Saturday, October 30
"So I've decided to blog. I haven't decided how I'm going to use this forum yet, right now I'm just playing around to see if I can even do it correctly.
I may post excerpts from my novel in progress; I may whine and rant about my life; or I may just post my favorite recipes - what the hell do I know.
All I know is, I'm doing it and whatever happens, happens.
And now to figure out how to post photos and other cool stuff...."
That was my very first blog post, six years ago today, and it was even a Saturday! I used to blog daily, sometimes 3-4 times a day. I found the medium so exciting, I could not stay away. But now, yeah, six years later, I am shocked to realize over a month has passed since my last post and I've got some serious splainin' to do, Ricky.
Oh, cursed Facebook, you have stolen my blog writing time from me. That, and I must confess to those who haven't read my FB blurbs, I have a very cool but temporary gig in the real world at a local university (best.job.ever.) though I admit it, I come home and assume the fetal position. So the only time I do have for writing is at dawn and I must reserve said time for my new novel. I've also been mildly depressed this month because it was exactly a year ago that I was on tour with Julie, Eric and Adrian all throughout Canada and the west coast, and it seems like every day during the past couple of weeks I've remarked, "This time last year I was driving through the most amazing scenery ever (Zion National Park in Utah)..or...this time last year I was sunbathing at Redondo Beach where later that night I would eat probably the best restaurant meal of my life at Maison Riz and you must click on that link to see how freaking gorgeous it is - both the restaurant itself and how it seems to sit atop the ocean - and to view the menu because as good as it sounds, trust me, it's even better in person. :)
Here are photos and my blog blurbs from the tour last year, just to refresh your memory and to make you understand why I've been out of sorts this year:
Well, duh, I had to have my photo taken as well. When the fuck am I ever going to get to the Grand Canyon again?
Erm...actually, that's not the Grand Canyon. Now that I carefully look at that pic, I think it was taken in the parking lot right outside of Zion National Park in Utah a few hours later. Oh well. Whatever. Most gorgeous drive/destination EVER. And if you don't believe me, have a look at the rest of the photos from our Utah gig:
Here's a shot of both Eric and me in the parking lot of the hotel where we stayed in Springdale, Utah...it was called Majestic View and yes, it was the most magnificent view ever...but the lodge, oh the horror, inside it was taxidermy heaven...I looked away from the big stuffed bear and various deer heads but when I saw the tiny stuffed mountain lion hanging on the wall in the restaurant where we had breakfast, I gagged and was once again proud to be a vegetarian. If you click on the photo of the lodge Julie took and enlarge it, I believe you can see pretty clearly what I'm talking about.
What a difference a year has made, huh. Eric is now in a different band, Julie still tours with Adrian...in fact, she's in Europe with him right now on a six week tour (more on both Julie and Eric will be included in this mini-series of a post...be patient) but she never expected to write and release her debut solo CD, which, by the way, has completely sold out of its first 1,000 pressing and she's currently well into selling out pressing #2...and I will most likely never go on tour with either of them again which leaves me both sad and happy (if you've ever been on tour, you'll know exactly what I mean)...but yeah, if I said I wasn't blue from time to time, I'd be lying. But I think it's more of an "Oh crap, I'm getting older" kind of sadness more than anything. Then I remember that getting older sure beats the alternative and I've now outlived both my mother and her mother by several years, so...
Okay, I'm smiling. Life is good. Julie and Eric are both incredibly happy and that's all that matters. If they are happy, I'm happy. And yet...
Enough. All that being said, oh man, do I have a lot to catch you guys up on.
First, my apologies to Ariel Leve, Marcy Demansky, and Gina Frangello. They are part of my "Celebrity Book Club" and I owe them reviews on their recent releases, "It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me", "Bad Marie", and "Slut Lullabies", respectively. My new job came as a total surprise to me and I never expected it to consume my brain and body so thoroughly. I still intend to write these reviews, and if I were the type who could write something on the order of "I really liked this book - go buy it" without giving details, photos, author bios, etc., they would have already been posted. But these three books deserve better than that, and I am hoping that at some point in the very near future I can actually sit down and do them proper justice. But trust me on this -- if you can swing it, buy all 3 ASAP and hopefully by the time I post these reviews, you'll have read them and we can have a real discussion. Cool? Cool.
