I walked toward the entrance of the Office Depot with materials in hand to produce another anonymous Left wing publication distributed exclusively in street libraries. I guess I’m a pamphleteer now.
Something to the right of main door caught my eye. A large man was seated in a chair and playing an electric guitar plugged into a tiny amp. A brown Chihuahua was hanging out beside him.
Then I heard it: a bluesy riff of some kind, drenched in fuzz.
The man set down the guitar and swigged an energy drink as I stepped up onto the sidewalk. He was bald, rotund and wearing orange and brown plaid pajama bottoms and a yellow t-shirt. Besides the guitar, he had a bass drum and sticks at his rock disposal and this man looked like a rocker. The dog looked like a rock dog as well.
He didn’t seem to notice me and I went inside to make copies for my revolutionary pamphlet featuring beavers in the starring role.
After conducting my business, I left the store and beheld the man shredding a surf rock instrumental. I hastened up to him, listened, then slipped a few bills in his tip jar. He stopped playing and thanked me. In short order I learned: the man’s name was Robert. He was 61 years old. The dog was George. They lived in a mini van that doubled as a recording studio. They were the Gypsy Boys and available for live gigs. The Gypsy Boys played instrumental rock, all originals. Their YouTube channel featured over 200 videos of their performances. You can check it out at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGSU-TW2sC5yS2iE3a4H9QA
Robert and George had lived in an apartment not too long ago, with his wife. Husband and wife split up. Robert and George moved in with another man in the same apartment complex as the ex wife. A couple months later, the roommate kicked the Gypsy Boys out because they apparently were rockers. George didn’t really give a shit. The guy was an asshole anyway and now George didn’t have to spend $560 a month on rent. He rigged up the van with a microwave and coffeemaker. He plastered advertising all over the van promoting the Gypsy Boys and the YouTube channel. He was living the fucking dream! Just roaming and rocking! He had this regular spot and the Starbucks in Oregon City. So far management had left him alone and let him rock. Why the fuck not? We all need a little live and gritty rock and roll in these terrible times. Didn’t the Stones sing, “It’s only rock and roll but I like it?”
Yes, yes, yes, I know rock is dead, but that’s commercial and corporate rock. The Gypsy Boys are living rock and roll.
I tipped the band a few more bucks. George barked. Robert said that was signal he was through rocking and wanted to hit the bricks. When the dog was done rocking, rock was done for the day.
Later that evening, I checked out the channel. You should, too.
If you do, and I really must insist, get ready for one of the more interesting rock experiences of your viewing life and absolutely emblematic of the current American Diaspora going on. In fact, The Gypsy Boys, in their own way, may be the band that defines this era.
Where to begin?
How about the beastly shredding sounds (often accompanied by a drum machine) of “Psychobilly Asshole,”Plus Size Lingerie Model,” “Die Magats Die 2,” and a cover of a track by Amyl and the Sniffers? How about George eating a meatball roughly the size of his head? How about Robert’s t-shirt collection or playing shirtless? How about his rant about being kicked off the grounds of a Goodwill but not a Starbucks?
Jesus, I wish Robert would put some words to these savage and feral riffs! What would he say and snarl? Maybe he’d sing about his Chihuahua eating a fucking meatball! Maybe he’d sing about all the fucking assholes in Amerikka? Maybe he’d sing about the death of fucking rock! Maybe he’d sing about killing forest fairies and frying them up for fucking supper!
Even more fascinating than watching their music on this channel is watching the Gypsy Boys transition from living in an apartment to living in a van. One day they’re recording and filming in the apartment. Then, they’re recording and filming in a van. It all looks remarkably seamless and Robert told me he truly loves the van life. No comment from George. Perhaps The Who said it all in “Going Mobile:”
I’m going home
And when I want to go home, I’m going mobile
Well I’m gonna find a home on wheels, see how it feels,
Keep me moving
It occurs to me at this very moment as I recall this ancient tune from a rock galaxy far, far away where rock once lived and flourished, that “Going Mobile” might be one of the candidates on the short list for unofficial anthem of the New American Diaspora (the others are “Shattered “by the Rolling Stones and “Keep on Rocking in the Free World” by Neil Young) Then again, “Going Mobile” may be totally wrong as an anthem for this phenomenon because many participants aren’t mobile and not going anywhere. They are stuck inside a frayed tent, busted RV, corroded camper, shot trailer, leaking boat, duct-taped car, rusted truck, holey tarp, doghouse, plywood and pallet shanty with the new American blues and not moving except to survive, compost, protest, fuck off or whatever it is they are doing.
Let me slightly amend that. “Going Mobile” does work as an anthem for The Gypsy Boys and long may they run and rock the hell out.