It has not been a very happy year so far and it shows no sign of getting better any time soon. I know I’ve been off the radar for two years now and I can’t seem to get back on the horse. I am putting a link that will tell the tale for me in the hopes of getting some help. Here it is http://www.gofundme.com/bm047c
I never thought it come to this but desperate times call for desperate measures. Thanks for reading, and to any who used my work for term papers and such. I hope you got good grades.
Category Archives: Music
It has not been a very happy year so far and it shows no sign of getting better any time soon. I know I’ve been off the radar for two years now and I can’t seem to get back on the horse. I am putting a link that will tell the tale for me in the hopes of getting some help. Here it is http://www.gofundme.com/bm047c
When I heard that Amy Winehouse had died, I was strangely affected. I wasn’t even a fan of her music, yet somehow I was saddened. Maybe it was the coincidence of Jay Leno making a joke about her in his monologue the night before, or maybe just the fact that another young star was lost to us that hit a nerve. The first time I heard her music on TV, it was the self-fulfilling prophecy “Rehab” that was playing. The image of the beehive hairdo combined with the lyrics just made me roll my eyes. Crafting a song about drug addiction like it was something to be proud of bothered me. I also thought she was just another white girl trying to be a sister, from the sixties this time around. But nevertheless I totally ignored her from that point on. Now I wish I hadn’t, now I know that I missed something.
The reaction from people around me went from total indifference to those who felt she got what she deserved. The sad thing is that most of the people who feel that way will never know what it’s like to be an addict, how it can destroy your will to do what you love or be who you want to be. I have seen addiction firsthand and can tell you it’s not the barrel of fun that people make it out to be. I watched a co-worker scramble for drugs every day for over a year.While I drove him home every day, I listened to the phone calls trying to score a hit and out of the corner of my eye watched as he counted money, going through all his pockets to collate what he had hoping it would be enough. I could feel his eyes upon me when he didn’t have enough money and I lied many times that I was broke. He left the company and I was relieved, the strain of watching him feed his addiction was starting to take its toll on me emotionally.
There are some who are blaming Amy’s close friend Kelly Osbourne and Amy’s parents, saying they should have done more to help her, but I think this is unfair to Kelly and also her parents who are most likely experiencing a lot of guilt. This is an old story unfortunately, for Amy and a handful of other stars. When a group of friends gathered to try an intervention with CSN legend David Crosby back in the day, his response was to do a line of coke and walk out the door. You can’t sit on top of someone 24-7, sooner or later they have to be alone and no one can possibly be there every minute. The fact is that Amy had been rumored to have been in rehab recently, and after treatment in hospital and as an out-patient for lung problems associated with smoking tobacco and crack cocaine, she had received a clean bill of health from her doctor. She like other stars who died young was embarking on a comeback, with a new album in the works and a tour to follow-she was in good spirits according to those close to her. There was no reason to suspect that she would wind up like she did, in fact it will be several weeks before the toxicology reports are done. So far foul play has been ruled out and the autopsy was inconclusive as to the cause of death.
In interviews her former band mates concluded that the sudden overnight success took a toll on the sensitive young singer and she responded in the typical manner of the gritty Camden neighborhood she grew up in, it’s a place where fast times and the rock-n-roll club life are part of the nightly music scene, where the young singer was easily drawn into the drugs and heavy drinking while she was paying her dues and learning her craft. The pressure of stardom took its toll on Amy, after her sudden explosive success followed emergency room visits and arrests and rehab. But it was the relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil that was the turning point for Amy, at least one band mate Neal Sugarman remarked that the change in her was visible. The first tour was a lot of fun compared to the second tour supporting “Back To Black” which wasn’t fun at all. Sugarmen felt that the return of Blake was when Amy started taking drugs again, he remarked that the last time he saw her in London “it was not a pretty sight”. She was unable to sing on some of the songs they were working on and said “it was really depressing”. In their hit song “Truckin” Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead sings “What in the world ever became of sweet Jane, she’s lost her sparkle you know she isn’t the same. Living on Reds, Vitamin C and Cocaine…all her friends can say is ain’t it a shame.” This seems to be a direct reference to Janis Joplin, a friend of the band and one of the members of the unfortunate 27 Club; rock stars who died at 27. This includes Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison among others.
