Sudden Death

I woke up  feeling all sorry for myself because all I did was work this week, but by the time I got out of bed, I remembered that’s not true.  I’m such an exaggerator.

In fact, I saw Joseph Arthur perform just two nights ago.  I love Joe – as a musician, a painter and an actual person.  I’ve seen him a number of times, but this show was really a stand-out.  Bobby Bare, Jr. opened up for him and, whoa!, I was instantly smitten – and not just because I’m a big fan of “real” country artists and his dad is, you guessed it, Bobby Bare.  And not just because he has an EP of America and Bread covers, on which, you guessed it, he covers A Horse With No Name.  No.  Because he was really good.

I guess he could have been great by doing A Horse With No Name live, but he did do Sister Golden Hair.  I suppose I forgive this.  It’s not like he knows what that would have meant to me.  Of course I was in the bathroom at that very Sister Golden Hair moment, so I only heard part of it, but it made me wholly happy anyway.

Joe was in perfect form.  And he painted live on stage, which was cool.  I’ll YouTube some of that later.  (My YouTube page is linked here for handy reference.) For now, here is one of my favorite songs in the universe, Honey and the Moon.  

Further proof that I didn’t only work this week:  on Tuesday, I had dinner with a good friend who I never see.  That Adults-in-New-York Syndrome.  After about six months of re-scheduling, we finally got it together and went to one of our favorite restaurants, Periyali.  We both have a penchant for these super delicious gigantic (2″ big!) white beans that they have.  Served on pureed garlic.  Fantastic.

Periyali used to be one of my mother’s and father’s favorite restaurants too, so it gives me that extra level of comfort whenever I go there.  I’m hyper-conscious of connections like this lately.  My dad died nearly 15 years ago, a few days after the Super Bowl.  The Chargers and 49ers were playing.  Miami.  He had ended up in a hospice there a couple of days before the game and my family and I could not find an available hotel room nearby without paying a fortune.

My then-employer did something that no now-employer would ever do:  they booked us a suite, at thousands of dollars a night, for as long as we needed it – and never mentioned it again.  Turns out it was in the same hotel that the players were in.  I’d spend my days in the most emotionally draining and drama filled situations I’ve ever been in and at night, I’d come back to this glitzy tower full of linebackers and swarming press.

Then, everyone checked out and my Dad died.

I hadn’t brought a dress to Florida because that would have jinxed things.  For me, shopping in some cheesy Miami mall for an outfit to wear to my father’s funeral might be the only thing more surreal than waiting  in a hotel chock full of NFL players for my father to die, but there I was, doing both.  I spoke at his service and apparently was extremely moving.  Someone taped it and mailed it to me later, but I’ve never opened the envelope.

The 49ers won by the way.

This year’s Super Bowl is also in Miami.  I’m paying more attention to this game than I have to any since 1995.  I really, really want the Saints to win, for a lot of reasons.  I might even wear my Who Dat Nation sweatshirt every day from now until the big game just to show my support.  I let my beloved Phillies down in October, when I didn’t wear my lucky necklace a couple of days and it’s important I keep my eye on the prize this time.

I hope this doesn’t sound all melancholy; I’m not actually feeling that way.  And, really, get off my sac, at least I didn’t mention kissing again.

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These Important Years

Look:

I have a lot of music.  That’s a lot of vinyl.  I have a lot in other formats as well.  And even more in my head.  But the soundtrack to my biopic could probably be pared down to two main things:  Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites and the work of Bob Mould, in all his iterations.

I realized last night, as I was watching Bob perform solo, that pretty much every time I’ve ever had any real emotional moment in my life, positive or negative, my go-to guys have been him or Yo-Yo Ma.  (I can make my case about why I prefer the Yo-Yo Ma Cello version over others, but I’ll save that for another time.  You know, keep you wanting more and all.)

I’ve seen Bob Mould so many times that these days, every time I do, it’s simultaneously a new and old experience.  And I kind of like that.  After all, I’ve been through a lot with him.   Last night’s show was at City Winery.  Seeing shows there is great.  It’s intimate with good sound and has creature comforts like seats and food I can actually eat.  Civilized.

But a civilized Mould is something I’m still getting used to.   I like my rock music to hurt and countless times before, he’s hurt me like no one else.   Shows so loud that my ears would practically bleed and hurt for days.  Shows so crowded that if I were subject to panic attacks, I’d most certainly have had to have medical attention.

I love it.

I had my favorite-ever rock moment during a Bob Mould situation like that.  My then-boyfriend and I were literally pressed up against the back of speaker monitor that was on stage.   The crowd was pushing further and further toward the front.   It was deafening, sweaty and magical.  In the middle of Stop Your Crying (which is a wall of sound, live) some girl spun me around, pushed me down on top of the speaker so that I was lying on my back, practically on stage.  And then she kissed me.  Just like that.  I’m talking a full-on kiss with some strange girl while the sound from the speaker reverberated through my body.  It was nuts.

