Trip Start Jun 19, 2010
74Trip End Sep 01, 2010
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The ride into New York sucks in a million ways. They’re still doing the accents, and they’re still annoying, we’re hours late, it’s sweltering and I’m drenched, and I really don’t feel like talking to anyone. We’ve probably spent $40 on toll roads since Boston and the piano sounds chunky and plodding while The Beard plays it, trying to work out a new song of his, repeating over and over and over
The town is all chain link fences and Astroturf, at least heading into Brooklyn, having greeted and welcomed back with excitement our old friend Evan at the airport. Through all of this, as always, I’m moving in and out of attention, focused instead on usually my supplying a soundtrack over the speakers with the land whipping past me from the windows beyond, so I can’t properly define the landscape between JFK Airport and Brooklyn, but I suppose one can make assumptions. We park Pearl alongside a cemetery in the latter borough and get some sunflower seeds, hot dogs, and drinks in the gas station across the street. We sit, we breathe, we vent, we relax – oh man, I hated that drive in, and I think we all did – and we hit the pavement for a nice stroll into Prospect Park for a free summer series: Low Anthem and The Swell Season, where I find my old friend, Alan Weitz (Darin Fleisch), as planned, sitting on a blanket, waiting for us. I immediately jump on him with excitement, hugging and writhing on the floor, then introduce him to the others (most of whom he’d met in Italy, but whatever, long time ago)
The Swell Season are amazing in person. Glen Hansard is insanely passionate, his voice full of acid and love, stout and pain, and in the opening song he’s strumming so hard that he snaps all of his strings and has to sing the bridge acapella while his stagehand scrambles to give him a spare. He’s playing the same guitar from his film, Once, which is full of holes from where he’s missed the strings, and you know he leaves quite a bit of blood on the stage every night. Marketa Irglova, too, is lovely and shy and so talented, and we all marvel at her beauty and grace, her lilting harmonies and soft brogue. What a wonderful concert, seriously. I get a call from Crystal Sparvey and our dear and wonderful friend from Thailand, Edna Spatengarten, asking me when the concert ends, and I’m like, “yeah, yeah, I’ll call you when blah blah, I can’t hear you, gotta go, music,” though I’m so excited to see them (good music trumps all, you see)
There’s an ice cream truck outside, and some of us go on ahead toward the bus, and we all chat and bid goodbye to Alan and Sweeter, who have an hour to travel on the subway, before driving the bus to Sunset Park, where our host and friend, Eitan Weaver, lives. He greets with grand hugs and we’re sitting on a case of PBR, so with his company, again parked in front of a cemetery, where we all sip and sing a small sample of numbers. I’ve taken to the harmonica holder, and have come to even walk around town with it, playing in G when I’m refueling the bus, when I’m walking down a leafy sidewalk, while I’m eating: it’s just more rockstar with Hohner
We get to Eitan’s apartment to drop our things off, where he’s just so happy and willing to do whatever, go wherever, just leave your bags there, no problem, here’s some Dewer’s, stop thanking me. It’s a reminder of how much value in this trip lies in the friends we rediscover, or simply spend time with, and everyone takes to him, he one of Navin’s old friends, more quickly than I could have hoped. With that said, I just caught a cockroach in my futon that was trying to burrow its way into my underwear; I just grabbed him and threw him across the dark room, where it may have landed in The Beard’s sleeping mouth for all I know. Nice.
By the time we’re ready to go anywhere or do anything outside of Pearl, it’s already 1am, but Eitan tells us of the bowling alley next door, called Melody Lanes, and so we hurry over there before it’s too late. I guess it is too late in a sense, considering that all the lanes are full and the kegs are tapped, but we find the bartender to be worth everything. He’s old and short and offers no neck, but wears suspendered tuxedo pants with a ruffled shirt and a red bow tie, with a wild storm of white hair centered by two fluffy sideburns and some rather large glasses. He speaks shortly, quickly, “da tap’s busted. I got bottles: Bud, Bud Light. Whadya want? Good, good, I’m gonna give you a special deal because da tap’s busted. How many? Good, good,” and he looks as if Larry David had shrunk a few inches, worn a pirate tux to an awards show, then got lost in a rabbit hole for ten years. I’m chatting with Crystal and Edna about live between career and self, rather sincere stuff, when I see the bartender trying to force, his glasses slipping off his nose, his arm seemingly flying around, disconnected from his intent, a fistful of wadded bills into a too-small wicker basket, and I can’t help but laugh in her face. It’s a nice night, though, with nice conversation, and when the burly woman in charge gets on her bullhorn to simply say, “it’s 2am,” we know to leave before it gets ugly, and by the time we’re at Eitan’s place, we’re left to the floor on which to sleep, and we’re glad for it. I’m sharing the rug with Cornbread, hip to thigh, and struggle with his feet in my face. I mean, Cornbread, you are really one of the most outstanding people that I’ve ever met, and I love you and respect you greatly, but your feet are kind of gnarled from this trip. I’m not saying mine aren’t, of course, but yours ARE.