Monthly Archives: February 2003

Barflies & Celebrity Sightings

So we were out at Shay’s recently, the little nook of a bar on JFK in Cambridge, and things started getting pretty rowdy. It was closing time on a Friday night, wall to wall with med students, locals, some chick celebrating her birthday and the 20 people there to help her, taking up half the bar in the process.

I always miss the beginning of the good stuff. But there was a gaggle of giggling blondes in front by the windows, and judging by the number of empty bottles of Bud Light on the table, and the animation with which they spoke, they were reasonably sauced up. The poor table service there betrays one’s alcohol consumption over the course of the evening. Amid the celebratory singing and general hub-bub, one of them fled the tribe and stumbled forth into the crowd, navel exposed, tripping on platform sneakers. She squoze her way to the bar and requested a cigarette from a middle-aged man leaning there with his middle-aged wife, deeply absorbed in scowling at one another.

The last I saw of our trio, the blonde was retreating empty-handed to her corner. Like I said, I always miss the beginning of the good stuff.

It was at this time that my attention was drawn back to Ruby, who had returned from the restroom and was now engaging me in conversation about karaoke.

Eventually the bartender bellowed last call and the birthday party broke up, wandering off clutching their heads with one hand and their Molecular Biology texts with the other. Upon their exit, our friendly middle-aged man rose unsteadily but flushed with adrenaline from his bar stool. The seat would have rocked dramatically, but the stools there are nailed to the floor. His craggy voice sliced out through the closing time din. “Hey, miss!” Our jazzy blonde, now leaning over the corner table talking to her friends, did a 180 — well, more like a 210 before correcting her line of vision — and cocked her head. He thrust his arm out violently, shaking his middle finger in the smoky air. “Fuck. You.” He said it accusingly and with disgust, like one New York City cab driver to another, following it cinematically with a phlegmy spit on the hardwood floor.

The record scratched off and the bar fell instantly silent, all heads swiveling between the two players, eagerly awaiting the next exchange.

He was clearly out of line. She was clearly not having any of it. She lurched back toward him and the two began slinging profanities at one another.

I was amazed. Call me old fashioned, but I wouldn’t stand for a man old enough to be my father telling me to fuck off while in polite company. Even if the company was just shy of polite. And he was getting a little riled, enough that he looked like he might even haul off and deck her.

All over a cigarette?

I always miss the beginning of the good stuff.

So we left. Mainly because it got a little warm in there and the bartender had his hands full, but also because it was closing time and Charlie’s is open an hour longer than Shay’s. So down the block we went.

Charlie’s in Harvard Square on a Friday at 1:15 AM is no joke. Climbing the stairs, you part the smoke and emerge into a dancing spree of bike messengers, food service workers celebrating the end of their shift, punk rock kids, the more daring 20- and 30-somethings of us, Metallica, tattoos, fries, Vans, chops, pints, and Natalie Portman.

Natalie fucking Portman.

She’s very small but was creating quite a stir. Clean faced and hair in a ponytail, she sipped some pink beverage through a straw and made her way smoothly through the chaos from one end of the bar to the other, the grungy throng parting like the Red Sea to let her pass. She couldn’t help but brush up against every guy in the thickly packed crowd. I have never seen so many erections in my life.

I wish someone good would enroll at Harvard. I mean, I don’t have anything against Natalie Portman, but why not some dashing young male actor for me to fall hopelessly in love with and follow around Harvard Yard at an inconspicuous distance? Whenever I see a famous person in public, I wonder how they can leave their house — especially someone so duly worshipped as she — and come to a bar where every boy in the room has been waiting pantingly for her to turn 18 so they could masturbate unfettered to The Professional.

So we left. Mainly because it got a little warm in there and the bartender had her hands full, but also because it was closing time. So down the block we went.

That said, I am far more impressed with Ruby than with Natalie Portman. And here is why.

The following night, it was snowy and cold and I was itching to get out of the house. Ruby agreed to brave the weather, but I wasn’t sure where I was in the mood to go. She said, “There’s always the B-Side.”

I sucked in my breath and blinked, torn between fear and disbelief.

The thing with the B-Side is this. The place is Mythical. Like Atlantis. Or Jupiter. My friend Mike from Berklee used to talk about the B-Side and his eyes would get all sparkly and distant, a tiny stream of drool escaping down his chin. I have never been to the B-Side, and there is only one reason why: I can never find it.

