We finally left after pulling a XXX scene – NO not meaning between Heather and me – referring to the whole having a huge pile of stuff on the ground, looking at the car and saying “I want all that… in there.” You know, like in the movie.
Again, soo much sigh. Packing up the Kensington house (thank GOD for the help from Heather and my parents) took far longer than it should’ve, and somehow we ended up with a huge mountain of trash outside the house. I’m not quite sure where it all came from – must’ve been Jack – methinks.
The first night was originally going to be a really big open mic called Grape Street in Philly, but they were closed for Labour Day, so we figured.. eh… we’ll wait a day and catch our breath.
A lot of things have been conspiring against us – between the holiday and general bloody-mindedness, Verizon’s DSL is STILL not cut off to the house, and there are a couple of other stupid real-world SHIT things that I haven’t taken care of yet. I keep telling my self that it’ll work out. As of now, I’m doing all the driving too, cause Heather needs to practice stick before we’re really ready to turn things over to her.
Not only that, but the CDs are late. We were going to Live off those CDs!!! They won’t arrive till Friday back home, so we won’t get them till we get back on the 16th (or whatever) … sigh. Oasis is trying their best, I guess, and they’re knocking a lot of money off AND sending a bunch to Heather’s friend Jayson. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I’m a little worried that we won’t be able to fit them in the car for the drive home.
So, in the meantime, we’ve been working crazy hard to get the rob n Heather album done – on Luck on Fumes on Spit on Love. We did recordings at Jeremy’s just before leaving, and now we’re desparately trying to put together an album out of that and some other scattered tracks.
The second night out we really fell on our feet – I met a guy about two years ago at the Riverdale Bookstore – and he’s been on the mailing list ever since! Shane has put us up at his dormroom in Philadelphia, and has been amazingly kind, knowledgable – a slow smile and a soft voice. When I asked if we could stay with him, he responded with “fanboy butterflies” – his roommate’s been away for a while, and we get his bed!
Anywho – staying with Shane has been fantastic. He’s fed us and guided us through the Hellish complexities of the Philadelphia tube stations.
The first night out we played an open mic at The Point in Bryn Mawr. One of the highest calibre open mics I’ve ever been to. Much more laid back music than I was used to – we were like setting off a bomb in an eel tank. You know, except it was students rather than eels. The host – Leigh – was fantastic, dry sarcastic wit, reminded me of an aged Pat Klink crossed with Riverdale’s host, JD. We went over really well, and Leigh promised to help us out where he could. Also got approached about being an opening act at McGilliduddy’s (or something like that) on Saturday night. Sold 6 of the ilyAIMY AMD CDs. It’s not much, but it got us the singles we needed to ride the trolley system the next day. A lot of new mailing list friends (urg – mailing list, haven’t even thought about that) – Anywho, got lost on the way to Shane’s, and Heather was practicing her stick shift… I almost am completely confident that she’s good to do the trafficky day driving – one more home coming late at night, and methinks she gets to take over the driving.
Wandering wandering wandering – we must’ve walked the whole length of Philly today. Took pictures of the Drexel Dragon to use for the new album cover, and did the artwork for that. Unfortunately, the open mic we were going to hit tonight didn’t technically exist anymore – so the trolley trip and the tonnes o walkin was all for naught. However, we DID end up having genuine Philly cheesesteaks for dinner – and the amazonish lass behind the counter let us have some free pretzels at the end of the night…. Came back and finished up oLoFoSoL’s artwork, started printing it, started working on this journally thing.
It’s crazy, my work ethic is SOO much better now. (Weird, Heather just found a quote from Coal Boulder sitting on Hot or Not.com as part of some woman’s profile) Or at least, it has been for the past few days. Get up every morning and it’s right to ilyAIMYishness. I’m worried I might become a workaholic, but that’s ok, right?
