Saturday 29 September 2007

Out of the dirt springs a miracle

I remember when I first lived in new york four years ago, I heard all these stories about where the new downtown was. In one version, the new downtown was some town out in the middle of Jersey, but I couldn't really fly with that. The point of it all was where the artist-scenes were happening, and how. I was looking for something, you know, something specific, and it was that kind of scene/community thing I blog and talk about sometimes, where something gorgeous rises up from the dirt and dances.

In this town you can take your pick of historical scenes that have fostered everything in the avant garde and popular culture of the past hundred years or more, ever since Walt Whitman sat on a stoop in Fulton street, jiving about leaves of grass and calling to human beings to get off their arses and FEEL.

But that's all just a bunch of stories, and you can so easily miss the incredible fucking beauty of the moment in the search for something else. The moment itself IS the edge. The moment is also all there is, and everything is jiving in it.

Way back in 2001, when I came to this city for the very first time, on a six day fly-through, I found myself sitting at a gig in the Zinc bar with about a dozen other people in the house including the band, and Alex Blake, the shamanic upright bass player, was getting down with piano, drums and a saxophone. It was a beautiful gig, a holy and dirty gig. I was sitting right in front, a bashful spit away from him.

And they came to the last song and he began to play an African circle song. It sounded like a sing-song to me, I grew up on sing-songs in Ireland, where everybody sang the songs they had in common, and then somebody got up, usually a man actually, and sang some ballad with a tender tenor voice and everyone went quiet and listened and then roared at the end and off we went again on another song.

Everybody knows a good chorus when they hear one. And Alex was encouraging people to sing, at least that's how I heard it, so I found a place and filled out a three part harmony with the bass and the saxophone. And we sang the chorus, over and over, until it was done. Until it was done.

My eyes were tight tight shut, but I remember his voice, hissing at me, "feel it! feel it!", making my heart soar for the next round. It felt so intimate in there, all I heard were the three voices and this flying free.

I was at another three part gig last night, in the Delacorte in Central Park, where I last went to see Shakespeare in the Park. Right in the middle of it was this shining vision of a woman singing her songs of beauty and hip, of sexy and sacred, speaking my tongue and the sound she made doing it felt like the most gorgeous vibration I have ever heard come out of a human being this side of Christy Moore. It's easy to get hyperbolic in new york city, but this gig felt like a homecoming. And there was singing-along, sugar. There was a sing-song in Central Park last night.

I love where I live. I have a strong desire to continue to live here and explore. I love the work I'm doing. I have a strong desire to keep exploring that, too. I am so utterly humbled by all this jivin' good stuff.

I'm feeling it, Alex. I'm feeling it, Walt. It's going on.

Friday 28 September 2007

Betrayal and the moment in the door

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently, on the tricky personal topic of betrayal, specifically betraying oneself. We had been caught up in a strange moment together, and by some stroke of grace, happened to be both willing to talk about it, even though it was the kind of thing people so easily dismiss and often don't readily address with each other, especially two people who don't know each other tremendously well. But we were willing, and we did talk about it, and I think we learned a lot about each other from that chat.

But the topic was not easy, and was revealing. The event happened a week ago. This friend, we'll call him Eric, happens to live a block and a half away from me. One evening last week I was going for an evening stroll and I found myself ringing on his and his boyfriend's doorbell to see if he'd like to come too. And his boyfriend - let's call him Klaus - Klaus' eyes were bulging out of his head at the sight of me standing outside in the hallway. I was feeling very strange vibes and feeling like an intruder, and a foolish one at that. I hit the sidewalk fast.

So we met and had a drink about a week later and talked about it. Turns out that Klaus is the type that does not like having people just drop by, considers calling unannounced to be a horrible thing.

Eric, on the other hand, is in love with the San Francisco model of living, and "wouldn't discourage it" (he can also be quite circumspect). And so, by not inviting me in that day, he felt that he was betraying himself in some way. And it led to a fiesty conversation with his newly-moved-in-with lover.

This has happened before, with a new male friend and his boyfriend. The first time it happened was with a friend of mine in Dublin, an artist, lets call him Egon. We hung out a bit together a few years ago, I wrote an essay for a catalogue of his. The specific boyfriend-tension event happened when his boyfriend attacked me verbally like a starving rottweiler at the opening of a show of Egon's, and I was literally energetically propelled out of the building.

