Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bitch Me Out

By Pauly
New York City

Wet snow. That's what I saw when I stumbled out into the cold Monday morning and crossed the street. Not rain, but wet snow. Or something that hip weather forecasters like to call wintry mix these days.

I reluctantly set my alarm on Sunday night. My entire philosophy for my time in NYC was no alarms. Sleep when I'm tired. Wake up when I wake up. Write when inspiration strikes. And read and listen to music when I'm not writing. Sounded like a good game plan and the best way to maximize my creative juices.

Alas, I had to meet a friend of mine. He was leaving town for Turkey Day and Monday morning would be the only time I'd get to see him. Except the fact that he lives in Forest Hills, so I had to trek out to a different borough and take two trains and a bus to see him. I didn't mind the long commute since I had a book that I wanted to finish. I also printed up several pages of my recent project, so I could look them over and edit them. It brought back warm memories of the first few novels I wrote... how I would print up pages I wrote from the night before and redline them as I rode the subway all the way down to work in Lower Manhattan the next day.

I stopped off in the diner on my way the subway. The Greek guy hadn't seen me in almost a month, but that did not deter him from asking, "The usual?" as soon as I walked in and we made eye contact. I nodded back and he whipped up a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on a kaiser roll. As he worked the grill, I gazed out the front window and watched the large flakes of wet snow float through the air. One by one, they dissolved onto the wet pavement. Solid into liquid.

I should have still been sleeping. I think I only passed out two hours earlier... sometime between that 5am and 6am dead zone. But I was up and missed the majority of the morning rush hour, as I stood on the subway platform at 9:05am. I was really at the tail end of the madness, as most of the people on the train were either late for work, or didn't have to be in until 10am.

I read my book and lost myself for a bit as the #1 subway raced downtown. I got off at Times Square to transfer to the E train. There's a underground tunnel that connects the 7th Avenue subways and the 8th Avenue subways for a free transfer. It runs an entire city block and is always packed with commuters. Many of them are coming from the Port Authority bus terminal and catching the various subway lines in Times Square. That tunnel seemed like it was under constant construction for the last decade. Somewhere during the last few months, they completed whatever project they were working on.

It took me almost two hours to get from the Bronx to Queens due to signal problems on the subway line in Queens. The trip back was not as bad. When I switched trains from the E to the 1, I walked the tunnel again. Usually the area is filled with random musicians. An elderly Chinese guy with white hair played a bow stringed instrument that might have been a Erhu. He had a small box in front of him and I noticed a bunch of change and two $1 bills. About twenty or thirty yards away, another musician played. You could hear him play, but he was not far away enough because the Chinese guy's playing was still audible. The second guy poorly played a ukulele. He was in his 50s with grey and black scraggly hair and wore an old olive green army jacket. He looked more like a pedophile than a musician. He wasn't doing so hot judging by the amount of change he had collected. Not even a buck in change. That can't even get you a cup of joe anymore. At the end of the tunnel, a black guy was passed out (or perhaps sleeping) in a portable camping chair. There was a cardboard sign next to him that said, "Bitch me out" and he was charging 25 cents. I almost woke up and bitched at him for falling asleep on the job.

Near the entrance to stairs down to the #7 train, a group of Jesus Freaks took over that area. Back in the day, that was where illegal Mexicans laid out bootlegged DVDs and CDs on blankets and sold them for $5. They'd stay in business until a cop busted them. But the next day, there would be a couple of more illegals selling more bootlegs. They were gone and replaced by the Jesus Freaks. I was irked when I saw all these white cardboard signs, about thirty of them, all quoting different scripture passages. I would never push my religion or philosophies on someone else, yet they operated out in the open. I wanted to deface one of the signs and write, "Free your mind. Smoke God's herb." But I didn't have a Sharpie on me. Otherwise, I would have.

On my ride home, I completed Let It Blurt a biography about Lester Bangs. That was the third book I read since my return to NYC one week ago. Since I stopped reading online newspapers and cut down on blog reading and wasteful internet surfing, I have had more time for books and music. I'm also about 100 pages into the book about the history of Saturday Night Live. It's over 600 pages, but I'm 1/6th of the way there. At this rate, I should finish it by the end of the year.

I have two new books I'd like to read and there's also a short book I'd like to re-read (The Subterraneans by Kerouac) and I want to finally finish Positively 4th Street which a friend gave me almost six years ago. The book is about the lives of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan and I never got around to finishing it. I still have 100 pages to go and might start again from the beginning. Then Gracie sent me a Michael Chabon book, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, so that's in my pile of books to read as well.

I wasn't feeling too well and popped some cold medicine. I passed out and took a nap that lasted 2.5 hours, which was almost the same amount I had slept the night before. I guess it couldn't be considered a nap at that point, right? When I got up, I was too blah to write so I decided to read a bit, then I watched the pilot episode of Weeds. I bought the first two seasons on DVD. I missed the first couple of episodes of Season 1, now I can catch up.

Watched some of the Monday Night Football game and was pleased that one of our WRs scored a touchdown. We ended up winning our fantasy football game and now Uncle Jodd's Band is 9-2.

I also discovered that the Joker sent me a Radiohead DVD of their performance at Bonnaroo last year. We were at that show and got obliterated that night. Great to experience a slightly different version (and much more sober version) of the events of that night.

When I woke up on Tuesday morning, feeling blah for the sixth day in a row. I still motivated myself to exercise, despite the crappy gray weather topping out at 42 degrees. I opted for a brisk walk instead of jogging. Just as I kicked the shin splints, my back bothered me a bit, so I walked for about an hour trough the wet leaves and listened to different selections from Miles Davis (stuff from Miles Smiles and Milestones). When I got back, I showered and ate sludge (my concoction of Grape Nuts, skim milk, and bananas). I fired up Goats Head Soup and Sketches of Spain and wrote for about ninety minutes organizing the thoughts that seeped into my head during my walk.

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