And of course the same goes out to my good friend, Anil Prasad, who celebrated the release of his brilliant collection of musician "Innerviews". Anil sent me an email yesterday which has me so elated!
"We are 50% through first print run in just two weeks!"
"Just a quick note to thank you all for your amazing support for my new Innerviews book that came out last Tuesday. I also wanted to let you know about some amazing things happening with it. Media coverage has been extensive so far, and is exceeding my wildest expectations. Here are a few highlights:
NPR’s Echoes ran a great 8-minute documentary on the book and the history of the site.
Ottawa Citizen, one of Canada’s biggest newspapers, did an extensive review/interview in print.
Ottawa Citizen also ran an even deeper online interview.
No Depression, the revered music magazine, ran this review.
JazzTimes, a highly-influential jazz magazine, continues running excerpts from the book here.
User reviews on Amazon have also been great.
Many more reviews are at the book page on the Innerviews site (which also lists all the artists/chapters featured)."
While I'm on the subject of newly released books, there's one which features Julie, Eric, and Adrian called "Their Love of Music" and you can read all about it right here.
So much to read it's like Christmas! Oh right, according to the displays at our local stores, apparently it already is Christmas. Holy cow, they used to at least wait until after Halloween to put out the decorations, didn't they? And now I just heard that Black Friday is being moved up as well. Ugh, we are devolving at an even faster rate than I thought. Don't even get me started on next week's election. But vote, dammit! I know all the candidates suck, believe me, but do you really want another four-six-eight years of a Bush-Cheney regime or worse? These tea party people are lunatics and they scare the hell out of me.
I know I'm preaching to the choir. If you read my blog, you most likely share my sentiments, anyway. Except for those two Rush L./Sarah P. dementos who still visit me daily :)
So when I last left you, it was release day for my pal Susan Henderson's beautiful debut novel, Up from the Blue, and I have a whole story that goes along with that but first, look at all the attention it's receiving:
The New York Times!
Book Club Girl!
San Francisco Book Review!
Book Club Radio!
The Nervous Breakdown!
For more info on Up from the Blue and for links on where to purchase it (though I highly urge you to visit your local independent book store), please visit Susan's website right here.
Anyway, Sue's book was released on September 21, and that Friday, September 24, she was scheduled to give her second reading at Word in Brooklyn. I promised Sue I'd be there -- I was really looking forward to it -- several weeks prior to my re-entry into the work force. Still, since it was a Friday night, I knew I could make it happen. The university where I am employed is literally four blocks from the train station to NYC; it's only an hour and 15 minute ride, so I could technically be in NYC by 6:30, allowing an hour to get to Brooklyn. I called the book store and asked the best route from Penn Station via subway and they advised me to take a cab. The clerk told me I'd need to take two separate subways -- I would have to change trains somewhere along the line -- (and for a klutz like me who gets lost walking in her own neighborhood, this is no small feat) -- and that even though it was rush hour, if the trains weren't timed properly, it could end up taking me over an hour to get there. Since Sue's reading was from 7:30 to 9:00PM, there was no way I was going to risk that. The clerk cheerfully told me that a cab would get me there in twenty minutes; it was less than seven miles from Penn Station, and I cheerfully replied "Oh, I am so taking a taxi!"
I arrived in NYC at 6:25 and the line for cabs stretched around the block. Huh? Wtf? But I've been in cab lines in NYC before, they move fairly quickly, and as they always announce on Cash Cab, "There are 13,000 cabs in New York City" (Btw, Cash Cab is the show on which I not so secretly fantasize about appearing because God dammit, those questions are easy though I'd never be dumb enough to go for the double or nothing video challenge unless Julie or Eric were in the cab with me since my knowledge of geography and weird animals is like...zero) so I wasn't worried. But when my watch said 7PM and the line had only moved a few inches, I started to go into panic mode. I ignored all the gypsy cab drivers hawking the line (in retrospect, I should have taken one but, you know, I could have ended up as fish food in the Hudson River after I couldn't pay the $500 fare) though I did pathetically respond to a rickshaw driver who looked at me incredulously and said, "Brooklyn? You think I can peddle YOU to Brooklyn?" which then made me paranoid he made the comment due to my weight, not the distance har har...anyway, I kept glancing at my watch nervously while I tried to reassure myself that it would all end up fine because Sue's reading was not ending until 9PM so the worst that would happen is that I'd miss the intro.
