I get a bit suspicious about how I start each New Year. dunno why.
Last year I started the new year with a small intimate dinner party wiht Abel's family in frogland. i'd foregone a larger dinner party with Australian friends - and kinda had regrets, but not too many. Dunno what that was a portent of... give up friends for Love and get kicked in the teeth?
The previous year was being drunk around a campfiire wiht a big group of amazing artists/activists/hippies - including one of my new flatmates!
this year I was under the bursting fireworks in a park in Brooklyn with some amazing close friends. i was stone cold sober for the first time in 20 years as was half the assembled friends - and i had no regrets. I decided that if i've resolved to give up alcohol in 200 - then a hangover was not a good way to start.
After fireworks we went to a neighbourhood party (from the Park Slope blog) and saw the times square hullaballo on a small TV in the corner. I made polite conversation wiht local lesbians asking if there was any non frat-boy local burlesque and culminated in some weird group conversation at 3am, ABOUT PEOPLE's TOXIC COLONS. It reminded me of a NYE in Lawson 4 years ago(?) spent with a close couple of my former wife/life and also why I LOVE THIS CITY! - Nooyorkians are totally nuts -but completely candid about it. My estimable friend Doctor Jay was trying to convince everyone of the scientific merits of Faecal transplants -but they weren't all gullible enough.....
the next day I struggles wiht a migraine induced dylsexia to poorly negotiate the tangle of beige coloured lettered lines on my subway map to try to get from Brooklyn to the Lower East Side. Normally should be easy peasey - but the B-train was donw -and the A-train was going too far uptown (I STILL havne't caught it yet!) so I jumped on a Q train - and then thought I saw an M-train but it was an N train - and I think I was after the F-train anyway.
I was an hour late for my rendezvous in the rain with Stacy and Shannon. they waited. And we strolled down to tenth street and into St. Marks. I got chatting with one of the volunteers on the door who said she was some Professor who'd started up the camera Obsucra journal - and I was regretting knowing fuck-all about cinema studies - apart from Mulvey/doane/ etc.
anway - the poetry reading was refreshingly unlike anything i'd seen in Sydney (except maybe some of the nicer stuff at the writers festival - and actually Jess & Miles would go down a treat at the poetry project).
tho i reckon my canberra kultur-terrorist friends would still be a bit pukey at the earnest lefty niceness of it all (see Hazy bits blog)
Me? I don't care - New york still feels like a real living set of Sesame Street - and I love every milimetre of it. I love the niceness, the smiles, the friendly conversation, the dykes, the music, the accents, the air, the graf-art, the free hard copies of THE ONION and the village voice each week (note for self: they don't review places in Little Italy....)
Back to poetry - I had my possy of 3 female friends and a bag of fruit and we grabbed a nice place on the carpetted stairs and prepard to sit it out. I scribbled nice lines and did quick skethces of the way epople stood to recits. and realised that they speak form the hips, from the crotch and mostly swayed from the hips while speaking. Potry is embodied. This was a good sign. and Phillip glass's piano piece was monumental and patti Smith is a fucking GOD -and I SAW HER and heard her voice 20 metres from my ears - and she was singing about the Bombing of Lebanese Cana with the same resonance as on 'horses' (30 years ago) that used to fuel my early furiosu painting (10 years ago) and I loved and love her even more........ and Penny Arcade is a fucking trooper and did a great cute small piece and chatted to me about what chocolate cookies to get -and I met a nice girl called Kate......
It weren't all genius and glory tho. There was some freaky old bloke who rabbitted on about Loving the rain for 15 minutes, flapping his arms and crowing, and some even freakier older bloke who recited a nice(?) ditty about being fucked to and by soem music and then he blithered about his own rather monstrous sexual politics which was OK coz he was 82 and uses a zimmer frame so isn't gonna do a lot of harm..... and there was an INSANE couple! The guy on sax looked like Salman rushdie dressed in a brown polo shrt and brown slacks and was hinking discordantly on a big golden saxaphone. The woman had black firzzy hair, a big black coat, and bright red shiny shoes and an orange scarf –and SHE was raving about manitees in great and pompous detail and it was so loony they must have had to practice 100 times or take some laughter suppressing drugs so they didn’t double over every third line. And then there were a troop of budding thespians doing a great ‘bucket-hugger’ piece which firmy cemented my belief that NEW YORK IS MUPPETLAND and another reason why it is so great – and thank god texta queen was here for 6 months.
