05 July 2009

"How does it feel? To be on your own, with no direction home..." You know what, Bob, it felt fucking awesome. There's nothing wrong with having no direction. Just need to be able to keep your wits about you. I went to Brooklyn without the foggiest notion of what to do or where to go or anything like that. Simply put, I just went. Went to the bus station then got dropped off at another stop. Hopped on another bus, and an hour later was standing in Brooklyn. Started walking towards what I thought was my hostel so that I could check in, but I was actually walking out of Brooklyn. Probably should have known something was up while plowing my way through Chinatown. In Chinatown, all the vendors already had Michael Jackson memorial t-shirts less than a week after the tragic passing. Walked clear into Manhattan before I realized the error. Which wasn't all bad though. At one point, I was standing on the corner of Bowery and Bleecker, and was able to spot the remains of the legendary CBGB's. Its a restaurant or a hair salon or some shit like that now, but at one point it was the place to be. A sharp left turn and an hour later, I was in The Bronx. Made my way through the Bronx, and eventually arrived in front of the Brooklyn Bridge after brief stops in SoHo, NoHo, and anywhere else that was not Brooklyn. None of this bothered me though because at the time I was on a quest for two things. First, I was trying to find Lou Reed. I thought for sure I would see him walking on down the street, and then I would see him and then he would take me to a brownstone up three flights of stairs. When I think of New York, Lou Reed, Jay-Z, and the Knicks are the first things to come to mind. Don't give two shits about Bob Dylan cutting his teeth in Greenwich Village coffee houses. Give me more Lou, and his episodic reporting of all that is decadent and in poor taste. That's where I want to be. Secondly, I was looking for falafel. I found neither although I could have easily scored some falafel, but at the time I was more focused on not getting soaked. I tried hailing a taxi, but the driver kicked me out when he found out I didn't know where I was going. Could you imagine if universities had the same policy. "What do you mean you don't know where you are going? We don't have time for this shit! Make up your damn mind, or get the hell out the way. Hurry! Hurry! No time for thinking, goddamnit. Make a rash, impetuous decision and move along! Its not our problem if it doesn't work out. We are strictly in the business of producing results. We don't care how they come about as long as we have something to show the suits at the end of the day. In fact, we don't care at all. That's why we only feign responsibility for you for a short period of time. Hurry! Results! Must have results!! Grrr." (Writer's Noted: Obviously, this is what every college advisor and admissions director sounds like when addressing an incoming student. Its also what a NYC cab driver would sound like if they spoke English.)
I have a wealth of experience in the area of getting lost in major American cities, and under normal circumstances I probably should have been concerned but I wasn't. I mean, what's the point of all getting pissed off when you have no one but yourself to blame. Besides, how can one get pissed off when they are standing in the heart of the Marcy Projects and a car rolls by and Hov is blasting out of the speakers.  I was coerced into buying two authentic street mixtapes from some up-and-coming rappers. They were from Stuyvesant, and thats where Biggie was from so I wasn't really in a position to argue with them about the merits of actually paying for new music as opposed to downloading it illegally on the internets. They were actually mad chill, and we ended up talking about how Baltimore may be the place in Maryland but its PG County thats really the place to be.
My trip wasn't completely aimless, and I had very real intentions of going to see live music while I in this magical hub of creativity. I managed to attend both days of the Woodsist/Captured Tracks Festival, and Whoa!, what a grand time that turned out to be. Festival is a very misleading term to describe this showcase because this wasn't really a festival. There were a lot of bands playing which is a prerequisite for a festival, but beyond that there wasn't a whole hell of a lot that qualified this as a festival. It was basically just a really kick-ass show that lasted for two days. There was rain on Friday, and the show was moved indoors. I discovered this after circling the block several times. I could hear the music, and I could tell something was definitely going on but for the life of me I could not find the fucking place. Finally, I stopped two people who looked like they would definitely know where the show was and when I asked them "Do you know where the show is?" they responded by saying "Show? What show?" and then I tried again, this time clearing my throat before speaking, "I am looking for the Woodsist/Captured Tracks Fest-i-val. Would you happen to know where it is located?" and then the bro gave me an approving nod and explained to me that the show was going on above a grocery store called Mr. Kiwi's and that the way to get there is to slip through the door on the side. Many thanks to that dude because I found what I was looking for shortly there after.
