18 October 2003
The TravelPack bus is overbooked, so, though I arrive at quarter to nine, I have to wait for the 10 am bus. Four hours later, almost to the minute, I disembark on Chrystie Street. Walk north, and a few minutes later, I'm in the right neighborhood to meet MB.
Except the address for the coffee shop where she wants to meet me is vague and I am tired, so I lose it a few times. I call her cell phone; she gives directions with avenues and cross streets ever more insistently, and I do not think to ask what number the coffee shop has. The sign is orange; I should be able to find it.
No dice. I begin to think that the whole thing is a fiction. I ask MB to meet me at St Mark's book shop. She takes me back to Mud Spot to prove that it exists, and that it has the best coffee in NY. It is, and it does.
Fancie ye First: I heare that THOMAS PYNCHON will appeare on the Simpsons.
We walk about, get me a slice of lemon cake, talk about things. I love MB. When I am around MB, I feel glamorous and adored; she's so bright and so effortless. I backslide a bit on the smoking front. The afternoon passes. Dinner draws nigh: Sch*ll*r's L*q**r B*r is the new K**th McN*lly joint in the LES. I am so taken aback by the hipness of the place that I throw a bit of a wobbly that I wish there were more vegetarian options on the menu. I calm down. It is merely a restaurant, after all, and I am not the kind of person who is intimidated by a restaurant, even if it is a haunt of celebrities. Also, I am puzzled by certain pretensions, such as the prices and the filthy-looking bathroom. Knowing full-well that I will thereby expose myself to my own criticisms of bourgeoisity, I moisten my finger and check to see if the mirror really is that dirty. As I expected, the scum is permanent, laid on by hand to exacting standards.
Dinner is lovely. The food is good; I am not disappointed by it. I have watercress and pear salad with blue cheese, MB has the calamari. Then she has the eggplant parmesan and I have the gnocchi with pesto. They are very light, a little pasty, as if they were made by puffing flour directly into the boiling water. I like my gnocchi with a little more tooth, a little more butteryness, but this is nit-picking. It's enough that the waiter is cute and the wine keeps coming.
We have crème brûlée. I over-tip because the waiter had the grace not to condescend. We tumble outside and get our cigarettes on. Badly-dressed élitists wash around us, since their tables are more fashionably seven-thirty or eight-o'-clock. MB and I start stumbling over to the Kn*tt*ng F*ct*ry. On the way we buy cloves, in a nod to adolescence.
Just after we see Dave Navarro stalking along in the opposite direction, and almost die in the middle of the oncoming traffic slicing off onto the Avenue of the Americas...
Strange musical coincidence: iTunes just launched into Ladytron's Another Breakfast With You, which is funny since Playgirl was what was playing when I staggered into the . . .
Bathroom of the Tr*b*c* Gr*nd. It is like a film-noir phone-booth, with heavy lighting from above. The toilet is technologically advanced and a little cantankerous. The surfaces have all been sprayed with fake brushed-bronze and wenge wood instead of scum. I am crapping in a different world. I wash my hands merrily and lope upstairs to join MB.
We arrive at the Kn*tt*ng F*ct*ry too early. We have to kill an hour in the bar before the doors open, and I'm too tired to go anywhere else. I like the bar in the Kn*tt*ng Factory, since it is empty and not too dark. The people who are here are not here so that they might be seen somewhere nifty; they are here because they are, like me, too early for a concert and too lazy to go anywhere else. I like the big french windows that open onto L**n*rd Street, I like the half-disassembled wool-wheel over the doorway. I like that it takes me less time to get my round of beers because I'm a boy and the bartender notices me. When I look out the windows toward the street, I can see J*hn D*rn**ll* in a sateen jacket. He may have been smoking.
C*c* R*s** are talented. I honestly would buy their CD if they had one and listen to it, preferably on a road-trip through Tennessee and North Carolina. They take slugs from a bottle of SoCo and sing very low-energy songs. They sound very Ch*n M*rsh*ll, and they use children's toys as sound-making devices. I wish, though, that I had someplace to sit down. Their songs are lulling, though -- I am able to bear standing because it is enough like sleeping that I don't mind. No, really -- I am not damning with faint praise. I like the band and would be more enthusiastic about them if it weren't so hard to wait for the M**nt**n G**ts.
J*hn D*rn**ll* and P*t*r H*gh*s take the stage. For the next forty minutes -- it is a short, short, beautiful set -- a rush of adrenaline seems to find an equilibrium with the carafe of malbec, the bottle or three of Newcastle, and the piss and vinegar of a day spent tramping the sidewalks, and I could have been hanging motionless from the light fixture and never noticed a thing but...
I meant to keep a set-list. I did, actually, write a set-list, on my left arm with a red Parker pen. It is now illegible, albeit discernible. I remember Tollund Man, and that's all I remember. I remember Oceanographers' Choice, but that's all I remember. I remember JD announcing, "I have noticed on my tour that some people like to sing along with this particular song..." and launching into No Children, but that's all I remember. I remember thinking PH was the hott [thank you, Swilkes, for putting that sinful thought into my head!] but that's all I remember. Oh, and that PH was wearing a black and white vertical-striped shirt, and that he was wearing his glasses when he and JD came back on for a reprise, including Terror Song, but that's really all I remember.
We took a cab up West Side Highway and I think I fell asleep before I got in the door.
19 October 2003
Arose. Breakfast at Bleu Evolution, which is a tradition. Went to the Cloisters [got lost on the way in Ft Tryon Park, which looks like it ought to have anthropomorphic wolves stalking through it, trying to seduce little girls, rather than a crap-klezmer-blaring wedding and a party of kids with Down's syndrome]. At the Cloisters had a crise de mediévalisme, since the Carolingian ivories beckoned, the Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux (so tiny and so close and so out-of-the-way!) sat combing their hair on the rocks above the shallows. I cannot become a medievalist again -- all the blood will run from my face and I'll never be happy again if I study the fourteenth century. But I was strong and a few hours later sat gasping on the front steps in the weak rain-streaked sunlight.
Took the train to 14th St. Hung around. Was looking for someplace to get my hair done. Killed time Schlepped back uptown to see BB, fellow-medievalist, for dinner. Bought used books. Used books! As I said to MB, later, "Because we don't have books in B*st*n!" Zen Palate was good -- a little rich, though. Back uptown, had ice-cream and cloves with MB, soaked my feet. A gardenia-scented candle burned. The cats were picturesque.