Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Silent Shuttle

It was nearly midnight when I boarded the 'S' train shuttle under Times Square. The train was already waiting when I arrived at its platform, doors wide open, and not a passenger in sight.

I walked up to the first car and stepped in, marveling for a moment at my first time being the only person in a subway car. Normally, the 'S' shuttle is packed, full of tourists and office workers zipping back and forth between Grand Central and Times Square, under 42nd Street.

Over the next few minutes a few other stragglers boarded the train, although nobody entered my car. I began to play a silly mental game, trying to will approaching passengers into selecting any car but mine. I wanted to have a subway ride all by myself.

Just as the doors were closing, three black women entered my car, down at the far end. The sistahs were LARGE, tall and wide, and all sporting big, complicated hair-do's, with beads, ribbons and some multi-colored strands woven throughout. The kind of hair style that my co-worker Devasha calls 'Outer-Borough Weave.' I think parts of their hair might not have actually been hair, in fact. Think Patti Labelle, late 80's, 'New Attitude.'

Two of the women walked down the length of the car, and seated themselves directly across from me. Slightly odd, because the car was empty other than me. The third woman briefly seated herself at the far end, then sprang up to follow the first two down towards me. However, rather than sitting with her friends, she chose the seat across from them, directly next to me, her purse and jacket brushing me slightly when she sat down.

I had only a moment to ponder this gross breach of public seating etiquette (you know, seat yourself as equidistant from your fellow passengers as the number of riders will allow), because immediately I sensed a thick tension between the three women, and I was intrigued.

As the train lurched out of the station, the two women across from us glared at the one next to me. Occasionally, the two of them would share a glance between themselves, eyes narrowed, lips pursed. The woman next to me ignored them, staring blankly straight ahead. She didn't scan the car as riders normally do, reading the ads or checking out the other passengers (which would have just been me or her friends of course.)

As I am wont to do, I began mentally drafting the backstory to this cold war. Were they feuding over a man? Did the one next to me betray the other two in some way that only women could understand? Maybe they were related and arguing over child care or an elderly relative?

We bounced along in utter silence. A silence heavy with accusing looks and defensive body language. A silence broken only by the cell phone of the woman next to me. It called and called to her, in the voice of Usher, 'Yeah....Yeah....Yeah', but she ignored Usher, keeping her hands folded tightly in her lap.

The ride to Grand Central is a short one, and after less than two minutes of this staring contest, the train ground to a stop. The driver inexpertly allowed the train to make a final sharp jolt, causing my seatmate to bounce heavily into me. I smiled at her and made that 'woo' face that strangers share sometimes in those situations. She smiled back at me, and pulled herself to her feet, using the overhead bar.

As the doors opened, she turned to me and said, 'Now, YOU have a great night, ya hear?' With that, she stepped out, never having spoken to or looked at the other two women, since she had seated herself next to me.

Being the well-trained Southern gentleman that I am, I paused at the door to allow the other two women to detrain ahead of me. The two of them gathered themselves for a moment, a deliberate act calculated to allow the other woman to move farther away from them. I smiled at them faintly as I waited for them to pass through the door. They stopped in the door frame and looked at me conspiratorily.

One of them extended a finger with a huge decorated nail and pointed at the first woman, who was now walking towards the exit stairs.

"You see her right there?"

"Um...yeah," I replied.

The second woman splayed her fingers and make a couple of jabbing motions up at her enormous hair.

"Well....she need to have her knots re-tied."

With that, the two of them burst into high-pitched laughing, holding on to each other for support. The first woman stiffened at the laughter, but didn't look back. She reached for the bannister and began the climb up into Grand Central.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Niece Knowledge

While my sister knows better than to broach the issue of religion with me, she couldn't resist sharing this recent exchange with her three year old daughter, Alicia.

Alicia: "Did Jesus die?"

Mama: "Yes, he did."

Alicia: "He smoked, didn't he?"

O' Canada!

I've never been to Canada, but I'm told Vancouver is quite lovely. While I ponder, here are some helpful phrases to get through this dark, dark day:

-Je suis un Américain et je cherche l'asile.

-Ako ay Kano at naghahanap ng kanlungan.

