[1/28/2022> onnword to 2004 in R ar¢hival 5¢heme, picking up from th previous post + again, there's ∫um overlap as we'd 5tarted blogging on 5cense (or Sleepingfish/Calamari) by 2004, th past ketching up w/ th present, bunchinng in on it5elf...]
[cover img 4 Mining in the Black Hills, published @ end of 2003]
January 3, 2004 – NY, NY
A new year and a new computer. Just bought it on the first. Another Toshiba, but of course with XP and much more space. It was getting to the point where I was constantly having to delete stuff and had completely maxed out my 6 MB drive, not to mention that my computer was constantly crashing, the keyboard was sticky and it was slow as hell… this computer is infinitely better, 40 GB of space, plenty of room to store shit, [ha! to think we thought that was a lot...] starts and loads shit fast as hell. Hate to think how much of my life was wasted just sitting around waiting for my computer to reboot, or loading a large document or file. And to top it off, the salesman threw in a wireless network card and a wireless router. When I got home and put the wireless card, it automatically picked up another signal. So I have no real need for my DSL provider! And for that matter, we have no need for a phone! I ripped up that rats nest of wires and only left the cords for the printers and to the burner, and speakers, but no reason why I can’t make it totally wireless so all you have to do is plug the computer in! Right now I am sitting on the couch writing, although the wireless signal seems to be sketchy in this part of our apartment. But it comes in pretty good in the office cove.
Just got back from running the 6 mile loop of central park. Did it last week too. Yes, its January! Don’t know what the deal with is with the weather but its been unseasonably warm for the past few weeks, today was almost 60. Not to say we didn’t already get cold weather and snow in November and early December. Damn, this keyboard is fast as hell. It gives a bit, flexes under my fingers, but once you’re used to that action, its fast.
So what else. Don’t know when I last wrote, or what I wrote, but still hanging in with Napster, though who knows for how much longer. Mostly just because nobody's done shit these past two weeks. Including me. Sure I went to work and just fucked around burning CDs, or surfing the internet or whatever. Going to work at 10:30. I took off time for Christmas and new year, but just the allotted holidays.
Our plane to Spain and Portugal went without us. That truly sucked. $1000 down the drain. Alessandra said she would pay us back, but I’d be surprised. What a waste. But probably good as [bedder-½] has lots of work to do in preparation for Keystone and meeting this Italian guy from the Pasteur institute so she can try to get this fellowship thing in Paris. That would be a dream come true. Not sure what I would do, but we could cross that bridge when we got to it.
Almost wrapped up Sleeping Fish zero. Just waiting for a few people to respond with any revisions on comps. Otherwise its almost set to go, at 44 pages of graphic-intensive stuff, some pages even in color. Did I mention I also got another printer? Just a cheap one, something ridiculous like $100, which is trivial compared to the price of the printer cartridge, which in the long run (being that it is laser) works out to be much cheaper than ink jet. So I will only use the ink jet for a few of the color pages, and print the rest on the laser printer which is most cheaper and faster.
Did I also mention I put out Spiritual Turkey Beggar Baste Mechanism/Trapezoidal Juggernaut? So end of 2003 saw three publications by Calamari Press. We’ll see what 2004 brings. Maybe I will be established enough to actually turn this into something in Paris. A press of ex-patriate avant-garde types. I have been reading Amos Tutuola My Life in the Bush of Ghosts which is fantastic. Also reading Barry Yourgrau, great stuff. Dream-inspired flash fiction a bit obsessed with female persuasion. Also reading Appollinaire, and finished War and Peace, although towards the end I was skimming just to get through it.
On xmas we saw the Radio City xmas spectacular, which was good to see the Rockettes and all, but then just got stupid and then freaky religious. New Years didn’t do much of anything, except the next morning I went out to rifle through post-mortem debris—although they had most of it cleaned up. Xmas eve (our anniversary) we went out to a nice meal at the same Italian place we went to last year (name slips my mind). It was good. Had Kobe beef. Can’t believe its been 7 years! Unbelievable. Bedder-½ still lights up my life.