But the warning signs were there and some people in the industry said that Amy was on what they call a “death watch”, an interesting term considering that people on a death watch are usually behind bars and kept from using any devices that could cause themselves harm. Why then don’t we have the same precautions in place for family and friends. In her short life Amy suffered and struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol, depression, eating disorders and self-harm issues. The real tragedy is that brilliant career that could have been hers is now lost forever, we’ll never know what might have been had she lived and kept recording the kind of music she loved. What we do know is that she opened the door for new female artists to walk through, Lily Allen rode in after Amy’s release of Back To Black, and Adele credits Winehouse with making the US market easier for herself and Duffy to achieve success. This also ushered in a third wave of female artists including VV Brown, Florence and the Machine, La Roux and Little Boots. But the most acclaim came from Lady Gaga who said Amy Winehouse “paved the way” for her rise to the top of the charts. Winehouse could be said to have jump started a revival of soul music that started in 2000. Amy’s work made it possible in 2009 for five female artists to be nominated for the Mercury Prize in the UK and that year to be called the “year of the woman” in music circles. That is more than can be said for many artists who had hit records who were clean and sober, that she was able to do all this and stand up for causes and start her own record label speaks well of her ambition and energy. Not quite the picture of the irresponsible addict painted by so many. One can easily imagine a new young singer somewhere in the UK or US, unknown at the moment. She has been watching Amy on TV and dreaming of stardom. The thrill of it all, a new sound that harkens back to the age of soul, who many will compare to Amy Winehouse, but a new face, and hopefully a career that will stand the test of time and the roller coaster ride of fame without breaking under the enormous pressure. That is the legacy of a singer like Amy Winehouse.
My unexpected reaction to her death was to sit and watch You Tube videos of Amy in concert, that is where I first realized the power of her vocals and the emotional element she added to them, a conviction about the lyrics and the honesty with which she sings her songs. I have tried to analyze my feelings of loss, were they driven by a latent sexual desire?…no, she’s not my type so I don’t think that played a role. Was there a deeper issue involved? Such as my lifelong struggle with food and weight loss issues? Yes, that was at least part of it, I could understand the desire for something that was off-limits, and potentially dangerous. But it had to be something more, buried deep in my subconscious. I still haven’t found what it is that moved me so much as I sat at my kitchen table stunned from the news. I can totally understand now why Elton John was moved to write “Candle In The Wind about Marilyn Monroe. I will be sure to buy all available recordings of Amy on CD or DVD, and like so many bands that are no more, I will cherish what we have of them to enjoy. Perhaps the greatest gift Amy unknowingly gave me is the gift of being more open in my mind to new ideas. To listen to new sounds and really see new images before passing judgement and moving on. So goodbye Amy, maybe you didn’t realize how much love was coming your way. While you were searching for the perfect love that doesn’t exist in life,perhaps you finally found it in death. I hope so for your sake…rest in peace.
It’s a breezy but sunny day as I ride the train to Penn Station in New York City for a very special concert, The Dresden Dolls are playing Irving Plaza. It is the bands 10th anniversary but also the reunion of the band after a three-year hiatus. Today is Halloween and there are more than a few 20 somethings on the train heading for parties in clubs and bars, maybe even a few are going to see the Dresden Dolls. For those of you that don’t know, I’ll tell you.
The Dresden Dolls are Amanda Palmer; lead singer, keyboardist and songwriter and iconoclast and Brian Viglione; drummer, guitarist, bassist, pantomime/actor and everything Amanda is not. The pair make unique duo that serves up some of the best indie rock music you’ll ever hear while still maintaining the underground feel of a club band known only to a few. Amanda calls their music Brechtian punk-caberet, but that is only to dodge the label of Goth, punk is a term that could be a little mis-leading, since their music is nothing like The Sex Pistols or any other punk band. The lyrics are where the Dolls take a great turning away from the typical punk bands anger and violence. Amanda’s songs; some going back to her high school days, are about life, love and loss. Whether talking about how sex changes you or about a 17-year-old paraplegic girl in love with a 22-year-old german man she’s never met (based on a true story) , Amanda gives us slices of life, some are like cold pizza, hard and chewy, others are straight from the oven, hot and fresh, scolding hot but always good. This is definitely music that takes some thought to digest properly, while still being very listenable straight-up rock n roll.
The Dolls attract an eclectic crowd of punks, Goths, hipsters, performance artist/circus types and others who like the whole concept of “dark-caberet”. This is a style the Dolls along with other groups; most notably “Black Tape for a Blue Girl” have developed since the early nineties, Brian has also played with them. During the last three years Amanda & Brian have been on a break, after seven years of touring together constantly the pair who had shared much passion on stage and off had decided they needed some space. So without actually going through the formality of a rock divorce the un-married pair who fought just like a married couple went to pursue other solo ambitions, but the band never officially split up. When I first became a fan in 2008 I never thought this day would happen, I was driving and listening to an interview with Amanda about her use of the internet and sites such as Twitter to promote her music, sometimes scheduling impromptu performances and announcing them on Twitter at the last-minute!
