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The Chris Chandler Show

  • Lightning Bugs and Barflies

    Lightning Bugs and Barflies
    By Chris ChandlerSo I was listening to classic rock on the radio, driving along the Pennsylvania Turn Pike in mid summer towards Pittsburgh I found myself driving through a sea of fire flies  blinking in unison with the orange construction hazardsTHERE'S A LADY WHO KNOWS
    and I remember as a kid catching lightning bugs in a mayonnaise jar and poking the tin lid with an ice pick.  I remembered as a kid watching them die inside the mayonnaise jar. I think back to the last time I was in Pittsburgh back in March. Out of wrought, I walked down to my favorite little Irish bar to sit and write. WHEN SHE GETS THERE SHE KNOWS
    Usually this is a quiet Irish bar where I drink Jameson's and  scribble silently until I have hallucinations of being Dylan Thomas.But on this - St Patrick's Day weekend - my sweet little retreat has hired of all things a Karaoke DJ. A sign on the door announces that "ladies drink for free." Take me now baby here as I am
    Hold me close try and understand
    The funny thing about fireflies is that it is only the male that flickers. Desire is a hunger on which we breath
    Love is a banquet on which we feed
    They do this in the hopes of attracting a female. Come on now, try and understand, the way I feel under your commandIf no female firefly can be found males will join forces and begin to blink in unisonTake my hand as the sun does set...  They can't hurt you now. they can't hurt you now. they can't hurt you hopes that their combined brilliance will pierce the sultry southern air and reach the heart (or at least the thorax) of their beloved.

    Because the night was made for lovers
    Because the night was made for us
    Because the night was made for lovers
    Because the night was made for lust
    At the bar in Pittsburgh, barflies are garnished in blinking green shamrocks and unbearable green paper hats, yet I cannot break from my own tradition. After all, I came here to write and this is what is happening. I order a green beer, accept my own blinking shamrock, and
    find the only open table. Familiar acoustic guitar chords leak from the sound system as the Karaoke DJ rummages for a potential participant. I must be traveling on nowA single firefly escapes the windshield of my car So many places I've got to seeand burns in a rhythm all his own.If I stay here with you, GirlI wonder, what do fireflies think Things just wouldn't be the sameas they enliven their luminous bodies, captive in a giant mayonnaise jarI'm as free as a bird now
    And this bird you'll never change...
    Lord knows I can't change

    Do they dream of trying to pick them selves up by their tiny little bootstraps as
    they slide down the glass?At the bar I get into an argument with a libertarian saying the poor deserve what they get and they should pull themselves up by their boot straps as one lone brave soul steps to the karaoke microphone to intone the

    "On a dark desert highway - Cool wind in my hair..." some unseen force makes two lightening bugs blink together -- just once. As someone at the table next to me mutters beneath his breath "Up ahead in the distance I saw a shimmering light..." Once-hollow eyes gleam like fireflies piercing a once sullen darkness. Strangers saunter in and join in the chorus "Welcome to the Hotel California."
    Such a lovely place
    Such a lovely face
    Plenty of room at the Hotel California

    Any time of year
    You can find it here
    strangers clink glasses - and swear undying friendship - bound by lyrics inscribed upon our psyche by the tattoo needles of elevators, and grocery store ambiance.

    So I called up the captain / And said please bring me my wine / He said We haven't had that spirit here since 1969The libertarian fumbles for changeTo buy another green beerI pick up his tab saying...
    He continues his argument citing Rosa Parks as an example of the individual being at the heart of settling the worlds tribulations.  I say if you think a middle aged cleaning woman from Montgomery Alabama single handedly started the civil rights movement — than you probably think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.They stab it with their steely knives
    But they just can't kill the beastIt occurs to me that the reason some people want us poor folks to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps is to get us to bend over. The highway looks as if it were webbed by a single strand of Christmas lights -- dazzling in harmony, blinking as one - while a thousand car radios are tuned to Rush Limbaugh - ironically spewing "The poor should pull themselves up by their bootstraps." The whole bar sings together.  
    There is plenty of room here at the
    Hotel Californiaanytime of yearyou can find it here
    Aware of my own awkwardness in accepting the fact that such an absurd pop song has captured the zeitgeist of my generation; too wrapped up in the group experience to care  I strike my cigarette lighter and hold it in the air. Others follow suit.  Cigarette lighters slice open the darkness.Take my hand as the sun does set
    they can't hurt you now. they can't hurt you now. they can't hurt you now.We, like fireflies, are greater as a collective, as a whole - as a union - than we could ever be alone.

    With love we sleep  /  with doubt the vicious cycle turns and burns  /  Without you — oh I know I can not live, forgive /  I believe in love too real to fell

    Take me now
    Take me now
    Take me now
    I, as a child, unlock the mayonnaise jar prison and the captive fantastic are set free.

    Because the night was made for lovers
    Because the night was made for us
    Because the night was made for lovers
    Because the night was made for lust
    The song ends. The applause erupts - spontaneous cacophony which quickly evolves into uniform blasts of simultaneous rhythmic rifle fire. Its pace quickens. Soon everyone in the room is clapping in unison - and then — they begin to sway in unison.
    Strangers link arms. Some go home together. Darkness descendsAll that glitters is gold as one by one each solitary sparkle is extinguished. But in that darkness a new generation of fireflies is created....