And then she was gone.  My boyfriend and I just looked at each other for a second and shrugged.  Total rock moment.   And, every time we went to a show after that, he always prayed it would happen again.

Oddly enough, my second favorite-ever rock moment occurred at the distinctly non-rock event of seeing Yo-Yo Ma in a church on Park Avenue.  I was there with my faux boyfriend, Michael, who had somehow gotten tickets.  The church only held maybe a couple hundred people.  I’m not sure how he scored the seats, but he was always doing super amazing things like that, which is one reason why I had been faux dating him in the first place.

Anyway, there we were, having a truly transcendent experience.  Yo-Yo Ma.  Solo cello.  Church.   I think you might actually have to die to get more any more transcendent.  And in the middle of this beauty, an older man, dressed to the nines, sitting next to Michael, offered us hash brownies.

Um, hash brownies at a Yo-Yo Ma concert in a church?

I made Michael say no, mainly because I thought that if anyone was giving out hash brownies at a Yo-Yo Ma concert in a church, he could very well be crazy and they were probably more likely cyanide brownies.  But the guy was insistent and the room was ridiculously quiet except for the cello and his pusher-ing-ness.

While it wasn’t rock music, it was definitely a rock moment.

Ultimately, we had to eat the brownies so he’d shut up.  Plus Michael really wanted them.  Of course by the time they made it into our systems, the concert was long over.   But, turns out they were hash brownies – and amazing ones at that.

I never realized till now that my rock moments were also lessons in trust.

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Skywriting

I’m posting this from somewhere over Nebraska.  I left L.A. super early and saw the sun rise from the airport windows.  I love NYC so much and always feel like I’m cheating on it whenever I say something positive about Los Angeles, but it’s moments like this when L.A. seems so full of promise that I’m actually moved.  The feeling never lasts very long.

This trip was awfully quick, so I didn’t get to do too much.  Here’s the highlight reel:  Awesome Photographer, whom you may recall from the post below, and I continued our particular brand of sightseeing.

I’m thinking we should start a series.  Just to backtrack a little, here is the segment from New Orleans:

But back to the City of Angels.

Unusual drink to head size ratio

I was also introduced to what’s undoubtedly going to be my favorite summer cocktail:  vodka with cut up fresh grapes and basil over ice.  Delightfully delicious and refreshing, just like my friend who’s holding the drink.

I saw another friend I rarely get to see.  He once sent me clippings from his lilac tree via FedEx and seeing him always makes me think of kisses.

Despite appearances to the contrary, I’m not always talking about kisses.   But since I’m on a roll…..this trip was oddly marred by a flashback.  A bad kiss flashback.   Said incident should have just been a forgotten glitch but I’ve made it so horrific in my mind and there it’s stayed ever since.

This one time at band-camp, I had dinner with a friend of mine who, although I adored, was really just a friend of mine.  What I mean, is that I had no designs. We always got along great except for one tiny incident another time earlier where he, apropos of nothing – sort of – told me how un-into me he was. This  always made me feel kind of bad, especially because I wasn’t thinking that we were ever an ‘into’ thing.

During the night in question, and over the course of two bottles of wine, I suddenly got all annoyed about the slight that happened way before.  And damn if I wasn’t going to prove a point.  We were going to kiss if it was the last thing that happened!

He knew I was going for it and actually tried to block me.   He could have been drafted as some hot-shot left tackle at that moment.  He put up his hand and said rather loudly,  “Go with past knowledge! You know how this is going to end up!  Go with what you know!”  Literally.  It was basically the anti-financial statement: past performance is indeed a guarantee of future results.  But I didn’t listen.  At this point, it wasn’t even about him that much, it was about me not feeling bad.

So I went in for the smooch and, oh my god, he wasn’t kidding.  Absolute disaster.

Afterwards, I was so embarrassed by my behavior that I could barely look at him, let alone talk and be normal.  And this is someone who I loved hanging out with.  (Incidentally, that’s a big statement for me since as a general rule, I hate everyone.)  My extreme mortification and simultaneous annoyance that he wasn’t trying to make it better made everything worse.   Then I realized that all of this weirdness made it seem like I really, really liked him, which I didn’t, and that any time I did try to address things just made it seem like I really liked him even more.  Talk about a downward spiral.

The last ten minutes of that night were spent looking at my second-favorite tree in the whole United States.  I kept passing that tree on this trip and I felt embarrassed all over again, every time.  Plus I’m annoyed that I now feel forced to find a new second-favorite tree.  And I want to call him up and tell him that.  But then he’d think I still liked him.