Egon and I also had a moment in the door, at the opening of that show. We stood there, Egon at the door, and me out on the street, shaken and clutching my scooter. Egon felt desperately badly about it, apologising on behalf of his 'psychotic boyfriend' but I was just so shocked and I didn't have the courage to stand up and tell him how I felt about it, and be willing to hear how he truly felt about the whole thing. I hopped on my scooter and propelled myself away from that doorway, up Eustace street, as fast as I could get out of there. We didn't really talk about it again. There wasn't really any way into the subject. We have drifted out of touch, though I think Egon rocks and I am very fond of him, and his work.

So this chat with Eric was a little bit different.

That moment in the door is an interesting one. What is done, where each person stands and steps, how events play out, what feelings arise, and what place those feelings are given, subsequently.

And then, once it's done, what happens next: do you ignore it, silently denying that it happened, and forge alternative allegiances to compensate, or do you face the elephant in the room, like Eric did, and start talking about it?

I think what happens in these door moments can change the course of a person's life. These are the essential, easily compromised aspects of our lives, and the whole deal is done and dusted in a heartbeat, before we've even really noticed anything has happened, at all.

Craigslist round up

Without wanting to disappear up my own arse about this topic, it is always tremendously reassuring to touch base with some of the other hacks for hire on craigslist, and to discover that they're selling themselves for $25 an hour and they haven't proofread their own ads properly. That's about a fair rate for that service.

And then you read through somebody's samples and they've got a portfolio of quite well written web copy and then you spot some glaring proofreading oversight. Jesus. Do these people not read the work they do forty five times before releasing it?

And then you have a look around at what's happening over in general community: A posting from a woman who's 25, feels she might be bipolar, and has no health insurance. What do you do when you're mentally ill and uninsured in America? Cry for help on craigslist, of course! Or buy a lottery ticket. Call yourself a high class companion and sell your body for $5000 a night to 'select discreet gentlemen' over in Casual Encounters.

Calling all black girls! There's a very discreet, sweet, dawn-to-earth (yes that's right ladies, dawn to earth) gentleman looking for a dinner-for-sex arrangement in the strictly platonic section. And if you strike it lucky, you'll get to do it again and again and again.

I wonder if Alanis Morissette knows that one of her lyrics has entered internet dating as a term for casual sex? I'm sure she'd be delighted. Lots of people seem to be looking for friends-with-benefits, or in the craiglist-nuanced usage, alive-human-to-fuck-tonight.

And then there's the whole genre of people who go into the toilet to take their dating profile picture. Clearly it's because there's a big mirror in there so they can check themselves out as they suck in and go click.

But the toilets and towels in the background and generally claustrophobic vibe, combined with the camera held out arm's length mid-picture really lets you know everything you could have hoped to ask them. And the poses. Ah the poses. Poses that suggest hidden, off- camera pep talks with acquaintances poised on the edge of the bath, rolling skunk spliffs: "What disemboweled body? Not in MY bathroom!" or "Hit me up again Mario, I feel like I'm gonna die, I KNOW one more hit will get me onto the next level", or "I'm gonna get REAL paid for this rack and all I have to do is arch and pout, arch and pout". It's not a pretty thing, the craigslist personals section. Not to mention the

"very successful plastic surgeon seeking a mutually beneficial relationship with a very special, very attractive and very, very sexy young woman" types,

and people interested in paying $1500 a month for GFE (girl-friend-experience, for hire, which seems to be simulated girlfriendness, without the commitment or reality).

This is the seamy side of the city, folks. They took down Times Square and built Craigslist. And how it rocks, oh how it rocks.

I have five words for you

Haagen Dazs Reserve Amazon Valley Chocolate. Okay, six. Icecream. Seven.

Fucking amazing. Nine.

Brief glimpses inside another human being

What is it that happens to a man or a woman who catches a bare glimpse of another, and without anything else to go on, feels their heart sing? Is it some kind of look in the eye that resonates somewhere? Is it purely energetic? Physical? The way she holds herself? The way he smiles? Some reminder of someone lost somewhere.. or an unexpected feeling of coming home, right there, across the room, with nobody saying anything?

Of course, it's only actually remarkable when it happens between two people who are not in a sexed-up or exotic landscape, who are fully clothed, and who are not flirting with each other. Sexual fantasies are like invisible mosquitoes in the air in new york city. The air is full of endless opportunity, like mirages made out of diesel dust on a hot humped road.