Morning comes, Heather snores. I’ve been at it for two hours and my Life is made Hell by SoBig and junk mail. I’m trying to figure out how to cut down on the number of worms arriving in my mailbox (like, about 30 an hour) and in the process have so far fucked up my email, deleted ilyaimy.com (twice), erased my on-disc back up. Sigh. It’s been a rough morning – but now things are running smoothly, printing shit all over the place, covering Shane’s room with mis-printed CD labels, generally making a mess and eating really stale pretzels.
Tonight we’re going to an open mic that required a very complex web form sign-up thingie. Intimidating indeed. At least we’ll know that anyone who’s there can reach our website.
Ok, enough of this, I’ve made a journal, and it might even work, though now I’m worried about stylesheets n shit. Sigh.
<– Audience at the Point. Incredible open mic. Singing anime cellist, beautiful art – another guitarist with A CHEETAH CASE!!!, spectacular female pianist, cool sort of slap jazz harpist… great place.
Well, I must admit, I’m worried about what it all means. Last night’s open mic – we wandered about a mile through the underbelly of the gallery district of Philadelphia, only to find that the “Lionfish Arts Cafe” had been closed and remodeled into some sort of Italian restaurant.
Tonight, the spot we were GOING to hit had cancelled their open mic for the summer. So, we call about half a dozen places looking for an open mic that DOES exist. Find one in the Music Box – a music school in New Jersey. We drive over to that (GORGEOUS suspension bridge, lost in mist) spot only to discover that a) New Jersey really DOES smell as bad as they say, b) there is actually a posh section of New Jersey, and c) the woman who said “why yes, Thursday’s open mic is on, it’s the best night of the week” was completely, and utterly misinformed.
There are no left turns or Uies allowed in the whole of the state. You have to drive OUT of the state to turn around and go back to where you came. Or they shoot you. We had eaten Philly Cheese Steaks in Philadelphia, so I tried to lick a Jersey Barrier in Jersey. Heather wouldn’t let me – and we had to have sushi instead.
There was a solid ten minutes during which time I did not know what state I was in: Maryland, Delaware, or Pennsylvania. But when it was finally sorted out, we were in a Villanova college-town bar full of dim lighting and dark woods, windows of etched glass.
And I’ve already been dubbed “the organized one” because I go reaching for a binder any time someone starts giving me business cards or tells me their name. I guess it’s my way. The hardest thing for me about this trip is going to be finding my own personal creative style. Maybe it means fighting my natural inclination toward practicality and all that.
New York scares me a little and I’m more than happy to delay it. It’s huge and full of people doing what we are and places for them to do it, but not full of very many parking spaces. New York just scares me in general. The first time I went there with Jayson, on the way back into the tunnel to head home there was a disheveled, but not homeless-looking, man walking the yellow line as the two lanes of cars made their way slowly into the tunnel mouth. He was carrying a cardboard sign scrawled with, “I CAN’T RELAX!” on it.
So New York scares me. Yay for little Pennsylvania college town bars.
Did I mention we got a flat yesterday? Oh, the pain that Philadelphia brings me. It’s insane here.
There is a city where they NEED signs that say “Do not park on sidewalk”, and “Wait for Green”. This is a city where, though a man pulled up to tell us we had a flat, it was merely to distract us long enough so’s he could cut in front of us at the light.
Not that we did not, indeed have the flat.
Heather and Shane made quick work of the tire though. I, as an art student, remained aloof from these menial processes and documented the event.
We drove on the spare out to Media, Pennsylvania, where our open mic luck took a turn for the better. We sold a couple of the NEW Heather and rob CDs, and made some friends. A couple of people recognized us from the Point – and it turned out the woman I thought was really gorgeous from Tuesday night was only 17. Typical.
Anywho – Media – nice small town. Trolley tracks past the front of the Coffee Club, trains followed by the eyes of bikers with cell phones and idling Harleys. Pennsylvanian songwriters continue to surprise me – no-one has a voice that matches their face. A marine looking guy with round glasses straight out of Vietnam proceeded to croon with the sweetest James Tayloresque sort of voice, tweaking gentle jazz chords out of his Taylor – he was the sort of guy that should pair up with Adam Day and round him out. Great night.
