A piece of information I never would have known had my old roommate not moved to South Carolina a couple years ago: Hootie & the Blowfish are from South Carolina. And apparently, they’re still kind of a big deal. In South Carolina, I mean. Obviously. Because certainly they aren’t a big deal anywhere else I’ve been in the last decade.
And so it was with just barely containable glee that I stumbled upon a New York Times article a few months back about a monument that South Carolina planned to install to honor its favorite sons. According to the article, the Hootie & the Blowfish monument would be 20 feet long, 10 feet wide, and at least 12 feet tall. My mental image was amazing: the four band members standing together in studied rock star poses, larger than life and carved in polished gray marble. Darius Rucker’s vision, it turns out, was even more inspired:
Darius Rucker thought it was going to be a bust — as in the heads of Hootie & The Blowfish mounted like some Five Points Mount Rushmore.
Tragically, however, South Carolina was taking its Hootie tribute more seriously than even Hootie himself. There would be no 12-foot tall Blowfish. No Mount Hootiemore. No. Instead there would be abstract art.
Three stainless steel spires curl from the sidewalk at Harden Street and Santee Avenue. Music staffs, perhaps representing the music from Five Points, rise from the sidewalk and meet in the air and then dip around the spires like a theme park roller coaster. The granite guitar pick featuring the band’s accomplishments, embedded in the sidewalk, was like sprinkles on a cupcake.
Wait. What? You know what, never mind. Here’s a picture:
Sigh. But on this, (apparently) the 25th Anniversary of Hootie & the Blowfish, let us not mourn a missed Spinal Tap moment. Instead, let us focus on the celebration. Because it sounded awesome.
Kelly Tabor, who owns Good For the Sole, the shop the sculpture looms over like a metal arachnid ready for a “Transformer” cameo, handed out Birkenstocks to the band.
We’re going to ignore that dark and hilarious imagery (metal arachnid ready for a Transformer cameo what??) and go straight to the Birkenstocks. A bizarre choice, Kelly Tabor. But hey, we’re at a ceremony to unveil an enormous abstract art monument to Hootie & the Blowfish. Who am I to judge what’s appropriate?
“I think [the monument is] beyond Five Points,” said Les Hall, a guitarist who accompanied the Benedict College Gospel Choir on their moving rendition of Hootie’s “Hold My Hand.” “I’m not being derogatory to Five Points, but it’s a cool piece of art.”
Oh boy. I don’t want to be derogatory to Five Points either, but if an abstract art Hootie & the Blowfish monument is the best you’ve got, you know, maybe we should just set the place on fire and start over.
“[The monument] is like a Bob Dylan song,” added Patrick Davis, who was one of the performers during the Hootie tribute concert that followed the ceremony. “Take what you want from it.”
Patrick Davis, apparently, lacks Les Hall’s restraint. Indeed, the man displays no compunction about being derogatory to Bob Dylan. And if the Hootie & the Blowfish monument is like a Bob Dylan song, does that mean that Bob Dylan’s songs are like a Hootie & the Blowfish monument? Does the logic go both ways? Because I’d like to bust that line out at a bar some night. You know, just to see what would happen.
Anyhow, let us not get too distracted by the occasional derisiveness of the gospel Hootie & the Blowfish tribute band, for a weather situation has the celebration teetering on the brink of disaster: A strong wind has blown up, threatening to unveil the monument prematurely.
The whipping wind almost took the air out of the surprise. People had to hold the fabric down as speakers patted each other deservingly on the back.
Well, that’s perplexing: What, exactly, did these speakers do to render themselves deserving of pats on the back? To the outsider, at least, it appears the only requirements for speaking at this ceremony are South Carolina residency, unfortunate taste in music, and a lack of the kind of vanity that would render most of us far too embarrassed to be seen at such an event.
At any rate, it appears the wheels are rapidly falling off the ceremony at this point:
The faulty scrim wasn’t the only uncooperative moment. When Belinda Gergel, a city councilwoman, tried to pull a cord to rip the plastic off the Hootie & The Blowfish Boulevard sign, the cord broke, and the plastic stayed. Travis Teate, a photographer who was shooting everything in sight, shimmied up the signpost to pull the plastic off — with an assist from Mayor Steve Benjamin, who, with cupped hands, gave Teate a boost. “We are solutions-oriented,” Benjamin, with the dirt from Teate’s boots still on his suit jacket, said through a grin.
Is anyone else hearing circus music playing in the background right around now? Deet deet deeteleety deet deet deedee! Doot doot dootelooty doot doot doo doo! And by the way, Mayor Benjamin, the town’s motto has changed. “Five Points: We are solutions-oriented” was okay when there was nothing better we could say about ourselves. But a new day has dawned in Five Points. “Five Points: We have a Hootie & The Blowfish Monument.” Rally the Highway Department to change the signs at the town lines immediately!
The real show wasn’t the unveiling. It was the concert, which featured Hootie members joining their Five Points contemporaries on stage. The crowd of more than 3,000 sang along, and it felt right, real. Is this how Five Points felt way back then?
Yes. Yeeesssss. That glorious time way back then, when Hootie & the Blowfish was sitting atop the music charts and giving Monica a hickey on that episode of Friends. Ummm. Why was that a good time, again?
Hootie does represent a time when the music scene was together. It’s kind of sad because that seems so long ago.
Oh. Okay. Sure.