Thursday, September 26, 2013

Angels at the Alter

Gas, Burton, Ville, Mige, Linde
On Sunday, September 22nd, several friends and I loaded up in my car to drive south to a HIM concert many hours away in Atlanta, Georgia.  So great is our love for the band HIM that this is not our first long distance trek to catch just a glimpse of the magic that is their music.  And, in fact, all of the fans that we have met while waiting in line or perhaps enjoying the show, have all traveled long distances to witness this band's mesmerizing stage presence.  The pull of their euphonious music can only be equated, and I am not exaggerating here, with the power of the moon that governs the ocean tides.

The band HIM hails from Finland, and their music, which is sometimes called "love metal", is a homogeneous mixture of divine melancholia and hope-filled doom.  I was first introduced to HIM many, many years ago while in high school when a few of their early songs were added onto a friend's mixed c.d.  I devoured those three songs and rabidly went in search for more.  Now, their music is the soundtrack of my life, and each new album only adds depth to my love for them.

A HIM concert is a quintessential experience that delved deep into the shadowed areas of souls, luring the crowd into a mass ecstatic frenzy of pure devotion. Throngs of "devotees hand on to, and sign every note, their bodies pulsing to the rhythm, writhing with the need for more.

What does this have to do with Southern traditions and the typical feel of my blog? EVERYTHING.  For, there, at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia, a venue that was once a prominent downtown Southern Baptist church, countless fans gathered for a metal show.  Unseen forces and an unheard mystical call lead HIM fans all to a place once used for worship (of a different, more traditional southern-friendly kind) so that they could show reverence for this mighty band which brings them to their knees.

Heartagram symbols were displayed freely on jewelry, t-shirts, jackets and tattoos, and no one was overheard asking what the symbol meant. The Heartagram encompasses a vast variety of meanings, but to the concert-goers of a HIM show, it's the easiest way to show love and support of a band that has been bleeding poetry to them for twenty years.  It represents the circle of life, dark and light, love and hate, life and death... People stood outside in the hot sun, lined up and down and around the sidewalks of Luckie Street for hours in peaceful, polite company.  And when at last the show began, and this Finnish band of all bands took to their throne, the audience did the only thing they could do.  They released out exalted, passionate cries to the band they love, and fell into the hypnotic rapture that can only be inspired by HIM.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Whispers in the South

Lately, I have found myself taking part in various whispered conversations either at work or among my friends.  These discussions range from silly to serious, but they all have one thing in common.  They are unacceptable topics of conversation in the South. Below are two situations I encounter regularly.

The funniest and most common unmentionable topic is of course the casting of 50 Shades of Grey.  At work, at a family members house, and out at lunch with friends this sly subject sneaks its way into the atmosphere.  In hushed tones, someone blushes, clears their throat, shuffles around nervously, and whispers.  “Have you heard?  They have picked the actors for 50 Shades.”   This is hilarious.  Why are they whispering when they know that everyone around them has already read these books and bought the t-shirt?  These are the same people that when asked if they have read these books they shuffle, turn red, look everywhere but at the person who asked them while giving the pseudo-answer. “Hmm.” 

From a funny topic to a serious but wonderful topic: Spirituality.  This too is always whisper worthy. Due to wide media coverage, the spread of yoga and meditation, and growing accessibility, spirituality has reached the religion-crazed South.  Now, on top of Wednesday and Sunday church going, people are becoming interested in sparking their own divine connection.  For years, I have been known as the weird vegetarian hippie girl whose ideas of healthy living were a little strange. Recently, I have become the go-to girl for all things life-expanding.  Friends and acquaintances approach me almost daily with a wide variety of questions regarding whether I think meditation would be useful for them, how should they meditate, what exactly is yoga, or why is it better to only buy food on the outside ring of the grocery store. And, sometimes, I get the wonderful questions about my thoughts of reincarnation, God, spirit, etc. People are interested in finding a deeper connection that works with their fundamental beliefs. Yet, all of these things are asked of me in the same shame-filled but slightly curious way of the above questions about 50 Shades of Grey, as if they were not entirely sure they should speak of such things. 

I have come to realize that there is  astigmatism to being raised Southern.  All around people are curious to know more about many things in life but are strangely reluctant to ask or to learn. But, eventually, like cats, their curiosity gets the better of them, and their questions come out in whispers.