Then today, we got up kind of not earlyish and drove to the local Firestone tire dealer to replace our wheel.
I was expecting to have to drop like, $90 on a new wheel or something, as our rim was badly bent (presumably from me playing stupid games with puddles on poorly maintained Philly streets) and ripped away from the tire seal – but the tire guys gathered round and sucked their moustaches for a moment, and then backed away as another man came forth from the shadows carrying a mallet.
A huge “tire, you been BAD” mallet.
He proceeded to beat the shit out of tire. He pumped it up, and handed it back to us. Presumably it was more a matter of tire behaviour than physical damage, as this disciplinary action had the desired effect, and the tire has let out nary a hiss since.
He charged me a CD. Good deal. I have a new modicum of faith for the Philly tire dealer.
By the way, I bloody well ought to document THIS triumph. Heather’s stick-shift driving is now getting really really good… she gets to drive for the rest of the Trip! WHEEE!!
Oh, and Heather says if I eat my own eyelashes, my wishes turn to crap. I think that’s bullshit.
I’m worried that Heather thinks every open mic we hit will be like the Point, or like … I don’t know. It’s been awesome, being able to scan the web, finding places that look like a lot of fun, and adjusting our schedule to match. Unfortunately, I certainly didn’t count on SO MANY web pages to be out of date – many no longer exist, and in some cases, the venue doesn’t even exist.
We DO have a budget – an estimate based on cost of Living, and insurance and car stuff and maybe even some food here and there – making $40 or so a night. And we know sometimes we’ll make less (especially at the beginning) and some nights (one so far, hopefully many more) we make more. Nights where there’s a bloody $4 minimum for each person take a cut out of that…
Tonight we’re at the Internet Cafe in Red Bank, New Jersey. The city itself is busily blowing my mind. It’s beautiful, has a great flavour to it. We arrived in the midst of a town fair of some sort. Music in the streets – and about forty billion different flavours of smoothie. I introduced Heather to the WONDER that is French crepes. Watching the guy flip the fresh batter, slicing bananas and slipping them slipping down the knife onto the … er… thingie.
We walked down by the docks, watching jailbait and more obvious children finding the beauty of jellyfish down in the water. A rainbow graced the sky as we wandered. Gorgeous sky. Nicest I’ve seen in a long time. Strangely enough, I actually miss the water – a holdover from my Love of Living near Annapolis, I suppose.
I’m eager to see if the rainbow photographed well. We stopped at toy shops and pet shops. Photographed puppies and the KING PRAWN!!!
Unfortunately, as I write this I left my camera cable in the car, and can’t upload the .jpgs – I’ll have to add them later.
Anywho – playing at the Internet Cafe. I think, perhaps, they don’t know what to make of us. Now, admittedly, I tend to always feel better after we’re done and some people come up to us and give us their Love and affection – we’ve at least made back the cover. But the place has the atmosphere of an after-school computer lab. Invariably, when we ask the audience “fast or slow?” they ALWAYS say fast. This audience definitely wanted slow, and I think I totally misjudged by pressing the issue till someone asked for “a song your normally play slow, but play it fast!”. BCM v 2.0 it was, which … didn’t go so hot.
But perhaps that was a little less frightening for what was, in all honesty, a much more amateur open mic than what we’ve been playing.
“When I die, let me fly over Alaska”
Random lines float through my head as I type. I really like that one.
ANYWHO – back to my point – absolutely petrified that Heather’s going to freak out eventually, and wonder what the HELL she’s doing out here. She’s already hating being dubbed “the organized one”. I picture the re-enactment, like JR and his wife, of my nodding and sidetracking and babbling, as Heather snatches up business cards and remembers names and (incidentally) the lines of my songs.
