back to tour... i awoke next day on elizabeth's fold-out couch. after some ultra-strong coffee, headed out the door in a nyc black car that took us across the williamsburg bridge, back into manhattan, where we ended up at russ and daughters, home of the finest smoked salmon in nyc, according to a sign in their window. the line out the door spoke as much too.
they wrapped our breakfast in the thickest wax paper i have ever felt and they sliced the lox like diamond-cutters working a prized stone. in a way, they were...
we ate some bagels in the shadow of a senior citizens housing development and planned our day. well, planned... not so much. we set off across the lower east sidce and alphabet city. spotted a car recently exploded, pulled to the side of the road, armrests still steaming and melting and coming off on my shoe as i pressed my toe to the gooey plastic. within ten seconds of examining the exploded car, overheard conversation of "last night's shoot-up" a block away, in which several folks were killed. oh, new york, how i love thee.
liz and i made our way to the new museum... building is incredible, especially the exterior, but most the exhibits i found boring. trading too heavily on pop culture seems like a cop-out to me... we all already know that the world is moving more and more towards disposability... mcluhan killed it for me, although i try to stay open to new ideas and i'm as guilty as anybody of riffing on disposable garbage american culture. i think the main point now might be trying to fashion something worthwhile and beautiful out of the cultural detritus we find littered all about us.
anyhow, the exhibits, the main ones at least, showed lots of carefully arranged pictures of hair-metal bands... ozzy, skid row, poison, etc. good for a laugh but it left me cold after a few seconds.
continued on down the road, stopped by habana cafe for a lime-ade and headed cross-town to banjo jim's open mike... 2pm sign-up. along the walk, stopped in some amazing community gardens, the likes of which surprise me in manhattan's gritty urban landscape. i should know by now that manhattan is nothing if not surprising, at its best... tis the beauty of the city. liz and i sat in a park and read a pamphlet of manifestos i bought... some favorites by nam june paik, dick higgins, and al hansen. another pamphlet: john cage's diary. really great free-form poetry / political commentary / explorations of humanity.
i signed up to play first at the open-mike and played a couple of tunes. the m.c. was way out-of-shape, his belly peeking out from the bottom of a really tight pac-man tshirt with armpit holes at least 8 inches across... a full hairy eye-full of "Man." his moustache was pencil thin and immaculately manicured... so thin and perfect it looked drawn on with a sharpie... but no, it was real and the effort involved in that hideous facial growth seemed almost tragic. perhaps on another man, a suave smooth operator, the 'stache would work, but this man oozed desperation from his every pore. noticing this didn't make me laugh or make me happy... i felt bad for the man. he rushed about, setting up microphones, providing introductions for other performers, nervously laughing... he'd fallen into the open mike night fishbowl... the classic case of the fish shrinking the size of his bowl until he can grasp his surroundings, control his environment. perhaps he'd hit the clubs of NYC and found them unreceptive, ventured outside of town, no response there either... now he'd collapsed back to his old neighborhood, into a small open mike where he could be "star"... this desiring of stardom by each open mike participant made the whole thing absurd and tragic and almost funny... humor so funny you can't even laugh.
with static running through speakers and technical glitches galore, the show rolled on... a middle-aged obese man wearing tevas playing a guitar solo on an ovation tortoise-back guitar... no accompaniment. ah humanity! an unaccomplished, unaccompanied guitar solo by a physically repulsive man wearing jean shorts and tevas who makes the requisite "orgasm" guitar faces while stumbling through some "licks."
another girl stepped onstage, her too-tight pants gripping a big fat butt... her butt also had big sequined stars on them... probably a home-made job. she stepped to the mike and sang songs about new york and it felt trite and wrong. "oh new york, new york... HEY...new york..." the whole thing blurted in a kind-of scat-jazz barfing style.
an extremely well-tanned new jersey guy walked in pawing a big wad of cash. he had a shit-eating grin, hawaiian shirt unbuttoned to the middle of his chest, some gold chains, designer jeans with zippers running up the sides (a la a.c. slater) and some weird purple woven leather shoes. he sat at the bar with his girlfriend (mistress?) a fake-titted woman, much younger but equally as tan. he ordered two drinks with his back to the bar, just yelled the order over his shoulder, and paid by flipping a couple of bills off his wad and handing them behind his head, without turning around. it was a move so over-the-top it almost had a certain grace to it. perhaps it was just perfectly in keeping with the aura he seemed to send off... that was the grace.
so we stuck around for a bit, socialized and split. headed over to mcsorley's, oldest bar in manhattan... lincoln apparently drank there...