FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – One of the many benefits of studying to be a journalist is being forced to go out and be involved. It’s impossible to write about the culture of Flagstaff if I’m stuck inside my room with three-dollar wine and every episode of Malcom in the Middle. Knowing this, I try to go out and do things. I think of it as a participant-observation.
Looking for things to do (and beer to drink), I came across a Pink Floyd tribute band “laser-light” show at The Green Room. Personally, I think it could have used a bit more “laser.” A few particularly spaced-out barflies who had problems refraining themselves from waving their hands through the lasers might have agreed with me.
The crowd was a bit reserved, hesitant to dance or even be near the band. There was a hole in the dance floor, like a no man’s land with spilled beer, crumbled cans and wrappers, and dirty gum blending in with the floor. Then the lights dimmed and a cold blue light shone upon no man’s land. The sound of a helicopter grew through the speakers, and through the fog and through the blue, a blinding white light rose and stared at the audience. The lead guitarist, with charming effort, belted out his best Roger Waters impression, “You! Yes, you! Stand still, laddy!” and then black. An echoed guitar trucked along and in unison the crowd recognize the tune, “The Happiest Days of our Lives.” I looked around and the crowd started creeping in. 50-year-old ladies with craft beers in their hands, bikers in tattered leather, students, Dads who used to be cool. All of them lifted and shimmied forward only it was not for “The Happiest Days of our Lives.” It was for the song that was to follow: “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2.” And when the band finally bowled into the song, the crowd broke into seizures. No one knew how to dance, especially not to Pink Floyd, but it was exciting. And maybe it was the beer, maybe I felt a strong urge join my fellow Flagstonians, or maybe that bassline really is too funky, but I danced. Albeit, within a six-inch diameter but I danced and that’s what counts so don’t judge me.
During the break, I met a few interesting people. Among them was a tall and lanky individual named Alex Pierce. He told me he was from Massachusetts and I really only noticed his accent when he talked about the bar. We spoke briefly before the show started back up and I didn’t see him the rest of the night. I thought little of it, nothing more than those fleeting friendships you make in bars, sharing laughs over cheap beer and shitty music.
The following Monday, I saw Alex in the warehouse I work at. Apparently, he had been hired that weekend. I approached him and he had a faint recognition of me. “I was a little bit drunk,” he said, apologetically. Lamely, I told him we all were. I try to live my life like a 50’s movie; all my dialogue are one-liners. On a whim, I asked him if he believed in auras (since my final project is about spirituality in Flagstaff) and he said yes. So I invited him to Alpine Pizza on Leroux Street where we shared a pie and talked about auras and chakras and spirituality. He told me that it isn’t quite a philosophy so much as it is a state of mind. If one wills it to happen and focuses all their energy on something, it can and will happen. A mindfulness awakening. A spiritual enlightening. It’s more of a belief in god as everything as opposed to a god as a bearded man in the sky watching everything we do.
We then went to Crystal Magic, a local crystal shop which specializes in energy-giving/absorbing crystals and rocks. They also sell books on crystals, rocks, religion, spirituality, astrology, yoga, meditation, and sound healing – a perfect resource for information. After creepily listening in on a few conversations, I grabbed a business card and started toward the door when Alex called my name. He was at the register purchasing a few tiny rocks no bigger than a quarter: an amethyst, a celestite, and a howlite. I quickly skimmed over the descriptions: balances emotions, psychic protection, spiritual development, peaceful coexistence, past-life recall, and absorbs anger. It all seemed a bit silly and I smiled but the woman with a broken arm behind the register assured me that they were good rocks. I asked Alex if they were for him. He said, “No. They’re for you.” As appreciative as I am of the gifts, I am still debating on whether or not I should be offended. Apparently, I need some serious spiritual help.