Maybe one of my resolutions will be to write in my journal more. Although I’m not one for resolutions. More writing in general. With all this editing for SleepingFish and publishing Spirit Turkey, haven’t had much time for actual writing. Need to get back to it. Write on.
Tired right now. Think I will take a nap or something.
[cover img 4 Trapezoidal Juggernaut]
February 3, 2004 – NY, NY
STILL hanging in here at Napster. Trying my best to get laid off but still no luck. Last week they fired Bebel and relocated most of Senior management to LA, so now its only a matter of time. Today they fired the CFO. "Consolidation" as they call it. Laid-off upper limbs were announced in the press release last week, the lower dead-wood cleanup to follow thereafter.
Put out the first issue of SleepingFish. The Zeroth issue actually. Sent them out to contributors (along with $5 per pg). Pretty good response so far, feedback-wise anyway. Of course no one is buying it.
Bedder-½ sent out her paper finally, and sent in her application to the Pasteur institute. So I would like to say we now are feeling caught up with life, but we have these two Italian Greyhounds in our life right now. Hopefully we will get rid of them tomorrow night. Marc decided to get rid of Harry and Woofy on short notice because (as we found out after barging in on him late in a mojo-fueled stupor on Jen LRs b-day) Robin is with child. So they are moving to Long Island City and had to get rid of Harry and Woofy. Bedder-½ and I said we would try them out (rather then have them go the shelter right away). After all, no matter what we would provide a better home than Marc and Robin. But that's no excuse, still not good. It was just too much leaving them home all day. And at the end of the day, they are extensions of Marc with 5 years of engrained behavioral issues, which in Woofy's case border on severe disorders.
We've been trying to get Woofy skinnier and Harry fatter, bathe them, take them for walks, etc. But there is no way we can keep this up. Our place is just too small. They are shitting on paper laid out in my closet. So I don't really have a closet floor, and all my clothes will inevitably starting sinking of doggie pee and poop.
Been cold as hell. Was hovering near zero for a while there. It was getting really depressing. It’s a little warmer now (above freezing). Feel like I am always trying to catch up. Cleaning out my closet. Trying to tackle that pile of papers, “projects” I’ve been meaning to get to. Encoding all my old cassettes to MP3 (any tracks that are worth it anyway). I’ve gotten pretty far along with that actually. That is one thing I have been doing a lot of lately at work is listening to music and burning CDs, beef up my collection of free music before they lay me off, the library of CDs is unbelievable, pretty much every CD ever made, at least by Sony, Uninversal and BMG.
Not much luck finding a job. Wireless Generation blew me off. They just ignored repeated inquiries, and finally just told me they were going to wait a few months to hire someone.
February 23, 2004 – NY, NY
Was finally laid off. Not like the writing wasn't on the wall, but was still shocked at what complete assholes they are. They gave me shit for a severance package, they gave me til the end of the month to work there (not even two weeks—but conveniently worked out for them so they wouldn’t have to pay my benefits for March) and then two week severance. A bunch of us in NY got let go, Sue Rae, Scott Klass, administrative people, all the finance team, etc. and a bunch more in LA to make way. Sixteen from Napster altogether and something like 60 from Roxio. I’m definitely glad to get off that sinking ship. It has taken its toll. Mainly watching what it has done to good people. Either made them sell-out or just lose any sense of self-dignity, or have to move to LA or get laid off. It’s the reality of American capitalism. Firing Bebel the day before he has a baby, and he was the one responsible for bringing us with Roxio. Whatever, I’m over it and ready to move on.