I have all the cd’s and videos, heck I even have the companion song books the band put out for the first three albums, complete with pictures, history, photos, and the sheet music for piano, guitar and vocals. Most of the Dresden Dolls music is just piano and drums, but for a short time they had a guitarist and bassist and a few songs reflect this. I try to play along with my fledgling guitar skills and fantasize about playing live or being in a cover band. But at 48 that ship sailed long ago and I’m not on it.
This past week has not been too good, my brother lost his job and my mom is in much pain with her hip which is probably bursitis, but we don’t know yet. My folks got stuck with the car and had to have it towed to the gas station and got a new starter put in-ouch dollarwise, and I had to put a new power steering pump in my car and lost a days pay in the process,. The early word is no Xmas bonus this year, not because my company’s doing poorly, but rather because the millionaires I work for are building an eight bedroom house in the mountains, so the money got spent on their happiness. So I really need a good time out, I know I have to stop dwelling on the negatives, but at this rate the negatives are outweighing the positives three to one. But enough about me.
Penn Station is like a giant costume party, you know when the guests have just arrived and are still trying to get their bearings and find their friends, right before diving in to the mini-bar (there’s a reference for the fans), dozens of young and older people are heading to parties and bars are out dressed as everything you can imagine. There are guys dressed like Star Wars, Scooby Doo, Jack O’Lanterns, Cupid. A few girls are Zombie prom queens, Supergirl, Arabian belly dancers with Zoot-suit wearing cool cats, prison inmates, and on and on. I come up from below to a cool city at dusk and start walking to Park Ave and then turn right to head downtown. I’m a little cold but still stop to eyeball a few menu’s along the way. I pass a place called Artisanal on E. 32nd between Park and Madison that features cheeses and wines but also boasts an eclectic French menu with Duck Bourgingnon for $29.50! That’s not bad really for New York but I don’t have the money or the appetite. Earlier at home I made some very nice crepes with mushroom, Goat cheese, and leftover chicken. They came out OK but the sauce was missing heavy cream and butter,which I left out for health reasons but they were at least tasty and filling.
So I continue on my journey, offering to take a picture of a couple dressed as a sexy pirate and a murderous looking giant pumpkin headed monk who had been trying to take a shot themselves. I take a few pics and continue on checking out L’Express, another French place on E 20th & Park, a simple menu but old cafe style signage and a feel of old Parisian bistros. Then I see just ahead is Irving Place and turning left I find Irving Plaza easily and see that the line stretches down the block and around the corner! By now I need a loo and it’s a little too cold to stand outside so a check of the local watering holes is in order, so I walk back the way I came to check out a few places I passed.
There is an altercation going on between a cabbie in a white knit hat sitting inside his cab, and a European sounding man who speaks english but sounds French or rather Italian. The man is dressed in black leather and looks like a Jim Morrison type, he is yelling at the cabbie for some reason and starts to punctuate his words with repeated kicks to the door of the cab. Down the block I find a cool looking bar, but I am almost instantly driven out by the din of noise over the football game and the rabid fans watching it on TV, I move on to find a good spot but seeing none I walk back. I guess it’s about 15 minutes later and this time I’m on the same side of the street as the loud spectacle from before. I pass the scene with new cast members including the police! They appeared out of nowhere apparently. The “Euro Man” is now in handcuffs, his very attractive girlfriend is remonstrating with the police, pointing out to them that the door of the cab looks perfectly fine (which I can vouche for) and her man should be released. Meanwhile, Euro Man seems perfectly calm at these developments and stands now chatting as if he could break free and fly away like Superman whenever he wishes. I continue on not wishing to see what the final outcome will be, besides I can already guess.
But there is a lesson for you. Glen’s Rule Number Three: If your ever in New York City, don’t under any circumstances kick a cabbie’s door repeatedly! That is unless you like handcuff’s! So by roundabout ways I find myself sitting in a typical Irish pub in New York. It’s got the typical wood floors and tables with shades of green walls, a loud mix of music and five TV’s showing sports.The bartender at one end is dressed like Zorro, and the girl at the other end wears only a football jersey, some people have no creativity. The crowd is loud, middle-aged and features mostly non-costumed people save for one girl at the bar. I sip a cold Stella Artois or two, savoring the rare treat of imported beer and write at a corner table, while I wait for the doors to open at Irving Plaza. I can remember when this type of place was a second home to me, and I spent lots of money and many hours carousing with friends and looking for love. But now the bar scene is different, the smokers leave to go outside and come back in to their drinks a few minutes later. When I was still hanging out you could still smoke in a bar! I still miss it sometimes, I guess it’s oral sensation or hand to mouth need. I’m starting to think it’s time to leave but it’s warm and cozy in here, but actually I need more money so I leave a tip and gather myself for the long wait on-line. I pass by the seated patrons who are here for the night and step into the chill night air and make my way back to the show.
