Until this year, I didn't have much in the way of New York memories. I had that Billy Joel song and this time when I rowed on that lake in Central Park, but since I can barely swim, let alone pilot a watercraft, most of my time was spent circling endlessly, ramming old ladies, and getting screamed at by more adept cockswains, but, well, that was about it. Now? Three trips in less than six months. I'm developing a instinctual surliness, a general disregard for pedestrians, a hatred of cooking. All is well.
When you're young, this city is intimidating---which is not to say that it still isn't (see below)---but you grow up a bit, live in a city with more bums than children (read: San Francisco), and suddenly, it's a lot less imtimidating. It's like getting just tall enough so that monosyllabic bum stops breaking your nose and starts giving you wedgies instead. Sure it hurts to sit down, but your face stays symetrical. I think that's important.
Of course, there are still moments when it scares the shit out of you. We just had one of those. About, say, twenty minutes ago. You know the stereotypical New York cabbie? The one who honks his horn constantly, yells at passers-by, and has probably run down ten or twenty strollers? We had that cabbie. But that cabbie has no personality, maybe doesn't speak English, and never seems to know where he's really going. Our guy (Richie), he knew. He drove like Cole Trickle*. He almost ran people over, then screamed out the window "Jesus loves you" or "I'll get you next time." He designed a Christian umbrella, though we never found out what exactly made it Christian. Made out of eucharists, perhaps. And when he wasn't coming dangerously close to vehicular homicide, he was simply yelling out the window. Sometimes, long, throat-shredding wolf howls. Sometimes, more of a "yip yip yoooooO!" sort of noise. I spent the entire ride cackling and making out my will.
And weirdly, that sums up how I feel about this place now. I love it and fear it and can't help but find it hilarious all in one fell swoop. We've been here since Halloween. Some highlights:
- CMJ Badges: I don't know if you've ever heard that Dismemberment Plan song called "You Are Invited," but, essentially, it's a weird narrative set over one of the cheesiest/best drum machine beats ever about a guy getting an invitation in the mail that lets him into any party, anywhere, any time he wants. This badge is like that. And if I ever complain about constant free shows, I give you permission to stab me. Added bonus: I got a bag filled with free shit and, yeah, most of it's already in the trash, but I like bags of freeness. It's like I'm at an orthordontist's convention or something. Except, instead of floss and Colgate, we got glossy magazines and a Public Enemy CD.
- Halloween: Not only were we fortunate enough to play two shows on Halloween, but we got to play one costumed. For the record, I'm not sure how women deal with high heels. I'm not sure how Prince deals with high heels. I'm not sure how I managed to not sprain my ankles. Both our shows were on the same block of the same street, which made logistics (more) painless and both were for fine folks, Music for Robots and KCRW, in that order, chronologically. The former was in a subteranean, windowless bar in the early afternoon, the latter at Pianos, which, after the dehydrating, night-during-the-day setting of the first show, was a nice change. Plenty of good costumes too. The best one: a cadre of the Robert Palmer Addicted To Love girls. Y'all were perfect.
- Unexpected Surprises: During our night show, Peter asked us to run through Springsteen's "Atlantic City" so he could introduce the band. Three things here. One: we'd never played it before. And by never I mean we tried it once in Cleveland, but Cleveland doesn't count. In fact, I'm hereby eliminating that city from the Birdvernacular. Two: we had no idea what the hell he was to going talk about. Three: there's nothing like trying something for the first time in front of a couple hundred people to put the fear of God in you. But it worked out beautifully (if I do say so myself. And I do.)
- Best Costume under 50 cents: This award goes to Ryan from Division Day. Picture it: a bow on top of a tag of construction paper that read, "From: God. To: Women." Bra. Vo.
- Fine food: After a week and a half of fried, anonymous meats, Hot Mamas, and complete lack of vitamins, we've had everything from New York bagels, sushi, hot dogs, Thai food, and, obviously, pizza. All with fine company to boot. Our arteries are opening back up. It's a good feeling, circulation. Looking forward to living past 30.
- Three more days: We've still got tonight, show free, and shows tomorrow and the following day. I might be Yankees fan by Friday...no. Wait. Never.
Until soon. And if you're in town, tomorrow is in Brooklyn, at night, at Studio-B, while we're doing a matinee at Sin-E on the Lower East side the day before the New York Marathon, where tens of thousands of folks will line the street to proclaim how much better shape they're in than the rest of us. Then Philly. Then 3000 miles to home. Expect true lunacy at the end there. In the words of Richie: Jesus loves you; I'll kill you next time.
* Oh yeah, I went there. Sorry.