Yesterday started out like any other Thursday. A bus ride, a croissant, a morning cup of coffee with Jon Carroll: all was normal, all was well. In fact, even work seemed to cruise by without unneeded worry or hullabaloo. Then, while waiting for Zach on the sidewalk so we could take the subway to practice, I get a tap on the shoulder. It's someone I haven't seen in oh, six years, and someone who, it not-so-slowly dawned on me, had a tattoo on his head.
To be specific, his forehead. Right above his eye. Now, here's the thing: when you haven't seen someone in a half dozen years, it's hard to just come right out and ask "So, did that thing hurt?" You've got to be polite, make small talk, find out that the man is doing well, is back in school, is visiting family. But all you're thinking is: Tattoo. Forehead. I mean, Mike Tyson has a tattoo on his forehead. That's not exactly prestigious company.
But we chatted. We reminisced. I spent three minutes avoiding his forehead. He went his merry way and Zach & I went ours. We practiced, loudly. We got tired. I went to see the National.
But it was as if Forehead opened up some rip in the space-time continuum. Everything was suddenly and aggressively weird. I ran into Brett (who goes on tour with DDay & us from time to time & who knew Forehead back six years ago & who I'd already called to tell the above story & now, strangely was next to me in line at the Great American Music Hall). Brett told me of his cab ride there wherein the cabbie played his own personal recordings, which were apparently jazzy little ditties about his aunt growing a mustache after testoterone treatments. We were accosted by a gravel-voiced bum who told us white women saved his life. Uneasy stares were exchanged. Someone walked up to me and asked if I wouldn't mind lighting their cigarette. An odd request, I thought. Oh wait, I realized, he's only got one arm. We hurried inside.
And thank God for the National. They were normal. Which is to say, as fantastic as normal. To anyone who has never seen the National, take it from me: you need to go. We played with them and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! more than a year ago and I was blown away during soundcheck. Which is saying something. When half the lyrics are "can I get some of the left guitar in my monitor?" and the song is still epic, then, well, you win. I surrender.
Hopefully today will be...well...not normal, per se, but weird in a more pleasant way. Like, say, seeing Lady Godiva riding a unicorn outside my office. Something whimsical. Something without unfortunate tattoos. We'll see how it goes. San Francisco has never been reknowned for normalcy.