Tripping the Light (Go There)

To get somewhere, you have to go there. So we flew out to Baltimore, rented a car. My daughter reading the directions we’d printed off the internet. Through the darkness and the many long winding streets and highways we finally arrive at Don Eminizer’s house. Well, our flight was delayed three hours at a Detroit stop-over, so all in all we got there pretty late.

Doesn’t matter, Don’s the nicest guy you’d ever wanna meet. Invites us into his home, fills us with great food and drink. And we talk and drink long into the night. He and his band, 99 Burning, got a big gig coming up tomorrow in Baltimore, but Don’s focus is all on his guests. Making us comfortable, happy, sharing the visions of music, writing, and a better world that’s possible through those mediums. Touching people and spreading the dream. It’s a great time, a great night, to meet this man in person, hear his words, his ideas. Gives me a copy of his book, Midnight in America, and his latest cd. Also a book by Bukowski. Wants to give me more, but it’s like his generosity knows no limits.

Somehow I wake up in the morning, and we drive to New York. It’s calm, peaceful and we don’t have to hurry. Somehow we find our hotel in Newark, through the maze and madness that is east coast traffic and concrete highways going every direction at once. Change clothes, take a shower, try to find a bus to the city. The hotel shuttle driver drops us off at the terminal. He’s supposed to go to the airport, but we’re the only ones on the shuttle, and he’s nice enough to skip that. People are friendly, kind, that’s a good thing.

Some guy at the bus stop asks us where we’re headed. Tells us to get on this bus, directly to the New York port authority terminal. It’s ridiculous, but he’s interesting, somebody to talk to. We get off at 42nd Street and it’s great, the exciting, electric New York feeling is all around us. Early evening, people from everywhere scurrying to and fro in the cold wind.

My daughter wants a falafel, good idea, but we settle for gyro’s and like they’re saving on portions for some unknown future. I don’t get it, but the lamb is tasty anyway. Then tee shirts and souvenirs at the shop next door. No, I don’t wanna buy a camera at half-price; and yes, I speak Spanish. We’re looking for a tee shirt for my daughter’s little girl – mas pequeno, por favor.

Thing is, we gotta get down to the Village, find the KGB Bar. Don’t know where the fuck that is, so just get on the subway heading downtown. At Washington Square, a guy says “that’s east side – nice little fifteen minute walk.” Sounds like a New York mile to me. Nice area though, the beat atmosphere still surrounds this place, at least to an outsider.  Every few blocks we ask somebody where we’re going, most of ‘em don’t know, but we’re going there anyway. Continue reading

Apparition by Levi Asher (reprinted by permission) 

I’m sitting in the sleazy grimy Greyhound station waiting for the bus to New York, and I’m thinking: it was “My Fair Lady” that screwed up Todd’s mind. That was the turning point; before he played Henry Higgins he was a straight kid who never cut classes or smoked weed or mouthed off to teachers. All the applause he got made him dizzy, and instead of going to music college like he planned to he decided to be a rock star. He went to New York City, just threw himself into the middle of everything to see where he’d end up. Which I thought was amazingly great. I just never thought it would be Todd, of all my friends, to go and really do this.

Now he’s in a band and they’re supposed to play their first gig tomorrow night, and the bassist is sick and can’t make it. Which is why Todd called me, and which is why I’m heading for New York. I wish I had time to get myself in the right mental state, to get rid of the weird nervous feeling in my stomach. I always thought Todd was half-nerd and that I was his guide when it came to anything cool, but now he’s in the city playing in a band and I’m a college student writing papers on Plato and Aristotle, which makes me think maybe I lost it and Todd is cooler than I am. A scary feeling. I catch my reflection in a bagel stand’s clear plastic shield: I’ve got neat moussed hair, no dirt under my fingernails … I’m a fucking Connecticut wet dream. I try to mess my hair up with my fingers but the gel I used this morning refuses to give up control and now I just look like an idiot. An old lady is looking at me. I curl my lip and stare her down. I decide I need cigarettes. I don’t smoke, but I’m desperate to change my image. I buy a pack of Marlboros and light one up. It tastes good. I stub it out on the back of the seat in front of me, watching the antiseptic sea green molded plastic congeal into burnt black bubbles.

I step off the bus in New York City with the best bad-ass expression I can come up with on my face, and catch the subway to Atlantic and Flatbush in Brooklyn. I walk six blocks to the apartment where Todd is staying and he buzzes me upstairs. I step up to his door and he swings it open and doesn’t even say hello; instead he leaps at me and whirls me inside and drops me on a couch. “Thank fucking god you’re here,” he says. He starts trying to force a large black Fender bass guitar under my armpits. Continue reading