Had an interview with MusicNet already. For a music programmer position. They were also hiring for a producer, but for some reason they called me in for the music programming position. Met with this guy John Jones who seemed pretty laid back and professional, and not at all spiteful or vindictive towards Napster. So we’ll see, he has some more people to interview and will get back to me at the end of the week. I had a phone interview with Deepend.com for a project manager position but didn’t really go anywhere. At the beginning of the conversation she mentioned they were looking at internal candidates as well. I’ve had this email dialogue going with this guy Greg Gibbs for a screenwriter position. I was widdled down to a group of 80 candidates and then to 10 and looks like the position is mine for the taking. Only problem is I don’t know much about the project. He’s a terrible writer and his description of the project is vague. I have not even spoken to him yet. I did speak with the owner of the company, which ends up is some Holistic Pilades company… how they are going to get a feature-length film out of it I am a bit intrigued to find out.
So yah, that’s where I’m at. Took the day off today, why not. Needed to use up my floating holiday. Good thing I had 5 weeks of vacation time saved up as that will pay off. Went running yesterday, 5 miles, for the first time since November so am a bit sore. The weather is getting better. Matter of fact, I could be sitting on the couch in the sun. Why not? So that’s where I’m writing from as Raymond Carver says. Still hooked up to the internet through my wireless. Sill connected. Getting sick of looking for jobs. I’ve applied to hundreds. They are all starting to look the same. They will probably all respond to me three months from now when I have already settled for some other job.
Getting more traction with Calamari Press and SleepingFish. Actually selling a few copies, and have other people selling them like City Lights and St. Mark’s Books. Some reviews starting to get out there of my chapbooks. Working on a project now with Carlos Luis. He supplied me with these cool Rorschach like ink blot drawings and I’m writing interpretive prose poems based on them. Should be fun. Have some other authors John Crouse and Davis Schneiderman interested in publishing through Calamari Press (although I am not sure how interested I am). If I lived somewhere cheap, I think I might have a go at making a small press viable, but not here in NYC.
What else? Bedder-½ is finally getting some breathing room. Her paper is now at JEB where it will hopefully get accepted. Her application has been submitted for the Pasteur institute (for what it’s worth—we are having our doubts about going even if she did get it). And she is looking for jobs too.
Over and out.
[5elfie in R orange apartment @ 57th + 9th]
March 13, 2004 – NY, NY
Still unemployed. Applied for unemployment but haven’t received a check yet. Supposedly it's $405 a week. Of course I’ve also continued to apply to dozens of jobs. Probably in the range of 200-300 at this point. Have heard back from only a handful of them. And have only had one interview since being laid off. That was with the HR person at Princeton Review and she didn’t have a clue. It was for an associate producer/information architect, that is not a bad title for my background, but its all pretty dry and they probably won’t pay me nearly what I am making now. I had a few other phone interviews for tech writing jobs and what not and freelance offers that I’ve rejected because they are no pay. What the fuck? It’s a horrible world out there. Can’t wait to get Bush out of office.
Not that I can complain. I’ve been working continuously, for what, like 10 years now. I deserve to reap some of this piddly unemployment. And I have had time to write, though not without distractions. Besides the obvious daily grind of job-searching, and the looming sink sucking our saved income with nothing to replenish it, [K and L] were in town for a “short” visit, which was really 4 days and dragged on forever. And only went out with them for one full day, the rest of the time just the evenings or whatever. But they would sleep in (while Bedder-½ and I slept on the floor) and took forever to get ready, some days not leaving the house til after noon. Everything we did related to what K wanted to do, i.e. related to singing. Poor L, all he wanted to do was go to a museum. But we went to sing-a-long bars, went to karaoke one night and then went to the musical Wicked, which was actually pretty good and clever. I was impressed. My throat is still hoarse from the karaoke mock-screaming.
So the exciting news is that I finished up O, Vozque Pulp. I am happy with how it turned out. Printed them up and gave the Calamari Press site a facelift and stepped up my efforts a bit. So far just sending out emails to a few listservs and spreading the word. Printed up a catalog sheet so I have something to send out with books I do sell (sold one yesterday on the first day out!). Woo hoo. $6. After the printing and postal costs, probably about a $1 margin of profit. But the goal is to just get as many out there as possible.
