened. I told him I was leaving town for a long drive, visiting a 90 year old Uncle. “Uh Huh, Oh,” he said. I’ve been at a conference, I said. “Oh, a conference,” he said.
Weaver D S Delicious Fine Foods
Automatic For The People
We got to this place not a moment too soon, in this case “not a moment too soon” means fourteen years later than we originally thought of visiting, but when we first heard about this joint we were half a world, half a world away from Athens GA, in Budapest, Hungary. The initial awareness of Weaver D’s was one of those moments that seems insignificant but sticks in your mind like a time stamp.
Mr. Weaver D knew what I as doing there, he was cool about it. I looked, tried not to stare at the “Automatic for the People” memorabilia, but being deliberately blasé is hard to pull off. I wanted to ask him what being on an R.E.M. album cover felt like, did it change anything? For the better? Do people like me bug him? Am I bugging you? Should I say it? Do I seem remote because I’m not talking? Am I giddy from a brush with fame?
April, fourteen years earlier, I got off the yellow Budapest tram near Octagon Ter, started down the promenade but got caught in an April downpour, a sudden soaker that had everyone scurrying for shelter. Not I, since I was done being The Professor for the day (3pm) and was on my way to my sweetheart. Wet clothes would be an excuse to shed clothes.
I strolled in that springtime, everything was going my way, I watched the mere mortals fear the elements. Near her courtyard I paused to collect myself, shook my wet hair like a dog, ducked into the tarp shelter of a bootleg cassette pirate. A new R.E.M. release played on the jambox of the street vender. I bought a cassette (700 forints), presented my discovery to Miss Sweetness of April and we enjoyed it together for a long, long, long, long time. It wasn’t until I returned to the USA that I found out that the cassette had a fault, it played a bit too slow. The correct version of “Automatic for the People” sounded like upbeat Pop-Schmaltz to me in America. My idealized version is more of a blues, slow and low is the tempo. Seems more meaningful, going slow. The up tempo version lacks depth.
[addressing two comments that came in very quick, yes, “Everybody Hurts” going slow tempo can be even more painful, but we were blissing, untouchable, and didn’t pay attention to that]
Every single freaking lyric was written for us that season, it was the soundtrack to our lives. Spring, Summer 1993 in Budapest, Lake Balaton, that week spent in a haystack, the weeks surfing Croatia… train rides, homemade wine with grape seeds in it, bread and cheese for lunch…
You can call the pay phone.
Let it ring a long, long, long, long time.
If I don’t pick up, hang up, call back, let it ring some more.
Baby, instant soup doesn’t really grab me.
Today I need something more sub-sub-sub-substantial.
A can of beans or black-eyed peas, some Nescafe and ice,
A candy bar, a falling star, or a reading of Doctor Seuss;
Night swimming, remembering that night.
September’s coming soon.
Pick up here and chase the ride.
The river empties to the tide.
All of this is coming your way.
I will try not to breathe.
This decision is mine. I have lived a full life
And these are the eyes that I want you to remember.