I enter a long thin dinning area and am immediately approached by the hostess asking how many? “Just me” I say brightly as I begin to take off my layers of coats and hang them as she is already walking toward the back of the restaurant apparently unaware of my lack of presence, but I hurry along and sit myself down in a larger room about half full of people. This is a quaint place with lemon toned walls, exposed brick and warm wood grain trim, decorated with tapestries and paintings from the old country. I wait for my menu and I see right away that I’m the only non-Turkish person in the place except for two other white guys in front of me who are just finishing up their meal. Finally I am approached to take my drink order and after it is brought I finally get a glass of water and the waiter comes to take my order. I start with a dish of breaded fried lamb liver and order my “Lamacun”, a thin crust pizza covered in ground lamb and spices and oven baked, with a glass of Turkish red wine called Kamut.
I sip my wine and listen to a table a few feet away who are discussing the disaster in Haiti and the United States response to it in very un-appreciative terms. The loudest of them all is a man who calls our efforts a “masturbation relief” over and over again like he’s discovered a new catch phrase that gets him royalties every time he says it. The women at the table don’t seem bothered by it at all and they seem to be very anti-US and UN but as the conversation goes on they seem to be workers for the foreign office in some capacity who are ethnic Turks that are in the know about world events, but still I feel like I’m in an enemy camp posing as a diplomat who is actually a double agent. My appetizer arrives a small but simple starter served with red onion, tomatoes, lemon wedges and no salty sauces. It is good to a point but not earth shattering as a dish, perhaps I’m getting a little jaded by my travels in the culinary world. But realistically I have only scratched the surface, and can only imagine the food in the places I can’t afford that I see on TV. Even before I finish my starter I receive my main course, I can’t believe the size of the portions! Three huge thin crust pizza’s the size of oval dinner plates served with tomato’s, basil, red onion and lemon wedge’s, I assemble mine the exact way I saw it on “No Reservations” piling all the ingredients on top and rolling it like a tortilla. It is crunchy and good but again not fantastic. The flavor of the meat is totally lost in the bread and veggies, I finish off two of the three Lamacun and with two pieces of the table bread I ask for it to be wrapped up so I can take it home for Mom, at least she can have a taste of my travels too.
I wait a long while for the dessert tray to come so when it does I pick the most unusual thing and wait and wait and wait for it to come, it is a tart made with cheese covered in a crunchy semolina pasta and soaked with honey and baked till crisp, this too I only eat half of and take home with me. This place is filling up now to almost full capacity and I wait to get my check a long time, I pay it up and leave, vowing never to go back. I felt too much like I was treated poorly because I’m not Turkish but I will try some other Turkish place again sometime. Now I’m out on Third Ave again and I quickly jump in a cab to get Webster Hall, after all the doors open at six so I don’t want to miss anything. Luckily I get a good cabbie who gets me there quick as a flash and find out the doors don’t open till 7:30, must have been mis-information on the web. So I take a short walk down the block but decide to call my Mom and shoot the breeze instead of going to Saint Alps Tearoom which is nearby, I’m just too full for a hot rich Asian tea even though it’s tempting. I talk to my Mom who is deeply engrossed in her favorite website “Sweet Caroline”, a Neil Diamond fan site where my Mom has actually risen to be the greeter of new members by the owner to take some of the work off her shoulders. It’s a little annoying to talk to someone who is not really listening but that seems to be the story of my life so I get off the phone and back on-line. The characters I see while waiting makes me marvel at the diversity of the types who are in attendance, beautiful French girls walk by wearing boots and berets, very beguiling. There are young upscale dudes in perfect clothes, loud gays talk about social norms and slander the friend who acted sooo wrong last time they went out for the evening, very stereotypical behavior I’m sorry to say but I’ve heard this same story many times on trains and in concert lines, funny thing. There are lots of Asian girls here too, quietly focused on their cell phones, their young earnest faces a picture of beautiful concentration.
Finally we are let in after being frisked for contraband, which in my case is left over food wrapped up and stuck inside my overcoat, I must smell a little funky to some as I walk upstairs to the grand ballroom where I find out the band isn’t going on till 9:00 which means I have two hours to kill!
