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Everybody Talks About The Weather. . . 

My chance to be Vanilla Ice

What's the big deal, he thinks on Wednesday evening. A little sleet, a little ice, a little freezing rain. Woooo. . .freezing rain -- scary! OK, so I let my distaste for things like the Weather Channel, "storm teams," and Doppler anything steer me astray. But it's ridiculous to spend 10 minutes on weather on a clear day and give 45 seconds to sports highlights; weatherpersons, except for Terri Bennett of NBC6, are inevitably the geekiest members of a news staff. I think that "weather television" is bad "reality television" for really boring people. That said, things like last week's ice storm sure provide a justification for weather geeks' existence -- "Aha!", you can almost hear them saying. "The heavens have opened up, and were it not for us, you'd all be frozen like so many conservative, bank-affiliated, SUV-obsessed popsicles!" Except, of course, that we wouldn't. Except for the buying of bread and milk -- hello, perishable items -- most folks don't take any extra precautions because of the weather. I mean, what could we have done? Outfitted all the electrical transformers with sweaters? And another thing: Apart from the apparently mandatory salute to the Duke Power "heroes," did anyone anyone at all see any of our heroes operating with any sense of urgency about the needed repairs? This had to be the most invisible 10,000 folks in history; and those who were visible sure seemed pretty casual. But who can blame them? I mean, we're only talking about getting power and heat back to folks who were suffering because Duke Power is apparently inadequately prepared for a worst case scenario! And another thing: how much sense does it make for newsies to preach for hours about carbon monoxide and other household dangers facing people without power when, since they don't have power, those people can't see you warning them in the first place?

Sick of all the weather blabber on television and of padding around my apartment in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, I decided to brave the elements and get out on the streets with my fellow man, to better share with him the humbling experience of this natural disaster. After surveying the area near my apartment (a huge tree closed down 7th Street for a few blocks -- oh, how will I ever pay T.R. Lawing my rent?), I decided to do the other thing people my age do when snowed (or iced) in -- increase the body heat courtesy of a few adult beverages. I hit The Steeple Lounge for a show by the Houston Brothers and the Avett Brothers, partially because I dig both acts, and partially because it was one of the few clubs that A) had power and B) I could get to without running into a 100-year-old oak tree. Inside the Steeple, folks were wearing more clothes than I've ever seen in a Plaza-Midwood nightspot -- halter tops were replaced with scarves, mufflers, and toboggans, and folks huddled around a small space heater placed near the stage. Determined to live it up despite the weather, I hit the bar and ordered a Jack Daniels on the rocks, which ended up setting me back $6.50 -- something I found a bit confusing since an ice-less shot only runs around $5 (if at any point in local history ice is decidedly not at a premium, now is that time).

The show itself couldn't have been better paired with the weather and those in attendance. The warm, cough syrup buzz of the Houston Brothers fit perfectly with the living room vibe of the gig, and the hell-bent-for-flannel sibling harmonies of the Avetts made one feel like they were at a particularly cool barn raising. People compared power outage stories with each other at the bar, each taking a small measure of satisfaction in how well they were handling the lack of electricity. Mind you, they were drinking electrically cooled beer and watching an electric guitarist at the same time, but the thought of rocking it Amish-style seemed to appeal to a few bearded indie rocker types. "This shows us just how much we're dependent on electricity," one Einstein opined, standing at the bar. No shit, I thought. I'm also rather dependent on running water and not getting tuberculosis or polio. The occasional failure of technological progress isn't enough to argue for its extinction, is it? Our little Thoreau left at the same time I did, heading off toward the powerless wasteland of Charlotte's Elizabeth neighborhood, the road dark except for the twin cones of light coming from his headlamps. Headlamps, it should be noted, on his 2002-model, oil-and-gas guzzling SUV. Good thing they don't get ice storms over in the Middle East. Or do they?

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