But tonight, perhaps there aren’t many things to file – it’s an attractive town, but not as attractive a venue as the press-wall might imply – and we weren’t as on as we usually are, and the audience didn’t respond as much as usual – I really don’t want her to view it as some sort of wasted night…
But I Love open mics – all sorts of them. I Love watching the joy of performance, the jitters, and the wonder of something new. Something like this takes me back to Den picking slowly over a half-remembered song at Cafe Florian – not because he’s hoping for a gig or a record deal or something like that, but because he Loves to sing (and incidentally, Loves to sing with his wife).
The interruption of a phone call — Kate! She’s back from the Rock Boat, and has passed out 20+ copies of “A Mere Demonstration” to musicians and reps on the boat. We even made a special disc for Angie Aparo.
He recognized HEATHER, at least. Sigh, but I think he thought I was a bit of an ass, so … no great loss his not remembering me, I suppose. He said he Loved the logo, and our little note, et cetera, and that that “was the way CDs OUGHT to be made”.
Kate managed to get a CD to Angie’s drummer as well (whoa – the waitress here at the Cafe just made a rob noise!!), so SOMEONE tangled in Angie will hear it!
Also, someone in the higher echelons of Awareness Records ended up with a brand new copy of AMD, as well as some Pat McGee guys, who urge us to call their booking agent (score!). Oh, and the lead singer from Tonic wants a copy. S’not bad.
Soo tired – don’t WANNA drive to New York City tonight. Scratch that. Don’t want to deal with having to find PARKING in New York City tonight.
Changing tires and packing cars and hauling boxes – I am my father’s daughter, indeed.
Spent yesterday walking around the Reading Terminal Market with Shane. This giant indoor bazaar of everything you could possibly want to buy: a jungle plant called Heliconia that looks like a fraggle, fresh fish, books made of grape leaves, all sorts of food that rob and I should not be eating.
I love when you’re forced to confront your own stereotypes and realize you are not nearly as highly socially evolved and conscious as you’d like to think. While walking through the market, we followed the sound of a live piano, I, envisioning some tuxedo-clad elder gentlemen like the ones you see in malls and ritzier hotel lobbies. But when we rounded the corner, there was this basketball jersey-clad black boy, freshly into his teens, playing jazz for the market-goers. I was surprised how much it shocked me. Hrm. Take that egotistical notions of social awareness.
What sucked was that, though I got a couple pictures, I did not get the picture I wanted, the one that told the whole story. I wish I was a better photographer, or at least bolder. I dunno. I just feel strange inserting myself and my camera like that. But what I saw with my would-be photographer’s mind’s eye was the grizzled black shoe-shine proprietor at his similarly grizzled stand watching the boy with a smile. I wanted the shot from behind the boy, keys in view, with the shoe shine guy in the background with his wizened and easy smile of pride.
Oh, well. Maybe the trip will make me more bold further on.
It’s been sort of busy in New York. Lots of moving the car so we avoid the street cleaners, lots of walking and figuring out the subway and avoiding the really good-smelling food that I want so much. I think when this trip is over, it will somehow have managed to ruin grilled cheese and nori soup for me. That’s been lunch for two days and will likely be lunch today as well. I can’t believe I’m obsessing this much about food.
We played Tobacco Road in Hell’s Kitchen the other night and might be able to get a gig there, which is pretty cool. Meanwhile I could do nothing but go, “Oh, my god, we’re in Hell’s Kitchen!!!! That’s where Sleepers takes place. This is a real Hell’s Kitchen bar! I want to run out and find that book again right now!!!!” Because, you know, with me, I can have the real bar right in front of me and it just makes me want to book more.
Oh, and with current New York law, it’s illegal to smoke at Tobacco Road. This cracked me up for some time.