Which I don’t.  Though I wish we were friends.

See, Los Angeles,  you’re not really full of promise.  I ‘m glad to be home.

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“How were your first bites, y’all?”

It’s been one week and five pounds since my last post.  I’m more ashamed about the first part.

The second part was due to a trip to New Orleans.  It was a lot of fun but I still feel sick from all the excess.  I’ve been there a couple of times before and I used to associate The Big Easy with music, voodoo and above ground burial plots but this trip was pretty much only about food.  Well,  food and football, but I since I have a bye week, I’m not writing about football now.

The woman in the row in front of us on the plane trip down astutely observed that  “New Orleans is smaller than New York,”  but she clearly was not referring to portion sizes.  For five days, every single huge meal was fried something-or-other.  Usually fried something-or-other with cream sauce.

<—  Here’s a typical lunch.

That fried soft shell crab sandwich is actually being served on deep fried bread with a side of french fries and toast.  A side of toast with a sandwich!   Even hummus came with a vat of fried pita chips.

And, forget about vegetables.  I learned it wouldn’t be a vegetable dish in New Orleans if it didn’t have meat.  I was so desperate for something green that I actually ordered the trimmings from a Po’ Boy sandwich as a meal.  What I got was a cup of mayonnaise and a bit of shredded  lettuce.

Our brief intervals between meals were largely spent trespassing, although I prefer to think of it as going off the beaten path.  We broke into an abandoned home which was devastated by Katrina,  a television station’s seemingly abandoned satellite dish yard and a huge gravel quarry which surrounds the Domino’s Sugar Refinery in one of the outlying towns.

That quarry and its mountains of gravel was my favorite place in all of New Orleans – and not just because my absolute favorite picture of me ever was taken atop one.

I'm King of the World!

The awesome photographer behind the most awesome photograph of me ever taken was also responsible for one of the most awesome conversations ever had.  He was photographing in a supermarket parking lot at night and a security guard came out to tell him to stop.   This is the actual verbatim exchange:

Guard:     You can’t shoot here.
Awesome Photographer:   I’m entirely within my rights.
Guard:     No you can’t shoot here.
Awesome Photographer:   Why?
Guard:      Because of 9/11.
Awesome Photographer:    What happened on 9/11?
Guard:      Terrorists attacked.
Awesome Photographer:     Your supermarket?
Guard:       No.  (pause) Okay, then.  You can continue.  Next time, ask first.

Frankly, I was hoping that Awesome Photographer would have responded with a simple “get off my sac.”   That would have made my 2010 perfect so far.

I guess I’m just not meant to be happy.

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Get Off My Sac

Figures that the decade would wait till its last month to give me my favorite phrase.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a particularly debauched evening at Double Crown with a bunch of friends and a handful of strangers.  It was really fun. For one thing, there was kissing.  Grown-up spin-the-bottle kissing, but without the bottle.  It’s hard to have a bad time when there’s kissing involved.  My favorite guest at this dinner, however, wasn’t actually present, so I didn’t get to kiss him.

It was, I think, some kid in LA.  One of my friends innocently sent a one-number-off mistake text to this kid’s phone.  The fact that he responded was all it took for everyone at our table to start texting him.  And texting him.  And texting him.  I’m talking hours of  SMS mayhem.

You might think that we were annoying him, but he was into it.  For the next few nights, our new friend called each one of us at 4am.  Aw, I guess he missed us.

But back to my point.  He ended up giving me my favorite Xmas present – the phrase “Get Off My Sac.”  I know he didn’t invent it and all, but it’s really the best four words ever if you think about it.  New Year’s Resolution #1:  Use Get Off My Sac in regular conversation at least once a day.  For days that no one is actually getting on my sac, I get a reprieve.  But all other days, game on!

And for the record, my personal sac is imaginary.

In other news, I went to Sarasota for Xmas.

Sarasotans have their priorities straight.

Sarasota, for those not in the know, is on the good side of Florida. Generally in any discussion of East versus West, I’ll always side with the East, but Florida is an exception.

I like going there.  For one thing, I get to go to Denny’s, my favorite restaurant – no joke.  I get the same thing every time – an egg white veggie omelette, no cheese, grits and a biscuit.  It’s not only delicious, but it’s also a single palette meal, which doesn’t happen very often.

This trip was extra special because, for the first time, I also went to the Mall.  I think that’s the same thing as when tourists come here and visit Times Square.  I’m not being ironic about how much I enjoyed it.  If I lived in Sarasota I think I’d probably go to the Mall often.  But I live in New York and mostly try to avoid Times Square so maybe that wouldn’t be true at all.

Speaking of Times Square, Happy New Year!

I love that 2010 sounds so futuristic even though it’s NOW.

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