I am not happy, I can only have one drink after the glass of wine so there ‘s nothing to do but write till the show starts, I know I could talk to people but an overweight middle-aged guy is not exactly cool enough to make friends here. I am easily the oldest one here, maybe at least I look like a music critic. So I order a rum and coke and station my self near the bar at a platform where I can write and observe. The bartender is doing curls with full magnum’s of booze to keep warm in the chilly room which is quickly filling up with people. One of her co-workers asks her why she is doing curls and says to keep warm but offers up a bicep to show the added benefits of her routine. I’m a little tired and wishing for a seat but this is a standing room, no comfort just 300 percent profit on the drinks and see the show and leave. I look around envious of all the young people here, they are living in a world far more screwed up than mine but they have so many advantages I didn’t have. The technology has given them access to the world, to people and information that would have taken me weeks to do the reports students can finish in a few hours in front of a laptop. They also have much more freedom than we had, at least from what I’ve seen in a major city suburb like Long Island.
The stage is decorated with tall white tree branches tied in bunches with the pale blue lights giving it a wintery glow. Then suddenly the lights go down and I make my way closer to the stage settling in a spot right next to the tables where the band merchandise is being sold at stage right about two-thirds from the stage. The first band is called Claire & The Reasons, a unique indie act whose members play more than one instrument, changing roles for different songs and a few of them play two instruments at once. The bands cd’s are available on their website and they are donating proceeds from the show to “Doctors without Borders” to help with the relief in Haiti. I stand and talk to the girl selling the shirts and Cd’s for Nouvelle Vague who is French but speaks perfect English, she is pretty and thin as a spike of lavender. To look upon her is to see the archetype French peasant girl you would see in a movie or postcard, wearing a sweater that looks like it hand-made with love by an artisan. I talk to her about my all too short trip to Paris and my love of French food and wine and my learning to speak French with Fluenz French, I could talk to her all night but she is working and I don’t want to be a bother so I shut up and wait for the band to go on stage. The diversity of the crowd has grown since before and I begin to see many more older people than me too, two guys in sport coats walk by and one remarks that Toronto is his favorite place to see Nouvelle Vague, I guess because it’s part French and the band is from France. I realize that I’ve never seen so many people speaking French since Paris and begin to wonder if there is a French enclave in New York City, I mean after all these people are not all tourists. I’m starting to warm up a little now and suddenly the band takes the stage, the crowd roars as they launch into the new CD which I just bought.
The band is a four piece, guitar, drums, keyboard and upright bass and they are tight players, while the girls are stunning and sensual-dancing like go-go dancers to the beat as they sing with abandon. It’s punk, its new wave, it’s cafe noir and I like it…a lot. I’m glad I came , I almost backed out I wa so tired from moving heavy boxes around at work and sorting the contents of the crawl space at home but now all thought of being tired is gone as the band plays a long show. The girls cut up on stage and introduce the songs in French and English especially “To drunk to f**k”: a punk song from the 80’s I think which they tease the crowd about being tonight. But at one point later in the show one of the girls kicks her leg up to accentuate a lyric, in a chanteuse like move and loses her shoe which flies up into the audience, and does it again with the other foot and the shoe goes up but it doesn’t come down! The singer doesn’t realize that it’s stuck up there and the pretty tour manager smiles and laughs at the antics of her band, I can see by the look on her face that she wishes she was up there on stage too, like me she doesn’t have it in her I guess whatever it is. The show ends with three encores consisting of five songs.
They walk off to thunderous applause and when the lights go up I wait for the herd to pass by, passing the time as I do by signing up on the mailing lists for both bands and by chatting a little more with the tour manager and ask if they will be back next year, she says they probably will be. I better brush up on my French so I say I will br ready next year for her test of me and wish her Bonnuit and she giggles her approval and wishes me Bonnuit back and I walk downstairs and out into the cold. I head to Third Ave and turn right, I need to walk a little to burn some calories, but also you can’t see the city from a cab you have to experience it on foot. I walk past Cosmic Charlie’s, a hip coffee shop with a 60’s vibe, I envy the people sitting inside at 11:00 pm relaxing with a coffee, home is close-by, no need to get back to the suburbs. I pass people standing outside in ones or two’s, mostly smokers talking together outside of bars and Bodega, late night liquor stores still open for the real drunks and a few shops are still open late, trying desperately to make that extra dollar. I stop to look at a nice German restaurant with red and white checkered curtains, the menu open in its window. But people are sitting a few feet away so I move away from its warm inviting glow, and walk on towards Penn Station. Despite my misgivings about the trip, I can feel it now…the city is mine again and I am hers, and will always be. I should have remembered that…I breathe the cool night air and walk tall on the streets I love.
