Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mastering the Double Axel 2

While we're on the topic of Axels, I present this classic post, one of the greatest ever if I do say so myself, from November of 2007, when I was a younger man ...

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Concert Chronology

Readers tell me they love my blow-by-blow chronologies. One was even quoted in The New York Times, so I guess, how bad can they be? We'll see. When I'm done with this one, we'll re-poll the readership; consult Times editorial management. Based on response, decide how to proceed from there.

Somewhere between eight and ten, Saturday morning--Wake up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head. As I eat my cereal I'm humming "Hungry Like The Wolf."
11:00--Drive to laundramat, however you spell that. Find a great space.
11:07--Realize while loading my load that I've forgotten my sheets. This angers me, as I had taken them off the bed and tucked them into a pillow case but neglected to bring them with.
11:25--While the first load is in, drive back, get sheets, drive back, find an even better spot (which, if you had seen the first one you would realize how extraordinary this is).
11:32--Still waiting for a small machine--which I wouldn't have been doing had I remembered the goddam sheets in the first place. A portion of my anger is self-directed.
11:35--Some officious little man with a big stomach steals the machine I have my eye on. The previously self-directed anger is now focused tightly on this sonofabitch. I toy with kicking his ass. But the place is packed and I don't want to injure innocent bystanders. A smaller part of my mind toys with actually killing him. This, I realize, is not healthy thinking and I just let it go.
Let's say 12:45--The laundry is done--folded and bagged. I stash it in the car and then, since I'm literally thisclose to the R train, jump on board, jump off at Canal Street, jump into Pearl Paint and buy about four yards of canvas and a set of 4x5 stretchers. This costs, for the record, ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. This angers me. I'm not an angry person, but today I seem to be getting angry quite a bit.
Fast forward to five pm--Washed, dried and dressed, I, reeking of Old Spice deodorant AND cologne, arrive at the bar Eric and I usually meet at prior to doing our typical Mercury Lounge/Bowery Ballroom/etc. outings. It is exactly equidistant between where I get off the F train (Broadway/Lafayette) and Eric gets off the 6 (Bleeker Street). I would describe the temperature as not fifty, but not forty either. I'm wearing so much Old Spice that when I walk into the bar people lift their heads to see what the problem is.
5:01--The consumption of beer ensues.
7:00--We go to the NoHo Star, sit at the bar, order wings, some kind of dumplings, and a third thing which, despite my inability to remember what it was, was really tasty. Worried about peaking early, we switch to red wine. In retrospect, this may have been what brought Eric down.
8:00--We arrive at the Bowery Ballroom and take a seat at the downstairs bar.
8:03--Eric goes to the bathroom. I engage in conversation with a woman named Emily. She is so young that it must be a toss-up as to whether her entire lifespan would be more conveniently measured in years or minutes. I can't believe that Management has allowed Emily to even come into the place. But--AND THIS IS IMPORTANT--Emily turns to me at one point and tells me that the Guns 'n' Roses cover band we are here to see is ACTUALLY BETTER THAN THE REAL GUNS 'N' ROSES.
Note: Were this a book, the previous sentence would be called forshadowing, however you spell that.
9:45--Eric gets back from the bathroom. Emily is now 102 minutes older.
That's just a stupid bathroom joke. Forget it. Let's say it's 8:15.
8:15--We find out that the feature act doesn't start until 11:30. Eleven-thirty! Had I not been holding onto the side of the bar, I would have fallen over. I am way too old to hang out at the Bowery Ballroom bar for another three and a half hours. I mean, if the Rolling Stones were waiting at the end of the line, ok. I'm in. But a Guns 'n' Roses cover band? I mean, really! It wasn't even my idea. And even though the act that precedes them is billed as a BeeGees heavy metal cover band (a notion that makes me at least say to myself ok, let's see what that's like), it seems like a mighty long grind.
8:20--We head upstairs to get seats at the balcony bar. Eric is pulling my arm. Did I tell you Emily is a dead ringer for Sarah Jessica Parker? "Pull yourself together, man," I remember thinking.
8:24--At the upstairs bar. Everything is fine, except they won't put salt on the rims of our marguaritas. So I guess you could say everything is NOT fine.
Let's say 10:45--Eric tells me he's going home. This strikes me as an extraordinary betrayal. Et tu Brutus. That kind of thing. Like Riggins sleeping with Street's girlfriend while he's still in physical therapy. That kind of thing. In the background I can hear the Ramones cover band playing "I want to be sedated." Join the fucking club, I remember thinking.
10:46--I realize that, despite Eric's pending departure, I am totally feeling my oats. I ascertain that he is "okay." I then decide to stay.
11:20--The BeeGees, so to speak, come on. They are about the worst thing I've ever heard. The only thing that remotely qualifies them for the job is that one of the guys can sing high. As for the rest...really I'm just speechless at how bad they were. We're right in the middle of "cover band night" and I'm thinking they're terrible, even within that context. They are like a Sha-Na-Na/Village People fusion. Only more shtick. Read that last sentence again. Imagine, as John Lennon might have said. Lennon was more his own man than I'll ever be. Even if the Rolling Stones had been next, he would have walked out of the place. I thought my eyeballs were going to bleed. I thought about leaving too. I mean, it was terrible. And despite what Emily had said, there was a voice in my head saying "Get the hell out of here. You don't give a shit about Guns 'n'Roses, so who even cares if this band is better?"
11:21--This internal dialogue is taking so long I've moved forward one minute in time. And I'm staying. The reason? I had also heard that somebody from the GnR band belonged to a band called Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and I have, for reasons way too complicated to explain here, a passing interest in that band. So I stay.
11:45--The BeeGees mercifully gone, I get a marguarita for the road, so to speak, and wend my way downstairs. The place is full, but not packed. And during the downtime between the two bands, there's enough space to slide up to what one might call the second row, if they had arranged chairs in rows. If they even had chairs.
Let's call it Midnight--Mr. Brownstone arrives. Mr. Brownstone is the name of the band. It's also the name of a GnR song. It's also a reference to heroin. It's all making sense to me now, as I wrap that piece of rubber around my arm and start slapping the inside of my elbow with my two fingers, trying to find a vein.
12:01--Can't find a fucking vein. Decide not to do any heroin. Do you know what they call a cup of coffee and a marguarita? A beatnik speedball. Somebody tell Belushi.
12:02--Mr. Brownstone launches into its set with a song that I, unlike literally everybody else in the place, had never heard even once in my life. Far be it from me to be a wet blanket, however, so I start bobbing up and down like everybody else.
12:04--I am standing close enough to the lead singer so that when the first half-filled cup of beer thrown from the audience hits his shoulder, we both get wet. Hmmm, I remember thinking.
12:15--The place is starting to go bananas. I look down and to my left where there, at first, appears to be an empty space in the crowd. It turns out, it's a guy in a wheelchair. He's going bananas too, only he's not standing up. Were it me in a wheelchair, I would have honestly been scared to death.
12:30--We've moved past bananas. It's bigger than bananas. The place is now plantains. Which, really, are just massive bananas. Just massive! I find myself screaming words to songs I didn't know I had in me. I wonder for a moment if this is what speaking in tongues is like.
12:45--It's possible that drool is coming out of the side of my mouth, but I can't tell. The lead singer has just taken a swig of Jack Daniels and then spit it back out. Right on me. Thank God I'm wearing my Manhattan College t-shirt.
12:50--Somebody--maybe a roady--leaps into the crowd from the stage. I'm worried he's going to kill my boy Street, so I help out as well as I can. And then it hits me:

