November 2003 Archives
28th Day were a fine party last night, and it wasn't our party, but we were allowed to crash it and had a good time anyway, especially when Barbara Manning ended the show by singing the first song they ever wrote (before they even fixated on R.E.M.), a terrible hardcore song called "Reality Is Contraception." I mean, they knew it was awful, but singing it again 21 years later made it really good. Maybe if I do the lame things I do now again when I'm 54, they'll be good. Note: I am not making any financial investments based on this notion.
For those of you who want to know what the 801 sounded like: Jess dramatically improved my vocal performance with her ingenious digital post-production on the "Blubber Mix" of "Mother Whale Eyeless." Speaking of which (sort of): If you ever find yourself in San Francisco and there are no hairflowers nearby, do check out the pirate supply store at 826 Valencia. As it advertises, it is far, far better than Cap'n Rick's. We bought a book of lies about giraffes there.
We've spent two and a half days in Portland, and are now abruptly taking a five-day entr'acte in Berkeley--our traditional Thanksgiving dinner with our neo-Californian amigae has for transportation-related reasons turned into an epic vacation. Which will be followed, a few days after we get back, by an extended boomerang trip to NYC. Strike your matches now.
From my stirring hand, so far today: carrot halwa, beet risotto with greens and golden tofu, black-eyed peas with ginger and onions and lemon zest. Might make a tsimmes if I can be roused to it. But I wouldn't want to be causing a commotion.
Features of Portland I'm appreciating so far: the light rail that got completed way ahead of schedule and under budget; the bike racks on the buses; the $5 vegan lunch specials on Hawthorne St. (the district in which one can get genuine hemp lighting fixtures, I think); the laid-back but timetable-oriented nature of things; Powell's Powell's Powell's. And more. And of course the fabulous Kate and Dan, who are kind enough to put up with us while we struggle toward home and routine.
Bad habit I'm trying to break myself of: attempting to map Portland onto NYC, both in terms of neighborhoods ("so this must be the equivalent of Greenpoint...") and, ludicrously, in terms of geography ("so I'm in the equivalent of Soho now, so if I take the eastbound bus I'll get to Chinatown"). This is five kinds of uncalled-for, I know, I know.
...And we've also got this one up here, whoop! one more set of stairs, almost forgot. This one's $625 a month, and you also get the parking out back with this one. If the lot's full, there's usually street parking right nearby. That black Hummer right down there is mine--I can give you a lift over to my other building that's got some vacancies right now. I think I mentioned the washer-dryers down in the basement. If you've got a little cat, that's just fine. I'm not sure what that is next door--it doesn't sound like any kind of bird I know! I have a bird or two at home. Over here, most people use this as a living room. Well, most of the people who've been here. I should mention that we just do month-to-month here, it's much easier that way, we usually only raise the rent about every 18 months or so. Nice hardwood floor here, see? Oh, that window will have to be replaced. I'll just have my guys do it. If you want to put in your application today, there's a non-refundable $30 charge, and then they can come in and fix it up tomorrow and it can be ready as soon as tomorrow night. It's a nice building. Most of the people here are night workers. Over here we've got a closet, and then next to it a wardrobe-style closet, and there's another teeny-tiny closet right next to it, see? Wow, I'm not sure what that is on the floor of that! The kitchen's got nice gas burners, here... we might have to get that cleaned up. I'll just turn on the light here--oh, interesting! I guess that's a black light. I guess the last tenant probably put that in. No, no dishwasher, none of these old buildings have dishwashers or anything, but we do have the washer-dryers down in the basement. It's a very interesting neighborhood, kind of on the edge of a lot of things--you know, I'm not sure what The Booty is, they must have just opened that up since the last time I was here. There's a very nice little café right downstairs, and right across the street next to the detox center there's a 24-hour cigarette store, really sweet people who run that place. Would you like to fill out an application today, or...?
We're currently in a hotel in Boise, Idaho, a day before we get to K8's place. Lisa is on the bed, watching an old episode of "Fantasy Island" featuring a little guy who looks like Paul Williams. There is a container of fruit salad in the fridge; we're not sure how it got there, but it looks awfully appetizing.
Last night we ended up in Rawlins, Wyoming. (People don't go to Rawlins, they end up there. In our case, the scary Rocky Mountains snow we'd feared is what made us end up there. It was fine by today, thanks.) Had hoped to be posting a lot more, but a) it turns out there aren't dialup numbers for either my service-of-choice or Lisa's in a lot of the places we've stopped, and b) the battery on this computer currently has an active un-plugged-in life of about 4 minutes. I think my personal low of the last few days has been standing out on a street corner that had wireless Net access, desperately trying to upload some writing I had due before the battery conked out... and then calling information and getting an operator who'd never heard of Apple Computer. ("Is that like a PC?")
Stop-offs today: Bliss, Idaho (where we also stopped on our honeymoon); Little America, Wyoming ("the world's largest truck-stop").
We found a natural-foods store today in Ogden, Utah, which had a selection of locally made raw/"live" foods. One of them was a magnificent Thai-style almond paté with chiles and lemongrass. Heavenly. I must figure out how it was made. When we got to Boise, the Whole Earth Tree-Hugger Café or whatever it was called that Lisa found had been replaced by the Rootin' Tootin' Red Meat Café or something along those lines (big banner on the window: "New Owners! New Menu! New Attitude! RIBS!"). Ah well.
