Sunday, June 22, 2008

Best Pool Party Ever: Gogol Bordello at McCarren Pool, June 20, 2008

Every time I think the thrill is gone, something happens, mid-concert. What that something is, is hard to describe. All I know is that the minute I give up on the idea of being transported, my feet start to lift and my body remembers one of the things it is meant for: to be crowded amongst other bodies--one body, one fist in the air--not woman anymore, not "Laura," just rush and shock of energy and worship and that old Greek moment of creative force manifest in performer, god in the accordion, god on the drums, god in the Ukrainian's mustache, god in the people next to me, us screaming in each others' god-like faces.

Come to the front of a stage at the edge of a giant drained out swimming pool in a residential neighborhood in Brooklyn and you won't find a congregation more ecstatically present. The next thing you know it's 2 in the morning and you're massaging Charlie horses out of your calves (from all the god in the jumping) knowing you won't need to sleep again for at least 80 years.

[you can't see the band at all in the clip below, and the sound is pretty fuzzy, but you'll get an idea of the ecstatic nature of the crowd--which really starts about 35 seconds in. It was at this point in the show when the drained pool we were all in became more than a pool....]

I stayed front and center for the whole show, one hand on the rail at all costs, and two fine protectors who had my back: Tama (Samoan) and Vesko (Bulgarian)--hunky bare-chested pals clad in silky purple scarves.

Best encore of "Baro Foro" I've ever seen (and this was show number 6 for me), co-starring Manhattan Samba--a 40-person-strong marching band with drums, bells, whistles--and one of Gogol Bordello's most satisfying and raucous fake endings yet: lights off, a pause that lasted forever, then BOOM, lights UP, Sergei at the front with his violin, bow paused above the strings, a quick raise of the eyebrows followed by one strong loud stroke, and off they go ... for ... how long was it? Ten more minutes? Hours? Days?

They played "Immigrant Punk" which I haven't heard live since my first show two years ago!

My friend J. put it perfectly later that night as I walked her to the G train. It was her first GB show ever (and she held her own in the pit!); she said, as she walked next to me with a literal bounce in her step, "I just feel like after something like that: I can do anything. My life can be whatever I want it to be. Everything feels possible!"

After participating in the surge of humanity that is the pit at GB shows, that is their music, their commitment to their audience, their willingness to go full force full blast for as long as they are allowed, one can't help but feel that anything really is possible, that you are possible, that people are good, and the human body can endure hours of something it isn't physically prepared for because somehow it knows that it has a responsibility to the spirit...

[Video clip of "Not a Crime" filmed from the shallow end at the very beginning of the show (song #2). More crowd mania and more of the band....]

Woo hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

[the above pics, with the exception of the first and the pic of Pamela screaming because she never wants to be young again, were taken by great NYC music photographer, Jonny Leather--click here for his review of the show and here to go to his website for a lot more pics of other concerts]

Monday, June 16, 2008


A longtime acquaintance of mine lives and works in Thailand and he just sent me a slew of pictures. This one is mint, his favorite sign, he says, in the country (click on it so you can zoom in):

I always had a feeling I might not be allowed to enter the kingdom...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Two things

1) Saw Ms. Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles play last night at Club Helsinki in Great Barrington, MA. They were awesome. Part country, part rock, part rock-a-billy. As my friend R. would say, she is a pistol! Hilarious, strange, beautiful, and, god, who can't admire a woman in cowgirl boots, a gold lamme top, a short ruffly pink skirt, and an electric guitar hanging from her by a strap covered in stars?

You can listen to a few tracks on her website, and I'd recommend downloading "On the Corner" from I-Tunes, and/or, my favorite, the slow song "Ring in the Shape of a Heart" (which they played last night which made me very happy and made me cry a little, too...).

