The final clutches of New York of were same as they ever are, like a Cassavettes movie: over just when you start getting used to it's weirdness and pacing. My days there were slower than they have ever felt on previous trips. Took the usual hustle to first gear and kept it there, and thusly, the grip and grin and profesh ordeal were minimal. The back and forth rushes from midtown office lunch to purgatorial shepherdings at photoshoots to dinners where I am the only one not talking about revenue streams was supplicated with crafting with Julianne and shabbat with Sasha and his sweet, curlyheaded fam, to fortuitous trashdigs at Coney Island, to doing the prison yard squat on a corner in the LES with Julianne and Elliott, staying low and avoiding managers and sharks and tarts, and Elliott looking into the sky and saying, in all seriousness "When the end time comes, I want to be laying in my bed, listening to Dylan, wearing a mohair suit, with a beautiful woman I love feeding me cannoli."
Oh, sure, we saw some bands. Sure, we did our work obligations, sure we stood in front of Max Fish and tried to scoot away from drunken too-close talkers, from lephrachaun sized indie-rappers, from the humpty dancing throngs at DFA party - which every year is the party everyone wants to be at and conversely it always the most unelaborate and tediuos strain of BO-ring. We should have known better when we were walking in at 11:30 and James Murphy himself was already leaving. Always: You make the rounds, shuffling between mustachioed men, spy the 51 people you don't want to see, fingers ears so the 808s do not pop yr drums, then Jon makes almost-jokes/commentary about the still prevailing prevalence of cocaine and we bail after 4 minutes. Whatever 3000.
Another night, we all (ALL) went to a different showcase party, where several hundred people formed a soccer-melee style crush/potential Altamont around the velvet rope. The doorman screamed over the please-pleas of "I have been here 45 minutes" and "I am on the list" with only: "I am only letting people in on the basis of who you are and who you know. That is the system and the only way you are getting in." Admirable, indeed. We got inside, danced and sweated with J-Shep amidst modelescent women in varying stage of undress or eating disorder as well as many men, many men in big coats and trucker caps who were wild from the Open Bar. People screamed along and bounced "DIP-SET! DIP-SET! DIPSET!", hands like swords slicing the air, boys tackle-moshing. It felt like Lollapalooza.
I bailed and I walked around alone, hiding my lit cigarette in the cup of my hand, (cos fuck a smoking ban).
I walked and stared. And wondered.
Which kids ion this dancefloor were really in love.
Who was blacked out.
Why was Seymour Stein here.
Who talked to their parents today, and do their parents have any idea.
Just which bloodthirsty babes, which desperate youths
were having the motherfucking time of their lives.
Right then and right there, which of them
was at the pinnacle .
At the absolute brink of sensual satisfaction and enjoyment.
Whose life would never, ever get better than that night -
and how would they feel when they realized that.
How would they later rate it, contemplating, remembering it all
while dancing at their own wedding reception. Or after jerking off.
Or sitting at their desk in the Spin offices come Monday morning.
I just wondered.
Because I wanted to know.
One wall was projected with a 20 foot high/wide video of a naked Japanese woman with her head in a plexiglass box, with a procession of schoolgirls shitting into the hole on the top of the box, onto the woman's head. I stood next to the door, just outside the shit-video room. There, I watched the faces of passerby who could not turn their eyes away. I watched the faces of the men, pointing with drink in hand and laughing like it was Chapelle's Show re-runs. All I could think of is what that girl needed or wanted bad enough to be willing to let a dozen-plus other girls shit on her face, neck and head for money, what sort of desperation for something must you have in order to endure? Stained into my brain is the slight flitting of the woman's eyes, so active under her eyelids, her lips slightly parting to take in breath between girls. She was perfectly still otherwise.
Shortly thereafter, I ran into the people who's organization was hosting the party, who I once sued. They asked Why the fuck I was there ("Your publicist invited me.") and was told that it is bad form to come to the parties of people you have sued and that if there was one fucking person in America that they did not want at the party that that person was me. I said "Okay." and went back to dancing -- it takes a lot to phase me these days. It's not a night out on the town for the Tiny Unicorn without a dramatic confrontation or public cuss-out.
night ended with an early am silent/epic cab ride back to the borough where our sweat-damp heads were cooled in the night air while we chain smoked and talked, as J Shep and I are wont to do pre-dawn, going on of our dreams of publishing a feminist teen magazine, of quitting smoking, of subsistence living in the tropics, God, men, bell hooks, the pedagogy of love. There is nothing quite like having a best friend.
Another night, we saw Miles' band, Perfect Panther, play in the basement of North Six, and they were fantastic, and Miles' solo's were like the ghost of Greg Sage, sssscorching. After the show, we were standing outside a bodega, while Cali was inside redeeming our scratch off tickets for more scratch off tickets, and a dude from a Brooklyn Dance Punk Band ™ stopped at me and J-Shep and says "Where do I know you--?" I said "Jessica Hopper." and he says "Yeah, she is in town this week." Yeah. um, I know. Julianne tried to convince him that Weds. and Thurs. are the "new weekend" and that he should stop partying on the weekends and just go home. He could not comprehend our social transaction at all.
Any time I encountered anyone in position of even moderate music fame all week in NY, save for Ted Leo ( he was buying vegan jerky, in fact), they were positively bazonkered on THE DRUGS. They were like day four of the freebase bender, drinking wine since morning kind of wired and stupid and you could hear their harried synapses firing and burning-out like a string of Black Cats.
All evidence that availed itself to us during these nights, during these nonsense exchanges with people who were faded ghosts, who did not hardly exist -- was that fame gets you janky looking women/men on your arm, people doing spilled coke off your clothing, age etching itself into your slack, sweaty saddle of a face, and a cadre of people who laugh at both your blathering anecdotes and more secretly, your total incapacity, ignoring the flecking of spittle on their faces while you pontificate in a high decibel bar-yell.
It is sometimes the burden of being a non-drinker, watching people waste their prettiest years night after night, to expend themselves as if they are elastic and infinite, to expend themselves as statement, as a commitment to the lifestyle, as if the totem to excess is the ' freedom' which minor celebrity affords them. I knew all kindsa genius people who never came back from these fringes, or moved into it's velvet-lined ditch and rotted slowly, people who went to heaven instead of rehab. With this in mind, it is hard to watch people drink and get high and think of it as casual, social and recreational.
No, really... I had a great time in New York, really, I did.Posted by Jessica at October 18, 2004 10:56 PM | TrackBack