Thursday, August 30, 2007

Union Square

A year ago, I was driving daily from a barren, isolated parking lot to a fast-food drive-thru for lunch (and feeling deeply depressed every time I left the building and looked around at nothing). And now, this is where I'm having lunch!

Union Square is so vibrant. I know, "vibrant" is an over-used trendy word, but I can't think of any other way to describe what all is going on there... Nothing in particular, but yet everything. It's hard to explain, but people are just putzing around here and hanging out, and it's interesting as hell to sit around and watch. It's like a bee-hive or an ant-colony---people in droves going about their business in a fashion that's highly organized, yet the onlookers are welcome, too, and definitely part of the "scene." Like on the subways, there's occasional eye-contact made, but then complete personal space given, an overall sense of non-judgmental-ness...

Some have written about New York City as being "impersonal" and "cold," but for me personally (my personality, my temperament), I don't particularly LIKE having to phonily "make nice" and pretend there's a heart-felt connection when there's not. I like wandering around and having daily---sometimes witty, sometimes obnoxious, sometimes utterly sweet---interactions with other people; I like the SURPRISE of it.

I just read in the NY press that NYC Mayor Bloomberg is spearheading a campaign to attract tourists, specifically trying to counter the image of New Yorkers as "unfriendly"... As a neophyte to the city of 6 months who has asked countless random New Yorkers on the street for street/landmark directions, for bank directions, for advice on pizza places, for you-name-it, I must say that I don't see why this campaign is necessary. From what I've seen in my 6 months here, New Yorkers are absolutely cool about being helpful and nice. I've had small-store owners give me incredible bargains on packs of cigarettes, waiters give me advice on where to live, Metro police officers help me swipe my subway card when it wouldn't go through...

I felt self-conscious in Austin, like I had to "act a certain way" to be perceived as "normal" and "competent." There's so much going on in New York City that no one gives a shit about "how you appear." What seems to matter here (thankfully) is simply that you "get the job done," whether you're a garbage collector or a trannie performer or an office worker or a business mogul or a model. The atmosphere is so free-wheeling and accepting, yet with the underlying coda of "competence." That kind of ethic is so utterly SANE to me.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Shock-headed Peter

The above link is so long it's probably shit, but do try to find the 1844 German "Struwwelpeter" (in English, "Shock-headed Peter") online. Subtitled "Merry Stories and Funny Fables" (by Heinrich Hoffman), it's anything BUT merry or funny! It's all about kids who do bad things like play with matches or don't eat their food or suck their thumbs... And, boy, do they pay the price! Their getting burnt up or dying of starvation or getting their thumbs cut off in these "fairy tales" is weirdly brutal, but fascinating!

My German mom was born in 1941 and this book was a part of her childhood, which she read to me when I was little. Its weird, utterly evil, frightening illustrations have been ingrained in my memory since I was a kid. Until recently, I had no idea that anyone else had even seen such a thing! (Just recently the "Ovation" US cable channel had a program about some British guys who were touring with a stage performance based solely on the book. The stage show was cheesy---a big unshaven slob of a lead singer dressed in pseudo Weimar-Berlin garb emoting about "Fire! Fire! Fire!" But the fact that someone had been inspired by this book was still interesting to me.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

John Lennon "Some Time in New York City" lyrics

Standing on the corner
Just me and Yoko Ono
We was waiting for Jerry to land
Up come a man with a guitar in his hand
Singing, "Have a marijuana if you can"
His name was David Peel
And we found that he was real
He sang, "The Pope smokes dope every day"
Up come a policeman shoved us up the street
Singing, "Power to the people today!"

New York City...New York City...New York City
Que pasa, New York?
Que pasa, New York?

Well down to Max's Kansas City
Got down the nitty gritty
With the Elephants Memory Band
Laid something down
As the news spread around
About the Plastic Ono Elephants Memory Band!
And we played some funky boogie
And laid some tutti frutti
Singing, "Long Tall Sally's a man."
Up come a preacherman trying to be a teacher
Singing, "God's a red herring in drag!"

New York City...New York City...New York City
Que pasa, New York?
Que pasa, New York?

New York City...New York City...New York City
Que pasa, New York?
Que pasa, New York?