Inman Square is the Bermuda Triangle of Cambridge. I’ve lived here for almost nine years, and left to my own devices, I am consistently unable to find Inman Square. I’ve been told it’s quite simple, really. Still to this day it evades me. When someone returns from an evening in Inman Square, I touch them in disbelief. “You made it back? Thank God!” and I pull them to me protectively and want to never let them go there again.

But Ruby goes to the B-Side every night so not only does she know where it is, but she knows which bus stops it’s okay to park at where she won’t get a ticket. Even if I ever located the B-Side, I would have to drive by it all night, peering in from the street, wishing I had one of those deflatable cars like the Jetsons.

So when we rolled up in front of The Legendary One and Only B-Side Lounge, she had a parking spot waiting for her directly across from the entrance. Later I realized it was actually assigned to her, that the B-Side hired undercover Secret Service men to vigilantly guard her personal 10′ x 20′ space on Cambridge Street in case she showed up.

Given it was 10:30 on a Saturday night, a line was to be expected. And a line there was. In the freezing rain, people huddled around the corner waiting for some sorry fool to leave so they could be blessed with the presence of Boston’s Coolest of the Cool in the B-Side. So we get in the end of the line, and I start wondering if this is such a good idea. I can see in the window where warm and lighthearted conversations bubble, and good music is probably being played.

Then as he’s denying entrance to three more people trying to schmooze their way in, the door guy sees us and rises to attention from his stool, hurrying over. He nods reverently to Ruby and assures her, “I’ll go get Andy.” I’m already impressed. Straight out of Fight Club. “It’s all under control, sir.”

I’ve been informed before our arrival that Andy is a real character, a tall boy of the sexy-ugly variety. Come to think of it, he actually is a character — Ruby has written him into her latest screenplay. Andy, in all his tall, sexy-ugly glory appears post haste from the back door, and ushers us carefully through the unmarked fire exit, between the storeroom and the dishwasher, through the kitchen and out into the bar. We are greeted with cheers and libations.

I’m hit with two simultaneous epiphanies: One, the B-Side has hard-boiled eggs aligned in glossy spirals on either side of the taps. And Two, my best friend is a fucking rock star.

We hang our coats and she pulls out a Camel Red. Before she even has a chance to grope for a match, two men in black appear and begin a sword fight with their Zippos to light her cigarette. I look down at the dirty floor for a red carpet.

“Yeah. Hi. I’m with her.”

The B-Side is one hip establishment. In fact, they are playing the Cure’s B-Sides, without irony. I order a cold plate — a scoop of mandarin, pineapple and peach sorbet, dressed with a handful of berries. At a freakin bar. The rest of the evening is all about “Your booth” and “Your usual” (a glass of Chardonnay with a side of diet Coke).

At the end of the evening, as my dear sweet Ruby is dropping me off at my apartment, I ask her for her autograph. I can’t even imagine how good it’s going to get when she’s really famous.

I Still Get Rocks Off

Last night’s Blonde Redhead show was so amazing I’m still speechless. That was definitely one of the best live rock performances I’ve been to, and I’ve been to a lot, my friends. Okay, so the twins aren’t Greek, they’re Italian. But they still make a damn fine sandwich.
When leaving the show, Ruby and I just kept looking at each other, shaking our heads. This was after 1 1/2 hours of looking at each other with our mouths hanging open, shaking our heads. I said, “I don’t even know how I’d explain this to someone.” And she said, “I don’t even know how to explain it to myself.”
Firstly, they’re a three-piece that makes so much goddam noise that the floor almost fell in. I spent the entire set (plus two encores) watching the drummer, who apparently had four arms. And he was smiling the whole time. The beats were so clean. The three of them are tight. I think the reason they sound like no other band on the planet is because they work as a threesome. They share vocals, instruments, lyrics, the whole nine. You can tell each member brings in a third of the influence, a third of the flavor.
And of course, I have such an affinity for small Asian chick bass players. Kazu Makino comes out on stage wearing next to nothing — this little white slip, her hair kind of flying around, and there’s nothing contrived or purposefully sexy about her stance. She’s just raw, and gorgeous because of it. Slings on a six-string bass bigger than her and wails in her crazy twelfth octave voice, sliding around on tiny white ballet slippers. She sings and dances like she’s about to freak out, like she’s having a big fight, and the passion is overwhelming. Her dress is riding up and she’s banging on the instrument with her whole hand and she becomes a sex kitten not to be reckoned with.
The chemistry on stage is riveting. She sings to Amadeo (Pace twin #1) and he plays to her; it’s like they’re fighting, making up, and making love all at the same time. Then they switch instruments, and she’s railing on the guitar, he’s singing, and the drummer Simone (Pace twin #2) is cantering about on the drums with one hand and playing the beat box and keyboard with the other. Their rhythms and tunings and strange keys are like nothing I’ve heard.
I’m all full of musical goodness. Think I’ll go have a sandwich.