Finally, at 7:30, I was first in line and a cab pulled up. I got in, and gave the driver the address.
"Brooklyn?! You want me to take you to Brooklyn?! What's wrong with you! Why aren't you taking the subway! How am I supposed to make a living, driving you to Brooklyn!"
I was so shocked -- I mean, in Philadelphia, the farther you go, the nicer the cab driver is to you. I am usually the most non-confrontational person in the world, but having stood in that line for an hour and taking a long train ride after work to see my friend whose reading I was about to miss, I yelled back. I still can't believe I did it, but yep, I screamed, while desperately looking for some kind of driver identification so I could report him.
"How dare you yell at me! I'm the customer! I don't know New York (oh boy, saying that was a big mistake but luckily it didn't come back to bite me in the ass and it was a lie, anyway...I know New York, I just don't know the subway system because I am either a prima donna who takes cabs everywhere or I walk)...and I called the clerk at the bookstore and she said it was only a 20 minute, 7 mile drive!"
"What's the cross street!" he barked.
"I don't know! You're a cab driver, you're supposed to know. I gave you the address of the shop!"
Do I believe he continued to holler at me for the next fifteen minutes? And I hollered right back. I so wanted to get out of that cab but having waited for over an hour, I wasn't about to do that and be stranded altogether. Also, he was driving like a maniac through parts of New York I'd never seen before and I had a vision of him pulling over in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge and making me get out of the cab.
Does 911 work in NYC, I wondered, clutching my cell phone.
So even though this maniac told me he didn't know where the book store was and screamed at me for not knowing cross streets, he sped on like he knew exactly where he was going.
To add insult to injury, I would later learn that the reason the line for cabs was so long was THAT THE SUBWAYS WERE UNDER CONSTRUCTION THAT WEEKEND AND SHUT DOWN BEGINNING THAT NIGHT!
Oooh...I was so mad. I really wish I had his I.D. I'd out him here so bad and if I knew how to work my stupid cell phone (yes, I am the last person in America to not have an iPhone or Blackberry but as you can tell from my last sentence, I don't even know how to work a cell phone), I would have taken his picture and posted it here with a slogan: DO YOU KNOW THIS MAN? DO NOT TAKE HIS TAXI!
Anyway, all that, and it was in fact only a 20 minute ride and the fare was only $12 and because I am mentally deranged, I gave him a $5.00 tip to prove that all Americans are not arrogant fucks like he practically came out and accused me of being, slammed the door, and raced into the bookstore....just as Susan was answering the final question of the Q&A which followed her reading.
I missed the whole thing. I was so distraught and so frazzled by everything that preceded it I could hardly talk.
But there was a bright side. I did get another copy of the book, Sue signed it, and we all went to a bar around the corner. Not only that, but I got to meet my friend Martin Lennon, the brilliant singer/songwriter I wrote about here. Martin and his lovely friend, Sarah Anderson, who sings on the CD as well, were visiting NY from Scotland so that Martin could do a series of open mic nights that weekend. That being so, along with the fact that I knew we would be partying after Susan's reading, I booked a hotel for the night so I could see Martin play on Saturday and not have to worry about rushing home for the last train to Philadelphia, which is inexplicably at 11PM. Sigh...getting that hotel room was the best move I made and I even checked the New York Bed Bug Registry first to make sure I chose a decent place and don't click on that link unless you have a strong stomach because if you've been to New York recently, chances are you've visited a bed bug infested location. My skin is crawling right now because yeah, I see in the recent updates I stayed at a bed bug hotel last year. Ew, ew, ew!
