(This is kind of a long one, so you might try it in stages. Sorry, I just couldn't get organized this week. Too much mucous.)
2-12-03, 8:35 AM -
There's nothing to make you feel more like a starving artist than waking up to an empty fridge, cleaning out the loose change bucket, & walking 8 blocks to present the McDonald's cashier with $2.20 in dimes. Such is life after a week out of work.
I can't bitch too much, though, since Jelly & the Temps found me a gig the day after I got home. I'm working for Bigass Bank in Brooklyn Heights, of all places. Which is cool to me, because I really dig that neighborhood. I particularly dig Lichee Nut, this little Chinese joint about a block from my job, where you can get soup, hot tea, & an entree for $4.50. Just the thing for unshaven honkies with pocketfuls of change.
My new job is enlightening, since I'm processing NYC mortgage loan applications. You folks in Texas wouldn't believe it. A 2-story row house like the one our squat's located in, in our neighborhood even, runs about $460,000. And that's before the fees & the interest. Plus these people have jobs like Seamstress #59 and Assistant Chef.
But keep in mind that they'll most likely rent at least half of the place out for a grand or so. It's amazing how many people are landlords around here. There's really no other way to own property, though, expensive as it is.
I did see a decently-sized house in Staten Island for around $200,000, but it was right next to the hospital. Which is great if you're a doctor. I'm taking notes for future reference, of course, because one day we fully intend to own a house, in NYC or not. You never know. Maybe I can live with a few ambulance sirens in the night.
Staten Island's still a bit of a mystery to me, however. It really has no business being part of NYC, as different and separated as it is. It's a car place, for one thing. The single rail line it sports is hardly enough for such a large island, though I haven't investigated their bus routes much.
It's suburban in a way that Brooklyn isn't, with detached houses & yards & fences & dogs & stuff. But it's still only a 20-minute ferry ride away from Manhattan, which is cool. We got a weird vibe during our one visit there months ago, what with all the delinquent teens smoking at the rail stops. Kinda creepy.
2-15-03, 7:00 PM -
Ah, the laundromat. For some reason, it beats even the train for places to write. Probably because it doesn't stop suddenly & make your pencil lead break. Slept really late today to catch up.
The week started with a sleep deficit because we saw our beloved Aimee Mann in concert on Monday. The show itself was great, full of energy & frivolity since it was the last show of her U.S. tour. The venue, Irving Plaza, wasn't the greatest for comfort, though.
Since I'm sure you care, I must say that I just don't like standing venues. The kinds of shows I like to see are invariably best appreciated when everyone sits down and enjoys the music, and I don't think this show was any exception. Plus, when you do get hot & dehydrated in the middle of a standing crowd, it's hard to squeeze through to the bar & get back without elbowing everyone in the ribs on your way. Or the head, in my case.
Being concert weenies, this dehydration did begin to act on us towards the end of the show, & forced us to extricate ourselves for air & water, and we had to watch the 2nd encore from the back forty. But such was our giddy fandom that we didn't complain overmuch.
There was a near-altercation next to our choice standing spot near the front when two yahoos (that's "yay-hooz") tried to forcibly advance their position. This big guy behind us simply tapped them on the shoulder and said, "Guys. You're kidding me, right?" They both got rather sheepish & slunk away. I shook the big guy's hand & we laughed our asses off.
Irving Plaza is essentially Trees, for you D/FW folks. A big, rectangular, empty room with a balcony on 3 sides. Ptthhhhpppt. Aimee rocked the shoebox, though, with damn-near note-perfect renditions of choice catalog cuts, staying within post-'Til Tuesday range.
Opener Duncan Sheik was a bit underwhelming, providing a high style showing over a seeming dearth of decent new material. We all sang along with Barely Breathing, and then were pretty well done with his odd-chords-over-spacey-guitar-noise shenanigans.
The thing that made it such an odd pairing was that he makes the exact mistakes Aimee doesn't: Going for the predictable rhyme, turning up the texture while turning down melody, and just exhibiting sloppy songcraft. He's a fine vocalist and arranger, but I hope Ms. Mann gave him some schooling backstage on form.
Actually, she did get to poke fun at him a bit for a comment he made during his set, specifically that she was "super hot". While I have to agree with him, it was rather satisfying to see the super-married songstress bust his chops for it. However, their duet version of Oasis' Wonderwall was quite groovy, one of 2 covers in Aimee's set. The other was a rip-roarin' version of Sweet Home Alabama, played in response to the stupidly ubiquitous "Freebird!!" calls during her encore (when will the madness cease?).
Like many songwriters, Mann doesn't really live to perform, and as a result she gives a rather gimmick-free show, just the facts, plus a few extras to make the tickets a little more tasty. The no-frills presentation fits her lyrical persona, & she's spent far too many years laboring in obscurity to play at being young & perky.
There's always that moment in concerts by my various heroes when I remember that I'm supposed to notice we're both in the same room, teacher & pupil. Surely there should be an epiphany there somewhere. But I find that the closer I get to putting my own work out in the bustling marketplace, the more I feel like all of us working music stiffs are in this together, and that we'll likely cross paths under somewhat more equivalent conditions one day. Not that I didn't think, "Cool, that's Aimee Mann!", but this time the person on stage didn't feel so different from my crowd-standing ass. Bit of a psychological milestone, that.