www.freedom.com

Today’s winning dialog snippet:

    “What the fuck is the Cheese Trio?!”
    (overheard during the Campbell’s editorial meeting)

    This tidbit is rivaled only by:
    “Eggplant is neither here no there!”
    (also overheard during the Campbell’s editorial meeting)

Today’s recommended listening:

  • Catpower – You Are Free
    Good stuff, that. My only complaint is that the songs are too short. She’s all yanking on the heart strings and when you’re getting all worked up and just about to dig into it with her, she stops the song abruptly. Such a tease, that Chan Marshall.

  • Nada Surf – Let Go
    I know, I know. Everyone remembers the stupid “Popular” song. The new Nada Surf album, however, stands number one in my current rotation. I’ll warn you — it’s easily digestable. No Beano® required. Goes down sweet like honey, easy as a sugar pill. Though I hate making those “Band X meets Band Y” comparisons lazy, unoriginal journalists rely on, this album is kind of “Travis meets Coldplay.” The big single will probably end up in Gap ads and Dawnson’s Creek episodes, but I dig it.

Today’s extracurricular activities:
Blonde Redhead and the French Kicks at Paradise. Hopefully I will post a review of the show. Hopefully it will involve a Greek twin sandwich backstage.

Today’s celebration:
I have submitted my formal resignation at work.
Woo fuckin hoo! Please welcome me into the nurturing arms of corporate America’s unemployed.

Ramen noodles forever.

