Sweater Guys Ep. 4

Sweater Guys Logo Final

In Sweater Guys, notable sweater guys Mitch Peterson ’17 and Jamie Goodin ’17 share a few of their favorite songs and the stories that go with them. This week, pre- and post-concert harassment, hot dogs, and Stevie Wonder.

Stevie Wonder “Isn’t She Lovely”

This past weekend, my younger brother and I took an impromptu road trip to Chicago, via our parents van, to see Stevie Wonder, a family favorite. This would be my brother’s first concert, and it’s Stevie we’re talking about, so I knew the trip would be a memorable one. That was the case, but not in the way we expected.

The concert was an absolute blast. Stevie and his entourage of 40 some musicians had the audience on their toes the entire night, playing through the entirety of his Songs in the Key of Life, a Grammy winning masterpiece from 1976, in addition to a bunch of hits off other albums. All in all he played almost 30 songs. Quite the performance a guy who has been a star since the age of 11. But it was after we left the United Center that the night’s show really started. We were famished, so we drove around for a while trying to find a parking spot. We didn’t do so hot. At 1am, we were still meandering, and we were exhausted, dazed, and really, really needed to eat. I saw a food shack glowing in the night. It was grungy, but it would do.

My brother stayed in the car, and I walked in—in retrospect, a great choice, for as soon as open the greasy doors, my fate had been sealed. Immediately I was bombarded with sound. The walls were graffitied, there was trash all over the floor, and surprisingly for this time of night, the place was packed. In a space no larger than a Dupre double, there were about 20 people, not including the 10 employees behind the counter. Everyone was yelling, everyone had delicious hot dogs in their hands, and everyone was drunk.

I pushed my way up to the counter and locked eyes with the intimidating cashier. She had big tattoos, huge muscles, and a look that said, “I take no prisoners.” She didn’t disappoint. I ordered and handed her $10. She pocketed it without a word and walked off.

I stood there for a good minute or two taking in the chaos that was unfolding around me. Literally every employee behind the counter was yelling, and so were all of the customers.

As I stood in amazement, the man behind me started yelling, “Bro, are you fucking done?”

The woman who took my money (and gave me no change) started hollering too: “Yeah the bitch is fucking done, get the fuck out of line!”

At this point, everyone in the restaurant starts calling me a bitch. Drunk girls, old men, it didn’t matter. I had no idea what to do. I was about to walk out when the intimidating cashier made her next move.

She pounded her fists on the counter and yelled, “Everyone shut the FUCK UP!” The restaurant went silent.

I’m not sure what the motive behind this was, because she didn’t follow up with anything, and everyone immediately started yelling again. I walked up to the other window and told the woman I had ordered two dogs. She was skeptical, but then the woman who took my money confirmed by screaming, “TWO CHAR DOGS, TWO CHAR DOGS,” spit flinging through the air with every syllable.

Finally, I got my food. As I was about to walk out, a drunk girl who’d harassed me earlier announced to the restaurant that she had a great time, and that she and her friend were leaving. As she was about to walk out, the woman who took my money yelled, “Get the fuck out of here bitch—by the way, nice tits!”

Everyone started hollering. The girl flashed the whole restaurant and ran out. At this point, this didn’t even phase me. I had seen enough. Hot dogs in hand, I slid out the door in a daze. As I walked back to the car, I took a bite of my first real Chicago hot dog. Despite all odds, it was fantastic.

Oh yeah and the song, that’s dedicated to all the lovely ladies I met that night.

“Brave As A Noun” by Andrew Jackson Jihad

During the Winter Break of first year at Macalester, I went to my first concert by myself. I tried to get some buds to come with me, but spending money to see a folk-punk band named Andrew Jackson Jihad was a hard sell. Trust me, they’re a lot better than anything I’ve just said might indicate, even with lyrics that occasionally sound like they came out of my journal circa 2009.

Flash forward to the concert. The duo takes the stage, but takes twenty minutes to start because the upright bass player’s instrument isn’t properly amplified. They nervously crack self-deprecating jokes about how ridiculous it is that they tour with such a cumbersome instrument and everyone laughs—I can’t tell if it’s with or at them. Typical DIY band antics.

Finally, they begin with one of my favorite songs of theirs, but the moment is spoiled by everything else in the venue that isn’t that song. The lights are pointed directly at my eyes, my face is shoved into a girl’s hair that smells unmistakably like vomit, and I’ve just been kicked in the head by a stage-diving 14-year-old with very little spatial awareness. After the most unpleasant and intense 20 seconds of my life, I already want to leave. But I persevere because I paid for this and I don’t need any monetary regret with my sensory overload.

A moshpit forms. Usually I am a fan of theses, but these folk-punk kids are veritable uncaged beasts and I’m quickly overwhelmed. I try to make my escape, but keep getting pushed back into the center as if I’m trapped in a violent whirlpool—but instead of water, it’s made of sweat and beer. Two other people get their hair in my face and they too smell distinctly of bile. I begin to not only question my decision to stick around, but also every life decision of the last 19 years of my life that has culminated in me being here.

“Alright folks, that was our last song!” they yell to the crowd. Everyone begs for more while I make my way towards the door. I leave the venue and find myself in a deli drenched in liquids I’m afraid to identify. I scarf down my roast beef sandwich and spend the train ride home wondering what I did to deserve this. At least this song is good.

By Jamie Goodin ’17

If you’re interested in partnering with The Spark like these gents for a regular collaboration—or just submitting once—email sparktmw@gmail.com. We’re open to anything, especially if it involves folk-punk and shouting.

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