It’s a mild overcast June evening as I drive to the train station, the torrential rains of last night are all but gone yet the weather is still unsettled and cooler than it should be for this time of year. I’m going to see P J Harvey and John Parish at the Beacon Theater on Broadway in New York City. The reviews are good but I know they will not be playing any of her old songs that I really like, just the music recorded by them on an old and new cd released this year. On board the train now speeding towards Penn station I listen to a group of friends talking over business stuff, one of them is leaving the job and they discuss various exit strategies. There is much laughter and many suggestions are made as to how to leave, nicely with class and professionalism or badly to leave a mark and strike back at the evil empire. But even those who suggest the path of class are bitter. They seem to have much disdain for the place they work, an all too familiar theme these days.
When we get to New Hyde Park station a few friends get on talking loud and acting out. The girl is very brash and annoying, trying to take pictures of her fat friends “man boobs” with her cell phone. Some people have no class or shame, they behave like children who talk like adults. yet no one wants to make a scene because to do so would be to give the attention they seem to be craving, especially the girl seems to relish using bad language in creative ways. So I look out the window and try to tune them out.
Between New Hyde Park and Jamaica Station we pass by a bunch of lovely little cottages, two story affairs with front and back porches, some have little pools in back while others have patio decks where I see people sitting talking on cell phones, sunning themselves or firing up the barbecue while doing chores. Except for the passing trains it seems like a nice place to live. The train however is delayed by someone who was standing on the tracks? Some guy wandering around loose, we creep along losing time until they sort him out and we get underway again. I hear people complaining about the expected 50 cent fare hike coming soon as we descend into the station and come to a halt so I fly up the stairs to get topside as fast as I can after losing time.
The great thing about good weather is that it’s easy to get a cab right away, and I score a great old Jamaican driver who weaves in and out of traffic and gets me to the Beacon in just ten minutes! That’s 30 blocks with traffic lights and going over three avenues as well, he passed by others with inches to spare but I have never had a better ride. I toss him a tip after telling him how great he was and wish it could be bigger but maybe I’ll ride with him again someday. I go in to the theater and get my seat deciding against an expensive drink. This is a beautiful old theater I haven’t seen in years, I think the last time I was here was for YES about 2002 or 2003, the lights go down and the opening act comes out. Some guy comes out called Pip Pakova and plays about eight of the most annoying songs I’ve ever heard in a high pitched voice while playing guitar. The songs are all sexual innuendo, tongue in cheek farce, and very self aggrandizing. Just way more kitsch than I want on a Tuesday night, I mean this guy needs a punch in the face and a kick in the ass, he makes me want to jump off a cliff…with him to break my fall!
I sit and rub my temples a little, my allergies are driving me nuts and I’m starting a headache but soon the lights go down again and John Parish and the band come out and begin playing. They are all dressed in suits and look a little like old time gangsters and P J comes out in a simple black dress and bare feet. They launch into material off their new cd which I have never heard and old material from their first days together before she was a cult figure, as I said no classic P J material will be played. The thing is that it doesn’t matter, it’s P J that you come to see and hear. She fascinates me… although she is not a raving beauty she has enormous sex appeal. P J moves onstage not with the poise of a dancer but rather the abandon of a flower child in an almost Gothic style. She is tough and strong yet vulnerable and definitely erotic. P J delivers the vocal equivalent of a chef’s tasting menu, reaching high and going low, cupping the mike for effect. The band supports her with minimal movement, while not being called shoegazers. Only the drummer comes close to the physicality of P J.
The audience is a mixed bag of personalities and types who explode into applause at the end of each song, also screaming out songs they want to hear and many “I love you”s coming from guys and girls. It’s a great show with a three song encore and with many smiles and waves she leaves us till next time. I saw her 2001, five days before 911 and again during the Uh Huh Her Tour after that and then her solo show two years ago. Each time P J presents with a slightly different version of herself and a new set of songs to tell her stories, I wonder what she will bring us next time around.
I leave the theater and begin walking down Broadway heading south, it’s a lovely night and I wish I could sit down and eat outside one of the many eateries I pass as I look for a copy of the Village Voice. I walk with other excited fans as we start off in a bunch and gradually thin out in all directions, some going to subways others to apartments somewhere in the city and others to New Jersey or Long Island. I open box after box looking for my free newspaper but all are empty, then I find one with a few copies inside reaching in I find them damp from what I hope is the rain and not something else. I’m really loving this walk but it’s a work night so I cross Broadway and flag down a cab outside Lincoln Center to get home a little earlier. I get a cab easily and we glide down 9th Ave and I take note of all the bars and eateries whose names I’ve seen online but have never been inside. Jake’s Bar, Puttanesca, Bar 69, and Marseilles. Many more whip by in a flash of shape and color. Mere static images forming a backdrop for the speeding cars around us and the people moving slowly between us and their massive brightly lit forms. Like the human body, the Avenues are the lifeblood of the city. The shops and restaurants are the walls of the arteries with the people playing the role of slow moving plaque and the traffic moving fast is the blood flow to all points in the system.
