So this last trip to NYC was the first time that the city really made sense to me. I’m a country mouse at heart, and when I tell the folks at home that I’m living in California they repeat the word back to me as if I had just said that I was living on MARS. But if I had said New York City they would probably think perhaps I should be committed. Why on earth would you want to live there?!? It’s big and dirty and they’ll slit your throat for a nickel! They would probably think I was some sort of pervert. And while I never quite believed all that, I also never understood how people could actually live there. It did seem so expensive and scary and closed-in and in a word, hard.
But this time I began to understand why people say it is the only city in the world. It kind of is.
Despite that fact, the whole time I was there I did not see a single homeless person, which I found pretty shocking. However, I did go to a sort of homeless-themed fashion show, where the models wore sandals and shirts made out of plastic bags and other recycled materials. Here is a pic of a girl wearing a skirt made out of an Ikea bag. It was my first fashion show, and the whole thing initially struck me as absurd and surreal, like a satire of a hip fashion show instead of an actual hip fashion show. I definitely was not sure how to take it. Especially since I had came from a week of band practice in downtown LA, where the homeless problem is huge and very real, and people often wear plastic bags on their feet out of necessity, not style. So I had a couple moments of looking around and wondering “uh, this is fucked up right? am I the only one that thinks this is really fucked up?”
But after I let it sink in a bit, I could kind of appreciate the post-collapse/world-village vibe as celebrating resourcefulness and promoting the reappropriation of the world’s trash. I mean, maybe we all should be wearing plastic bags on our feet instead of buying new shoes every year. It’s got to be more sustainable than leather and fur and neoprene and whatever else people usually put on the runways.
Also, this was the first time I recognized fashion as an interesting art form with little to no conscience. Not necessarily this show, but most of it is so unabashed, like; hey we wanna look at really skinny beautiful people and we don’t care who or what we rip off to get our point across! Which is kind of cool in a way. Honesty is usually thrilling. I mean, it’s probably more complex than that, but I get most of my clothes once a year at the Sioux Empire Mall JC Penneys after-Christmas sale. (Thanks Mom!)
For our first show in NYC we played at the opening of the maze at Death By Audio, which was rad because the bill was rad but I have to admit I did get a little frustrated by trying to get around during a show because it was literally a maze. And space or time are not really dimensions that I travel well in. The bill was packed and great, with Skeletons, Dan Friel, Knyfe Hyts and Mincemeat or Tenspeed. But the band I actually got to watch the most was Social Junk, which for this show was 2 cute boys from Philly who both wore thick glasses and holy Tshirts and looked kind of like identical twins. Their set was sludgy, percussive and I’ll just go ahead and say it: TRIBAL.
The next night at the Cake Shop was a super sweet bill that was like power-lady time, us and Sarah Lipstate (Noveller) and Megan (US Girls) and Real Rags, who was Ezra’s old Oberlin friend Stefan Tcherepnin and his friend whose name now escapes me because I am also bad with names (space, time, words… how do I get by in this world???) And speaking of fashion, this show had the potential to be super awkward cuz not only do Sarah and I play the same kind of guitar (Jaguar), but me and Megan sometimes favor the same kind of 3rd-grade-boy bowl haircut (check out this sweet video of her playing at the hemlock). But that night hers was dark and mine was shaggy so it was fine. (Can you tell when I’m kidding? boys and haircuts and stuff? If you think this is bad you should read the Andy Warhol Diaries)
For our last show we played at West Nile in Brooklyn and I think it was partially because it was our last show, but I really let loose and had a great time, felt really free and I think we played well. So here are some post-show pictures of me after I got my groove back (and my whiskey on!) I would like to thank the cute sweet drunk boy who insisted that he take these pics right after I played. As he said, “this one’s for you!”
At that show we played with WISH who I missed because it was so hot I kept feeling like I was gonna throw up, so I went outside to get some air. Talk Normal also played right before us and they were really great, I think we were all like, “where have you been all my life?!?” Fast friends and they were fucking great, I just had a huge grin on my face the whole time they played, so excited. Here is a video:
Mirror Mirror was scheduled to close the show, who are some of my favorite people. Unfortunately 3 songs into their set their drummer turned into a werewolf, smashed the drums and ran out of the building. He ripped off his shirt, howled at the moon and took off down the street. For reals. You can ask them.
And I’ll leave you with this cute pic of Ezra at the MOMA, in an exhibit where attendees were invited to record their height and name on the wall with black sharpie. Jesus wow, the MOMA is,,, damn. So great. My absolute favorite was an exhibit on 70’s Dutch Conceptualists like Jan Dibbets and Bas Jan Ander. Do you know? How he rode his bike into a canal and disappeared at sea? And while I slack-jawed through the white rooms a lightbulb went off in my head as it occurred to me that a GOWNS performance often felt more like falling off a roof than it did like Austin City Limits. Those thoughts exhilarated me, and planted a seed that set the stage perfectly as we headed off to Baltimore…