Sept 12th, 2003.

New York, NY
New York, NY

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.

New York, NY
New York, NY

Oh, and with current New York law, it’s illegal to smoke at Tobacco Road. This cracked me up for some time.

Jayson nabbed the camera LONG before we were ready.
Jayson nabbed the camera LONG before we were ready.

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.”

Heather is a pants stealer.
Heather is a pants stealer.

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):

ALWAYS carry a camera.

October 9, 2003.

This trip out just hasn’t been very nice. The accident on the drive up took a lot out of me, leaving me in shock in a way. I hate the senselessness of it, knowing that it’s all fun and games until someone drives their 18-wheeler through your passenger seat.

Heather and I have both been stressed out ever since leaving Maryland, and we take it out on one another. We both have been forgetting little things here and there, and we both feel stupid when we forget little things here and there.

Last night we’d almost recovered. An open mic at a spot called the Infra-red Lounge. It’d been hard to find – neon light covered by sheet metal, the front of the bar covered with a closed folding down security door – Heather had seen it, but I hadn’t (colourblind people just don’t respond to red neon sometimes, unless it’s shaped into letters), adding to our tension.

But the talent inside really helped the night. The stars of the evening included an amazing performance by a guy named Mike ____ (I’ll dig up the last name in a sec) who was a spectacular vocal cross of Chris Cornell in his prime and Jeff Buckley. He started beautiful and then struck out for those intense Seattle screams.

Amazing.

Another performer, Stu, was the epitome of aged rocker. Grizzled and yet youthful with a greying pony-tail, he played old rock style solos of guitar screaming agony up and down the fret-board. It’s people like that that keep me hoping I can do this for a while.

But conversations with Stu were sobering. “New York City’s saturated with musicians” – so we’re treated like shit. A dime-a-dozen commodity means you’re useless. And indeed, we’re seeing that. The first time we were in New York we saw that people were very willing to listen, but totally uninterested in buying CDs. We landed shows though… and we haven’t played those shows, so perhaps there is space for optimism.

But only if there’s a dramatic change in the headspace of people at actual shows. At the Orange Bear, we get 20% of the bar. And at Tobacco Road, our big deal is that all CDs have to be sold through their concession stand and we get to keep 90% of our CD sales. The more I think about that the more it pisses me off.

The gigs were easy to get, and maybe that says it all, but New York City – it costs us $8 round trip to get anywhere (subway fare), the subway is utterly bizarre and unnavigable.

DCF 1.0

(Jayson’s screaming “There IS no GOD!!! Wait… there IS a God but He’s an ASSHOLE!!” – wow, something dramatic must be going down)

Parking is some $20/hour in many garages, the whole city is a huge waist-high bar built for people to bend over. New York City is an anal rape station.
After the open mic, it took us 2 and a half hours to slowly make our way home because of construction. Christ, we were helped home by a guy from Georgia, Russia. Then we had to move the car (twice every 24 hours!) – which had been broken into.

DCF 1.0

The beautiful icing.

They left my amplifier… just too heavy to be bothered with, but they ripped apart the centre console to get the stereo out. Heather’s CDs, a small little tray of cassettes (MAN! Who steals CASSETTES!!?!) and my DC/AC power converter. We’ve got a lot of very quiet driving ahead of us now, and it just fills me with this helpless anger. There’s no way to direct it, and no-one you can be angry at, and nothing even to be really learned… except that maybe New York City has been just too expensive to be bothered with.

October 14, 2003.

No real luck at Tobacco Road. Gig went well, good sound, and Dan as always, kicksĀ ass. Unfortunately, Sharif got the flu and couldn’t make it. But Brennan came up with Dan, and that was excellent. We wandered Times square and got some excellent Thai food (unfortunately, it treated Heather poorly the next day).

Also, a bizarre parking contraption - actually a series of pulleys and elevator thingies and one of the most amazing parallel parking car maneuvering critters I've ever seen.
Also, a bizarre parking contraption – actually a series of pulleys and elevator thingies and one of the most amazing parallel parking car maneuvering critters I’ve ever seen.