At about midnight - stacy and I both agreed our brains were fried so we walked up to 14th street and headed home on the L-Train. What a great way to start the year!
I spent the second day of the year on my TOME. God. I love it sometimes and hate it at others. I think I love it. I’m tyring to believe that If I just can work on the thing that it will get written and I will get to come back here and live here forever…… and go to Colombia and get to check out Gayatri Chakravoorty Spivak in a terry towelling headband just like Shannon’s friend at Colombia does…… OK this sounds trivial, I know. But Sydney brilliance and innovation and creativity and ideas are always fleeting and beleagured and swamped by the masses of stupid neurotic competitive BANALITY that is Sydney. Each time I think about Australia I cringe. Eahc time I think about supposedly critical left wing academics tyring to be engaged and populist and sympathetic to the death of Steve fucking Irwin – I want to scream for a hundred years and burn my passport and give up my language and never again eat vegemite. What’s next? Queen Mary of Denmark?
In New york I could nestle quietly into a large forgiving soup of unashamedly bookish earnestness. I could imagine being called elitist for within to wallow in my own little corner of bespectacled earnest chattering class endeavour. And I fucking hate that label so much I feel like projectile vomitting at random. ‘elitist’ is one of those nasty little double speak labels that John Howard, Rupert Murdoch, and members of the ALP like to throw at people who disagree with them. It’s a form of silencing discourse, engagement, criticism. There’s a big difference between being elitist and selective. I give a shit more about the death of Sean Bell than James Brown. (sean bell was an black nooyorka who got shot FIFTY times by gun toting (crack crazed?) cops for no real reason). And even tho James Brown’s death was a big symbolic moment for Harlem, for new york, for soul, for whatever – when the NYPD are planning to make all gatherings of more than 30 people illegal (unless they’ve applied for a permit) – I kinda reckon that sometimes it’s time to call a spade a fucking shovel. Little people matter. Little hard anonymous struggles matter. And however flakey, preachy, bespectacled and poorly perfumed the masses of earnest unwashed activists/academics/ranters/poets etc. are – its better than being a cashed up apologist for the consumerised corporatised society of disinformation and distraction….
Ahem. I drank zapatista coffee this morning and look what it’s done to me!
Yesterday was a delightful day of quite superficial consumerist meanderings. I had a rendezvous at the Aussie bite Tuck shop with Stacy, Shannon and Shannon’s friend at Colombia, and managed to get there relatively quickly. We ate ‘gormette’ pies and bitched/nostalgiaed about places among gum trees, punctuated by shannon’s lament at her immanent return… (to a lectureship btw). I like Shannon coz her ancestors came from the same town I grew up in and she understands and shares the stupid acculturated melancholy of recovering catholic skip-ness. When I whinge at my mum’s response to my blitherings about new york; “well, dear, remember that these are the best days of your life, and there are other people far less fortunate than you are” (followed by a long litany of whatever obscure corner of tragedy she can dig up from local gossip or the SMH or ABC) –shannon understands, coz her mum had exactly the same response to her ringing up sobbing and confused in Albania or Romania or somewhere else full on and strange. She seems to share my need to look for full on strangeness – for culture, and aliveness to escape the deadening fug of complacency – that disguises an infinite unspoken melancholy and deceit. (melancholy from acculturated exiled ancestors; deceit for continuing stain of SKIP incoherence and hostility towards kooris.) Meanwhile in New York, the tuck shop’s coffee machine broke so we had more meaningless meanderings looking for expresso on first avenue –before Stacy led us to the street of the tenement museum – where I spotted a GREAT FROG DINER. Whereapon I had the best coffee I’ve had since those last grains of Campos superior got steamed into my expresso concoction – and the others had 2 or 3… It was great. There are places in Paris that come close – but I still reckon frog-city central is a place best dreamed of in exile - this was kind may ‘68/squatter/uber-kool effect. Tres noice.