I opened the missed connections craigslist page yesterday, and typed in "Freddy's". A post came up for a night I had been there (like shooting fish in a waterless barrel, this past couple of weeks). Up came a mention of a woman who was actually sitting in front of me (there were less than 20 people in the backroom at the time). The post was written by a man "on the other side of the room, wearing a red shirt". He said:

"We spoke briefly while passing on the stairs, and I should have asked then. So, I'm asking now."

And I wonder if she'll ever see it. It's a peculiar thing, typing in some general information into the missed connections section to see if anyone has felt a connection with you, missed. And even when the room is narrowed down as far as 20 in Freddy's Backroom, it's still new york city.

Thousands of people come between one meaningful connection and the next friendly face, here. People get worn down by that, and retreat into their small worlds. Then suddenly they look out, and see something beautiful, and feel its loss when it goes. They also know that because it's new york, the odds on ever meeting that particular beauty again are staggeringly high against it. And yet it happens.

It can be a desert, sometimes. And then a flower pops up when you least expect it.

I got a guitar today! I've just been singing some tunes, trying out my 7th chords. Barres are next. Phew!

Hurrah! Hurrah!

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Whippet Love, the Musical

There's a company accepting short scripts for a festival of erotica in early December, here in the city. I have just found myself actually wondering if they might be interested in a little tale of whippet erotica. More to the point, I have found myself wondering if I had what it took to write such a tale. And the third prong of my three pronged thought process this past few minutes, has been in wondering if such a tale could possibly be written as a stage play.

It's funny being away from Denmark

I've got a feeling I'm going to really love it when I'm next there. Denmark is in my heart, dude. I'm feeling a little integration of the Denmark vibe in my soul.
Hallelujah for that one.

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Edie

This weekend, I watched some footage of Edie Sedgwick during the filming of Ciao Manhattan in 1965. The movie itself was rank, but hurrah that the camera was lit and rolling during that whole speed addled - max's - downtown scene in this town in the sixties. What was fabulous about it was that that was a time when you could be the strangest creature in the world and fall into living in some apartment in downtown Manhattan and not have to worry too hard about getting the rent paid. And there were plenty of other people like you to hang out with. The downside for me, though, would have been all the requisite drug addiction, and more to the point, the fact that everybody around you was fucked up.

So there was Edie and crew, Edie tanked up to the max in makeup and Dr. Robert's specials, eating in new york's very first sushi restaurant, back in '65.

You know, this was a landscape of amphetamine and cocaine and heroin and drinking all day long as the natural landscape of things. Everybody you knew for miles around was injecting themselves with speed several times a day. It was the norm. David Weisman describes the vibe: "this was the very first sushi restaurant in the city! We all thought we were on a health kick going in there.. and if you went to the gym aswell as eating sushi, well you HAD to be queer."

At any given time, a rotating 20 people lived in his 43rd st. duplex on an informal basis, and somebody had built a little cupboard for herself to live in, for privacy's sake. Fun. For a visit. Probably a total pain in the arse to be paying the rent on that flat. So what's the difference today?

All the artists are graphic designers, and everybody's in advertising or branding! Somebody mentioned that this was a time before marketing was invented. So Edie picked up whatever random garments lay on the floor of her Bentley and put them together and they became the look of the era. This was a time when people hadn't quite learned the skills of mass manipulation yet. They hadn't yet learned how to herd people into marketing pens, lock the door shut and sell to them.

So this is why people talk about that sixties era as having been "an innocent time". But to me, that's all kind of shot to shit by all the people who roll around in the glory of it, ever since. Whoever these middle aged farts are that talk about having been at Woodstock and lounged on the Silver Couch, it's all bollocks. They weren't anywhere in sight in that infra red-lit backroom at Max's Kansas City.

From the glimpses you get of that particular scene from this footage, it seems to me that what you're really seeing is boredom in motion in new york city, old style. Boredom has always had options in a town like this. There's plenty of trouble to get into. And if you throw some heiress' disposable cash and Warhol, the world's first artist marketeer, into the mix of heroin addicts, Vogue editors and drag queens, you've got a party.

I think then, as now, there was probably a multitude of new yorks, a multitude of scenes, and the ones with the sexiest pictures got made into posters. That's how we remember the sixties, through its iconography. The sixties are a bit like the effect Joyce had on Irish prose writing: it could take the culture a hundred years to get over it.

So this kind of new york came up and sank back. What kinds of new york are rising from the murk today? What are today's adventures in new york city?

Keep your lamplight trimmed and burning, baby.

Tonight's flavour

Half baked.
Packed full of gobs of every kind of chocolate bollocks you can imagine.
I'm waiting for it to melt to the right temperature.

