Monday, January 28, 2008

Table of Contents, No Appendix: Part Four

The Port Authority Bus Terminal, take one-thousand.

A 4PM arrival time, enough time to eat before hustling my way over to the Bowery Ballroom to see the Dirty Projectors.
I took the advice of a Rock School employee and ate at Piece of Chicken. Shocking? The vegetarian boy dining at such a place? It's okay, I just had split pea soup and a bowl of rice. Not only that, but my meal was only two dollars. After devouring it, I asked 4 different people how to get to the Bowery. It was simple as usual. I still give credit to the Manhattan Transit Authority. It's impossible to get lost, unless you're really not paying attention.

The Projectors put on a great show, and I enjoyed the opener Julianna Barwick. It was impressive to see what one person could do with a sampler and one microphone. I still can't get into White Williams, but perhaps it's because I can't hear the originality. It just sounds like a poorly executed Joy Division. Much respect to Sidetrack, who completely caught everyone off guard.
My sleeping arrangements this evening were provided by the amazing Robbie "Seahag" Mangano. The Mangano Estate is located in Brooklyn. Thanks to Robbie and Laura.

In the morning, I worked on updating eBay Record Inventory for about 2 hours. I went back into Midtown and hung out at the music school some more. Talking to the students is fascinating. Those NYC kids are hilarious, and brutally honest.
Dave Dreiwitz called me from Union Square. I was going to sleep at his place in Fort Lee, NJ, but first we were going to go to the annual Relix Christmas Party.

I was a drunken mess for this one, ladies and gentleman. I was taking cell phone pictures left and right.
Here's a secret picture I took of Danny Tamborelli (y'know, Pete and Pete?):

And here's a picture with me and the up and coming film director Bernardo Loyola:

Thanks to the lovely Monica Hampton for that one!

I was a little hungover the next morning. Oh well. We began the epic journey to Burlington, Vermont at noon. Crescent Moon was doing two shows with the Mathematicians (of Glens Falls, NY). Our first show was at Nectar's - one of my all time favorite venues. I have a sacred kinship with Nectar's. I played one of my all time best shows there, on January 13, 2007. It was one of those special Project/Object gigs. Before the show, we practiced "Echidna's Arf (Of You)" at half speed. We were also goofing on "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon for the entirety of that tour and we whupped it out spontaneously for that gig.

Anyway, the Nectar's Crescent Moon/Mathematicians show was great. Mike Gordon of Phish was there, and he gave a nice and succinct greeting.

I woke up the next morning at the world famous Windjammer Hotel and as I was eating an unbuttered and untoasted English Muffin, Slick Rick walked into the breakfast area. Yes, at 10AM, even with the eye patch. He played at Higher Ground while we were playing, and he was staying at our hotel. I was slackjawed. I wanted to say something to him, so bad the urge was almost uncontrollable, but I maintained my composure. You see, people have been calling me Slick Rick for as long as I can remember. A photo of the two of us would've aligned the planets and world peace would've been inevitable.

Sadly, no photo was taken. Maybe we will meet again, in an alternate universe.

After our hotel breakfast, Dave took me to an icy river. He informed me that because the fish couldn't breed upstream during this time of year, they had to invent a fish elevator and deliver the fish by the truckload. He told me he used to go to this spot before gigs to relax. Here's a picture:

We left for Albany, NY sometime in the afternoon and showed up at Red Square two hours before we were supposed to be there. We decided to sit in the car for awhile and listen to an insane Elvin Jones record. We ate at some weird sports bar, and by the time we got back to the club we were able to load in. The opening band was Sugarproof and Mathematicians were going on after us.

Katy and her best friend Sarah showed up, so we chatted for some time. I felt bad, I kept interrupting. I was running around like a maniac. Sooner or later, Crescent Moon came on and we played a good gig...but my stomach was feeling strange. I shrugged it off.

I helped pack up the gear. Much thanks to the drummer of Sugarproof for letting me bash on the nice drumset! I stood in the crowd and watched the Mathematicians, but I couldn't ignore the terrible pain in my right side. I couldn't move. This was the worst pain I've ever felt in my life. I went into the bathroom and I looked in the mirror. My stomach was bloated and pulsating. After an hour of trying to decide whether it was a kidney stone or gastritis, Dave rushed me to the ER.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Table of Contents, No Appendix: Part Three

I slept for quite some time after I arrived at the Budget Inn. I woke up in the late morning. The aforementioned yellow-brown room was only more haunting in the daylight, and I had to convince myself regularly that I wasn't caught in some bizarre 70's sitcom like "Maude". Of course, all of this didn't matter in the end. I was just happy to have some time with my girlfriend. She's wonderful.
We decided that our original European breakfast concept of jam and bagels wasn't good, due to the absurdly chewy nature of the bagels. A second trip to the Price Chopper was needed.

We drove into the bustling little town, which begs the question: What is there to do in Saratoga Springs, NY? Not too much, but that doesn't take away from it's charm. It reminded me of what Philadelphia felt like when I was a kid, or perhaps what Vermont is like now. The mom and pop stores stand tall with history and integrity, so much so that the shiny fast food chains get tucked away in between used bookstores and clothing shops. It was cold there, but not cold enough to feel discomfort. It was that perfect brisk cold that added to the starkness of a place mainly known for it's horse racing and Don McLean.