I am Tim Riggins!
Does any of this make sense to you? Do you know who Street is? Former star QB of the Dillon Panthers football team. Number 6? Throws an interception at the beginning of last season, breaks his neck tackling the guy, paralyzed from the solar plexus down? Stuck in a wheelchair. Like the guy next to me. Tim Riggins? Star fullback on the same team. Number 33? Street's best friend ('til he starts banging his girlfriend Lyla. I'm beggin' darlin' please...)? 6'4''--brooding, muscle-bound loner, but one of the most beautiful men you will ever see. Hey, men can be beautiful. Look at me.


If this guy in the wheelchair is #6, I think to myself, then I must be Tim Riggins.
Wow. I've spent a long time trying to figure out what it all means, and now that I've got it, what do I do from here? I'll tell you this--the next time the roady came flying off the stage, I gave him enough of a shove that tomorrow he'll be shitting his adam's apple. Nobody jumps on my boy Six.

12:53--The first bra comes flying over my head. It lands on the neck of the rhythm guitarist's Telecaster. Everybody appears to be playing Fenders, for you completists. Plus more beer. I like how the band members lean over the audience and flip us the bird. We, in a group, flip it back and scream "Fuck You" at the top of our lungs. So much beer is being transferred back and forth (the band likes to drink some and spit the rest), that the guitars are dripping wet.
Let's say Twenty of Two--Who knows where the time goes? I think I'm confused about what happened when. Suffice to say that at some point they slide into the kind of jammy, sloppy rendition of Knocking on Heaven's Door that makes you think two things: first--who knew Guns 'n' Roses wrote Knocking on Heaven's Door? and two--they must be wrapping up.
2:05--The bass player falls off the stage backwards. Me and this other guy catch him and push him back up. I try to steal his wallet, but he's not carrying one.
2:10--Slash falls off the stage a little ways from me so all I can do is flip him the bird and shout "Fuck you."
2:15--Bras and whiskey and beer and plastic beer cups fill the air. The band is slamming through another song (I must say, they were really good). I turn around and stare back at the crowd for about the hundredth time. I realize that nobody in this room is even close to my age. Is that odd? What, exactly, does that say about me? I wish I could figure out a Young Frankenstein brain scene joke, but I can't.
2:30--I can't type any more. Besides, the concert is over. I get in a cab. The cabbie asks where to? Before I can stop myself, I throw the rest of my beer at him and scream fuck you. Then I realize that you can't just act like this in public. I have to pretend to be normal now. My name is Abbie Normal. I go home. The rest is history.
2:45--Actually, the rest is not history. I have the cabbie stop at the deli at the corner of 7th and 7th. I order a tuna salad on rye with lettuce and tomato. Now, at first glance this would be the behavior of somebody who is consuming drugs. Me? I lead a relatively drug free existence. I was just so freaking hungry. Besides, had I been stoned, I would have bought one of those pint containers of chocolate-chip cookie-dough. If that's how the hyphens shake on on that one.
2:50--I go home. The rest is history.

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