Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why New York?

I first started going out by myself in New York City in December 1993, after college. I had left my boyfriend Len, who had told me that's how single adults met each other. I went to CBGB's, spent $5 for a cup of coffee, and looked around a gloomy room at a lot of unattractive people. It was too loud in there to hear what any of them had to say, and the band was terrible, so I packed it in.

I was hanging around with Jay Braun on St. Mark's Pl. I ran into him there probably because he had an apt. there, and I worked at St. Mark's Comics for $5/hour, under the table. He told me if I wanted to see some good music, I should see his teacher Simon Chardiet play with Simon and the Bar Sinisters at the Continental. The first time I went, it was full of people dressed like it was 1955 in Kentucky--Western shirts, poodle skirts, pompadours and ponytails. Weird for me, but I hung out and enjoyed the show. Simon rocked, lots of dancing in the audience. I started hanging around there Friday and Saturday nights.

All of this was a real lifesaver. I was having trouble getting used to being an adult without the support of college, living on $5/hour without the support of my parents, and being single--which I had had a boyfriend for the final 2 years of college, who spent a lot of time and money on me. He was a great guy, but like a lot of guys, the 2-year time limit was up by the time I was leaving school. Fortunately, Charles returned to being my roommate around this time. It was great because I was feeling so isolated.

Hours at St. Mark's comics got lower, so I got an office job at a beeper company for--oh boy!--$6/hour under the table and 40 hours a week. The price of this raise was dealing with pimps all the time, "Yo, I need a beeper for mah girl," and a boss that yelled at me all the time. By that I mean he wouldn't just tell me something in a normal tone of voice, even though I asked him politely. He just yelled and said racist things about my coworkers. I found this very difficult to deal with, but I didn't feel like I should look for another job right away. After going out a few weeknights, I found that sleep deprivation really numbed me out to the yelling and sick atmosphere at work. I started going out 5 to 6 nights a week, or till I fell down with exhaustion.

The Senders, unfortunately not the year in which I saw them. I think I must be the only 38 year old woman who wished she was OLDER, just so I could've seen some great performances.
Along with Simon, I saw the Senders, the all-night jazz and blues jam at Ludlow St. Cafe, Mike Mok and the Big 5, the Waldos, The Vibes, Poppa Chubby, Seamonster, Collective Soul. I had no idea some of these bands had been a big deal at Max's Kansas City, etc. I just went where the good music was. If the place was conducive to dancing, dance near the wall by myself. When the shows were over, talk to the band a little bit to tell them that I enjoyed their performance.

In March of 1994, I started to think about leaving New York City. It was a terribly difficult place to live. Rent was high, public transit expensive and unreliable. Small businessmen couldn't be honest and remain in business. I had real problems working for dishonest people.

At one of his shows at the Ludlow St. Cafe, Simon said he was going to be playing bass there with Barbecue Bob and the Spare Ribs. I had never seen him play bass before, and decided to go. It was a night I would always remember. I sat there at a table with my feet up on one of the other chairs, drinking a Yueng Ling. Barbecue Bob was playing the blues, and singing into his old-timey microphone for old-timey sound. And Simon got such an amazing, light buttery sound out of his bass, I never felt so much pleasure in my life from simply listening to anything.

Walter Lure of the Waldos.
I realized in that moment, that I would have to stay in New York City. I would never find so many great musicians anywhere else, or rejoice in quite the same way anywhere else. Later that year, I had a long talk with the drummer from Barbecue Bob and the Spare Ribs, Scott Byrne. We quickly became constant companions, and got married the following year.

So, that's why I go out to see bands whenever I can...mostly to make New York City worth it. I have a better job now--thank goodness. And I tried to live other places, which were easier in a lot of ways, but nothing can compare to the great sounds I hear in New York, and the feelings they bring out in me.

Still going out! Otto's Shrunken Head with Edie. :)

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