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Brodreo Drive 

It's like a beer commercial. A XXX beer commercial.

Wednesday, Jan 25 2006
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SF Weekly headquarters is located in a sterile building that houses a great deal of other offices and companies and conference rooms. In other words, where I work is much like where you work. It's not very interesting. (I know, I know: You thought it was all blaring rock music and hanging out with the, er, "escorts" who advertise in the back pages. Sorry.) But just an hour before I sat down to write this I observed an amazing scene that involved the men's bathroom for the south wing of my beloved third floor. As I stood there pissing, a cell phone rang out from one of the stalls nearby. I had only a moment to register a thought -- "No, he couldn't possibly ..." -- before the gentleman relieving his bowels (in all likelihood a co-worker of mine) answered his phone. While taking a shit. In public.

And it gets better/worse.

"Hey, put Dad on the phone," I heard him say as I washed my hands. "Hey Dad, did you get the pictures of me and the kids?"

Now then. Am I the only one to think that answering a call from one's parents to discuss such topics as one's children while dropping a deuce is just a teensy bit wrong?

I feel it is OK and relevant to share this with you because a) it is your right to know; and b) it is apropos of a certain term about which the following is an explication -- brodeo.

Brodeo (noun): a gathering of gentlemen friends for the purpose of male bonding; see also, brodown.

A brodeo is when a bunch of dudes get together and basically get to act like dudes without their girlfriends having to hear them talk about women's asses and "the Princeton offense" -- which, for any chicks reading, refers to basketball. Something else dudes talk about is shitting, and we talk about it a lot. (I really wish I could say I'm just the messenger here. Oh well.) If you don't, or simply don't want to, believe this, allow me to direct you (quite reluctantly) to www.ratemypoo.com. It's not pretty, folks.

"Don't talk to me about asses. I know from ass. I once dated the finest ass in central Illinois," said my colleague last week as we gathered around food and sangria at Cha Cha Cha in the Mission. His comments drew glares from the group of early-20s females sitting next to us. As is par for the course when engaged in a brodeo, said glares only made things worse.

"It's more of a rhombus," said another colleague of a new ass in question.

"No, it's trapezoidal," asserted the first colleague, throwing the words over to a disgusted table No. 2.

There are no real guidelines for brodeos. A brodeo can involve staying in a chosen home (usually the "House of Debauchery," as I once described it to my shrink) and playing games of skill (Halo) or chance (poker), or venturing out into the night. Last week four of us chose the latter, trucking it to Cha Cha Cha and then 12 Galaxies for a show featuring the bands Espers, Feathers, and Vetiver, which play what a friend of mine calls "homemade-hat folk." As in, "How about that homemade hat thing?" asked said friend the next day after the show, referring to the crowd. "I'd like to think Robin Hood and his merry band might have sold all their stuff to Mission Thrift, but I suspect there's a hat-making club afoot."

Warning: The subsequent paragraph is a quick show review that also expresses my current feelings about the exponentially growing number of these kinds of groups and their fans. Those of you who only want to read stuff like "She's not spreading her legs tonight" can skip it.

The first two of these bands embody the next generation of homemade-hatters. Espers, from Philly, is signed to Drag City (which, with acts like Joanna Newsom and Six Organs of Admittance is becoming to this folk/psych revival what Sub Pop was to grunge); nomadic East Coast-ers Feathers are on the new label started by Devendra Banhart and Vetiver's Andy Cabic, Gnomonsong. Neither group was all that compelling. Each had a goodly number of shaggy members doing the round-robin thing on all manner of instruments, including harp, flute, cello, and bongos. And each applied a "Let's just let the music guide us" approach, which means a lot of the jams felt like hippie-ish drum-circle affairs, minus anything resembling a propulsive rhythm. (One friend referred to Feathers as "listless," which hit the nail on the head.) This simply will not do. What has made this revival business special is the emphasis on songwriting -- that is, a focus on arrangements and nice rhythms and such. Just because you smoked some weed, are wearing a milkmaid's dress, and can play the lute does not mean you can come to the party. This applies to the fans, too: These shows are not casting calls for Oklahoma!, so you can stop dressing up like Aunt Eller Murphy. As for Vetiver, Cabic and Co. were amazing, and they're just going to keep getting more amazing, commensurate to the length of Cabic's beard. But then, that's the justifiable reason why we now have all these people wanting to walk in his footsteps, isn't it?

"She's not spreading her legs tonight," pronounced a colleague at some point during Vetiver's set. The subject was getting laid, as I'm sure you might guess is a common one at a brodeo. The night was wearing on and the sangria was doing its good, good work and the bros were starting to get beleaguered.

"She's definitely not spreading her legs tonight," agreed another colleague. And so on.

Perhaps your stomach is turning ever so slightly as you read what bros talk about when they talk about being bros. Allow me to offer this consolation: As penance for being surly and inconsiderate and insensitive, we men are saddled with beer guts and disappearing hair; we never obtain any working knowledge of how the female psyche really works and so are interminably myst-/mortified by it; we live in fear that we will be abandoned by these females we don't understand if ever they discovered our true nature, and so attempt to obscure it in all sorts of bungling ways (e.g., pretending to like Belle & Sebastian).

So we're pretty confused and stupid and sad, and if the occasional crass comment gets a laugh and offers respite, well, any port in a storm, as they say. One thing I can assure you of, however, at least as regards my bros, is this: We know better than to use the damn cell phone while taking a crap. Unless, of course, it's to take a picture of said crap and send it to www.ratemypoo.com.

About The Author

Garrett Kamps

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