2-16-03, 3:15 PM -
So sick. Actually, it's mostly congestion, but I still don't feel quite myself. I've determined not to let it sink me into a funky mire, so here I am on the R train to Manhattan. The Wifely's composing her Triangle Fire book, so I'm making a day of it. First the Guggenheim, then the movie theater to see About Schmidt. Wifely's got an anti-Jack Nicholson streak so I figure I'll catch this one while I'm stag.
I would be working on music, but my recorder's being looked over by the shop just to see if one nagging technical difficulty can be repaired cheaply. It's not a big enough problem to keep me from mixing down, but that process would be a little easier if all systems were a-go-go.
So cultural awakening it is this weekend. Saw The Hours on Friday night after a nice Valentine's Thai dinner. A very thoughtful movie, if a bit murky. Truthfully, Wifely had to help me out a little to nail down the film's conclusion. After mulling it over, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. Like many good movies, the viewer benefits from as few preconceived notions as possible, so I'll leave it at that. (hey, I'm tired, gimme a break)
I was feeling way too icky to attend the big honkin' NYC anti-war protest yesterday, but my friend Paul assures me it was a hum-dinger. And lo & behold, the bigass news coverage hits THIS one, and not the freeze-yer-ass-in-DC hoedown I took part in last month. Figures. I am a chronic boat-misser, after all.
Lotta people just got on this train at the Cortlandt Street station (AKA Ground Zero). What an odd day to view the site. It's colder than a snow monkey's dick out there, but the snow is falling rather gently. And I guess tomorrow is Presidents' Day, whatever that means.
Just because you're President doesn't mean you should get a day. Does Richard Nixon deserve a day? Or William Henry Harrison? It should be Good Presidents' Day. Just Lincoln & the All-Stars. Ah, but who decides? See, this is where all of my good ideas go floppy.
6:50 PM -
Snowing like anything. Just got back from the Guggenheim & I'm waiting for About Schmidt to start. The Gug's nice, though 2/3 of it was closed for an installation of The Cremaster Cycle, which is essentially 5 movies and an art exhibit about phalluses. What the hell's the matter with people, anyway?
Lots of teens at the museum, which I find interesting. A lot of Manhattan teens read & watch some pretty highfalutin' stuff, which of course differs from my historic impression of teendom. But all of that can be a fallback front just as easily as chick flicks & Bruckheimer. The landscape here is different, so the camoflauge turns accordingly. A rather misanthropic statement, I'll admit, but then I don't believe there's such a thing as a happy, well-adjusted teen.
And if there is, someone should lock them in a drawer. Oh, the hate. Right, time for previews...
9:45 PM -
Such a beautiful evening. The snow is falling in heavy buckets, blanketing the city like a sheet wraps a Klansman. Sorry, that's the best metaphor I could muster. After the movie (quite awesome, by the way), I stood in Union Square Park for quite a while.
The movie had one of those "does my life mean anything" themes, and this park is rather a good context for pondering such thoughts. If you stand in front of the George Washington statue & squint, you can almost believe you're in the Union Square of 1900. But broaden your scope a little, and you see the glowing, blinking, internal combustiveness of the 21st century growing at its edges.
But never farther than the edge. For you see, someone made a lasting contribution here. Even if you don't know that person's name, you can thank them for leaving something of value that you and the New Yorkers of the future can take solace & comfort in, right in the middle of all the ruckus.
That's something to aspire to, it seems to me. A perfect still-life that removes you from the whirling world, if only for an instant. I got that feeling at the Guggenheim earlier, looking through the frames at century-old European landscapes that are very nearly windows through the white circular walls, windows not outside the museum, but outside our time.
Dang, that's some pretentious shit. But it's true, so it can't be helped. Plus keep in mind that I'm still a little delirious from the decongestant and leftover snot in the brain cavity. I'm glad I got out today & didn't attempt any daytime TV viewing. Nothing'll keep you sick like that will.
I know you're spellbound by my whimsical prose, so I've gotta say that I'm tired of these ads on the subway that say, "Without sports, would anyone believe in miracles?" I'd believe in miracles if I woke up and there were no sports. Gripe, gripe, bitch, moan, where's that snot rag?
Just crossed the East River into Brooklyn, & already I feel safer. Sorry, but I do. I mean, who's gonna bomb Brooklyn? What do we stand for, other than reduced rent? I saw some machine-gun toting army types inspecting the Union Square station's nookier & crannier bits as my train pulled up. Gives me the creeps. But if I wanted safety, I'd live in North Dakota under a rock. A big rock. I hear they've got plenty.
2-17-03, 10:00 PM -
Holy shit, it's the Blizzard of ought-three!! Seriously, we've got damn near two feet of snow out there, & they're saying we may break into the top five New York blizzards ever. At least now I can tell my kids I walked uphill to the grocery store in knee-deep snow with two pounds of nickels in my pockets.
We made a brief trip to Manhattan to see if any clothing stores were open (oh yeah, we're fucking morons), but mostly it was empty streets & trudging dog-walkers. At least it's purty.
Damn, I'm tired. Sleepytime now.