We also got to hang out with my friend Zak for a couple of hours. His artwork has become spectacular – beautiful work. His floors are covered in clothes and discarded unidentifiable pieces of… stuff… there are photo lenses and art and stuffed animals duct taped to every flat surface. But his portfolio really is incredible, and he’s doing graphic novels… really cool stuff.

Heather keeps me going.
Heather keeps me going.

I need to start doing some really serious thinking on how to bring these artists together. Tomorrow I’ll prolly spend the day arting, and then maybe do some wandering of Providence (did I mention we’re in Providence? But I really need to find out what I do with all these things and people that I’m encountering. I feel like on top of everything else, I’d like to be DISTRIBUTING these things. Will’s little colouring books, Zak’s graphic novels, Shane’s wisdom, Sonny’s drawings… sigh. What to do, what to do?

Tonight finds us in Providence, RI – staying in the apartment of Sonny Roelle – one of my artist friends from college. The apartment is actually a small room on the upper floor of some sort of artist’s commune/co-op. It’s a really cool cafe/artist’s space/apartment building/gallery space/practice space/performance space/studio space. At the moment, there’s two different bands performing in different parts of the building. Filtering and bouncing off of brick walls. The only other noises are the tapping of our computers and the running water in the turtle tank. Yeah, it’s time for pictures, I guess.

Yup, gotta go photograph the turtles...
Yup, gotta go photograph the turtles…
Zak Smith - friend from high school - working on top secret art stuff that I can't talk about .... really. His tattoos are actually really cool too, though you can't tell in the picture. It sort of just looks like he's been dipped in paint. Admitably, when we caught up with one another at the Orange Bear in NYC, I licked a finger and tried to rub them off. But nope, they're all real. I mean, the one on his hand definately is, the rest - well, once he caught on to what was going on, he wouldn't let my moistened finger near his skin anymore.
Zak Smith – friend from high school – working on top secret art stuff that I can’t talk about …. really. His tattoos are actually really cool too, though you can’t tell in the picture. It sort of just looks like he’s been dipped in paint. Admitably, when we caught up with one another at the Orange Bear in NYC, I licked a finger and tried to rub them off. But nope, they’re all real. I mean, the one on his hand definitely is, the rest – well, once he caught on to what was going on, he wouldn’t let my moistened finger near his skin anymore.
Heather screaming at Jayson to get off our car. Everything you read about him is true: He IS crazy! Well, or at least - I don't know, he's sort of like a damned black leprachaun - however you spell that. He needs to dance around in a little clover ring w. a hat on and do really obnoxious things like sit on your car while you're trying to leave the state. We drive Heather crazy.
Heather screaming at Jayson to get off our car. Everything you read about him is true: He IS crazy! Well, or at least – I don’t know, he’s sort of like a damned black leprechaun – however you spell that. He needs to dance around in a little clover ring w. a hat on and do really obnoxious things like sit on your car while you’re trying to leave the state. We drive Heather crazy.
Heather demanded Muppet Toe Theatre. Oedipus was a flop. Here they were headbanding... MASTER! MASTER!!! MASTER OF MUPPETS IS PULLING MY STRINGS!!!!
Heather demanded Muppet Toe Theatre. Oedipus was a flop. Here they were headbanding… MASTER! MASTER!!! MASTER OF MUPPETS IS PULLING MY STRINGS!!!!
Sonny's room. At the moment, a cello filters up from the band downstairs. Stained glass and toys Star Wars toys. Many a Falcon. (The one on the right was mine till I sold it to Sonny to help him start up a toy store). And turtles..
Sonny’s room. At the moment, a cello filters up from the band downstairs. Stained glass and toys Star Wars toys. Many a Falcon. (The one on the right was mine till I sold it to Sonny to help him start up a toy store). And turtles..
DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0
Heather at Sonny's. She's finally posting stuff! So without further ado...
Heather at Sonny’s. She’s finally posting stuff! So without further ado…