All the more so as I get out of the icy wind and enter a chilly subway and walk passed an old unwashed homeless man chewing his food with an intense look of “Oh that is so good!” as he clutches a precious plastic salad bar container crammed with Thanksgiving dinner provided him by some charitable entity.
And I walk down the platform to a too-skinny woman of 30 trying on sneakers before rejecting them. She leaves them on the dumpster, and twitches her way by me as her companion glares at me with piercing blue eyes from out of the brambles of thick blonde hair and a blonde bushy beard, and then shuffles passed me, clearly worried about her as he shoulders a couple of bags while tugging along a dirty carry-on suitcase held by a long knotted rag.
I’m thankful the train will provide a little warmth for them. But I assume the old man is staying put and quite thankful to just be out of that wind.
How I do mourn your passing each year, my dearest June
So much rests in your welcoming arms,
those brief weeks when all is as it should be in these local environs, this fantasy of a world gone right, when we humans and our animal friends seem to flourish happily in the petri dish of ideal conditions, euphoric from the off-gassing of the perfect weather for being out of doors, when each half-hour at your bosom enlivens and recharges hearts and souls; all the while a miserly, little clerk from some Dickensian counting house is ticking off the days before the sticky throng of humid slimery descends like evil, stifling cling wrap to mummify us under muggy, clammy layers, or else imprison us behind pollen proof windows and the labored wheezing of the window air conditioner well along into its feeble retirement pension, across blistering months too long to make sense of, until the coming of the dank, and the cold, and the dark that follows.
I miss you before your are fully gone, and live the year ahead banking on the slender salvation of your return, you cruel, cruel mistress.
That buoyant highline ride across a string of performances that just won’t let you stop til it’s all done.
But after two days of wake-up, travel, play til numb, stare at alien bedroom ceiling, get up too soon after a dawn ice storm, absorb coffee and carbs, play too many hours too long but not stop even after the last video is shot, prattle on over burgers before bed, and then performing for a third day at the Martin Museum despite swollen fingers and the unexpected construction of a special presentation site for a private, deep-pocketed tour heard just off-camera, and ending up in a hotel room rented to construct our own makeshift video studio because some new Martins suddenly became available at the Distribution Center, just as I was on my way to that stage coach home, I still ended up spending Friday night back in Brooklyn, vibrating in front of my best friends while gratefully absorbing their 21-year-old Balblair and Insanely-year-old Caol Ila, and then staring at my own bedroom ceiling only to not be able sleep past 7 on Saturday, what with my girlfriend sick as a dog in Florida when I can’t take care of her, and so much back log of writing to do after the soul-crushing fatigue of my own 30-day bout of the flu has finally dissipated just in time for this past week’s trip.
And here I am on Saturday night, now after midnight, after a good sushi dinner with “super dry” hot sake, after borrowing a pre-CBS seafoam green Stratocaster, after one too many glasses of the Great Malt Which Wounds from the Isle of Skye, after Season 1 episode 2 of Grantchester, here I sit, with roommates and cat having given up long before.
And 11 hours from now I head out, Strat in hand, to the plush Battalion Studios in Gowanus for a large amplifier reunion jam with my 1990s rock band, the Cheese Beads. (And me with no ear plugs!)
I have a sneaking suspicion that sometime Monday morning I will fall off the proverbial cliff…
Until the next tour gets underway.
But at least that one will require of my fingers little beyond giving massages to some very special toes situated near, if not always on, a beach in Florida, and lapping up some sun and sea.
I’ve never been that far south before. I hear it’s nice there.
My annual Birthday Dinner took place at Congee Village
As it has for some 15 years
It is always a good sign when an upscale Chinese restaurant is so crowded you can barely squeeze through the lobby and bar, and your party includes the only non-Chinese in sight.
While ordering, I asked if they had any fried pumpkin. He said, “No.” And then he said they have only one pumpkin dish, a rice casserole cooked in a pumpkin, but it takes 45 minutes. So we said, “No.”
After we were all stuffed until we could barely move, the pumpkin casserole arrived.
Missed were some of the longtime regulars, who had to cancel due to illness or traveling. But that allowed me to offer a seat for some favorite alternates, even if only one could make it on such short notice.
And everyone enjoyed themselves with much good cheer.
Except my roommate who arrived looking like death warmed over and clearly sailing into some sort of cold or flu virus.
He should have been home in bed, but both of my roommates are moving out to greener pastures and he wanted to tough it out for my sake and make the best of it.
Little did I know that the headache I had all that day wasn’t from the ham-fisted barber mentioned in my previous post. And just about the time I was heading to bed after midnight I felt the tight, painful cough starting deep in my chest.
I awoke before dawn with the severe chills and complete body aches, and spent Saturday shivering under many layers of clothes and covers, with a heating pad between my knees, begging for the sleep that the spiny headache would not allow.
But, a little after 10 PM it suddenly broke apart and was gone.
It was exactly like a severe 24 hour stomach bug, except for no stomach issues – thankfully. I’ve never experienced anything like it.
And now it has turned into a basic head and chest cold. But since the hurricane phase has passed, it will probably just be annoying while it runs its course.
It knocked down my household like dominoes. That one roommate was hit Friday evening, I was hit Saturday morning, and now my other roommate is sailing into the worst of it on Sunday. But at least she knows it only lasts one day, before becoming “a cold.”
The weirdest part is how food or drink with remotely any bitterness, like coffee or chocolate, tastes super bitter! Very weird.
But then no food is appealing. We have collectively gone through a LOT of eggs and orange juice, but not much else.
I still feel sick and tired, but compared to yesterday, that is ok with me.
I decided to splurge on a haircut, declaring it the last one I would pay for, as they have gotten up to $35 dollars in my neighborhood, which comes out to about $1 per hair. And I have decided to buy some of these new-tech cut-your-own-hair clippers.
I went to my barber and he wasn’t there. Instead there was a new fella, around 60, classic native Brooklynite accent, playing the most appalling sappy Autotune with a drum machine teenage love song channel, with constant variations on “I miss you.” or “Our love will last forever.”
I say, “Take the number 3 blade and just do it evenly all over.”
He takes these enormous, ancient clippers, puts on a long hard plastic cow catcher of several prongs, and proceeds to stab it into the center of my forehead with a thunk, before sliding it up over the top of my head.
He then repeats this technique so many times they begin to get a big red spot at the point of impact, just without a large vein runs up.
Never have I had a rougher, gruffer experience in a barber’s chair!
Not liking conflict, I decided to let him keep assaulting me, thinking it wouldn’t last much longer, and half expecting my roommate to pop out with a Candid Camera crew.
And then it was time for the smaller clippers and the more delicate work. This he performed with the blade that should’ve been changed six months ago. Have you ever tried to shave with a razor blade that so old it feels chunky, or like it has sharp, pointy teeth?
Well, this blade seemed to have a long single claw sticking out of it, which dug into my scalp over and over and over. I was truly wincing when he got behind my ears and he didn’t seem to notice.
Finally it was all done. He then took what looked like an oversized old-fashioned shaving brush with large nylon bristles that was full of talc. And he used it to pummel me again and again. I was surprised to not see those large bumps rise from the top of my head like a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
The amazing thing is how proud he was of his work, and clearly thought I should be too. He even pointed out how he specifically didn’t make it even overall, as I had requested, for some sort of aesthetic artistry I didn’t quite understand.
Once I got home, my roommate came in and said, “Nice haircut. Oh wait. They did do a very good job did they?”
That’s was putting it mildly.
I may have to fork out for one more haircut just so this isn’t the last one.