Friday, October 22, 2010

Dispatches from the Road: The Quickie Breakfast

By Pauly
New York City

I just crushed an bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich from the Greek diner, and washed it down with a Dr. Brown's black cherry soda -- something that I could only do back in my old neighborhood. I've been reflecting on the quickness of the last two weeks, which happened so fast that I've been barely able to keep up. I'm lagging, and as a result, this space doesn't get filled up as much as I'd like. My morning writing sessions have been seriously diminished and I've even skipped a few days due to a hectic travel schedule and/or trying to recuperate from catching the wook flu in South Carolina. But, for now, I have a few free moments to just step up to the mic and just riff on what's been floating around my mind. Whatever I'll pick out of thin air will get translated into word form and magically get shit out by my fingers as they peck away at my tiny travel laptop.

Although it's Friday for everyone else, it's a travel day for me. I woke up early, slipped on an extra warm fleece hoodie, fired up a oney (wake and bake is the breakfast of champions), and then stepped outside. This is the part of the year that I miss living in SoCal -- the the brisk autumn air and the crunchy sound of a brown-yellow-tinted leaf underneath your shoe. The diner reeks of generic coffee, bacon, and really bad cologne from the old Jewish guys in the corner. The obvious Mets fan in the group moaned about the Yankees playoff woes, but as one die yard Yanks fan blurted out, "At least the Yanks made it to the second round of the playoffs. The Mets suck worse than... suck."

Yes, a 70+ year old guy with spots on his face said "suck worse than suck."

I'm on my first of three stop overs in NYC. This is the longest of the bunch and almost a week long before I reload, restock, refuel, recharge and disembark to another local port. Two weeks ago, I condensed a month on the road into two bags -- a regular backpack and a computer laptop briefcase. In the last few hours, I condensed that into one medium-sized backpack. Traveling is an amazing experience, but traveling light is the ultimate experience.

Our trip to Colorado was sort of a blur. It feels like two months ago and not two weeks. So much happened that I can't write about, so you can imagine how much fun I had if I was doing/seeing/hanging out with people/things/entities/aliens that I can't discuss in a public forum. On a good note, I think that Nicky agreed to live in Colorado for a year, a place that I'd like to check out for a brief stay. Ultimately, I'd like to return to the big city, but it's too pricey to live and living in Hollyweird has grown old on me. As soon as I finish my LA novel, I'll loose all interest in the city altogether, so I've been thinking about cooler and cheaper places to live. Colorado is definitely one of those locales.

We crashed with the Joker for almost a week and shared the downstairs bedroom with his feisty cat Emilio Estevez, who was not shy about wanting to play and hang out at 4am, at a time when I was trying to sleep. The Joker's ladyfriend brought her dog over on a couple of nights, so when I'd be attempting to write at the 5am hour, I had a needy dog begging me to play fetch, and a attention-whoring cat who wanted me to give it tons of affection -- when all I wanted to do was finish up writing up recaps/reviews of the Phish concerts that I had seen a few hours before.

One of my recaps was not well received, which didn't bother me on an ego level, rather it was an indication that other fans of my favorite band have been 1) brainwashed so much, or 2) so supremely wasted that they honestly can't distinguish a good show from a bad show. I was relatively sober that night in question and for a brief moment, I thought that maybe I was the one who was off, but I decided that all of the negativity was just that and I know my gut instinct was correct. A few days later, my assertions were validated by the band itself when they threw down hard for the first of two nights in Charleston. You would think that it would feel good to be right, but if anything I felt worse because its was blatantly obvious that Phish had an off night in Colorado, but it was even more distressing that some of their fans were unable to sense that.

Oh well. Regardless, I had a blast in Colorado with my crew out there and got to spend some one-on-one time with a few friends like the Joker, Jonas, Wildo, and Johnnie Walker. One of the best aspects about Phish tour is that I also get to see a lot of friends that I haven't seen in a while.

Nicky flew back to LA and I continued on with the journey. I headed South, to the deep south, to a place called Charleston. Lots of wealth. Old money. Back to the plantation days. Opulence. Weird to see the Phish splashdown in Charleston to play in front of a crowd comprised of a lot of well-to-do squeaky clean white college kids (as opposed to Trustafarians and old school burners, hippies, and Denver hipsters in Colorado). I hadn't seen that many high school girls at a Phish show in a long time, not to mention the surplus of sorority girls. You would have thunk I was at a Dave Matthews show, because that's what the crowd looked like. Regardless, they were lapping up every note that Phish played, but in a good way because the band was on fire and playing to the highest level of musicianship I had seen since they got the band back together in March 2009. It's an amazing and inspiring experience to witness and partake in a group art experiment as the band fed off of the collective energy of the Charleston crowd.

I got to hang out with two different groups of friends for the Charleston leg, including a few guys I met through poker who had sincere Phishy ties. The G-Vegas crew drove down to the beachy areas of their home state. We hung out at Folly Beach one night and played frolf on James Island the morning of the first Charleston show. Lots of water at this course, and I only lost one of G-Rob's discs. I came in last place in our tournament, but I hadn't played in months. It felt good to fling around the discs, but the next day, I paid the price of getting old as my pectoral muscles and my elbow were both inflamed. The one good thing about being on Phish tour --- easy access to pharmies because someone near by has a pill to cure what ails ya.

I barely slept in Charleston, but that's par for the course on tour. My weakened immune system was susceptible to the wook flu, and as I packed my gear late on Saturday as it bled into Sunday, I felt the first wave of attack. I knew there was nothing I could do and welcomed the fact that I was jumping off of tour for two stops to spend time in NYC for the week.

I was up for almost 40 hours before I finally crashed late on Sunday night. I made my 6am flight from Charleston to NYC with a two-hour layover in Miami airport. I landed at LGA, hopped in a cab, and went to my brother's apartment to watch the Jets. I discovered that his cable service, Cablevision, was in a pissing match with Murdoch's News Corp, which meant that News Corp pulled FOX-5 from Cablevision until they settled their dispute. Alas, while two gajillionaires squabbled over a penny, we were unable to watch the Giants game. Luckily, the Jets were playing on CBS and the Yanks playoff games were aired on TBS. However, if this dispute continues and the Yanks advance to the World Series, over 3 million New Yorkers will not be able to watch the World Series. What the fuck? The masses are once again pawns in a game of high-stakes chess among ego-maniac media titans.

As expected, the wook flu kicked my ass and I was down for the count on Monday and Tuesday. I slept almost 18 hours in two nights, which is like a week's worth of sleep (on a good week). I slowly nursed myself back to health and said, "Fuck work." I had a dozen or so work-related things I should have done, but I'm my own boss, so I made the necessary decision to enjoy my time in NYC and relax, instead of sacrificing sleep and family time for work.

I watched three Yanks games with my brother in addition to a couple of quarters of Knicks pre-season hoops. I also wandered around the city on a couple of occasions. People watching is one of my favorite past times. I also got one of those perfect days -- I woke up, ate some painkillers, rode the subway while listening to the previous night's Phish show in Maine that I skipped, wandered through the museum, took a long walk in the park, met my brother for a late lunch at Big Nick's, and then watched a late-afternoon Yanks game.

I'm running out of time. Have to catch a train to Rhode Island. I have four Phish shows on my plate over the next five nights and will be making my first trip to New Hampshire in many moons.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you Pauly. True fans of bands can not only tell when they have an off night, but have the balls to say it wasn't a good show.