Well we did the Staten Island Ferry
Making movies for the telly
Played the Fillmore and Apollo for freedom
Tried to shake our image
Just a cycling through the Village
But found that we had left it back in London
Well nobody came to bug us
Hustle us or shove us
So we decided to make it our home
If the Man wants to shove us out
We gonna jump and shout
The Statue of Liberty said, "Come!"

New York City...New York City...New York City
Que pasa, New York?
Que pasa, New York?

New York City...back in New York City [my note: this lyric is really "what a bad-ass city!]...New York City
Que pasa, New York?
Que pasa, New York?

The 1972 Lennon/Yoko album "Some Time in New York City" is a rare one, but for some reason I found a copy in 1983 in a mall record store in Fort Worth, Texas, of all places! (They also had a re-issue copy of the now ultra-rare "Two Virgins"!!) I bought "Some Time" while I was hanging out with my best friend Ginny, and I remember spending the night over at her house that night...and then listening to the thing over and over and over and over, to Ginny's eventual annoyance!

Ginny was a Libra---a calm, placid soul by nature---but this album stretched her limits of tolerance! I remember in particular the "John Sinclair" song, with its "gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta set him free" alleged "chorus"... I think at that annoying repetition she finally put her foot down and made me take off the album! But before that song, there was also "The Luck of the Irish"---

If you had the luck of the Irish
You'd be sorry and wish you were dead
You should have the luck of the Irish
And you'd wish you was English instead!

A thousand years of torture and hunger
Drove the people away from their land
A land full of beauty and wonder
Was raped by the British brigands! Goddamn! Goddamn!

If you could keep voices like flowers
There'd be shamrock all over the world
If you could drink dreams like Irish streams
Then the world would be high as the mountain of morn

In the 'Pool they told us the story
How the English divided the land
Of the pain, the death and the glory
And the poets of auld Eireland

If we could make chains with the morning dew
The world would be like Galway Bay
Let's walk over rainbows like leprechauns
The world would be one big Blarney stone

Why the hell are the English there anyway?
As they kill with God on their side
Blame it all on the kids the IRA
As the bastards commit genocide! Aye! Aye! Genocide!

If you had the luck of the Irish
You'd be sorry and wish you was dead
You should have the luck of the Irish
And you'd wish you was English instead!
Yes you'd wish you was English instead!

Before she turned the record off, Ginny kept randomly interspersing/outbursting in our conversation, "Aye! Aye! Genocide!" and "Goddamn! Goddamn! Ireland!" ;p

I miss her a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot. She was a cool kid from Georgia who'd just moved to Texas with her mom and dad, and then she met a nerdy freak like me who was into "weird" things (for 1983) like John Lennon and she had to sit there and interpret 1972 Lennon lyrics with me... When I went off to college in Austin in 1983, Ginny found someone else, but I hurt for her for 5 years. I remember it---5 whole years! Almost everything I did for 5 years I kept thinking of what it would be like had she been there with me.

She died in 1988. And up until the mid-90s or so she was still in contact with me. Not often, but when I'd be going through something hard, she'd come visit me in a dream, and I'd wake up feeling completely rejuvenated and hopeful. I haven't heard from her in years. I think when you're in the spirit world, it takes some effort and strain to get in touch with people in the actual world... I think she did what she could for me and then went off to be completely in her new world. (That sounds nuts, but... that's pretty much how it happened after she died.)

The Brooklyn Bridge

On my first birthday in New York City, two weeks ago, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (which opened to traffic in 1883 after 13 years of construction). I'm not of the knee-jerk "I like old things just because they're old" school, but in general it does seem that things of the past were constructed with much more care and aesthetic consideration. This bridge, for instance, is just gorgeous to look at, both close up and from a distance.

The last picture wasn't taken by me, but is of New Yorkers walking across the Brooklyn Bridge in August 2003, after a massive power-outage had shut down the subways. I had just been flown in to NYC for a job interview in June that summer. I didn't get the job, but that first glimpse of New York City gave me a taste of the city and a real sense that I wanted to be there. When the blackout happened a couple of months later, there was a photo of people walking home on the Brooklyn Bridge on the front page of the NY Times (which gave me chills), which I cut out and taped up above my desk at work, with my notation: "I should have been there." It took me nearly 4 years since my first visit, I am, as I should be!

Monday, August 20, 2007

What a bad-ass city!