Jim’s Big Ego

I was moving stuff around in my room yesterday and these boxes stacked on top of my dresser fell on my head like a proverbial golden brick and memoirs from the past ten years of my life spilled on the floor of my bedroom, covering the beer stains and other residue from my party Saturday night. How poetic.
The photo that landed on top began an interlude of sordid reflection culminating in disenchanted sighs. It all goes back to Jim’s Big Ego.
The photograph, riddled with holes from when it was previously affixed to my dartboard, is covered with red paint. I donned Jim’s adorable face with horns and a devilish goatee. Glued to the bottom is an ad from the Phoenix for the band Jim’s Big Ego. That was not his band. It was, however, his ego. The listing seemed so appropriate that I had to augment the photograph with it when he dumped me.
I still can’t believe he dumped me. I don’t usually get dumped. But he threw a couple of knives while he was in there raking my heart over the coals. First off, he did it on Valentine’s Day. But that’s pretty much the end of the story. Where did it all begin?
I worked at the dining hall in college. I swiped meal cards at the entrance to the cafeteria in my dorm. Hence, I knew 900 people — by name if I was interested in them. A quick glance to the school ID would clue me into the details of various crushes. I had little to do while sitting there during seven hour shifts in my booth, so I learned the names of all the cute diners. Jim was one of them.
It became apparent after two weeks of school that we had common friends. I consulted one of them. Yes, he was single. Yes, he was an English major. Yes, she would have a discreet talk with him. His response? “She’s too cool for me. She would never go for a guy like me.”
Let the manipulation begin.
This kid was slick. He played the shy, dejected artboy well and used it to his advantage. The loner in Converse One Stars. The guy sitting by himself reading Ezra Pound in an ugly sweater. He had Weezer syndrome. This was just about the time of the 1995 So Geeky I’m Cooler Than You movement. He knew damn well that I would go for a guy like him.
I don’t recall how we first hooked up. There was the Saturday night Allston party circuit and the Moonlight Jazz at Venus de Milo dating ritual. And then Jim became the perfect Indie Rock Boyfriend. At first.
He made good mix tapes with bad handwriting, came down six floors to my room to do his music theory homework. We talked about family and fears and futures. We talked about being from suburban Connecticut. He bought me the new Catherine Wheel CD and lent me his whole Superchunk catalog. He sprawled in my chartreuse chair in his brown corduroys and tucked his hair behind his ears, crinkling his eyes at me through wire rimmed glasses. He even let me play his drums after band practice.
We had a blast together for a few months. We went party hopping, stayed up all night in his bed that overlooked Kenmore, the sun coming up over brick and copper buildings. He read my poetry. He read me Kerouac’s poetry. He read me articles from Alternative Press, a copy of which he always had rolled up and stuffed in his back pocket. We drank cheap red wine from the bottle and chain smoked cigarettes under the slowfade Christmas lights. He gave me The Unbearable Lightness of Being and inscribed it, “To Stella.” He was strategically sweet — and I later discovered, calculatedly devious.
His best friend and bassist Alexa, who he had known since high school, had a slot on the college radio, the station of which was located in the basement of our dorm. We would go down to the listening room and call the studio from the phone there, pretending to be various people. She interviewed me on the air as “Daphne,” a stripper paying my way through medical school, and another night Jim and I were staged as Billy Corgan and D’arcy talking about the upcoming Boston gig. All was giggles and happiness and light.
And then, Merzi.
Merzi was the bane of my existence and everything I was not. There were three of them — the Alterna Puff Girls. Matching vintage quilted vests in pink, blue, and mint green. They all had skateboards. One blond, one brunette, and the token Asian chick. Merzi, Zoe, Ginhee. I wanted them all dead.
Especially Merzi.
On the night that began our downward spiral, I was at a party with Jim. With, as in, we came together. I was curled in a chair halfway across the room, and I watched as Merzi slid in beside him on the loveseat, smiling slimily. I gritted my teeth and clenched my hands, but he was my boyfriend and I trusted him. So I shoved that territorial instinct back down. She oozed all over him. He blushed, looked at me sideways, and looked briefly uncomfortable, tucking his hair behind his ears. “Jim, how’ve you been? I haven’t seen you since your last gig. How are your classes this semester? We have to catch up soon.” And then her intonation changed. She reached out and touched his arm. I squirmed visibly. “Are you seeing anyone special?” He kind of laughed.
“No.”
He actually said this. Out loud.
“No.”
Without a word I removed myself from the room and stumbled into the kitchen. I sat down at the table numbly. This girl Jesse from the 8th floor, who we deemed “Fro-yo” because she always ate it and always called it that, lit my cigarette. “What’s up, Pumpkin? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
I told her that I had been sitting in the living room when Merzi came in and Jim told her he wasn’t seeing anyone. “Well, sweetheart, it’s the truth. Why do you think I’m sleeping with him?”
*please pause for a moment of silence*
“What?”
“Oh yeah. You know, on and off, whatever. Since September. He’s a real rock star in bed.”
“I know.”
“Oh — you’re banging him too? Jeezus the kid gets around.”
I had no idea how to react. Apparently, everyone knew this kid was Valentino in the sack and no one knew I existed.
“Why do you look so floored? Were you and Jim, like, together?”
“I thought that’s what we were calling it.”
“Oh honey — I had no idea. I totally wouldn’t have gotten all up in his shit. That bastard.”
I left the party and went home. I locked my door. I took my phone off the hook. Four days later I ran into Alexa from the radio station. “Did you hear? Jim had to go back home. He’s got Chicken Pox. Really bad, too. Poor thing.” My first reaction was, who the fuck gets Chicken Pox at 20? My second reaction was the part of me still so hooked on this kid that I couldn’t see straight.
So I called him like the moron I am.
He was really sick. He could barely speak. The first thing he did was apologize for the “incident” at the party. “I didn’t know how to react. She made me all nervous sitting there next to me.” I wanted to believe it. I did.
“What about Jessie?”
“Well, she and I were hooking up before I met you.” Which was true. I tried to forget about the whole hooking up with Jessie while we were together too thing. I was worried about him. Sick and all. Plus, his cocker spaniel Pepper had died while he was home. He was all broken up over it. He cried and everything.
To further my moronic status, I made him the care package to end all care packages, and mailed it to his house. A few weeks later, he was still stuck home, and he asked me if I would come visit him for Valentine’s Day. So I drove four and a half hours to white-picket-fenced Darien, CT to see my lying, cheating, dying boyfriend. Who looked remarkably repaired. I thought it was weird, but I was working on my goal of growing up to be the Biggest Moron Ever to Walk the Earth.
We hung out at his house. And then we went to the Greenwich Diner. At the diner he sat down across from me, unceremoniously ordered coffee, and without preface said, “So, Alexa and I are seeing each other. And I need to end things with you because I’ve been in love with her since high school and this is my chance to finally be with her.”
After all the drama, it fully made sense. It fit in comfortably with the schema I had built of our relationship.
“Oh, and she’s meeting us here.”
She walked in the door behind him, giggling with the Asian Alterna Puff Girl in blue. And he said to me, “I don’t want you to think I’m not attracted to you. I don’t want you to think you’re not a pretty girl.”
To my credit, I told him, “I have a fucking mirror. I know what I look like.”
He kissed her as she sat down. I wanted to grab both of the thick lipped white ceramic sad latenight coffee cups from the table — one in each hand — and smash the two of them in the skull. Spill coffee and brains all over the pristine floor of the 1:00 AM Greenwich Diner.
Again to my credit, I simply got up and left. I started walking back to his house, where my car was parked. I had no idea where it was or how far. Miles and miles. I just wanted to get away. It took him almost half an hour to get in his car and follow me. I didn’t say a word to him as he dropped me off in his driveway. He started to apologize and I slammed the door in his face. He drove back to the diner. I drove back to Boston.
I saw him every day for the rest of the semester. At lunch I swiped his meal card. When he came in with Alexa I spit on it. To add insult to injury, he never returned the two dozen Beatles CDs I lent him that belonged to Ruby when we were sharing a room.
The funniest thing was, the first day of school the following year I was running on my way to the elevator and I bumped into my friend John, who was standing in the hallway with some people. I talked to him briefly and excitedly and then continued on my way, until I heard the voice behind me. “Kristin, wait.”
I spun around and there, next to John, stood Jim and his Big Ego. He had gotten a Green Day makeover. Cropped his chin-length golden hair off and dyed it black. Contact lenses. Blue ringer T-shirt and jeans, which he had never worn a pair of in his life. Wallet chain. He had freckles on his nose from the summer sun. He was smiling.
“You don’t recognize me, do you?”
And I said, “No — I don’t.”
So I graduated to Grade A Moron that year and I haven’t wanted to repeat the curriculum. I wouldn’t say I’m guarded in my relationships. But one experience after another like that, even when I started ending them before I got real stupid, will give you some sort of turtle shell to duck into. There’s always the flinch for every conversation that begins with, “Kristin, listen…”
I don’t know if that explains the whole dry spell dilemma.
Maybe it’s just Urban Isolation Syndrome.