Currently sitting in my old bedroom in my parents' house, typing on the wireless connection. We had a totally uneventful drive, punctuated by lunch at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, the little local deli that's so good that it now publishes both a mail-order catalogue ($45 coffee cakes!) and, swear to God, hosts management seminars, which is why the upstairs dining room was closed while we were having our delicious brussels-sprouts-and-pumpkin side dish and veggie-hash sandwich. I mean, they've got the branding thing DOWN: everything in the store is even in their own special font, about which there's a newspaper article in the men's room.
My old room is sort of a gold mine, especially the tape drawers--there's some stuff I now suspect is worth a lot of money, and some stuff I'd been waiting to get my hands back on for ages. Sadly, there's no tape player in the minivan, although I bet the CD player will soon be graced with my old copy of Talking Heads' "Little Creatures."
NYC in the rear-view mirror is still there. We're in Oberlin, Ohio, right now. We actually escaped the gravitational pull of New York, despite some difficulty. More details to come.
Also rediscovered some letters I sent ten years or so ago, about my early days in the city. I'll post a few of them shortly...
Lauren, last night, pointed me at this quiz to determine if one is officially a native New Yorker. I think I'm something like 17 for 20. And now that's about to change. We pick up the van tomorrow morning. All right then, as Luke says in the last issue of Alias. New chapter.
Also: I have a new favorite blog.
Stopped by the WFMU Record Fair for a couple of hours today, & was halfway pressganged into signing up for Otis Ball's Super Karaoke Fun Time Band. (The other half was me going yes, please!) The song list didn't have a lot that I was psyched about--I ended up putting my name down for the Stooges' "T.V. Eye." Then I remembered that I didn't actually know how "T.V. Eye" goes, other than "She got a T.V. eye on me/She got a T.V. eye..." Ran over to a dealer with some Stooges live stuff (Malcolm from Trash American Style, I believe), and listened to it on his boombox. Wandered back over to where Otis and the signer-uppers had just played their second song... only to hear my name called!
So I dropped my backpack, went up to the "stage" area, briefly noted that I'd forgotten my peanut butter and broken glass, and screamed "LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRD..." as hard as I could.
Whereupon I realized that Iggy probably, you know, warms up before he screams like that, and that I'd just blown out my voice in a big way. And that I really, truly didn't know how "T.V. Eye" goes. Faked my way through it anyway, mostly by waving around the microphone stand, crawling on the floor, and groping Mike Lupica, who was taking pictures. Considered ripping open my shirt, but then thought "actually this is a perfectly good shirt, and nobody wants to see what's under it." Also considered using the guitar-solo section to explain that I've read two different explanations from Iggy of what the title refers to: either the CBS logo, or an abbreviation for "twat vibe." I somehow suspect the latter is closer. (I totally skipped over the breakdown section of the song, and just screamed the whole thing, then walked off when I was done.)
Also ran into my friend Paula, who's got a table at the record fair tomorrow. She told me that she'll be selling lots of punk rock stuff she doesn't want any more for reasonable prices, except for the first Skrewdriver album, which will be $200, with the proceeds to be split between the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP.
I thought, incidentally, that I would end up leaving the record fair today without even buying any records, which would've been some kind of coup of self-control (or some kind of indication that I'm very depressed and have lost interest in life--is that the same thing?). Fortunately, I hit a dealer with a big box of vintage soul singles, and ended up buying awesome relatively cheap 45s by James Crawford, Steve Soul, Maceo & All the King's Men, Hank Ballard, Marva Whitney and the J.B.'s. Thus proving that I do still have interest in life, or rather the subset of life that involves the Cincinnati soul scene ca. 1967-1973. Or that I have no self-control after all--is that the same thing?
Also went to St. Mark's Comics with Sarah Fan, picked up this week's new arrivals (I am very sad that there will be no more issues of ALIAS), and told them that they could remove my weekly reserve order (snif--that's with one F, the sound-effect-in-comics spelling). Can they really have set aside newly-arrived comic books for me over 550 times? Where will I buy the last five issues of CEREBUS? How much money have I spent there since 1992, anyway?
Ego gratification moment of the weekend: going to OfficeOps for the !!! show on Halloween night (we wore the pumpkin outfits, because why not?), checking out their jukebox, and discovering the first Dark Beloved Cloud Singing Catalogue on it. I don't think I'd ever seen a record I'd put out on a jukebox before. !!! were good, too, although there was That One Guy who always needs to slamdance in the audience. Funny how every time he comes to a show he's wearing a new body, but they do all look pretty similar.
It's-really-happening moment of the weekend: going to take the subway tonight, I discovered that my MetroCard had run out, and bought a weekly pass instead of a monthly pass.
The James Brown Celebriduck continues to oversee my computer, but now I'm actually moving on to the other things in the to-be-listened-to pile. Presently: Hot Women, a compilation of 78s of "women singers from the torrid regions of the world," compiled and illustrated by R. Crumb. Precisely the right kind of musty sponge to mop up the unsavory psychic pools decorating the inside of my skull right now.