I was in such a deep funk in Austin last year. I quit my well-paying job just because I was being disrespected. And a friend told me, "Why don't you just move to New York, like you've been talking about? Now seems like exactly the right time."

I don't know that I would have done it if not for that casual conversation. And now that I'm here, I cannot get over how grateful I am.

I've never been religious, but I've been praying like hell for the past month: to get out of a horrible roommate situation and find a new place, to get a job... I don't say this like a religious fanatic, but rather sincerely: Thank you, GOD, for getting me through this.

Again, I can't say enough how grateful I am. For this beautiful city, for my new place, for my new job.

The "what a bad-ass city!" quote comes from John Lennon's 1972 song "New York City." I agree. It IS a fucking "bad-ass city," in the best way. I'd recommend it to anyone.

Come here!

Friday, August 17, 2007

I never thought I'd be sane again: December 8, 1980

Our life together is so precious together
We have grown, we have grown
Although our love is still special
Let's take a chance and fly away somewhere alone

It's been too long since we took the time
No-one's to blame, I know time flies so quickly
But when I see you darling
It's like we both are falling in love again
It'll be just like starting over, starting over

Everyday we used to make it love
Why can't we be making love nice and easy
It's time to spread our wings and fly
Don't let another day go by my love
It'll be just like starting over, starting over

Why don't we take off alone
Take a trip somewhere far, far away
We'll be together all alone again
Like we used to in the early days
Well, well, well darling

It's been too long since we took the time
No-one's to blame, I know time flies so quickly
But when I see you darling
It's like we both are falling in love again
It'll be just like starting over, starting over

Our life together is so precious together
We have grown, we have grown
Although our love is still special
Let's take a chance and fly away somewhere

Starting over

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What a loser!

Another Joan Crawford webmaster just did yet another idiotic thing: Neil sent my dad an e-mail saying that I was going around online claiming that my dad had sexually abused me AND that I was writing a book about him!

For the record, my father never sexually abused me, and I'm certainly not writing a "Daddy Dearest"! Geez.

Neil keeps getting dumber and dumber: All those messages you send have traceable IP numbers, Retard!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How pretty is this!

The garden of my new apartment building. In general, I really love the flora of New York City and its environs. The city as a whole is so well-landscaped. When you see NYC onscreen from a camera angle aimed down at it, it looks like nothing but masses of gray buildings, but in actuality, there are trees everywhere. It's a very green city.

LL Rocks

You know what? Who gives a fuck if Lindsay Lohan drinks or does drugs... or chases people down the street in a "hijacked" vehicle, for that matter. (Oooh---I bet those 3 big club guys were really scared when Lindsay jumped in their car...)

Good for Lindsay for having an ounce of gumption and free will left in her after 15 years in show business. Good for her for daring to act weird in the face of the monotonous drumbeat of the media (including the so-called iconoclast Perez Hilton) that wants her smiling and acting fakely pleasant at all times.

I'm sure she'll "repent" publicly in the near future, but for now... keep those golden cuffs on your rear-view mirror, Lindsay. You're the most aesthetically pleasing wild thing since the 1932 Joan Crawford.

Birthday Greetings

I got this card from my brother for my birthday. The best part was the inside, with the quote from my brother RE 5-year-old nephew Townes at the upper left ("I told Townes that the girl on the front was you as a child. He says 'She looks cute, but she looks crazy!'"):

What cracked me up is that I could very much sense Townes's dilemma... Though the picture is NOT me, he thought it was (my brother has a warped sense of humor, similar to mine---it's a weird German/East Texas thing), and was trying so very hard to be polite... but then the REAL impression of what he saw just burst out of him!

When I talked to Townes on my birthday, I asked him when he's coming to New York to visit... Besides me, both of my brother's wife's sisters live here, too (Brooklyn and the Lower East Side), as does Townes' 10-year-old cousin, who just spent a week with my brother and family in Austin. My brother told me that Townes is very aware of New York and is curious about it. That's my goal---to get him curious and comfortable with the idea of the city at a young age so he'll visit and ultimately make it here by his 20s! (As opposed to my not getting here 'til age 41!)

It really is a special place. Not only is it gorgeous and interesting, but it's got more than enough substance to back up its glamour. People have referred to it as being a "hard" town, but what it actually is is... It's not a lazy town. It expects something of you. It wants you to work for what you ultimately get. To me, that's not "hard"---it's "fair."