Ducks and Swine

Welcome to my 27th year.
So far, so good.
My weekend consisted of preparing for my birthday celebration and recovering from it, at times simultaneously. As usual, the party lasted over 12 hours and consisted of the usual suspects, some fresh blood, and 34 cartons of cigarettes.
I got some good gifts, let me tell you. In addition to a disco ball and a Crowded House DVD, the slew of Danes brought me the Xenophobe’s Guide to Denmark. They told me that when I had finished reading it, I’d finally understand them. Hopefully it will shed some light on the strange hiccup-cure rituals and Danish music infiltrating my living room at 3:00 in the morning.
I received a birthday screw from my ex (which he apparently had loose), and a rubber duckie vibrator from another friend, both of which came in handy when I crawled into my bed at 6:30 AM, otherwise empty-handed. The rubber duckie came complete with batteries and the slogan, “It’s not the beak, it’s the motion.” It’s fully submersible and waterproof, so I’ll be taking a lot of baths.
My kitchen is a wasteland of leftover Dairy Crack and Momma D’s Bean Dip, which explains why I slept all day Sunday. This week is going to be painful.
I didn’t take any pictures, but Genghis-Jon has a few gems up. Last time, he brought pork rinds, this time he brought snouts and feet, and next time I fear he will be graduating to a fleet of live potbellied pigs. I can’t wait.

Boston Loves Me

Boston knows it’s my birthday this week so it’s decided to treat me to a thousand shows I’ve been aching to see forever. Get out your calendars and book your flights. This is the part of the program where JT becomes a squealing fourteen-year-old:

