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League of Inveterate Poets

The out-of-context contextuality of a foolish sage

Beirut “Flying Club Cup” Video #6: The Penalty

By on March 16, 2009

This entry is part of a series, Flying Club Cup Videos by Beirut»

I’m blogging through the series of videos made to accompany the album Flying Club Cup by Beirut (aka Zach Condon and band). Song #6 is The Penalty. Here’s the video:

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These Flying Club Cup videos have been a journey through a mythic Brooklyn, Brooklyn as a musical landscape in Zach’s mind, where he (and perhaps he alone) can see the musicians he hears in his head. Up until now he has stayed safely cocooned in their sound, surrounded by a a fortress of musicians. But as The Penalty begins, we find him alone, vulnerable, his tiny ukulele clutched to his chest like a wino’s bottle. “Like an ancient day and I’m on trial,” he sings. What the trial is about we don’t know, but the result seems to be some kind of exile: “And I could not stay for I believed them.” Believed “them” about what? Their assessment that he had failed the test?

There is a pause, and then a moment of transcendence, as we rise up from Zach to see the beautiful sky above. Then we descend to find him again, but now look, his band as well! Just beyond the musicians await, and as he begins to play he goes to them. The strain of the lonely trial is replaced by joy as he finds his “comrades in arms” (the band stands statically in a formation like troops for review).

Among this “crowd of homesick full-grown children” he finds new comfort, something their parents could not understand, for they “rue the day” that their children “left for the light.” What is the “penalty” then? Is it that we must leave the comfort of one thing, our parents’ world, to strike out “for the lights always in season”? A frightening prospect, but in so doing we may, if we are lucky, find a new world of new friends, new comrades. As the video ends, Zach says, “Tres bien.” Yes, comrades make up for many a penalty.

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