Sounds simple, huh? Well, you have to drive all the way across Pennsylvania, the long way, horizontal. Which doesn't sound bad until you get to the border and find out that the speed limit in all of Pennsylvania is only 55. It rained and rained (throughout the entire 4500 mile journey, in fact) and in New Jersey at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., after having had to pull off the highway three times, we tried to get a motel room, but they all cost, like, $50, for a dive, so we sat in an IHOP drinking coffee till the storm passed.
Just one storm, terrifyin', but I can count when it comes to blessings, count real high. Out the Lincoln Tunnel and into culture shock. We took a wrong turn and had to negotiate the broken-glass "streets" of Hell's Kitchen and environs before finding 42nd Street (which one of my high school teachers once called "the most perverted street in America"). From there it was easy to locate the East Village, where Chris Johnny Punk Rock Potash and Denise have an apartment. Walk outside at 3:00 a.m. and you can buy fresh veggies, cold beer, smoke and 'shrooms, you name it. The place never sleeps, and neither did we.
We went down to the Bowery and the Lowa Eas Sigh and visited former New Times publisher Julie Felden, later hooking up with former NT ad rats Ron Mann and Ana Jomolca. We met Ron and Ana at some blues bar where the four musicians were individually great, but as a unit were just noisy. Johnny Punk Rock ordered a round of beers and discovered that a Bud costs five dollars. We all bolted to some other bar that was much cooler and we drank until late. My wife and I had to wake up and leave by 9:00 the next morning, but at 4:00 a.m. I wasn't yet ready to let go of the most aggressive city in the world. (I swear to God a guy in a van at one intersection leaned out his window and screamed, "There's a frikkin pedal on the right. Use it, asshole!") We ate breakfast at a Ukrainian joint one day and at a Polish place the next (very real). So anyway, on that last night, at 4:00 a.m., Johnny and I decided to walk around Tompkins Square Park. When we got back I noticed my shoes -- those rubber-soled sandals with Velcro straps -- were covered with gunk. Nasty skunky gunk. So I set them outside the fourth-floor door of Johnny and D's secured walkup. Five hours later, when we were ready to leave, the shoes were gone. Pretty different from Muncie or Erie that someone -- likely a neighbor, considering it's a building you have to be buzzed into -- would steal a pair of shit-covered $15 sandals. That's what I get, I guess, for forgetting to take off my hat while standing in St. Pat's, freaking on the giant windows and papal icons.
Still I love New Yawk, feel much safer there than here. Johnny Punk has a theory I buy: "In New Yawk you have all these people, people from every ethnicity, every background, all of them thrown together. So each and every person is forced to deal with that." It's a level playing field, and as mean and aggressive as people are, and even though there are the same number of guns in New Yawk as automobiles (1.7 million), it's okay to yell and argue and beef with people. Everyone has a niche, from the shiny happy polka-dot demi-more woman at the blues bar and then at the ATM at 2:00 a.m. -- "Where is the joy?" she's saying, "What is joy?" -- to the big Mad-drawn guy outside the Italian joint, "Hey, Vinnie, Vinnie, I got a space for ya heah, Vinnie, hey, Vinnieeeeee" (and Vinnie treated him kindly) to tourists. Live with it. What I had a tough time living with was 42nd Street. They've gone and ruined it, the city has, closing down almost all of the thousands of porno/massage/et cetera parlors. It is no longer the most perverted street in America and it is no longer fun.
We got down a few bets at OTB, walked into CBGB and kicked the ugly dog, sat around the back of the Knitting Factory as people gathered for a gay-punk concert soon to begin upstairs. We drank in at least 25 neighborhood bars, the coolest being the Holiday, with this old white-haired bartender in a flowery shirt. This guy worked hard to be oblivious, spending a good five or ten minutes moving a bottle cap from the counter to the trash can. For some reason, I clicked with this ol' dude, the king of all he surveys, as Johnny put it, and received excellent (relatively speaking) service. On the way out I freaked the crowd of customers by saying to the old man: "See you later at home, Dad." Back in Miami, I got in the mail a flattering note from Johnny, thanking us for visiting and for bringing a bundle of New Times back issues. "Thanks for the papers. They're lucky to have you, man. You're sharp as a...a...Nine Inch Nail." That Johnny, whatta kidduh.