  • J. Mascis and the Fog – 2/21, the Middle East
    Awww. And on my birthday, too.
  • Blonde Redhead – 2/26, Paradise
    Omigod! For real! A Japanese chick and Italian twins, all for $12! How can you go wrong?
  • Interpol and the Raveonettes – 3/06, Avalon
    Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights is definitely one of my top five of the year. I have not slept for a month in anticipation for this show. I swear.
  • Theramin Karaoke – 3/07, the Middle East (!!!!!)
  • The Frames and Josh Ritter – 3/07, Paradise
    The Frames are one of my favorites. I can’t believe they’re playing with Josh Ritter. A two-fer, double-whammy to the heart.
  • Folk Implosion – 3/18, the Middle East
    Oh, Lou. *sigh*
  • Cursive and Minus the Bear – 3/24, Somerville Theatre
    Minus the Bear is a fantastic bunch of guapos from Seattle. I recommend them highly. I haven’t seen them play out before, so I’m excited to see what transpires.
  • Pinback – 3/26, the Middle East
    I’m as addictied to Blue Screen Life as caffeine. In fact, the two often go hand in hand. After listening for a while and making up my own words, I decided to check the official lyrics, and was both surprised and disturbed. You would be, too.
  • Jump, Little Children – 4/03, the Middle East
    Because this is my Favorite Band on the Planet (the Catherine Wheel notwithstanding, of course) I will engage in my quarterly Jump, Little Obsession Tour, hitting the Cambridge, Providence and NYC shows. I will admit I’m a little pissed off that they booked at the bowling alley formerly known as the Middle East because they’ve played Paradise for the past five years. Arg. Double Arg.
  • Spoon – 4/08, the Middle East
    Nefariouis.

  • The Sea and Cake – 4/22, Somerville Theater

I’ll save you a seat.

They Say It’s My Birthday

voluptuary vuh-LUHP-choo-er-ee, noun:
A person devoted to luxury and the gratification of sensual
appetites; a sensualist.
Voluptuary derives from Latin voluptarius, “devoted to
pleasure,” from voluptas, “pleasure.”

Because I am a voluptuary (though perhaps not quite voluptuous), my birthday is going to be a delight of hedonism and rejoicing.
I use the week before and after this actual date as a means for getting free stuff and attention. This morning I even got my Friday Morning Mocha Treat from the Someday Cafe gratís. My birthday is the only day of the year I feel not only comfortable with, but entitled to, being the center of attention. So bring it on.
It’s kind of funny how I came into this world. My poor mother… this is so typical of me: I tortured her for nine months kicking the crap out of her from inside, and then when it was time to go into action I pulled a shy move and refused to show my face. I was actually stillborn. Cool, huh?
She was in labor for 30 some odd hours, and I’ve heard the story of the little Asian doctor that faithfully coached her, the 100 pound man straddling her on the table and slapping her around. When they finally coaxed me out, I had hung myself with my umbilical cord.
Dramatic foreshadowing? Heh heh.
“Just Walk Away Renée” by the Four Tops was playing on the radio when my mother was finally free of me, and that became my middle name. I actually only weighed six pounds when I was born, which probably explains why I grew four feet my first year. Had to make up for lost time.
I have been reflecting on the past year and birthdays past for the last few days. I can tell you it’s been one amazing crash course in life — I am not the same person I was on this day last year. And that’s a beautiful thing. I feel like I’ve grown about 12 years instead of 12 months. At the same time, I feel younger than I did last year. I think I’ve recaptured some of my curiosity and innocence.
But there’s certain things you never get back.
On the subject of birthdays past, there are a few that stand out. In preparation for my 16th birthday, I bought a Ford Escort for $500 and had it insured and ready to go. Because I was only 15, I couldn’t drive without a licensed driver in the car, but I drove it up and down the driveway and waxed it and made mix tapes to play in it while I just sat in the my-carness of it. My dad started teaching me to drive when I was 15, in the middle of downtown New Haven, in a standard transmission telephone company utility truck. In the tradition of survival of the fittest, I picked up the driving thing pretty quick. So 30 days after my 16th birthday, in compliance with state standards, I got my driver’s license.
The next big birthday was 17, and my father decided to get me back for all the damage I did to his clutch by ordering 17 red helium balloons to be delivered to the High School for me. And I had to carry them around all day. He has all these pictures of me getting off the school bus surrounded by a cloud of balloons, my face as red as them with embarrassment. I don’t think I ever got over that one.
I celebrated my 21st birthday with two of my closest friends at the time. We left Boston for New Haven and drank pink champagne on the Connecticut Shoreline in the freezing cold because it was my birthday, dammit. When I bought the champagne, I was like, “Aren’t you going to card me??!!” And the guy said, “You’ve been buying here for years.”
Last year I had my favorite Bread, Fruit and Cheese Plate at the Other Side Cosmic Cafe with Ruby and a significant other, et.al. It was anticlimactic and I probably went home and cried. Somewhere in between, my parents bought me a car. I don’t remember what year it was (18?), but I remember walking home from work (the Escort had a short lifespan) 8 miles in the snow, and the batteries on my walkman had died, and I was pissed at the world. I opened the garage door and they had a shiny red car for me, with streamers and balloons on it. It was another old used Escort (we are a Ford family), but my dad had waxed it to perfection, hung a peach tree air freshener, and put two hot cups of coffee in the cupholder so we could take it for a spin.
My dad wins, by the way.
I celebrated 22 in New Orleans, and I don’t remember.
So this year is going to be good. I’m looking forward to spending time with Good Friends, and really digging them. It was my bunny’s birthday on Valentine’s Day, so we might share a carrot cake. Oooh! And I almost forgot. I have to call my secret agent loverman John in the Morning at KEXP right now and request Sugar Cubes.

