The Parable of Garfma

  • October 18, 2017
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Hello, friends! Rob here.

It's been a while, so I'm gonna forgo my usual roundabout approach to writing these things and skip right to the really important stuff . The following is a list of all of the tacos I consumed over the course of both weekends of Austin City Limits. The tacos were consumed while in Austin for Official Revivalists Business, in Houston while visiting my wife's family, and in New Orleans while recuperating.

1 x Migas, Torchy's Tacos
1 x "Trailer Park,” Torchy's Tacos
1 x "The Democrat,” Torchy's Tacos
1 x Baja Brisket, Salt Lick Taco Bar
1 x Green Chile Pulled Pork, Salt Lick Taco Bar
1 x Ranchero Pollo, Salt Lick Taco Bar
1 x Akaushi Picadillo, Tacodeli
1 x Migas, Tacodeli
1 x Puerco Verde, Tacodeli
2 x "Fundamental Tacos” with chicken, Magnolia Café
2 x Breakfast tacos with egg, avocado, turkey sausage, and feta cheese, Austin Java (note: it was a build-your-own situation, and I may have made the mistake of just asking for four things that I like to eat without considering how they would taste together. Fortunately, I was able to muffle all of the bold flavors under a blanket of salsa)
8 (possibly 9) x Super-basic tex-mex-style ground beef tacos, homemade (consumed over the course of an entire day while watching football)

Austin City Limits was so fun. I kept freudian-slipping and calling it "South by Southwest” because we've done SXSW like four times and this was our first ACL. They are kind of similar, not just because they're both big music events that take place in the capital of Texas, but also in that they tend to be massive industry draws. Both festivals (one of which is not technically a festival but whatever) bring in a lot of friends and business-types from all over the country, which lends a bit of a family vibe while simultaneously creating numerous opportunities for schmoozing and general hobnobbery.

One interesting thing about ACL is that all of the backstage water was in aluminum cans. I've seen canned drinking water before on airplanes and in zombie apocalypse survival kits, but never so much all at once. Until last weekend, it had never been my primary source of hydration. I had never known the sordid thrill of reaching over to the nightstand, hungover from the previous evening's hobnobbery (really trying to get it to catch on, you guys), and cracking a pop top- not unlike those found on the cans of beer I had been swigging the night before- to get at that sweet, rejuvenating lifejuice. And that's another thing: the drinking motion. You don't normally get to swig at water, because water isn't typically served in swiggable vessels like cans, hip flasks, and maybe tankards. You can really tilt back a can of water, and then crush the can in your hand and toss it over the lip of a dumpster at a construction site. It makes me feel like a stevedore. You can't do that with a plastic bottle. I'm going green forever now.

Speaking of burying the lede, WE HAVE A GOLD RECORD EVERYONE!!!

The single for "Wish I Knew You" has been certified Gold by the RIAA. To be honest, I kind of can't wrap my head around it. I really can't. I have yet to make space in my worldview for the fact that we made something that half a million people bought. This is a huge milestone, and whether it's the first of many or the peak of a long, parabolic arc back down to earth, it's an accomplishment I will take to the grave, forever grateful for everyone who had a part in getting us here- not just the band and all of the wonderful professionals who make up our team or who have supported us less directly, but the people- the living, breathing humans- who have believed in us and quite literally kept us alive for the last decade or so. If you're reading this, you're probably one of those people, so thank you. That was really cool of you.

Speaking of really cool stuff, I'm sure you're all aware of this by now, but just in case, our pedal steel guitarist, chief robot-dancer, treasurer, and all-around cool guy Ed Williams added another item to his resumé last month: Dad. His little baby kid son is an adorable tiny creature with large cheeks and beautiful eyes who reportedly pees and poops a lot. Ed was able to pry himself away from babyworld for two roughly 24-hour periods to play the two big shows we had for ACL (thanks/sorry Maggie!), but he is otherwise on family leave for the remainder of the fall.

And finally, America celebrated National Coming Out Day last week. While I didn’t personally get to witness a whole lot of coming out (nor did I feel it would be entirely appropriate to use the occasion as an opportunity to share my deep involvement in the Brony subculture), I saw a few stirring anecdotes on social media, including one post which drove me down a pretty solid tangent, and you should know by now that if I go on a tangent then BY GOSH I’M TAKING ALL OF YOU WITH ME:

A friend of mine posted something about the holiday, and one of their friends, whom I’ll call "Garfma” (because it’s a whimsical, made-up name that doesn’t sound particularly masculine or feminine and I’m deliberately trying to omit as many personal details as I can while still getting my point across), commented on the post claiming to be sexually attracted to one gender, but romantically and intellectually attracted to all people, irrespective of gender. Garfma then said they were happily married to a person with whom they did not have a sexual relationship.

I had a hard time relating to that. How could I? I believe that a healthy physical relationship is intrinsic to a healthy romantic relationship. That’s what works for me. And that's okay.  It's okay that I can't really put myself in Garfma's shoes, just like it's okay that Garfma might not fit too well in mine. It’s okay to feel differently about stuff.

But I had to check myself when I realized that my initial reaction wasn’t just something along the lines of, "oh. Neat,” or even "that seems weird, but whatever floats your boat I guess” (which, while usually well-intended, is still kind of judgmental in the same way that "no comment” is often actually a comment in and of itself). My reaction was, "there’s no way that works. Healthy relationships need physical intimacy. This Garfma person must be miserable, or Garfma’s spouse must be miserable, or both- how could they possibly be happy?” In short, I called BS on the inner workings of another person’s heart.

Fortunately, I did all of that in my head, because it only took me a few seconds to realize my error. I can’t possibly expect to understand someone else’s world by looking at it through the lens of my own circumstances and experiences, just like I can't tell if someone else has a broken elbow by examining my own arm. I’ve been working on taking people at their word for a while now, and I’ve preached it somewhat indirectly in earlier posts this year, because I truly believe that we could do ourselves a heck of a lot of good simply by listening to one another- not waiting for our turn to speak, not combing for hypocrisies and logical fallacies, just listening.

When a woman says something happened that made her feel harassed or unsafe, I make an effort to take her at her word, because even if I personally would’ve felt fine in the same situation, how the hell do I know what’s going through her mind, or more importantly, why? When a person of color- even a prominent and well-paid one- says that racism is still a problem in this country, I try to take them at their word, because what the hell do I know about being black? When a working-class Appalachian breadwinner says his family needs help too, I try to take him at his word, because what the hell do I know about watching helplessly as my quaint little hometown falls victim to retreating industry and opioid abuse? Sure, maybe those things aren’t happening to me or around me in ways that are visible to me, but that doesn’t make them any less real. The only way for me to approach understanding of any of those things is to do my best to expose myself to the perspectives of others and listen with an open mind.

So when a complete stranger says that they are happy living a certain way or loving a certain way, I have to remember to take them at their word and just be glad to see any love in the world, even if it looks a little weird from where I’m standing. Here’s to you, Garfma. And here’s to your love. I believe you.