At the Price Chopper I brainstormed on the breakfast/snack dilemma with Katy and we came to the agreement of purchasing hard sourdough rolls and fresh mozzarella cheese. It was far more European than the jam idea anyway. We were hungry, and we rushed back to the Budget Inn for our feast.

Our neighbors were loud and feuding. My inner Jeffrey Beaumont loves this. I mean, it's not voyeurism or "schadenfreude", but I suppose witnessing chaos in public is exciting - it's a deviation from the norm. On my first date with Katy we saw a crack bust go down near Union Square, and maybe things like that just give you a healthy (or is it unhealthy?) jolt of reality.

We relaxed inside for the majority of the afternoon, with the winds occasionally blowing the door open. To not do much of anything for a day was calming. We all need an empty day sometimes. In the nighttime we got Chinese food and went on another promenade of the main streets. We became sleepy and went to bed watching two horrifying episodes of "Intervention".
I was becoming so queasy that I had to dig my head into the pillow. We didn't have the television on all day, and I remembered why I dislike it so much.

It was an early night, so that called for an early rise. We finished as much of the leftover breakfast as we could, and we left all of our remnants in the refrigerator. We checked out of the hotel. Funny side note: I forgot to mention that the proprietor was convinced that I was foreign. I have a slight lisp and a nasal voice, so I really don't know where she came up with that. If I ever stay there again, I'm going to put on a full made-up accent.

Katy informed me that there was a diner attached to the bus station. I'm happy to take up any diner offer, anywhere in the world. I love diners because they resolve group indecision. Rarely do you find something you don't want to eat at a diner, unless you or your friends are vegan. The food was exceptional, and Katy offered to pay for my meal. How nice!

We left and waited in the parking lot. My bus was going to New York City because I was about to go on a mini-tour with Crescent Moon. About ten minutes before my bus was supposed to leave, I walked up to the stop and a friendly older woman approached us.

"You guys know that the Saratoga Springs bus station has been moved, right?"

"Uhhhhhhhh, no?"

Luckily my bus required a stop at the Albany Greyhound Station so we got on the road and floored it. We made it, and while we were waiting in the terminal I wrote an idiotic song about Schenectady, NY. I got in line and gave my goodbyes to Katy. It was a lonely ride to the city, but I had a lot to look forward to. It was going to be a busy week.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Table of Contents, No Appendix: Part Two

I had a lot of time to kill at South Station.

My lesson was cancelled and I was depressed. It was snowing outside and I began the slow thawing process. South Station's Greyhound section leaves a lot to be desired. There's an imitation Dunkin' Donuts, an imitation Quiznos, and a newsstand/convenience store that has about 3 feet of walking space. I laughed to myself about the tight squeeze and a nice young man overheard my chuckling and said, "Yep, that's capitalism for you."
I bought one of those PowerBar Harvest Energy Bars that taste like cardboard with dark chocolate chips and a Vitamin Water for the road.

I was preparing to go to Albany, NY. My girlfriend Katy lives there and I figured I'd swing by after the Boston trip and hang out there for 2 days. I hopped on the bus and the driver looked a lot like David Sitek from TV On The Radio. A true doppelganger. I wanted to bug him, but being a Greyhound bus driver is probably a terrible job and I didn't want to start his trip with a potentially awkward conversation.
This was easily the darkest bus ride I've ever been on in my life. I thought the 2005 Memorial Day trip to Levon Helm's house in Woodstock, NY was the darkest, but this one takes the cake. I've never seen a sky so black and purple. Then there was unsettling silence on the bus, the snow turning into sleet, the 10 minute McDonald's pit stop when everyone on the bus seemed to leave except for me - it was too creepy.

I think I got to Albany at 1 AM. Katy and Koren were there and they prepared a "Welcome to Upstate New York" paper plane for me. We drove around in the snow/sleet for about 2 hours and we dropped off Koren at her house. We went to the Price Chopper at 3:30 AM and purchased coffee, strawberry jam, and wheat bagels for the room. There were plows circling the parking lot but they weren't getting rid of any snow. I think they were just joyriding.
I needed a place to stay so I got a last minute room at the Budget Inn (also known as the Post Road Lodge) of Malta, NY. I can guarantee that out of all the hotels I've ever been to, this one is the most memorable. The lodge consists of about 6 hotel rooms, all side by side. We pulled up at around 4AM and there were a gaggle of geese honking outside of one of the rooms. I prayed it wasn't our room, and luckily it wasn't. Still, it looked like the goose mafia was ready to make a hit on whoever was sleeping in Room Number 1. The hotel lobby looks like Agent Dale Cooper's office from Twin Peaks. I had a pleasant exchange with the proprietor of the Budget Inn and I got the room key (yes, a key, not one of those wonky key cards).

I opened the door and laughed once again. Our room had not been changed since 1978. Above the bed was a poor painting of what looked like a frowning European Ambassador. We had a complete kitchen with no utensils or plates, a refrigerator, and a functioning old school timer microwave. The heavy winds from the outside kept blowing our door open, regardless of whether or not the door was locked. Our room was yellow and brown colored, and that's how I will remember it.