Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Have Existed For Years, But Very Little Has Changed

A tremendous time in the Astoria/NYC area this past weekend that I will certainly get to in the coming paragraphs, but a few quick notes before I divulge such information.
Jay has finally found himself a pair of high-top shoes that run him much less of a risk of tweaking his ever-questionable ankle. As a result, we've been playing some ball again for the first time in a while as well as refining our respective "Coop" impressions that appear to be transcending the confines of the blacktop more and more recently. That is to say, it's become more and more applicable everyday situations, which is a scary thought. "My bad, my bad, my bad, you already know."
Anyway, I admit I brought up Coop for my own enjoyment, (I just enjoyed doing my impression straight through my sharing of its importance.) but I bring up Jay's footwear for a very specific reason.
Jay is at a very special point in his relationship with his sneakers. I say the word "relationship" very intentionally. There is nothing quite like breaking in some new footwear. The hop out of the box gleaming, and inviting; beauty wrapped in lace(s). For a while you take good care of these shoes. You're extra-careful not to step in mud or other various semi-solid debris that can potentially soil the luster of these new kicks. (Let your imagination run wild on that one.) and in some cases you may even devote the time and energy into cleaning these shoes at the end of the day.
But this relationship is a two-way street. These shoes offer their literal support to your everyday transportation needs. In addition to ensuring the safety of ankles, these fresh sneakers provide versatile footwear for most any social situation, be it as formal as hitting up a classy bar on a weekend, or sitting around with friends watching Celino and Barnes commercials (more pleasant than you might think). These sneakers work and play as hard as the person who wears them. I think the world can learn a lot from the symbiotic relationship. Of course, eventually the sneakers wear down through no fault of anyone and they become basketball shoes, casual shoes, junk shoes, and finally, Mugsy's chew toy. That's pretty much where the relationship analogy ends and, in hindsight, it's pretty bleak... Here's hoping your relationships stay in the "fresh-kicks-zone" (trademark pending).
This past Friday, a bunch of friends and I gathered up in Astoria and the city to see Medeski, Martin and Wood, or as Jay put it, "The Wood Band." Jay and I made the trip in with Ben and, as is custom with most any trip Jay and I make together, eventually the tunes started flowing. Jay and I pretty casually starting singing through "Stand By Me" and after a brief pause Ben chimed in and informed us that the guy who wrote that song died about two days ago. The car was pretty solemn for a couple seconds, but after an appropriate bereavement, Jay started singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". Ben started chuckling and when we asked why, he stated the following: "You're not going to believe this; you're gonna think I'm joking, but the guy who wrote that song died like 3 days ago." The car spent about a minute reflecting on how wild it was that Jay would sing those two songs in a row like that. I then urged Jay not to sing any of our originals for fear he'd blacklist us into passing away in short order. No one sung a note for the remainder of the trip.
While on the ride I was excited enough to see MMW when I suddenly got a call from Emily explaining that through the complexities of Hurricane Irene and her postponement of nights 2 and 3 of the DMB Caravan, she and Grebe suddenly found themselves with an extra ticket to tonight's festivities. I naturally jumped on the opportunity to attend and now had two shows to look forward to. Just when I thought I would go my first summer without Dave in 4 years, the hands of fate interceded. More on that later.
The MMW show was incredible. To see such awe-inspiring musicians up close was a real honor and pleasure. The group was so tight and just packed a monster sound. I feel like really great music has no real words to describe it. That's what makes music as magical as it is, so I'm sorry if my explanation kind of leave you hanging, but sometimes "incredible" is all you can say. Nothing puts the limitations of language in perspective like the sublime extremes of emotion life offers.
Anyway, the group had DJ Logic with them, as well as this guy Cyro Baptista, who reminded me of Frank Zappa and may well have inspired the title of this piece. This guy was just wild and just had like a unending supply of percussion instruments crude, dare I say household instruments. The man had every thing from bongos to squeak toys to pots and pans and a washboard. The different sounds he was able to produce were really impressive. Check him out. While it was a museum, rocking out in close quarters were pretty well encouraged. Jay chose to do so next to a large black man in a blue polo. Definitely my second favorite image of the trip.
