Feng this shui: It's a thin line between yin and yang.
Feng this shui: It's a thin line between yin and yang.
Matthew Henry Hall

Shui to Go

"He's the exact same guy after 25 years," I exclaim to my old college buddy, Aaron, who's in town visiting, as well as to my 74-year-old stepdad, Nick.

"What'd you expect?" says Nick, as we all crowd around my television and watch a DVD of my old band, Roach Motel. Only the DVD is new. The band just did some reunion gigs. Without me.

The way I wanted it.

"Bob is so great," says Aaron, as we watch my old lead singer lie on the floor of some shit-hole club in Gainesville, Florida, trying to drink from a pitcher of beer but spilling it all over himself, all the while insulting his own band members.

I tell Aaron I have to agree.

After a quarter of a century, Bob has not changed one bit. Except for the bald spot. He still treats his band like poop and his jokes make no sense. Except to him.

"He's like the guys I used to drink with in Flagstaff," explains Nick, of his college days. Turns out Nick went to school there many years ago. He then tells us this story of how he returned there like 20 years later and the same guys were on the same barstools, and nothing had changed.

Apparently, nothing had changed with Roach Motel or Bob Fetz, either. My old band still sucked, but, of course, they sucked worse because I wasn't on stage with them. Or is it that they sucked better? I'm not sure.

Anyway, as we watch the DVD and see them play the hits like "Now You're Gonna Die" and "Brooke Shields Must Die," I laugh so hard the wound from my recent abdominal operation hurts.

"You find this funny?" asks Nick.

I tell him I do.

"It's pathetic, is what it is," says Nick. And, of course, he's right.

"I wonder why Roach Motel was never successful?" I say, half-jokingly, as I watch Bob now try to light a cigarette. Backwards.

"Perhaps you guys didn't practice feng shui," barks Nick, with a big smile on his face.

"Feng shui?" asks Aaron.

Then I tell him about my adventure the day before.

And how Nick told us he only believed in gravity and light. And that our trip to the Feng Shui Festival was supposed to be culture, but after being in the hospital, I was tired of that shit. And how MBH, my better half, bragged about Donald Trump using it.

Punk rock.

"The drums help move the chi," explains a woman named Luckie (of course), as we stand at her table at the Feng Shui Festival in what looks like a mini-Chinatown on 44th Street. The place is crawling with locals.

I tell the middle-aged woman that the drums do sound nice and it's great watching those Chinese guys beat themselves off.

"The drum is part of the Earth's heartbeat," she says, "and the beats help move along positive energy."

While Nick rolls his eyes, I actually do feel a sense of inner peace and calm. For the first time in days.

It is beautiful outside. The people around us seem very nice, and the sounds of children playing, drums beating, and the wind blowing are soothing to my scorched nerves.

As we talk to Luckie some more, she tells us that feng shui is pronounced "fung schway." I tell her it sounds like bad Indian food, and she just stares at me like my Yorkshire terrorist, P. J., does when I let out a loud fart.

Luckie then tells us about how we can balance our lives with feng shui, and gives us a bagua map. It explains a lot -- and I realize the way I have things now, nothing good is ever gonna happen for me. She finishes talking to us when she and Nick start going on about light and gravity.

And Nick starts to take her seriously.

As we make our way around the Festival in Phoenix's Chinatown, which Luckie refers to as more a "Chinablock," we learn that Tokyo was built with feng shui, and before any building goes up, some feng shui master has to approve everything for success.


We visit a few vendors that are set up with all sorts of stuff, and I play with a pair of iron balls in my hand. I wish I could implant them along with abs of steel and a lead pipe to keep my joystick always on the rise.

We scour Chinablock for more knowledge, and see lots of stuff about angels and fairies. I'd expect the fairies in New York and San Francisco, but somehow Phoenix didn't seem right for the subject.

So I approach a table run by a mother and daughter named Frances and Sharon. Sharon explains to me that fairies and angels are part of WESTERN feng shui. That they are cultural references for us, while the Chinese have other such things like a fat guy named Bubba or something.

Then they show me some decks of cards called Angel Decks that they use for readings. Unlike tarot cards, they tell only positive things.

As Sharon's explaining this, her mother, Frances, cuts in. She starts talking about feng shui in great detail, and the next thing I know, Nick is nodding his head. A lot.

It seems, for a little while at least, that Nick is believing in more than just light and gravity.

After about an hour of yakking, and watching the drummers pack it in, we thank the women for their time. As Nick and I go looking for MBH, Nick says, "Ya know, they were really sane people."

I just look at Nick like my dog P. J. looks at me.

The Roach Motel DVD continues to spin in my Xbox as Aaron, Nick and I have some good laughs. Aaron points out that he had a roommate who was into feng shui, but he himself wouldn't try it in fear of fucking up his life even more.

As we continue to stare at the TV screen, Aaron pops the question.

"Don't you wish you were playing that show?" he asks as we watch the band get lost during a song, and fight off a deluge of spit.

I look at the television and think about it for about two seconds.

"Nah," I lie, "I think I'm getting too old for that shit!"

But the truth is, I miss the chaos, recklessness, and that feeling of balancing on the edge of a razor wire. And being drunk off my ass.

Fuck feng shui.


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