Seeing and talking to Jayson again is great. He’s much more open now. We talk for hours, long after rob has gone to bed, about our undying love for journalism despite our alternate career choices, about old teachers. He signed his book contract this week and was inundated with phone calls, and then there were articles in Variety, the Post, etc the next day. I forget sometimes the notoriety of our host
But despite his pariah status, his apartment suggests irreverance, sarcasm, mixed with a concerted desire for self-betterment. I open a magazine and a bookmark falls out that reads: “Every exit is an entry somewhere. – Tom Stoppard.” As if posted by a proud parent like their child’s A paper, Jayson has placed, under a Care Bear magnet on his refrigerator, a recent clean drug test. I am amused when, flipping through his coffee table books I happen upon a truly arresting photo book from controversial, congressionally condemned artist Andres Cerrano with the post-scandal inscription: “To Jayson, from one good guy to another. AC.”
Today he cracked me up. I rounded a corner in Strand, a labrynthine book store that boasts 8 miles of books, to find Jayson, all five-foot-one of him, still atop a gray milk crate he’d used to pull a book from an upper rough-wood shelf, reading a volume about the New York Times and framed in the doorway of the little room under its red directory sign: JOURNALISM.
New rule, the third Heather rule of the trip by my count (rule one, established pre-departure, was no hot dogs. Rule 2, established after a very unpleasant morning-after in Philly, was no mushroom cheeseburgers):
“After rob goes to bed INDEED!!!” I lie awake for hours, waiting for Heather’s return. The cool weather of fall has arrived, making New York beautiful like Baltimore after a rain. Heather’s a creature of exceeding warmth and I lie huddled under flannel sheets, shivering, waiting for her return.
Today we wandered out to see a movie. Something out of a distant past, almost. We’re trying to be so careful about money, but Jayson dragged us out for lunch, a movie – and just to see the town. He’s an excellent guide, and we saw vegan cookies and steam vents and toy stores and book stores. I finally saw the new Oz series by McFarlane! Soo pleased. The Lion’s awesome! (removable entrails!)
Anywho, we went and saw the Order, which would make a great Episode I for some strange and distorted superhero series – but lacked a certain something as a movie in it’s own right. But it had all the important elements for a good flick: distorted Catholic imagery, a cult, good voices, a hot art-chick lead, blood and paint, and a pretty unexpected twist. Great idea, it just sort of floundered in it’s realization. In the same vein, I told Jayson to go check out Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Catholics and blood, man. All I need.
So – the return to the apartment. We sauteed ourselves up some lime shrimp, and made ourselves some couscous, and this, combined with English Muffins, made for an admirable feast. All made from the raiding of Jayson’s refrigerator (which I think I can’t spell…)
“This shot be just as sweet as pie”
Ah, Legend. Heather’s discovered the joy of watching DVDs in bed on her computer. If I get derailed, it’s cause the unicorns are all making weird whaley noises, and lil TImmy Cruise isn’t controlling his girlfriend enough.
Anywho, despite my initial fears, the infamous Jayson Blair has turned out to be a fantastic host. A friend of mine, also in New York, had offered us his floor just in case Jayson turned out to be “a classic new york shitgrinning partyboy fuckup leech”. I was initially really turned off by both Heather’s description of him and some of his New York Times exploits… lemme ‘splain.
First off, I couldn’t care less about plagiarism at a major newspaper. It seems to me that anyone who believes everything they’re being told from any particular source is either inexcusably naive or inexplicably stupid. Anyone who believes that the NY Times isn’t just another business out to move product, well, the same adjectives apply. (“A world turned to ICE!! It be goblin PARADISE!!!”) I was nervous because Heather described Jayson as a fantastic journalist, with an inquisitive nature and an unstoppable intellect. Heather’s opinions of people, I don’t usually trust them at first… (well, that goes for MOST people’s opinions of other people) and in this case, my take on what Heather felt was a fantastic journalist sounded like a nosy, parasitically curious person, who perhaps believes highly in the Truth, but only at the exclusion of morality.
[note that stuff like that – about making the pic bigger? EXACTLY one of the reasons I’ve started moving things over! It HAD been displayed like…
… so I think I’m making good choices! – rob 12/11/17]
Also, in finding out more about Jayson, I found that one of the stories he’d failed to show up at, but had still “reported on” was the Sniper Shootings. That was my neighbourhood – people died – I passed one of the victims and watched her bleeding out in front of a Shell Station. I didn’t even know it at the time, but I was watching a person die from absolutely senseless violence… AGAIN.
