Words by Sean Moeller // Illustration by Johnnie Cluney // Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
We couldn't help ourselves. Tonight are the opening ceremonies for the London Games. Here's a new session from Iowa boys The Olympics, along with an essay written during the summer of 2011.
This man sitting in front of me on this late night flight from Chicago to San Francisco is the reason for my elbows uncomfortably crushing into my seat back. He just had a coughing fit, jerking forward and backward twice, as if he were the only person within nine inches of him. He's making me hate him, but then the coughing fit turns into something of an expression, as if he were attempting to show us all a little something about who he is as a person. He quickly unbuckled his belt, stood up with a start - his de-powered cell phone still clipped onto his side like an important person who must always seem like an important person to the outside world - and he tore the cushion from the seat on the other side of the aisle from his own. He then ripped his own cushion from the place he'd been sitting, curtly and pissily tossing what he considered to be an inferior cushion over to the empty seat, taking his new cushion for a test drive. So far, he's fine with it and the beverage surface is about to begin. Odds are that a man of such easily shaken comfort needs can't handle the premium drinks that come at a price, even though we're sure he needs a stiff one. Whatever his deal is, this man should be filed somewhere on a scale, taking the far end signified by a lusty red color and the pushovers occupying the other side, with the old men that Cedar Rapids, Iowa, band The Olympics claiming the middle roads of the chart.
The band, fronted by Jeff Roalson, assumes the role of the happy crank, those who have turned on themselves enough times to know that they're just not where they want to be yet. The characters in the group's songs are filled with light, something that seems to be guiding, something altogether right and good and yet, there are the tangents that take them to their sad times, where they can't settle on who exactly they're going to wind up as. Roalson barks at times, with an aloof voice that suddenly takes offense, that suddenly pulls against the chain. There sounds to be a battle going on, as there are pretty colors to look at and an overall feeling of casual, stress-free air, but still enough moments to get frazzled by. He sings, "You make plans to break plans," and that seems to go for everybody. It's not aimed at any one person, nor is it simply anecdotal or throw-away. It applies to the speaker. There's much growing up to do yet. There are new people to meet, loneliness to conquer for the time being. There are some many things that need fixing, but there's no doubt that as long as things are happening - anything is happening - it's certainly better than the converse. Expressions and faces need rearranging and there are sometimes no better ways to do such things than to stand up and throw a fucking fit.
The Olympics Official Site