Bedder-½ has some killer jobs in the works. Besides the Pasteur institute thing, she has interviews with Nature and other places. Speaking of which, I should look for some jobs in Paris to see what I can find, just in case.
[assembling O, Vozque Pulp on our fold-out futon/bed]
April 8, 2004 – NY, NY
I lasted 2 weeks collecting unemployment and then Alessandra had the great idea that I should work up there at the lab. At first it seemed like a strange idea, but then why not? It was better than collecting unemployment and paid almost twice as much. So I started taking the A train uptown with bedder-½. At first I was working mostly with So Young, but after I learned ELISAS (which took about a day), I was relatively on my own. It's pretty interesting stuff and a nice break from sitting in front of a computer. Of course it definitely has it’s downsides. Its like a third world country up there, which is interesting in its own right. The facilities are so old and everything is mired in bureaucracy. And of course working with bedder-½ wouldn’t be healthy in the long run, but temporarily is kind of fun and lets me live her life vicariously. Alessandra is pleasant with me (and was cool about me looking for other jobs), but bitchy to the others, and there is plenty of drama in the lab. But I had my own bench in the "men’s hut" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta [obviously not the CNN Sanjay Gupta!]. I just absorb myself with tedious experiments, diluting and pipetting. Even doing some background reading so I understand what I am doing. The idea was that it would be a cool gig for a few months, but a week into it, I had another interview with the Princeton Review, only this time directly with a managing editor. The position was for a math editor, hourly, to edit and write math questions for the K-12 group. Not rocket scientist, and I imagine would get pretty boring, but I went to the interview and then submitted some writing test, she called my references and gave me the job. So my last day at Columbia is tomorrow and I start at Princeton Review on Monday. We’ll see, at least it will be a good temporary job until something else rolls around, and no commitment.
The weather still sucks, and bedder-½ has this low-grade cough that won’t go away, and I’m just depressed and want it to be lighter and sunnier, and want to just get away and get off this island. Might be a while, though. Unless we go to Paris to check that out. Bedder-½ interviewed at Nature, that would be a dream job. And she also had this other interview with the Doris Duke foundation, and was asked back for a second one there yesterday. So really, lots of stuff in flux. Who knows where we will be and what we will be doing in 6 months.
Riding the subway I get lots of time to read. Read Diane Williams Excitability and lots of literary reviews, Barry Yourgrau, oh, and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Amos Tutuola which was the most fantastic thing I have read in a long while. Finally got around to going to a Zinc bar reading, picked a good one, Charles Bernstein. Was interesting, but only verified my belief that I don’t think I could ever be a “performing” poet or writer. Saw Stellastarr last weekend and Pretty Girls Make Graves in Brooklyn the weekend before that. Lots of good shows.
What else? Just plugging along really. Can’t keep up with my inbox. Waiting for responses on everything, not just jobs, but submissions, chapbook reviews, etc. But slowly but surely, selling the occasional book, have them in 4-5 bookstores now, and getting more and more exposure. For what it’s worth. I bought a soldering iron and resistors, diodes and capacitors to start putting together Bodhi Circuits … listening to Franz Ferdinand, it rocks. Off to cook fresh pasta with vodka sauce, whilst dealing with my damn Samsung Napster device that keeps crashing. The associations are bad enough. I feel like chucking it out the window.
April 25, 2004 – NY, NY
Working at Princeton Review now. Been there for a few weeks now. Its okay. Low stress and casual and I work 8 hours a day and don’t bring my work home with me. Its in the West Village so it’s a nice change of atmosphere from Midtown, and most of the people at Princeton Review are younger hipsters that are aspiring musicians or writers or whatever and just need a day job. Its boring as hell though. I had it figured out on the first day. Editing math problems for practice tests. Some days writing the questions which is a bit more interesting. The higher grades are not that bad, but otherwise it's pretty damn boring and tedious. I take the 1 or 9 to work and it’s a slow and crowded train that stops every five blocks, otherwise its not too long of a trip. Some days I walk the extra blocks to west 4th street and take the ABCD, stopping off at the cage to watch them play basketball. Good lunch places. Have only been out with my co-workers once. With this guy Hash who is another math editor that is leaving in another week, probably why I was hired, with this girl Keeno who is pretty cool, and this other guy Mike who ends up is in a band and is a writer who just got his first novel published. When I started prying more, ends up he started his own press, Contemporary Press. I knew it sounded familiar and went I home and googled it and its that same press that Bedder-½ and I saw at the small press book fair that was the biggest joke of all. They were all wearing matching black t-shirts with their logo on it, and their motto is “fuck literature.” They publish pulp smut. But hey, they got a write-up in GQ magazine through a friend of a friend or something like that, so they are selling.
