Friday, March 7, 2008


It was already a lousy trip home: a “gag-me-with-a-spoon” smelly homeless guy on the A train, a 1 train taken out of service at 96th, and then all uptown 1’s running non-stop from 96th to 145th. That just doesn’t work for me.

I opted for the uptown M104 – a dicey move at best. At least twenty people beat me to it, but a reasonable line was forming on the curb. Not too many things in this world as humbling as waiting on a long line for a fucking bus (waiting at the DMV and sitting in the back of a police car come to mind…). It’s so pathetic, in fact, that it can almost feel like a bonding experience.

Maybe this is why my comrades and I almost blew a collective gasket when a short old lady scurried past our well-formed line and up into the bus. The b*#@$ cut us all!!! Not only that, but she took the last damn seat on a packed 104. The driver almost had to lower the hydraulics on the bus so I could pick my jaw up off the street and get into the vehicle. Here she is, smug as a bug in a tugboat. Notice how she pretends to gaze deeply out the window (she’s trying to avoid eye contact with the angry mob of jilted upright riders).

Not even two minutes after I crowned my Jerk of the Week, another fiasco starts up. A lady sitting in the very first seat (the “don’t sit here unless…” seat) has an enormous pile of shopping bags spilling out into the aisle of the bus. People are stepping/tripping over her stuff as they try to board – she does absolutely nothing. Finally, the bus driver shuts everything down, and tells the lady to please move her bags out of the aisle. She refuses. He asks her again. She refuses again.

An old Asian guy stands up and starts yelling at the lady. “You not special!! You not special!!” he screams, waving a bony finger in her face.

She yells right back, “Then get off the bus!!! Then get off the bus!!! I paid my two dollars!!!”

So on and so forth. Two women behind me provide a hushed commentary: “I can’t believe her… She’s in the handicapped seat, too… Well, how do we know she’s not disabled…”

I’m busy putting together an attack on her “I paid my $2” angle; maybe something along the lines of “Yeah, well I paid my freaking $81 this month! My fare went up and yours didn’t! Now move your damn bags”… I tried to capture the sleaze-bag-lady on film, but this is all I got.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

John Zorn’s “The Dreamers”

First and foremost, biggo props to Mike H for hooking me up with seats for the debut performance of Zorn's new piece. Mike ended up sidelined with "flu-like symptoms" (that's what they always call it when sports celebs get the shits) and graciously gave me the tix.

I immediately thought of a few ways to thank the guy:
1) take Michael to a Yankee game this season, which will be the last at the historic Stadium (he'll hate this idea)
2) take him to dinner (he'll like this better)
3) take him to see Semi-Pro three times in a row (he'll probably hate this too)

Anyway, I invited my pal Marnie from work and headed on down to Dumb-bo. St. Ann's is a terrific place to see and hear a show - the sound is extraordinary. If you're sitting close to the front, it's about as good as it gets. We ended up sorta close to the back.

Zorn was conducting an all-star six-piece band (not including himself). It was supposed to be seven, but I couldn't find Ikue Mori for the life of me. Either she cancelled or she was hiding under a table with her drum machine. Didn't matter, as Marc Ribot, Joey Baron and crew did just fine without her.

The crowd was subdued, to say the least. I think someone dropped a plastic cup of soda a few rows from us, which caused a minor commotion. I've seen rowdier crowds at a Film Forum matinee.

I was mid-yawn when Lou Reed and his fair Laurie sauntered past our row. He didn't look bad, but he didn't look good either. It took him about four minutes to amble down the aisle to what he thought were his seats, and then another six minutes to backtrack all the way around the venue to the right spot. Exciting stuff.

I gotta say, it felt good to see him. I figured if the show's not that great, there's no way I could be even half as disappointed as Lou would be, so there's really nothing to worry about. The collective expectations of the common folk drop precipitously when royalty enter the picture. Good enough for Lou - good enough for me!

The band was amazing. Percussionist Cyro Baptista skritched and slapped at least twenty different instruments, including what appeared to be a wig of hair encrusted with seashells (a prop from the Ted Danson segment of Creepshow?). The keyboard player had a Communist ZZ Top look going on - just call him Fidel Gibbons. Joey Baron was up to his usual tricks: one minute banging the holy daylights out of his kit, and the next minute brushing away at his snare like he was chopping up a Caesar salad. I think Ribot got hit in the face with a couple of croutons at one point.

One musical highlight featured a long, jagged guitar solo that could have passed for "Jimmy Page Shreds" on YouTube. Styles switched abruptly; the fellas even took a crack at legit jazz-fusion about halfway through the set. It was as if Marc Ribot dosed the entire studio band from Al Di's Elegant Gypsy, then locked Al and Jan Hammer in the trunk of a car and took over from there. I'm barely kidding. For the last song before the encore, you'd think DiMeola somehow escaped from the car trunk (leaving Jan behind) and talked Ribot into giving him another try. Totally insane.

One more time... thanks to Michael for a fun night. I'm going to bed now.