Summer's over. I crushed it. Naturally I'm crowing about it for your benefit, dear reader, but also for mine, because I am, at heart, a whiner and a pessimist, and a paper record of a good time is something that I need to come back to from time to time to keep my spirits up. So this is just to remind myself that I had a great, sweaty, exuberant three months. To wit: Four outdoor movies, including a short film festival at Socrates Sculpture Park, where I'd never been before. They screened Safety Last! which was also new to me (although who hasn't see that iconic still?), and which, to Harold Lloyd's credit, seemed tense and thrilling even though it is literally several hundred years old. I went to Coney Island three times, if only to the beach once. I saw shows at SummerStage, Celebrate Brooklyn, and 4Knots. We hosted two barbecues. I regularly ran farther than I've ever run before, although I didn't quite achieve my goal of making it twice around Prospect Park. I was in a movie! I did it, babies.
Last night I shaved off my beard, which had grown quite thick and soft -- not scratchy or itchy at all. If you missed it, too bad. It was a summer beard. There's always next summer.
We capped things off the first weekend of September -- still officially the summertimes -- by going to a hipster pool party in Long Island City, at a kind of pop-up venue called The Palms, on Jackson Ave. From what I gather, The Palms is a former bank building converted to a golden-age (40s? 50s? You got me). Miami-style "party space" by the people who run The Danger and 3rd Ward. There's a smallish, one-story interior space with a bar and a dance floor. It looks pretty much like a bank. There's also a big outside space that's decked out with astroturf, ping pong tables, and three retrofitted "dumpster pools" hung on a raised platform you took some stairs to get up to. Reggie Watts was slated to perform that evening, but by the time we got there it was just DJs. We thought we saw him from behind, moseying around in a crowd -- sorta tubby dude, big hair, sweatshirt; wearing a backpack like a middle schooler -- but weren't sure. (Nina observed that big teddy bear type guys could effectively impersonate Mr. Watts, for the purpose of meeting ladies, with a few simple props.)
We played a round of ping pong and made some attempts at hula hooping with a stray hoop. I was recovering from a freak case of pink-eye that showed up at the end of a nasty summer cold, and which had glued my left eye shut three mornings in a row, and so I was reluctant to get in the water, but Nina convinced me that chlorination being what it is, I wasn't a public health menace. I shimmied out of my jeans and joined her in the pool in my boxer shots. The water was eerily but pleasantly warm. We shared our dumpster with a changing crowd of drunk and friendly revelers; some were way younger than us, a few were visibly older. A troupe of costumed ladies (feathers, glitter, unitards) who seemed unaffiliated with the party organizers walked up and down the narrow paths between the three pools, waving their fans at the splashers. For a while they maintained an air of austerity, resisting entreaties to jump in. Ultimately the lead feather lady let down her guard and got wet. Was mid-century Miami a big splashy playground for wild and crazy not-quite-young people? I guess there were a bunch of scary mob guys, too. (I should re-read that Joan Didion book that KT got me.)
The one thing I didn't do a whole lot of this summer was play shows with Bel Argosy. True, there was the show we played on my birthday. That was epic. But we followed that up with a disastrous non-set at Legion the next week where a misunderstanding led us to lug a ton of equipment out Williamsburg on the hottest night of the year for nothing. I'm not gonna get into that. And then we basically took August off. But we're back on the road (subway) again, and on the 16th we played a knockout show at this heavy metal bar in Greenpoint called Saint Vitus.
We couldn't get a guarantee that we could borrow the foundations of a drum set from the other bands, so the evening began with Chris driving his dad's station wagon up to Spanish Harlem, where we broke down and loaded all the drums into it, transporting them in a hand-over relay from Billy's penthouse office where we rehearse down to the living room down the three flights of stairs to the street. There'd been some municipal-administrative hand-wringing the day before over a potential car bomb somewhere in the city, so the NYPD had set up checkpoints all over the city. The Bel Cargosy (Mark II) didn't get stopped, but we did get caught up in the resulting congestion, which put Chris into full-on Liberal Dad mode: "This is a police state, man! Fucking Bloomberg is a fascist!" The only thing that calmed him down was a block of Elton John that came on Q104.3: "Saturday night's alright for fightin', Saturday night's alright!"
Saint Vitus really is a metal venue, which I haven't seen at non-arena scale other than, say, Europa, which doubles as a scary Eastern European dance club. There's a flat black exterior facade, and once you get inside, there's a long, sleek bar all done up with sanded black unfinished wood. Then there's the little foyer where you pay to get into the back room where the shows are, and it's got a little shrine to Azazel or whomever, with a bunch of inverted crosses and an array of nubbly, burnt-down candles. It's all very serious. The back room is very large and impressive -- high ceilings, black velvet drapery on the walls -- and has a huge stage, definitely the biggest we've ever played.
The opening act, who'd kind of orchestrated the show, was an "air travel" themed indie pop band called The Modern Airline. I say "themed" because they played in costume -- stewardess outfits for the ladies, pilot's uniforms for the guys; the drummer played in shirtsleeves -- with props, and sang songs about airplanes. They were great: Lots of variation in the songs, but they were all delightfully weird and precise. And they were friendly, too -- gracious and helpful with equipment.
Our own set was zippy and fun, or at least that's how I remember it. I'm increasingly conscious of my own anxious need for good on-stage sound (i.e., monitors), and Saint Vitus definitely has that. The sound guy delivered a very good mix, at least to the monitors. I got off stage in a great mood, looking to raise hell. After some mutual congratulations with Lee and Margaret from The Modern Airline, we drove the equipment back across the bridge and back up to Spanish Harlem, Chris cussing all the way. He offered to drive me back downtown, with the idea that we'd go wildin', but he wanted to go through North Brooklyn to avoid Lower Manhattan, and by the time we got back across the Pulaski Bridge, it was well after 2:00 AM and we were both flagging. So Chris dropped me off in front of my building -- no small feat of driving and an endurance -- and then made his lonely way home.
Switching gears: Katharine turned 30, and to celebrate, Tom H. chartered a schooner (The Adirondack) for a trip down the Hudson, and we all came along. I was nervous about my lack of sea legs and died a thousand coward's vomit deaths in the seconds before stepping on board the pitching deck, but it turned out to be great! They served us free beers and took us on a nice leisurely loop from Pier 59 to the Statue of Liberty. It was one of the last really pleasant days of summer, and the sun was setting just as we neared Ellis Island. Aside from the wake of an occasional speedboat, the water was flat and featureless. We all tried to take pictures of the sky in an attempt to capture the sunset's fiery palette, but it didn't work. It never does!