The driver lets me off at the 7th Ave entrance and I ride the escalator down to Penn Station once more, I can see the big board in the distance and right away I can see I have about thirty minutes before my train so I head immediately to Tracks for a washup in the loo and then sit down for a quick rum and coke to kill some time before making trackside.
I sigh a little as I look at the clock, I will be getting home a lot later than I would like but a P J Harvey concert is well worth a few lost hours of sleep.
I never enjoyed beer until I tasted Harp, but this beer is good too and I sip and listen to The Pestilles play old fashioned rock-n-roll, they’re a good young band playing what I think is their first gig-very cool. Anya comes in halfway through their set and is surrounded by friends and fans, she looks stunning, gone is the little girl look from years ago. She has a great new hair style and looks like a star now in casual black pants and a black and white stripe blouse with a white see thru scarf, she disappears to get ready for her set.
I move to the front and get a good spot-the room is filling up now and cheers go up as she comes onstage. Anya is beaming as she walks up and leads her new band over the material on her new CD effortlessly. She is warm and playful and talks alot to the crowd between songs, she doesn’t even flinch when everyone including me take her picture onstage, she covers an old Portuguese song and sings in that most difficult language easily as she moves to the music, sexy and sure of herself. She plays about ten songs and then is off to mix with her fans and catch up with friends.
It’s hard to get to speak to her as she is surrounded, finally when the place started to thin out as “The Little Ones” (the headliners) go onstage. I get a chance to talk with her a little. She seems to remember my face but not my name which is OK, and I explain where we met last. We talk about her new expansive sound, her new video, and band. I tell her how she looks cuter than ever, (which made her blush and laugh in that way that only girls can) they LOVE a compliment, and right now after a recent breakup, I’m sure she’s enjoying the attention and the freedom. We talk across from each other our faces only a foot apart, for a few all too short moments, she’s all mine. Just then a friend walks up to us and breaks the spell as Anya suggests we go listen to the band, but I have to go to work tomorrow.
So after posing with Anya for a few pictures her friend was kind enough to take for me, I excuse myself and say goodnight but not before suggesting the next time she comes to the East Coast that she come out to Nassau County, the friend helpfully suggesting Farmingdale as being a good place for music acts. I bid them goodbye and step out into the bustling street and catching a taxi quickly, head back to Penn Station for the long ride home. My driver who I learn is from Pakistan tells me that his meter is broken and he will take me for ten dollars- it’s a bargain!
But as I ride home, I wonder what might have been. If I had been able to stay and hang out with Anya and her people. I’m not laboring under any illusions that I had any chance of hooking up with her, she’s just getting over a breakup, and I don’t take advantage of people that way. Besides, guys like me don’t ever rate girls like her anyway. But it would have been cool to be introduced to a bunch of people who I could have hung out with in the future, and also get a taste of the night life of a rock star. It made me realize that if I lived in the Village I would have ten times the chance of meeting someone, just the numbers alone are way higher compared to the suburbs, and most important, the people are just way more cool and laid back in the Village-East or West doesn’t matter, than the snobby girls of the suburbs. It was a great night and I can’t wait to get my pictures developed, and to think I was so tired when I got home from work I almost didn’t go. I’ll never miss another show that way again-I’ll sleep when I’m dead!
I’m sitting on a LIRR train after a long day at work, not a bad day but busy enough to make me miss my manager…just a little. The train is filled with half drunk teens going to see some band, one of them pukes a little and a few people leave the car. I stay because I can’t smell it anyway, I’m getting a cold and I will be really sick in two weeks, but at the time I don’t know that yet. Still I can’t wait for the ride to end these little loud boys are annoying and I wonder how the lone girl among them can stand all the goofiness and macho posturing of these eighteen year olds. A little while later two police officers get on board and all goes quiet-Thanks Guys!
I got home later than usual and by the time I showered, dressed and got to the train station I was tired and stressed, but tonight I want to enjoy myself. The show is at the Mercury Lounge, I look forward to a cold beer and to see some good music performed by mostly un-signed acts. But as we finally pull into Penn Station I think to myself that I should try to take it a little easy this weekend.