2) So I generally laugh several times a day...and I thought it worth it to share the thing that brought on today's first. I subscribe to a podcast out of Vienna, Austria, called Chat Chapeau. And I read this, the new description of their 'cast, on I-Tunes:
Chat Chapeau: Balkan Groove and Gypsy Madness

Cat in a hat--in French it's chat chapeau.
In Spanish it's a gato in a sombrero.
In German it's a Katze in a Hut.
I also know it's a gwonka in a bonkeauank in Eskimo.
Now if you will allow me sir--but please don't think I'm pushing--I think that I can tell you--what it is in Russian: Chapka, shlyapa--what?-- It's a chapka in a shlyapa, right!
It's a cat of many countries--it's a cat of many hats-- it's a gufee in a busbee--it's a snaka in a snak. But that's enough of that. It's a cat in a hat. (Thanks to Dr. Seuss!)
"But..." you may ask, "if it's about music from Eastern-Europe, Balkan and with Gypsy roots... why a French name for the label?"
Well, it sounds better, doesn't it? And actually that's what really matters: the sound!

(I think it was the "gwonka in a bonkeauank in Eskimo" that really got me the first read through. And "snaka in a snak" didn't help matters.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cashing in on the Flood

So I'm reading this Times article about the flood in Cedar Rapids and came across this paragraph toward the end, which, surprisingly, went by without comment from the writer. I know it's not a laughing matter, but someone might want to tell this guy that he probably could have made more than ten bucks.

Demenick Ankum drove to his house on 19th Avenue to save anything he could. By the time he finished packing, his car was underwater. He had to pay a neighbor, Louie Brundidge, $10 to rescue him from the house in Mr. Brundidge’s red aluminum boat.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

To Nobody

I just finished reading Jane Mead's The Lord and the General Din of the World, her first book, published in 1996 (and winner of the 1995 Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize). I've had to read it slow--it's intense and dark and amazing.

There are many gems, but this one is the one I keep going back to, re-reading, for its sounds, its line breaks, the way you have to let it pull you through its long sentences...

To Nobody: February 20, 1985
(On the way to K Mart to buy a filing cabinet.)

What I wanted was a solid exchange
of cash for steel, but
the surcharge--that hallucinatory
exchange of pleasantries
that turns existence to the air
around a curtsy--was more
than I could pay
and I kept driving.
The white fields
have a world to themselves,
but human silence needs
a human shelf, so I depended
on the way I knew--
each time I shifted gears--
the team of Swedes
who made my car and, trusting
only that solid connection,
drove. Here at the Stagsfoot
Motel, I'll M.C.
my life tonight. No more
smiles at the register, no more
false currency. Disregard
is a counterfeit word:
the things we choose
to do define us. So,
while I may choose,
one day, to forgive her,
I do not mourn Sarah.
        August 1, 1977.
        Or Reed.
        June 18, 1978.
        I do not mourn Paul.
        November 15, 1983.
        Or Dad.
        Twenty-nine days now.

You cowards.

I have snapped the back
of this year in some town
I do not care to know
the name of. Here
at the Stagsfoot
breath of mildew
where I'm M.C.,
keeper of the key
to room one-o-one,
I do not even mourn
the voices between my ears
or care
why they cut out.
You cowards.

What I wanted was steel and square.
Cash for gas.
Grease for gears.

And this lovely excerpt from "LaGuardia, the Story," also in the book.

Some nights I make a killer pot of coffee--
I put on the music that I love,
and dance. Sometimes I dance for hours.
Go to your phonograph. Put on
Brandenburg Concerto Number Six.
This is about something very hard.
--This is about trying to live with that music
playing in the back of your mind.
--About trying to live in a world
with that kind of music.

Long live Ms. Mead.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

flowers et al

The flowers were from the gent who was supposed to take me out on Friday night. He took me out Sunday afternoon instead. It was sweet. And I'll leave it at that .... hoping there will be another one.

On other fronts, just reconnected via MySpace with my friend Simon who is the second boy I ever kissed... When we first met, I was 12 years old and he was 15 (he seemed so OLD). Now I'm 36 and he's 39 and it's just wild how time shapes itself into what and who are now. He used to write me these romantic love letters, mailed from Oakland, on blue stationary, in big loopy hand writing, each one started with "Dear Blue Eyes..." Ah, 12 years old.