Speaking of BCAD and publishing, I put out Bodh[i] Circ[it]s/Alg[a]e[bra] D[ra[in]]. I had to order a soldering iron and various electronic components (capacitors, resistors and diodes). After stapling them, I removed the staples and inserted the components and that soldered it. It was very tedious and laborious. I did 20 copies. Also printing more of everything else. Getting the occasional buyer. Probably once a week. But that’s just direct word of mouth marketing. I posted a blurb about BC/AD on the buffalo list and got a few people buying or trading or reviewing. But I guess the biggest news is that I sent O, Vozque Pulp to 3rd Bed. And while they said they couldn’t review or publish any of the pieces since it had been published, they were interested in seeing more of my work. So I worked on a few other stories and sent them off. Still haven’t heard though. Same with Tarpaulin Sky. Sent them OVP, and got a long (3 pages) letter from this guy Christian Peet that went on and on about how fantastic and inspiring it was, which was cool. And they wanted to see more work (couldn’t review or publish individual pieces because it was self-published). The stigma of self-publishing.
Bedder-½’s life is the one that is really in flux right now. She heard back about the Paris gig at La Pasteur, and she got it! Be careful of what you wish for. We had already been thinking long and hard about it, and she decided to turn it down (mostly because she doesn’t want to do another post-doc, and what would I do in Paris?) If only it was Spain or Italy or somewhere else. Or if only we were leaving buttfuck, Idaho to go to Paris…. But leaving NY to go to Paris is just not worth it to us right now. We are not ready to leave. In the same week (last week) she was also offered a position with the Doris Duke institute as a program officer. Pretty prestigious job that would utilize her more business skills. They are offering her $65K. Not as much as we thought, but in these times, not bad. Of course this had a bearing on the Paris decision. And to complicate matters even more, she still has not heard anything definite from Nature. She follows up with them over and over, and for a while there was pretty sure it was a no go. But then they finally got back to her and said she was still in the running. She had to give them an ultimatum to give her an answer and that was last Friday. Bedder-½ was on needles all day. Waiting by the phone at work, checking her email. Finally at 7 pm we went out to dinner and she was all depressed. When we got there was a message and Boyana (the woman from Nature) had called, but did not say yay or nay, just said she would try her again, but now its Sunday and she still hasn’t heard anything (after waiting by the phone all weekend!). We went out to Marc’s new place in Long Island City last night for a BBQ. Good to get out of the city (I think this was the first time since last October!) but every time we leave we think what’s the point. They love it and think its great, but we just don’t get why people move to places like that, especially giving up their dogs and a killer pad in the east village (granted they couldn’t afford it). And of course, Robin being 5 months pregnant has a lot to do with it.
So we’ll see. Tomorrow Bedder-½ will find out for sure what the next step of our her life is. She is still under a lot of stress to finish work on this paper and has been working every weekend and til late most nights. She’s a fanatic. I’m sick as a dog right now. I thought it was allergies, had a deep cough late last week, and now its like a full blown something or other. I have a rattle in my chest like a can of spray paint. I think this is the first time I have been sick since getting pneumonia when we first came here. It sucks, but also getting a lot of reading done and writing more, concentrating on short prose. I’ve actually made a few entries in my dream journal as well. I read Marc Richards Ice at the Bottom of the World, some of the stories were brilliant, others were okay, and now I am reading the Popol Vuh and also another book on American Indian folk stories.