There was one point during the jam where call and response seemed to be appropriate and instantly everyone in our group looked at each other and knew we were all thinking about Edwina and her drumming from the Velvet Lounge. We all mouthed an "I said, I said" to each other, and I send one out to Wong too since he is among the most passionate responders. The fact that we all thought of the same thing at once was really a cool moment.
After the MMW show I hit the subway and went towards the Staten Island Ferry to get to Governor's Island. To get to the ferries I needed specifically, there were no real signs to point the way. Also, I tried to take a shortcut through Battery Park, which is not lit at all... at all. I promise I would admit if I got lost, I didn't. But suffice to say it took me about ten minutes to walk to a place that if they had some signs and some gosh darn lights I could have made it it two.
I met up with Grebe and Emily and they were on the other side of this portable steel barricade, which by that time in the night was just a formality. I hopped the bar to where they were and, to my surprise, was quickly scolded at a distance by a cop who told me to hop back over, which I did without a word. Here's where it gets interesting. The cop keeps talking and I can't hear him, so in my head I'm kind of torn. I'm not sure whether it's worse to walk towards the cop in that situation or to turn my back on him if he's still addressing me. I opt to walk towards him which was apparently a bad idea because I see two staff members get up and one of them walks to me and says to turn around so I don't get in trouble. I do that without a word and the ferry ride goes on without a hitch, but apparently I dodged a bullet of some sort. I know that's a rather anti climactic ending, but for the sake of my permanent record, I'd rather leave you disappointed with my story rather than be due in court at the expense of something more interesting.
We walked into the venue while "Crush" was going on and it was a hell of a greeting. I was bummed to have missed "LITHOG" and "Shotgun", but other than that I think we walked in at a real peak in the performance. I saw my first live "Granny" (thank heaven, it only took six times), "Blackjack" (doing a really cool extended version of late) and Dave's first encore was a cover of Neil Young's "Like A Hurricane" (breathtaking). The band rocked it, and based on audience reviews we walked in while a mediocre performance was finally starting to gain some traction. I loved it. I don't really get how people are big enough fans to post on these fan-boy message boards about the band that they clearly love and then are so critical of the group and experience. I can see being blue about song selection, but other than that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all. All in all, a great time I won't soon forget.
The ferry back included a man taking random photos of people. A man whom Grebe gave a dose of his own medicine, and a man who really enjoyed grilled chicken in his Italian food.
After I got back to Astoria, I called Jay to see where everyone was. I was greeted by Sean Taylor's quite chipper voice in the background: Is that Tom? Tell him he's an asshole." With that one joyous utterance, I was assured that the night was going swimmingly and had been quite eventful. It says a lot about a friendship when you can call somebody an asshole and leave them feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Good to see you too, Six-foot-two-asshole-on-the-beach-in-the-hurricane-smoking-a-cig.
I had gone to bed by the time my friends got back from their evening festivities, but I was roused enough by their entrance to trade some small-talk and the last things I heard before I passed out was Sean Taylor saying "even when he's half asleep, he's still so damn clever". That made me happy. And Jay saying, "Deanna, you didn't have to spray him in eyes." That made me nervous.
We awoke and beat out the weather for the most part. As Jake was walking us out, he mentioned that he was going to turn back and hurry Sean Taylor out the door. Jay and I looked away casually for no more than two seconds. When we looked back just as casually, Jake was flat on his backside grinning the most sheepish and innocent grin I've ever seen. The moment of silence was broken by Jay asking, "What happened?" We had no idea he had fallen. That was the best image of my trip.
Which begs the question: If a Jake falls in Astoria and people are there to hear and see it but don't, what the hell just happened?
Song of the Day: I Did It-Dave Matthews Band
Jazz Song of the Day: Make Peace- Metheny Mehldau

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