Anya Marina is a singer/songwriter from LA whose releasing her second CD on Dec 9th. I first discovered her on National Public Radio on a quiet Saturday at work in 2002. The honest impeccable lyrics of her original songs like “Miss Halfway” and her soft lilting little girl voice, especially captivating on her heart breaking rendition of the Disney classic “Someday My Prince Will Come.,” was all I needed. I was instantly hooked. So I bought the 5 song EP that was available through the mail and her first full CD release too, both were signed personally to me but it wasn’t until 2004 when I finally got to see her live at the Living Room in the Village, the show was all acoustic and informal with many of her family and friends there to cheer her on, even a little girl ( a cousin or niece I think) was practically on stage while she played. I met her after her set and told her who I was, and how happy I was to finally see her live. Anya was happy and gracious to all posing for pictures with me and other fans and signing CD’s and shirts.
But now as I get into a cab when I tell my driver “Mercury Lounge please.” he stares at me thru the rear view mirror and asks me “Where is Dat?” in a thick Jamaican accent. Now don’t get me wrong I Love Jamaicans, I really like the way they talk and how they pronounce words like Bah-Nah-Na whereas we say Ba-nan-ah through our noses here in New York. After a long cab ride during which I think the driver is trying to rip me off, I mean first he doesn’t know where the place is located, and I’ve got to take time out to fish the ticket printout outta my wallet and tell him which street it’s on! So well alright I got a rookie. It is whatever it is so I sit and look out the window and listen to the news on the Orwellian TV installed in many taxi’s now to keep us all up to date on the world of Big Brother. We arrive by way of China to E. Houston St, he’s looking out the window for the street numbers and drops me off on the wrong side of the street cause it’s more convenient for him. So I cross the street hungry and am happy to find I’ve got two hours to kill before Anya hits the stage.
After spending 15 bucks on the taxi ride from hell I have to eat cheap, times are getting harder and money isn’t growing on trees. I walk down East Houston St past tiny bodegas and ATM’s and a dizzying array of food. The street is alive with people enjoying the warm early fall air, happy college students talking excitedly about school, tired blue collar workers on their way home, office people in suits on their way to a much needed drink, hipsters and punks, hippies and squares, the haves and have-nots crowd the sidewalks. I go inside the famous Katz’s deli but decide after seeing this place on the food network that it just too much food and to much money to spend, so I leave and find myself sitting down in Ashkara.
Ashkara is a Mediterranean place offering Falafel, Hummous, and my choice a Beef and Lamb burger with all the trimmings, served either in a fresh homemade pita or on a plate it comes with as many salad bar toppings and sauces as your heart desires. The place is small and kind of dirty but the smell of the food is as intoxicating as it gets and I enjoy the Techno music being played while I listen to the sounds of the street only a few feet away, there are few tables here and people standing against the wall to eat is common. The young man behind the counter cooks me two Ashkara burgers adding marinated onions and while I wait, he takes at least six more orders while his boss looks on from the street. This kid is cool and gets everything right. He puts Hummus on first, then cuts the burger into four pieces arranging it with care, adds lettuce then hands it to me. I add marinated cucumber and tomatoes and hot sauce and mango sauce. The flavors are incredible, the savory lamb and the earthy beef mixed with the spicy goodness added to the meat, set against the coolness of the vegetables and over all the hot sauce, tying the whole thing up. The warm soft pita is unlike any I’ve had before, it’s a truly great and filling meal…ultimately it’s a revelation. I’ve eaten Mediterranean food in a few nice places in my life but sometimes, just sometimes the small dirty place with two tables-is the place you want to be.
I leave Ashkara and walk back full but happy and I remember earlier in the day at work I suddenly thought about Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, I might have heard someone mention it on TV or radio but right now I’m too stuffed to think about beer as I come up on the Mercury lounge, I get ID’d and try to get my ticket at the door but the girl doesn’t have the stub, only my name on a list of internet buyers. I am disappointed but walk to the back where the shows are held without complaint. I mean what can I expect from a bar anyway, and an underpaid waitress.
This is an old brick and wood place, it is crowded and smells musty and sweaty, except for an occasional whiff of perfume. The girls very easily outnumber the guys here two to one, Anya always draws a largely female crowd. I make my way to the stage area just as the first band is packing up their instruments. There is a small mixing board on my right, and a small bar annex on the left where a pretty girl calls orders in to the bar thru a small window, and makes change while you wait. It’s a neat system to keep people from having to walk back and forth. The bar girl asks me if I want anything. I decide to wait taking in the scene, admiring the guitars of Blackstrap as they pack up. Later when The Pestilles are just about to go on, I decide to order a beer before they do, looking up at the small chalkboard above us I see that they have Pabst Blue Ribbon.