People died. Jayson treated it as a work assignment that he wouldn’t, or couldn’t face. That’s great when you’re covering a horse race, or something even more useless and prone to fabrication, like a presidential race – but these were genuine human Lives. They were not treated justly – I was up in arms about that.
But Jayson Blair the person? I think I understand why he’s done what he’s done, and he’s amazing to watch in action. Tonight he got a phone call – a possibly million dollar movie deal based on his upcoming book. He’s using all this as a platform to speak out on journalism and the culture eating away within the profession. I don’t like the way he handled his dissolution, but the revolution he’s planning in it’s wake is admirable.
Jayson Blair IN person? He’s dynamic. Hyped on coffee and purpose. He’s perhaps a little crazed, but that’s nothing new to me. The apartment is an education. Sparsely decorated. It’s mostly books. Tom Clancy and Roger Zelanzy, a dozen biographies, dozens of novels on conspiracy theories, the debunking thereof, CIA spy books, black ops and black history. Books on French made easy. The Smack’em Frog (Golden Grahams? something like that) lies deceased across a shelf, his verdant hand pointing to “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order”.
His current obsession is Hitler. His girlfriend says he mentions him in his sleep – “Who killed the Jews honey?” “Hitler did.” A conversation held unconscious after a crazy marathon of writing… not a chain smoker, but a man who wishes perhaps that he could be mainlined into a coffeepot – minus the fact that he brews it six times over, turning it into a thick sludge of concentrated caffeine. There’s a crusade embedded in his head. Drive.
It’s strange, hearing the phone calls, then seeing the headlines the next day. It’s strange to see the press in action against its own – well, not really AGAINST, I suppose. They’ve been pretty fair recently. (though while going through today’s papers,k of which Jason bought about four on our tour of the city, one writer referred to Jayson as ‘Mr. Liar Liar Pants on Fire”). Mr. L.L. Pof takes all of this in stride.
It’s strange to realize that I genuinely like the guy. My taste in people tends to run immediately contrary to Heather’s, but Jayson – he’s relaxed, calm, confident. Oh, and twanging with excitement. Those two sentances should be mutually exlusive I suppose, but really it depends on the moment you catch him.
Recently, he’s taken to leaping on us while we lie unawares in bed. There’s that horrible moment when I wake up, Heather snuggled snoozing comfortably in the crook of one arm, and there’s a slowed down moment in time as drowsing eyes look upward – and Jayson Blair, of the cover of Newsweek, is involved in an incredible feat of hang-time above our bed, grinning maniacally. He has leapt from the door, and time rushes back in as he comes crashing down upon us. All sorts of affection.
It’s cause he hates people, I’m assured.
Dinner was an education in power consumption, like in Apollo 13. Slowly switching appliances on one by one, blowing the breaker, shutting everything down and starting over again. Eventually, we used the hotplate to cook the shrimp, the toaster oven for the muffins, and the microwave for… something. I don’t remember what we microwaved.
We had dinner steaming and then went about turning the coffee maker back on, the lights, plugging the refrigerator back in. New York plumbing and electrical wiring leave much to be desired.
And that’s all I’ve got to say. I want to catch Annabelle Lanyon’s last scene. Have never been able to decide whether she’s attractive or not.
Well, that’s a lie, the best part about Times Square was that we were truly allowed to be tourists there. People were filming themselves crossing the bloody streets. It sucked, cause we treated ourselves to our “last fine dining out experience” in Times Square at the Macaroni Grill there… I lie… the Garden whatchamacallit that WISHES it was Macaroni Grill. – anywho, I figured it would be… nicer, somehow, sitting in Times Square. But the bathrooms were SHIT. Literally.
Erf, enough of this… time for bed. Maybe. Maybe chocolate. Mmm, I wonder if Jayson has any chocolate in the house (raid raid raid).