Who says art ain't dangerous?

I got stabbed in the finger with the sharpened point of one of the pencils I walk around with in my bag. The lead tip chipped off and a good quarter inch of it settled deep under the skin like a tiny little bullet graze.

Pushing it out was the main event, though. That took a bit of work.

Monday 24 September 2007

New Joni Record!

Joni Mitchell has a new album out tomorrow, released through Starbucks. First new record in a long time, and after she had apparently kicked the lid down on songwriting and told it never to come out again. Apparently you can hear it in any Starbucks store tomorrow from 11 am to 2 pm, if you can stomach the coffee and the weird service system.

I love that gal. I'll be there.

Latest news about the Park Slope Lunatic

He gave me a dirty look last night, and didn't even bother to shake his can at me. And definitely no comments about my outfit.

Open letter to a life in Denmark

I wrote a letter on pale blue post-its one evening a few weeks ago in a club on Avenue B. It's gotten moved around and the order messed up, and has been sitting on my desk ever since. Each little couplet is the contents of each post-it, and I typed it exactly as I found it on my desk.

It's addressed to a man who swings deep and breathes low, and often gets up late.

Hello ----
What's shakin', sugar?
God, I wish I could say that in Danish so it swung. I'd love

to be able to write love songs to you in Danish, but here I am, sitting in some supposedly hip east side bar writing to you on post-its that I may or

may not post.

I think of you so fondly, and I also get the blues when I think of you. I wonder what that's about? I wonder how you feel when

whom I feel a profound soulmate kind of vibe, and I felt that with you. If you don't feel the same way, I thank you for

the stub. I'm actually feeling really good, ----. Maybe I write to you because it is rare that I meet a man with

and sticking them one by one on the back of my notebook. It's so dark in here I can't see when my pencil's down to

though I sit here in this somewhat subterranean club in alphabet city, scrawling in the dark on some post its

happening inside me - some guessing game with a built in disappointment of the most crashing nature and

you know, it's a fucking load off to get out of that force field also. Because I feel like there was some game

to live there anymore. Not unless I was in love with someone who was also in love with me, and I suppose I felt that way about you, and

hard in the moment, especially when you really can't do anything about it. So I'm wary of Denmark now, because honestly I don't want

very valuable lesson to truly learn, I think. It's incredibly simple, of course, and obvious when you see it, but it can also be really

having some sort of purpose, and I can go with that. The point is that it happened. Not all of our lives are there to please us. That is a

long like that. No channels in the world much at all. Really difficult. But I remember something you said once about things

telling someone recently that I found it really hard to not have an anchor in life, in Denmark, and to be there for so

whip em from you in a flash, in a trumpet crash, in a heartbeat.

definitely a lot going on here.
It's an interesting place to be a human, alive. It pulls and pushes at you, dumps loads and

Americans are funny. They're interesting and the New York variety is incredibly diverse. There's a lot of money chasing here, but there's

the people who live in these places and pay that kind of rent aren't thinking like that at all. You know? It's a totally different thing going on there.

pay the rent alone, and it came to $70,000 a year. Just to pay the rent. And then of course there was food, etc. But

was advertising flats for $3900. So this chick had spent her time calculating how much money someone had to be earning just in order to

talking about how there was a new building over on St. Marks a block away from her place, between 1+2 ave. and it was called The Saint, and it

Francis, the bleeding Texan with chigger bites.
So he was out with some chick from 1st ave and she was

lived here, in 2003. He was the first person I've recognised on Avenue A since the old days, except for

some kind of invisible.
And tonight I met a photographer, longtime inhabitant of St. Marks, who I met the last time I

dropping coins into his cup. I mean, it wasn't subtle. You know? Wild-eyed, the whole bit. He's

But this man was psychotic of soul and body. And I don't think anyone sees him either, even when they've

on my street corner tonight. He was insane. You could say that many people here are insane, the way they live.

the poughkeepsie train. It must have taken 20 minutes for her to cross it. Nobody even saw her. I passed a boy-man

evening in the central concourse, and watched a hunched old woman make her way across this huge concourse on the way to

sorts of baby heart breaking kinds of ways. You know, stuff you see. I stood at Grand Central station one

Your graciousness in hearing me out. It feels good here, in New York. And it's also crazy. In all

I think that is about as far out as it gets.
I'm hungry, and waiting for this gig to kick off. When you're bored you're bored, whether you paid ten bucks

to get into a place, or not.

Sleep well, ----.

Sunday 23 September 2007

Whippet Love, 6