-Ich bin Amerikaner und ich suche Asyl.

-Soy un americano y busco el asilo.

-Sono un americano e cerco asilo.

-Eu sou um americano e eu procuro o asilo.

-Ik ben een Amerikaan en ik zoek asiel.

-I'm an American, and I seek asylum, eh.

(And please, pedants of the world...these are mere Google translations, don't be hatin' on me)

Monday, November 01, 2004

Blog Jammed!

Last Saturday I hopped on the southbound Amtrak and picked up my buddy Ed at the Philadelphia stop. We got to DC around 5pm, checked into our hotel, then I tried to show Eddie around the gayborhood, only it turned out that my memory of *where* the boys are is somewhat out of date.

We had a quick bite to eat, scammed a DSL patch cord from the hotel front desk, then shot out an email to the BlogJam guys, letting them know we were available to be entertained. The ever-gracious Bob Mould called us almost immediately and invited us to the Velvet Lounge, to attend the Morel concert, celebrating last week's release of the new album, "Lucky Strike."

We got to the venue around 11pm and immediately met a calvalcade of Stars Of The Blogosphere....Waremouse (Mark), Chromewaves (PJ), and GeekSlut (Stephen). I introduced myself to Rich Morel at the bar, and pulled Ed over to meet Bob (whom I'd only met myself a couple of weeks ago at the NYC Virgin Megastore queer rock showcase).

The Morel show started upstairs almost immediately, and let me tell you fucking ROCKED! While I'd heard of Rich Morel over the last couple of years, it was for his amazing remixes....Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode (my two favorite bands)...and something by him I had on a Deep Dish mixed compilation. I had never picked up his spectacularly reviewed 2002 release "Queen Of The Highway", (a grotesque oversight on my part, which I have since corrected).

The five piece band fronted by Rich was tight, energetic and engaging. Rich's husky, sexy voice perfectly complemented the deep house-y grooves and almost ethereal electro-pop of the new album. The packed house shook and the floor literally bounced up and down as we danced. I shook my groove thang, got my freak on, and got on down with my bad self. I'll definitely be attending the Morel show in NYC on November 12. Stop reading this post right now, and go out and get "Lucky Strike" ...RIGHT NOW. I'll wait here.

OK, you're back? Are you jamming to the best album of 2004? Cool. I'll finish telling the story while you groove.

Sunday night, Ed and I got to the BlogJamDC venue around 730pm, to find a note on the door announcing that bloggers VividBlurry and Wonkette would not be appearing. Jim Barrett, the co-creator of the show introduced himself to me immediately (hot beard Jimbo!) While the crowd began to gather I met the rest of the BlogJam performers....Dogpoet (who somehow is the ONLY Powerhouse bartender I managed NOT to bag, back in SF...dammit), Andrew Sullivan (who is much beefier than I remembered), and the erudite Chrisafer.

While waiting for my turn on stage, I met fellow bloggers Homer and Larry, both sweet handsome guys. I tried not to be *too* nervous, but I was noted pacing and wringing my hands a little bit. To my regret, it was hard for me to focus on Dogpoet's performance, because I was up immediately after him. Everyone says he was amazing, I'm going to have to beg for a personal recreation.

When my turn came, I read a couple of older things, from my first month of blogging. I wrapped up with 'The Goodbye Song' which I'd only finished in the hotel room, a few hours earlier. I was a little worried about reading such a downer of an essay, but I think it went over well. My only real miscue was coming upon a blank page in my notes, and fumbling for a moment to regain my place in the story. After the show, some of the audience flattered me by asking me a lot of very informed questions about some of the stories and people I've written about, particularly 'Terrence'. I also got to meet Sparky, one of the organizers of WYSIWYG, the NYC show that was the genesis of BlogJamDC.

I had a fantastic time in DC, it was my first time reading my work publicly. Huge thanks to Bob, Jimbo and Rich for all their work. And thanks to everyone I met at the show. Your kindness and compliments were greatly appreciated.

Now, back to the work of JoeMyGod. I've got a backload (heh...'load') of stories to post, and I'll be wrapping up the serial stories in progress, over the next couple of weeks, with a few new ones ready to start.