07-13-2002
New York City, The Knitting Factory
 

I abandoned my teammates and hooked up with Saturnine for the drive down to NYC - I wanted to get down early to visit with pals. It was a good idea, I swear it: the conversation on the way down was good, we talked religion and architecture and jobs and lots of family history. It's rare for four rockers stuck in a car for three hours to talk about their families, don't you think? I thought it was strange, though it pleased me; but then I thought, we aren't real rockers. We can rock alright, but we are - maybe what they call "sissies." But we have good conversations.

So I got to the city early, jumped on a subway into downtown, and ended up in fucking Brooklyn! Found my way back to the city... and you know, I'm a pretty mellow guy, at least I like to think of myself as a pretty mellow guy. But boy, when that train started to cross over into Brooklyn, when I saw what was happening, when I knew I had come down early to hang out with my pals and I was about to spend a precious hour trying to find my way back into the city, I tell you, I was holding onto one of those poles that you hold onto for support, and I clenched it. I wanted to kick it. I wanted to kick someone, anyone, or something, or start punching things. I was quite upset.

I didn't react, though. I maintained a calm exterior and told myself it was actually okay. Which it was, of course: I made it downtown, found my friend Malia and her jealously protective boyfriend, drank beer and chatted until Tim called me (we have cellular phones now), frantic, worried, wondering where I'd got to. I left for the club immediately.

Malia lives about a block from where the World Trade Center buildings used to stand. I walked past the site on my way to the club. It was crowded with international visitors, it's like a somewhat festive open-casket funeral with the whole world invited. It was not somber. There were many tables filled with T-Shirts and American flags and little rubber Apus, and all everyone had to look at was this vast gap, this 16 acres of open space.

Can I skip right to the show? Other than a nice Norwegian meal with a friend? I will skip. I was pretty thrilled with the show. Can I tell the story I told onstage? At one point I stood up and started rambling, I'll try to tell a coherent version here.

I was recently telling a friend about our first trip to New York, a trip to play our first show there, on the 4th of July at CBGBs. We were staying with a friend in Williamsburg, just by the bridge; and the night before the show, we walked across the bridge and into the city. There were a few bottlerockets shooting around us, I'd expect, and firecrackers and all that; but when we walked through the (then all dark and a little spooky, especially for a stranger) back streets of the lower east side, there were explosions all around us: people were dropping large bombs into metal trash cans, with the explosions sending the lids flying many stories high, then clattering down again into the street. What a racket! All around, this racket! It was frightening, like walking through a war zone.

I was telling a friend about this night, while we were talking about 4th of July experiences; and I jumped in the air! four feet! when I realized that the story I was telling, that frightening walk through Manhattan, had happened ten years ago to the night of my telling it!

Crazy. But we've played in New York many times since that first 4th of July show, a terrible show (you remember the soundman? fucked in his lungs?); and many of those shows are ones I remember most fondly. Many of our very best shows have been in that city, I'm not sure why but it's true.

It went something like that. You can imagine the amount of good-natured yet bileful phlegm I was being pelted with by the end, but I got through it. This night, though, it was clear why things were going well: such a good crowd. Attentive, loud, excited, singing along, screaming requests from the front row to the back. What a fucking thrill.

Saying goodnight to all the Saturnines and Consonants and to Biznono (who was trying to drag several of us out on the town for a late-night slugfest, and only reconsidered when some unknown and sensible, but far too well-meaning, person forced him into a passing meat truck) was also a pleasure. The weekend was a good one, my night was good; even my Sunday, seeing the city and more good friends, even my Sunday was good. And it's even good to get home. Do you know, my cats had distributed themselves along rooftops three houses away from my own? They screeched with delight when I stumbled up the stoop.

More in a few weeks -

Michael


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