My Hands Are Tied

Tonight is a night of big guitars. Do you ever forget how good OK Computer is?
I know, I know. I’m avoiding the issue at hand.
So, where have I been?
I’ve gotten the “Big Brother Is Watching” tip from the Systems Administrator at work so we’ll have to go into my “employment” (however uncertain) at a later point in time. For now, suffice to say, I’m not doing any updating during office hours. This leaves off-the-clock time for diaryland activity, and I can tell you I’m sure as hell not missing any shows for this stuff, as much as I love to detail the paltry events of my life for you people.
There have been too many good shows in the past two weeks to recount.
Neil Finn was an all-around satisfying show, like broken-in courderoys, like a good burger. I was too young when Crowded House was in their heyday to go see them live. But Neil and friends played quite a few Crowded House songs, so I could pretend that it was 1989. The only flaw of the two hour show (two encores, the lucky bastard) was the group of morons standing in front of Ruby and me. I must say she and I were the youngest folks on the balcony, and these people in front of us were having their midlife crises at the show right before our eyes — the entire time detailing Peter Paul and Mary concerts they attended in their youth. One of the guys had clearly taken a “Guitar for Beginners” class and attempted to woo his girlfriend at each chord change with his scintillating knowledge of the instrument. She was impressed, which was even more distressing.
Okay I’m being an elitist bitch now so I’ll just stop. The show was fantastic.
The next night was Samuel Beam and company, known as Iron and Wine. I swear to god, if you have an ounce of anything delicate and pure in your heart, go buy The Creek Drank the Cradle. That album blows me away ceaselessly. I originally insisted on going to the show by myself because I knew I’d cry through the whole thing, but I ended up inviting a friend and went sans mascara.
The performance was excruciatingly tender. I cried through most of the set. Even when I was trying not to. That album is one of the only ones I’ve ever heard that has that affect on me. No matter what mood I’m in, if The Creek Drank the Cradle is playing when I walk in the room, I just open up, and tears everywhere. It’s not that it’s sad, or depressing, it’s… it’s so difficult to explain. The gentleness wounds. There’s barely music — a breath of slide guitar and banjo, and Beam’s voice whispers effortlessly. The lyrics are about discovery and loss, the natural state of things, barns and oceans and love.
After the show, Beam’s sister, who sang with him, was selling merchandise so I went over to talk to her. I told her how amazing I thought the performance was and she smiled humbly. I said, “I cried through most of the show.” She said, “I usually do, too.”
Henry Rollins’ spoken word didn’t have the same effect on me two nights later, however I left that performance jumping out of my skin to burst into the world and start a movement. I’m not sure what kind of movement, but something powerful and good. I know I wish I had the energy to rail on passionately for two hours without taking a breath or even a sip of water. The man is a machine. I think he and Shannon were the same person in a past life.
I also went to see Ibrahim Ferrer a la Buena Vista Social Club, which was a golden celebration of Cuban jazz, dancing and horns. The Orpheum exploded into rhythms with everyone on their feet and moving. Afterwards, we went to Zygomat and ate and fondue.
There are half a dozen other shows that I don’t feel like getting into. I have been exploding with creativity and spent six hours today on the floor of my room with an Xacto knife, rubber cement, paint and pastels working on a project I abandoned in September called “Divided by Five.” There are senses, you know. And they all work for me. Sometimes too well.
So I’ll leave you now. I hope the snow hasn’t gotten anyone stuck anywhere they’d rather not be. This morning I was wishing I had some of those slick 80’s moonboots. Whatever happened to those?
The snow’s too deep for sledding.
No shovels for me; long live the landlords.