Jittery and bubbly – we left the others and Stacy and I headed for AMAZING EXPERIENCES IN BROOKLYN. I’d received an email from Dr. Crawford about the olfactory emporium that is http://www.cbihateperfume.com/ and decided that I couldn’t wait. I was looking for special ‘gorgeous’ gifts for a special person or two –but couldn’t help being drawn to the special mix called ‘faggot’. And wondered if I’ve just become an incurable faghag. Actually it’s called faggot – coz of special combo of burning woods. Hmmm – it’s smoky, earthy and deep – and inspired the salesgentlemen to insist I smell their special Haitian vetervert…. Which If you could bottle the delight of a fine night at manacle on the best MDMA in the universe – musky, leathery, sweaty, hairy, dark, masculine, spicy…..
Before I descend into unpalatable depths of hosebeastiness…. (I sigh and sigh again – completely perplexed) I should also mention that my other favourites included Wet English Pavement – and Ink. ‘CB’ – manages to combine small essences of certain mundane things (like rubber cement) and then fuse them with the right complementary carrier scents and mid tones…. – so each scent is a little olfactory haiku evoking aspects of the title. Naturally I wished they could have done scents based on Abel’s nipples, Zoo’s Breast milk, smoked mussels, Guinness, goat & French camembert but I guess some things are best experienced rather than evoked. I forgot to mention that the boutique is staffed by 2 very camp men and one very large dog which walked solemnly towards my crotch and buried his nose between my legs. Wise mutt. It was the one scent completely absent. Ripe woman on a full moon.
New york has been a pleasant distraction from the pleasures of the loins. I’m trying to hold off my visit to babe’s in toyland – coz I know that once I get my hands on a Hitachi wonderwand – I’ll spend 2 weeks in the spare room not going anywhere…. I have eye watering cravings at odd hours and give odd intense and probably excessively desperate stares to the legions of nice sapphists which inhabit the locale – but I’m enjoying sexual solitude, the hairs on my legs, the lack of mirror glimpsing self monitoring….. I’m enjoying singleness more than I ever have…. Tho I’m not sure if I’m single or not. Anyway I digress.
Post perfume – stacy & I wandered up north 11th into some uberkool clothing boutique – where she splurged on clothes and I got a decent pair of leather boots for $20 and tried on 6 pairs of jeans that didn’t quite fit. (my theory is that buying a pair of jeans is less about outlay of cash than outlay of time and effort in trying on at least 25 different styles and shapes and sized in order to find the right pair) Jeans house legs, the arse, and the sex organs – so the importance of covering and shaping all of the above in an acceptable manner cannot be underestimated. Femmes really have it easier on this one – skirts are much easier. I’m tyring to work out if I should get a hat, shoulder bag and jacket – just to moderate my polyester grunge aesthetic of long parka, backpack and beanie – but I’ll see what the universe turns up. I was tempted by long leather coats in black, ruby and teal (for $40) – but none were quite PERFECT.
Anyway – after our shopping we headed for a final extravagance of the evening – a nice Frenhc restaurant where Debbie was playing with 2 blokes called the mad jazz hatters. I had fillet mignon coz of white truffles and stacy chose onion soup and some nice roast veggie thing. We sat near the band and sketched and were brought a complimentary crepe by the staff – and I realised – strangely, stupidly and incredulously – that New york is just like the nicer parts of Sydney. Seeing live music – is like being with close near friends – and intimate and personal encounter – not like the capital C of culture spectacles – but something close and ordinary – but extraordinary too. The bank leader from the mad jazz hatters – loves popular songs – like great 1940’s Dennis Potter style tunes – to Irish/American protest laments – to the odd gipsy thing and lashings of Grappelli and so the music was special, affecting, intimate. I could have been at buzz Bar with Kathelissism – or in rural buttfucksville singing bad country/irish songs with my extended family – but culture as a form of localised intimate experience – feeling the vibrations of the instruments, meeting the eyes of the musicians, sensing notes and words as the raised hairs on my arms…. This is incredibly special, incredibly precious – and yes, it also is a part of ordinary life in the big apple.
I really wish my stupid brother hadn’t died and could be here now. I wish like hell I could be seeing him play live – whether busking or jamming with other musicians, or doing ordinary gigs for cash – but being glad there are enough of them to keep a city full of muzos fed and housed. On my second day here, I heard a flugelhorn in a basement and tears sprung to my eyes – but mostly I’m not melancholy but incredibly delighted to be here amongst this. I've extended my ticket till the first of March.
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