After entering the side door, I ascended up a flight of stairs. A bro in a tank top stopped me, and asked me for identification so that he could mark my wrist so that I could drink. Then a very pretty girl asked whether I was buying tickets or had I already purchased them. A brief exchange of nervous smiles and slight giggling ensued, but once it was over I was officially in. What I saw before me was quite possibly the coolest venue I had ever witnessed. The room was very very dimly lit. In the afternoon, beams of light managed to shine through the tears in the curtains but at the night the place was virtually dark save for a spotlight that was anchored to the bar. The walls were covered in this weird paper-mache shit that looked like a bunch of Animal Collective music videos had eaten one another and the last one standing had just hurled all over the walls. There were lots of bright colors. Pale red and light blue and off green as well as orange and yellow. It took me awhile to realize it, but there were actually more spotlights stationed behind all the paper mache. This dawned on me when I noticed that there was a hand-painted image of Michael Jackson hanging behind the stage. The face was all lit up, and the colors complimented it very nicely. I saw the last few bands on Friday. Psychedelic Horseshit was real rad. I had read an interview with the lead singer from a few weeks ago, and in the article he trashed a whole bunch of other similar bands and then he started talking about how him and bros make music for themselves and that they don't really care whether anyone else likes it. So with that in mind, I was treading lightly. Last thing, I want to do is to incur the wrath of a temperamental lo-fi garage outfit. They were real good, though. Some of the guys in the band has avant-garde haircuts, and by the end of the concert the frontman had silver paint smeared around his face. Later on, I discovered that the lead singer and I smoke the same kind of cheap, bottom of the barrel cigarettes. The Blank Dogs were up next, and they really kicked ass. Super great set. The frontman for the band was one of the dudes responsible for putting the whole festival together. I would highly recommend the Blank Dogs to just about anyone. They sounded a lot like Wire, and if you're not familiar with Wire then Blank Dogs sounds slightly like Jay Reatard minus the whole putting drum sticks in one another's asses thing. Crystal Stilts were the headliners for Friday, and by the time their set got underway they certainly sounded like headliners. So fucking cool. In the future, I wouldn't be surprised if the Crystal Stilts score a sweet gig opening up for some major band. 
After the set, I made a friend! He was this real cool dude from Australia who currently lived in Brooklyn. I was a little concerned at first because at the time there were a bunch of dudes making out with one another and I thought that this bro was making a pass at me. He wasn't. He just kind of started talking to me, and was asking where all my "mates" were. I told him they were all off listening to Coldplay somewhere. We talked philosophy while drinking Budweiser out of cans. Then we started talking about Baltimore and how, while The Wire is pretty accurate it still does not fully capture what the city is all about. We also spent some time lamenting the fact that Sonic Youth was playing in town at that very moment, but we were able to console ourselves in the fact that tickets cost $38 a piece. I ended up serving as his wing man while he attempted to pick up girls. He had explained to me earlier that he had just broken up with his longtime girlfriend, and that he was trying to re-learn how to pick up women. I tried telling him that talking to girls is not part of my skill set, but he was unfazed by this. We started talking to these two girls, and it wasn't going great. It wasn't going bad either, but then my friend made a crack about the one girl's cell phone and how her parents probably paid for it. That didn't go over very well. 
Its funny being in Brooklyn I expected my head to be filled with the Velvet Underground or TV On the Radio or Grizzly Bear. Something Brooklyn-related, but that was never really the case. That Jay Rock song, "All My Life", would pop into my head while I was walking through the neighborhoods. That and "Every Girl". Part of the reason for that was because I head that song cranking out of just about every car and apartment building I passed while in town. It also proved to be very applicable. I have never in my entire life seen so many beautiful women. In Manhattan, I saw upper-echelon high class beauties, but it was in Brooklyn where the ladies really shone. 
  At the end, Brooklyn reminded me of a burnt grilled cheese sandwich. It just oozes awesomeness, but its still a little flaky at the same time. At the show, some people chose to have beards or to wear ironically large glasses. Others wear flannel. Some wear pants while others opt to hack their jeans into shorts. Brooklyn was very cool. Not achingly cool, but rather intimidatingly cool. For two days, I was constantly brushing elbows with dudes from bands and I found that to be a little overwhelming. I mean, these are bands that I spend my days on the internet listening to and throughly enjoying and now I'm standing next to them while we drink warm beer together. I wanted to say something. I wanted to say something to every single one of them, but I couldn't. I'm pretty sure I'm chickenshit. Its like I figured out a while back that at the time I was completely full of shit, and since then I have dedicated my efforts into making sure that I'm not bullshit. With that thinking in mind, I tend to choose my words very carefully. I don't want to talk just for the sake of talking. I want to say something, and I want it to mean something. So with all this swirling around my cranium, I was very hesitant to approach any of the bands. I mean, I didn't want to be that guy. (Writer's Note: This is part one of what is at least a two parter)

No comments:

Post a Comment