June 3, 2004 – NY, NY
Ok, I just need to get back in the habit of keeping a journal. Even if it is to just document the mundane stuff. What we did, where we ate, etc. I am writing restaurant reviews now for Seamless Web. Doing about ten a week, for only $25 a pop (about 120 words). But its fun and at least somewhat creative. Princeton review is just getting more boring by the day. Now I have three editors working under me, so I have to baby-sit and manage them.
Did I mention my MTV interviews? Can’t remember when the last time I wrote was, but I guess now. I interviewed for a producer position at MTV. MtvU actually, a university channel offshoot of MTV. That led to another interview with MTV proper as a temp freelance producer to work on the VMA site. They were up front and said you were expected to work 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and if you wanted a weekend off you had to request it in advance. And the kicker is that they paid a flat weekly rate regardless of how many hours you put in, and no benefits or anything like that. The weekly rate was something like $1100 a week. The things people will do to say they work for MTV. I declined further interviews at that point. Besides the fact that this whole thing of dealing with people’s assistants is just ludicrous. I don’t want to be a part of that world.
So sticking it out at Princeton Review, mostly because its laidback and offers me flexibility to come and go as I like (was able to take off time for interviews and what not) and this Seamless Web thing I have to go in there once a week to meet and get my new assignments. And also because I am probably just lazy and sick of looking for work, because looking for work is a lot of work. Yesterday I was supposed to have an interview for this job to write a physics textbook. I waited around til 9:30, she never called. So then she said 6:30 in the evening. I made sure I was home. Never called. This has been going on for a few weeks. This kind of shit is just a waste of time. I need to be more picky to what I apply for and who I deal with.
I am starting to read now for SleepingFish 0.5. Wrote up the guidelines and everything for that, and updated the site. Powell’s is also carrying all of my titles now (thanks to a chance correspondence with Kevin Sampsell). I didn’t even try Powell’s as I thought they wouldn’t accept my stuff because it was self-published. Not only that, but they paid me up front! I’m selling titles here and there, but obviously not much, like one a week. I received a submission from Peter Markus, he’s coming to NY this summer so we will work on publishing his Singing Fish. Now three “members” of Contemporary Press work at Princeton Review. Was out to lunch with them all yesterday at Franelli’s. I say members because its like a club. They have a completely different agenda then I do and I don’t even bother to mention that I am an aspiring writer and publisher. In ways it just turns me off, especially when all they talk about is all the crap being published, and they are high and mighty because they publish pulp. God shoot me if I get to that state that I am so self-absorbed that I am no longer interested in the world around me. Funny thing is what are they doing working at Princeton Review? For that matter, I ask myself every day, what am I doing working at the Princeton review?
June 10, 2004 – NY, NY
Writing in between breaks while I am waiting for these questions to load. Yep, sticking it out here. But my Seamless Web job is a different story. After writing a few batches of those, I had my fill. For $25 a pop I wasn't willing to put more than an hour into each one, but I wasn't being given enough information and was spending too much time trying to gather the info. So when I handed some in (which I put a lot of work into and thought they were great), he had really vague edits and wanted me to rewrite some of them and I just didn't have time for that. And then he decides that he's not going to pay me for all of them, only the ones they decide to use... the shit you have to put up with for $25 lousy bucks. Oh well you live and learn.
Bedder-½ is in CA now, near Monterey at some conference or something in Asilomar. Her nenw job is going well, she likes it so far, though its a big change for her. So its the dog house for me. Got the next round back from Wendy Sorin, at first I was mortified, there was these graphics of some new age woman doing yoga poses interspersed! But have no fear, nothing some matches and other means of distortion can't fix. Started reading for Sleepingfish, but haven't received any good submissions really. What else, also working on the Retrazos project. Had a piece accepted in Call: Review.