Between New Yawk and Miami, we drove head on into a hurricane, and came out with our souls thoroughly touched. More culture shock, then the aftershocks. It was about a fifteen-hour ride to my parents' house in South Carolina, where we crashed. The next day they took us to this killer place, Dockmasters, down in Anderson. Like Sundays or Monty's, but much nicer, a bunch of boats and other watercraft bobbing out in the freshwater, fresh (I swear) seafood cooked just right, prices way reasonable, the vibe perfect. We felt real good for the ride down to Gainesville. My dad set us up with a time-saving, picturesque route that took us through all of southern Georgia, past the chicken farms and goat farms and emu farms. Macon, Codele, Tifton -- ah, Tifton, where we stayed on the way up and whose name we would never pronounce the same twice, calling it Tippling, Tripton, Clifland, and so on -- through Valdosta and, late that night, into North Florida. That's when we heard the blip on the radio scan: "The hurricane is expected to reach land this morning." Huh? We made it home smoothly, then began following the story of the brutal flooding that's savaged that part of this fine nation. Having just been there, the connection ups the ante, and I'll tell ya, it's a hurting thing.
The members of Crash Basket got a taster. The band's Paul Roub sent a post card from Cafe Risque, whose billboards dot I-75. "We have a gig in Atlanta tonight -- 'course we're in Macon. Stuck. Flood. State of emergency. Yee fucking haw." They had to pull off the highway and take refuge in the strip joint. ("The topless waitresses are not at all reminiscent of the girl on the other side of this post card, nor of the girl on their billboards. P.S. Our waitress, Joanne, is having a much worse day than we are. But she's very nice.") The Basket's now back in South Florida and will celebrate the release of Pete's New Shoes tonight (Thursday) at the Cellblock with a whole bunch of top guest performers.
So many miles, including the band the miles, which performs tomorrow (Friday) at Squeeze.
On the acoustic front, Brian Franklin hits the Nocturnal Cafe tonight (Thursday) and hooks up with Marianne Flemming on Sunday at the Underground Coffee Works up in West Palm Beach.
This week's post card from I Don't Know features on the front a picture of the white tiger at Metrozoo. On the back they complain about the bouncers at Button South roughing people up A wow, that's news. Also, Mark, the accordionist, has a new cat. Also, "Fuck the Eagles" is the name of their show at Churchill's on Sunday, with Rezidue, One-Eyed Kings, and Kreamy 'Lectric Santa rounding out the bill (admission will cost the same as Ticketmaster's service charge on Eagles tix). And, they're playing tonight (Thursday) with Chunk Farm up at Malone's.
Dore Soul is back with a show tomorrow (Friday) at Reunion Room.
Master Henry Gibson is in the studio with guitar wizard Alex Fox, working on a CD. They play at I Paparazzi every Friday and Saturday.
Over in Kendall, it's Talisman on Saturday at Shortstop's.
Mr. Tasty and the Bread Healers play tonight (Thursday) at the Gallery of the Unknown Artists. Free.
What am I eating on the phone? Mike Kennedy guessed croquettas; brother Doug thought it was a Whopper; Ron thought I had had oral surgery. Magda simply asked, "What kind of food do you have in your mouth?" Tommy guessed sandwich. Andy says, "Sounds like you're doing some serious depressants." JB figured it was kingfish. Keep guessing -- next week I'll reveal the truth. If someone guesses in the meantime, they get the usual prize (so spell your name or leave your number).
It's flowing for Day by the River. They've made it to the semifinals of the Yamaha Sound Check national band competition, and they play tonight (Thursday) at Musicians Exchange, tomorrow (Friday) at Tobacco Road with Natural Causes, and Saturday at Rose's.
The buzz boys of Muse amuse and abuse at the Church (not Churchill's Hideaway, but a one-nighter at Mickey's) on Sunday.
Radio tip: MARS A Music Access Radio Show, on WMRZ-AM (790) Sunday from midnight to 2:00 a.m., airs new and original music of all styles by unsigned artists. Send your tape and lyric sheet to MARS, 12864 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 177, Miami, FL 33181. They'll send back a release form, you sign, then....
Get under Halo tomorrow (Friday) at Shortstop's.
Don't forget KC's big concert at the Cameo this Sunday.
This Saturday a major show at Stephen Talkhouse -- Tommy Anthony and Goza plus Nuclear Valdez.
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Butthorn of the week: Mark Ruiz, accordionist of I Don't Know, for buying an expensive cat instead of getting one from the shelter.
The media circus: How many O.J.s
does it take to screw in a light bulb ? None, unless Kato doesn't feel like doing it.
#1: Knock, knock.
#2: Who's there?
#2: O.J. Who?
#1: Congratulations, you're on the jury!
Special thanks to Bob Weinberg, Tom White, and everyone else who's told me an O.J. joke this month. All 10,000 of ya.