Friday, April 9, 2010

Pittsburgh, Philly and NY

There has been some positive feedback on the blog of late, I supose it’s one of those things like bboying or playing the banjo, that is enjoyable to engage and consequensely brings joy to other people, who would have thought. The last bit of writing came from west virginia, the drive out was sweet then the weather turned grey and the whole party got a bit stressed, but were were still having fun. Pitsburg was rainy, but I got a cool red hat at the good will store, there was pizza for us at the gig as well as some interesting hipsters. The indoor smoking was pretty gross by mid-evening, everything stinks, throat hurts more then usual, but there were cool lights up near the ceiling fans where the smoke was whisked around, it made for groovy atmosphere. Philly was an in and out deal, a young finger-style guitar player named Derreck Sammack We became pals instantly and talked some good shop. The kid has momentum. The crowd was there for the rock bands that were playing later that night, the throat singing/banjo medley was well received. We left that night for NYC, pulling into the limits, NLX was our tour guide. I arrived at my friends house in Queens and was expecting the door to be open, but it was not, so that night was one I’ll not soon forget. The temperature was dropping, luckily I brought my big mits the whole way, seemingly for that occasion. I attempted to make a shanty/lean to out of some tarps I found in the back yard, but they were soaked, so I took a stroll to a near by convenience store and read magazines for a while. The staff was eyeing me funny, so back I went to my buddy’s place, the door was still locked, so this time started testing out various doors in order to sit somewhere and wait out of the cold wind until the sun came up and the dunkin’ donuts opened for the day. The next door neighbors had a shed type structure that covered stairs leading to a basement apartment, I huddled in there from about 4 to 7 Am, it was a nice little shelter. There was a bit of a draft coming in under the door, a spare shirt came in handy to stuff it up. However it was still pretty cold and was looking right into what appeared to be a warm kitchen. I tested the door, and it was open, but I hesitated, the kitchen was too clean and orderly, I could tell that who ever owned it liked things exactly the way they expected them. Waking up to some bearded guy crouched in the corner of your kitchen might not be the most reassuring sight, heck, being spotted on those steps might have unnerved the resident.

Eventually the sun started to come up, but it was still chilly, plus noises started to come from the basement apartment. It was like a game... was that someone getting up, or just the furnace? I faced no one and trekked off to the coffee shop. Drinking coffee is a strange practice when you’ve not slept in a day or so, and I rarely drink coffee. The gitters came, but I was happy, it was warm in that shop. I was reading a book given to me by a hare krishna monk I’d met in Austin, apparently they travel with the warped tour, dang. The introduction was all about how other books on a similar subject were all based on the biases of the authors, I didn’t think much of that book. As the sun rose more, the day started heating up. Sitting in the sun, one was actually comfortable. Back at Sean’s, I sat on the front porch and basked, the rays of sun were good, the trip had been grand, and I wasn’t that cold anymore. Eventually Sean’s roomate Max showed up with two pretty ladies, they had been up all night partying and planned on continuing. They were a great sight, soon I had beer in my belly and we were watching a documentary about mistysism in nazi germany. Max sings in a the cramps cover band, he enjoys wearing fishnets and pumps so much, he does so around the house. I like Max. Rudely, I went to the other room and fell asleep without excusing myself, ladies, it was a pleasure to meet you. At one point, the parents of the other room mate showed on account of his birthday and everyone had a loud conversation in the hallway. Max was drunk and in fishnets, good times.

Sean came home later that day and we went to a rock and roll show feature some quite cool garage/punk bands. The wellington ladies welfare league were extra fun, their singer showed up in a suit and gradually took off all his clothes, I felt right at home. They have one song about alternative sexual acts, I liked that one.

The next day I ventured around the subway system with my banjo, without any particular direction or focus. At nearly every stop and junction was a busker or some sort or variety. There was an old man playing the same somber melody on the acordian all day; he had a foot pedal attacked to a maraca that was hitting a beat on the suit case on which he was sitting. Eventually I heard a drum kit and a loud speaker, I had to investigate. It was a middle aged man named Prince who was drumming and singing away. He had on a pink dress shirt with a tie and drank honey in between songs to keep his voice soft. He was a happy man, preaching away about the love of jesus, being palm sunday an all. I started dancing and a crowd would gather, the the trains would come and things would shift. Prince would call out, “do james brown”, play “I feel good”, and I would do my best impression. It was nice bboying in NY, I was in harlem, not brooklyn, which was the epi center of hip hop, but it was still magical. A fellow named Dente showed up and showed me up, good. He asksed me to do my thing, I aquiested, and he proceed to do multiple back flips on the spot. I asked how long he’d been at it, 20 years was his response.

The next day, again wandering without purpose, I found myself in grand central station, looking at the installation on the ceiling. I ran into Nadine, a woman from the east coast of Canada who was selling earings she’d made with feathers. We hung out for the rest of the day in Williamsburg, walking, talking, drawing. A young hasidic jew asked me if I was jewish, I said yes and he gave me a ziplock bag full of motza bread and invited me to a passover celebration later that night. With a little salt and pepper, motza’s not that bad.

Later a dive bar, a fellow said he was coming up with a form of DNA for the planets. Like a perl necklas, but with perls going in every direction. Raphael I think his name was.

The next morning was tuesday. I met Amanda outside the Hilton Millenium at the base of ground zero. Apparently the city/country is stiffing the hundreds of 9 11 rescue volunteers who are now dying of respiratory illnesses. Anyway, we rehashed the whole trip, had some heart to hearts and remarked on the utter geographic similarities of the two different countries. The 1000 islands seems to be a great place to sneak through if need be.

Back in Ottawa, I was playing banjo on the bus and one fellow actually came to the back just in order to hear me play. Open mike that night, joint hosting with Fabian, it was fun, but I want to be on the road again.


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