June 22, 2004 – NY, NY
Sometimes it seems like I just never catch up. I always have over 50 items in my inbox, and that is my personal ones, people I need to follow up with about reviews, bookstores I need to follow up with, status of submissions, etc. And that’s after stowing the SleepingFish ones away in a separate folder. Actually haven't been getting too many submissions yet for SleepingFish.
Working on P.S. At Least We Died Trying To Make You in the Backseat of a Taxidermist which is the new title given to the highly visual collaboration I am doing with Wendy Sorin. I want to start writing more short fiction or prose poems. The whole visual poetry thing is getting stagnant. Started Americana by Don Delillo, pretty engaging thus far.
What else, bedder-½ has been traveling a lot. The summer has been nice. I am writing this at work now while I am waiting for this damn tool to load pages. I am doing less and less "editing" or writing, and more and more categorization and babysitting (just had to reprimand one of the freelancers for saying "content fucked up" in the comments field as an explanation). What else, went to see Franz Ferdinand but were not cool enough for the crowd at Volume. We were hot and tired and just bored after the opening band so we just left. Tomorrow night seeing Femi Kuti. Might be forming a band with Jack. We'll see.. just what I need, another past time to occupy my time.
Work is pretty boring, but what are you going to do? I got a call back from Muse but they are only paying $30K a year. Can’t live off that. It feels like a dead cat bounce. My Life in the Ghost of Bush.
June 25, 2004 – NY, NY
Femi Kuti at the Apollo!!! Unbelievable. We had dinner first at this place called Bayou, not bad considering there's not much to choose from on 125th street. Then went to the Apollo, a first for us. Was cool to just have an excuse to set foot in there. The first band was some African flute ensemble that was pretty good considering they had flutes. The flutes were actually some flute that you half played, and half yelled through, at least the way these guys were playing them, and there was a singer and marimba player and a guy playing that cool gourd instrument.
There was another person billed with Femi Kuti, Anjelique Kidjo, and we just assumed that Femi was headlining. So I'm casually getting drinks (and didn't have enough for two drinks, but luckily found a $20 on the bar top which I split with the person in front of me) and heard the music start, and these intense dancers that could shake their hips like there was no tomorrow, and were wearing wicked face paint and stuff. I just assumed it was this Anjelique Kidjo's band, but then Femi walks on stage, or at least I thought it was Femi, but he just casually walked on stage, and smiled, but nobody was really clapping. I was a bit confused, I think everyone was. But once he started singing there was no mistaking. There is nothing like it except of course his father. It was intensely hypnotic, like he was possessed by the music, which was incredibly tight and urgent. Each intricate piece serving its purpose. The drummer was unbelievable. Femi is an incredible sax player, mostly just an incredible performer. He had his shirt off by the second song, his whole body flexing and sweating with every note he played and word he sung. I have never seen anything like it. It was like witnessing a legend, if not Fela, then this biological equivalent carrying the torch down, carrying the memes, the beats, the rhythms from the source of it all. Stripped down where it is not classifiable, stealing back from James Brown and American Soul, but still definitively African, but NOT pop. What was weird was that nobody (in the balcony anyway where we were) were standing. It was hard to sit, the music compelled you to move. I have never wanted a show not to end so bad.
Once he finished (rushed off with no encore), Anjelique Kidjo came on. She was good but after Femi seemed so commercial and pop. She just borrowed from anybody and was kind of cheesy and wasn't getting much of a rise from the audience even after demanding that they stand up and dance. We left before she was done.
All in all, just thankful that we were able to witness such greatness as Femi, at the Apollo no less. Made me want to go to Africa to see him in Lagos, now that would be intense. Friday afternoon and we are drinking sangrias. And there is some corny Tracy Chapman like folk singer performing in the lobby. She works here. Going to leave here pretty soon (2:00) going to meet bedder-½ at the Met. After walking home, which is what I usually do on Fridays.
Over and out.
[@ which point @ the beginning of July we went to Puerto Rico, which we already posted our journnal + pics ... ]
[onword to July—Dec 2004 in next post]