Staggering Into the Sickest Summer of My Life
Instead, I walked around the block and smoked one of my own, to clear my head. It worked. I'd never been in Show World before. The place reminds me of Reno, NV. I followed the signs that said "This Way To HELL!" and shelled out $15 to get in.
The show was cute. It's more or less what I'd expect a bunch of non-Satanist performance-art types to do. It's conceived and composed by Jeremy X. Halpern and executed by him and his troupe, Verge/1-800-WEIRDOS. The band is very good, but never quite gets to cut loose. The title song is very nearly a direct lift of the courtroom scene from Pink Floyd's The Wall and there's a little too much Rocky Horror in the mix, but the show has its moments. It needs work.
Saturday I woke up, called my erstwhile date and let her know via her answering machine that if she was of a mind to forget the previous evening's unpleasantness, she was welcome to join me on an expedition to the beach. I didn't hear from her, so I set out for the East Village with no particular agenda. I wound up in a bar I favor down there with a posse of old pals. We snorted a fair amount of blow and smoked the fattest joint I've rolled in a good 20 years. I was into my second Bloody Mary, taking it real slow and easy with the booze, when I locked eyes with this amazing little elf of a woman. I'll call her Cleo.
One thing led to another, and Cleo and I wound up strolling away to find something to eat. We found ourselves in a dimly lit, crowded yuppie joint on Ave. A. I sucked up a plate of unremarkable ravioli and Cleo stared at her cheeseburger. As I was enjoying my after-dinner cigarette and drink, some idiot dot-com yupnik started harassing Cleo about something related to the previous occupants of our table. When he gave her a shove, I got up and ordered the manager to evict him, which she did. I settled the tab and left a nice tip and suggested to Cleo that we go to the beach and wait for the sunrise.
She wanted the cops. We went to the bar while our waiter cleared the table, and I tried to reason with Cleo.
"Listen," I said, "let's just get out of here. We can go to the beach. I'm holding, I don't want to deal with the cops, it's over and the cops have bigger fish to fry. They won't like this. Whaddya say? We'll go to Rockaway and wait for sunrise."
She wanted the cops. Okay, fuck it. I split. I had a couple more drinks and crashed out in my car next to Tompkins Square Park.
Woke up at about 8 or 9 on Sunday morning, didn't know where I was for a minute, turned on 1010 WINS and got the weather. They were predicting a record-breaker, a serious 90-something-degree day, and I decided to cut the female gender out of the loop altogether and get my dehydrated ass out to Sandy Hook. I ducked into Leshko's for their perfect poached eggs and corned beef hash and then sped out to Jersey.
Pulling off the Garden State Pkwy. to Sandy Hook, gulping down my third liter of Poland Spring, I was abruptly surrounded by about a thousand bikers on roaring hogs. A carload of Japanese in front of me freaked out, came to a dead halt, pulled over on the shoulder and leaped out of their car to record the procession of American Visigoths with what appeared to me to be every kind of digital recording device known to man.
I followed the bikers. I wound up at the bar on the beach out there, swilling down cans of Coors Extra Gold and Killian's Red and chatting it up with Gary Introne, the organizer of ABATE, American Bikers Aimed Toward Education. They've been doing this run for eight years now; it's a community service thing they do, raising money for education, but it's also a chance for the clubs and independents to get together for a ripping good time. The park service bureaucrats kind of screwed them this year. In the past, they were allowed to stake out their own turf in the huge expanse of beach and pretty much do their own thing with kegs and a full-blown bike show. This year they were restricted to an area heavily populated by families and tourists, and they weren't allowed to do the bike show thing, even though the park had just allowed a Corvette show on the premises a week or so earlier.
There was a certain amount of bitching, but the ABATE crowd took it in stride and managed to have a hell of a good time anyway. They were very courteous and deferential to the family crowd surrounding them, and there were no incidents. I'll never understand why law enforcement types keep picking on bikers. Bikers are as American as apple pie. Bikers and truckers are the last vestige of cowboy culture, the honor-driven knights of the road, maintaining the ancient Code of Chivalry in a decadent and bestial age.
They had some beautiful hogs and we had a great time swapping stories from the bad old days of the late 60s and early 70s, when things weren't quite as stable as they are now on that particular circuit in this particular area. Turns out that Gary and a number of his friends share my fondness for WQXR, so when we cleared the beach for a local bar late in the afternoon, I had the pleasure of riding with a serious Harley escort as I blasted WQXR's Tchaikovsky celebration out the windows of my car, cruising the backroads of North Jersey.
I had a couple of drinks with them and split back for the city before my blood alcohol level could get past the legal limit for driving. I headed to the Bowery Ballroom just in time to check out New York Press' "Rock in New York" event, which provided the most kickass rock 'n' roll I've heard since the last time the Butthole Surfers passed through town. My faith in rock 'n' roll was restored by my good friend and associate George Tabb and by the incomparable Ronnie Spector, who can blow any one of the current crop of angst-ridden female rockers right off the stage with the amazing force and power of her relentlessly upbeat wall of sound.
This is the last summer of the 20th century, here before us. If this weekend was any indication, we are going to rock like we haven't rocked since 1969. Fasten your seat belts and lighten your load for summer 2000.
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