we're all at home, for the moment.
Drummer Seanny is in Columbus, sleeping, certainly. He dropped us off at rendezvous X in Cincinnati at 12am, took a quick shower, and headed north to work the 3am graveyard shift at FedEx. Guitarist and newbie Mikey is back in South Bend (he's hosting a show at his venue there and won't be able to join us for the last half of the tour), and bassist Brad told me on the phone just now that he just got up (it's 5pm).
72 hours ago, we were parked on highway 95 in Maryland.
i had forgotten that in New York City, there is rush hour on Sundays, and it's the worst one all week. people who are returning from weekend vacation or who live elsewhere and work in Manhattan during the week or really just everyone and their mother are all trying to get back into NYC on Sunday evening. so the four-hour drive takes seven, and naturally to celebrate we have a dance party in the WALK van. we listen to the -entire- catalogue of Michael Jackson and feel real good about pretty much everything.
we are slow-grinding to "Dirty Diana" when we get a text from some new friends of ours that they were on their way - from Cincinnati - to see our show in NYC. floored. we ask each other 'would you drive 12hrs to see us play for half an hour?' and are like 'haha, but seriously i dunno if i would man.' thoroughly jazzed, we grind all the way onto the G. Washington Bridge and finally, at sunset, into Manhattan.
we make our way up the Henry Hudson to Inwood (NW side, about parallel to the Bronx) where we will stay with singer-songwriter and Kenyon alum Andrea Daly. her roommate Charlie is a ninja and only returns when no one is looking, so there is room for us to crash. one detail of the evening to share: we might've called it a day, but as it is Brad's first night ever in NYC we decide it was imperitive we go downtown. after dinner at Union Sq. the boys want a drink, so i suggest the Continental - on Astor Place, the long-black-hallway bar where bouncers don't want you to stand, 80's movies are projected on the walls, and, as many times as you want, you can get five shots of anything for ten bucks (they have a sign outside that says "Yes, we're serious."). the boys return to the apartment merrily, if somewhat un-ninja-like, at a wee hour, and we all go to bed.
MONDAY MORNING. we traipse down from the apartment and find that not only do both we and Andrea have parking tickets, but at some point in the night someone apparently tried to break into the WALK van. glass shards make a spikey little frame around the bottom of the rear driver's-side window. Dolores (our sexy GPS) is perched in the cup holder in plain view... evidently someone was really lost last night... i guess after breaking the glass they must've remembered where they were going as the screen was left intact. we resolve to keep Dolores out of sight and head out of Inwood.
the Highline Ballroom is in the heart of Chelsea, business district in the southern part of the West Village. at 11am our plan is to park and leave the van until load-in at 4pm... at 11:30 our plan is to park and leave the van until load-in at 4pm... at noon we are sticking fast to the plan... at noon-thirty we have nearly given up but find a spot a few streets over. famished, we take the train to Chinatown.
TWO SECRETS i have learned about Chinatown in my travels: pork buns and park music.
next time you find yourself on Canal St. in Manhattan, go immediately to Baxter and walk down to the Dragon Land Bakery. there you will find many delights, not the least of which is the pork bun, big fat delicious treat for $1. they also have many stranger things available, including a spiral-y croissant thing with spinach and four hotdogs stuck in it. that is also $1.
after this, follow Baxter down to Bayard and find yourself in a strange plaza with a huge Chinese mezzanine, several stone checkerboards, 200 old people, and Phish. a year ago when we played in New York for the first time (with Unisex Salon) my friend and i spent a day in Chinatown just exploring, and we found Columbus Park tucked away behind the main drag. apparently this was the place where, every day, all the old Chinese people would come to hang out and JAM. old folks brought their beautiful, jangly, dusty musical instruments and gathered around in a circle, just jammin. one gray guy even had a tiny PA and a mic and was singing at the top of his ancient lungs. we thought maybe this was a special event, but every time i have been back to Columbus Park, there they are, jammin. it's gorgeous.