I felt so terrible missing Sue's reading and then when we went to the bar, it turned out to be a tiny place which luckily had a beautiful garden out back with picnic tables to sit and drink so we all sat down communal style and I still didn't get a chance to really talk with Susan! But, every dark cloud has a silver lining because I got to chat with Martin and Sarah a bunch and then, terrified that I would encounter a similar experience with a cab driver getting back to NY, practically begged them to take me with them which was kind of funny, given the fact that they are from Scotland and knew more about transportation in NYC than I did (that's how I found out the subways were down)...we ended up with a very sweet cab driver who dropped me off at my hotel first (though not before circling the block 87 times trying to find it...argh...did NYC not hear of GPS systems that their drivers can see, not the backseat passengers? What is up with that?)...and at midnight, I finally crashed into a lovely, clean bed with plans to meet up with Martin and Sarah the next day. Martin had two open mics planned, one in the afternoon that I could make, and another that evening when I'd already be back in Philadelphia. I didn't want to say anything to Martin to deter him but I had weird vibes about a Saturday afternoon open mic event. Who goes to a bar on the lower east side at 2PM on a Saturday to hear live music? And this was really the lower, lower East side...when my cab pulled up, a homeless guy was sitting on the steps of the venue eating something I'd just seen him fish out of the trash, and the bar itself, Banjo Jim's had a big metal gate over the doors and windows. In other words, that place was closed. Having arrived there before Martin and Sarah, I groaned. This really was going to be one of those weekends from hell, wasn't it.
I am happy to report I was wrong. Dead wrong. At 2PM, the gates went up, and the place filled with aspiring musicians and their significant others. I had a 5PM train to catch and I was a little worried about time for a change, but Martin was #3 on the sign-up sheet and the bartender/emcee/sound guy (all the same person and the poor fellow sliced his finger cutting lemons prior to start time so he pretty much bled everywhere but I prefer not to think about that right now, especially as I'm still scratching from the thought of bed bugs but yeah, he poured me wine and if there was ever a time I should have asked for beer in a bottle...) announced that each performer would do two songs and if there was time, they'd go around a second time.
I really wanted to write a comprehensive review of the open mic show, too, and even wrote everyone's name down in a notebook, but I currently do not know what the hell I did with it so it'll have to wait.
All I can tell you is this: If you are ever in NYC on a Saturday afternoon, a visit to Banjo Jim's is a must. I had tears in my eyes from these performers. Okay, not all were great - there was one guy who thought he was Leonard Cohen and I don't even like the real Leonard Cohen let alone his out of tune clone. Okay, I love Leonard's poetry, but could/would I sit through one of his concerts? Hell no. I'll leave that for the hipsters who think they discovered him. Blech. That being said, here are a couple of lines from one of my all-time favorite Leonard Cohen lyrics, and the reason I could never really hate him:
"And quiet is the thought of you,
The file on you complete,
Except what we forgot to do,
A thousand kisses deep."
Those lyrics just kill me, and yeah, the song is indeed called A Thousand Kisses Deep.
It's just too bad I can't stand his droning delivery, huh.
Sorry, I'm a rocker chick.
Getting back to Banjo Jim's, so the first guy who performed looked like a 60 year old government worker - thinning hair, Hagar slacks up around his chin, glasses held together with tape...he sits down at the piano and does a rousing rendition of the Doors' Love Me Two Times. I almost died. And I teared up. It was a truly beautiful moment.
But Martin was the show stealer. He performed my favorite song, the one which first introduced me to his music and the title track of his CD, The Crow. People came up to him afterward and told him how fucking awesome he is. Leonard Cohen wishes he sounded 1/2 as good as Martin because Martin is the one who should be selling out Madison Square Garden, not Lenny.
Have a listen right here.
Hearing Martin perform live totally made up for missing Susan's reading. I cried throughout the entire two songs, I was so verklempt. There was indeed time for another round but I had to catch my train so I bid Martin and Sarah a tearful farewell and made it to Penn Station just in time. Whew.
So that was my weekend in New York City. I always have a lot to write about whenever I go there, huh. By the way, if there's anyone left reading this blog who has not read my first book, Three Days in New York City, well, what are you waiting for? I refer you to my Amazon Author Page. Three Days is the first in the trilogy, followed by Another Bite of the Apple, and Bitten to the Core. They are available in both paperback and Kindle, iPhone, and all that other happy electronic stuff. If you want to read my very, very creative non-fiction autobiography which includes the evolution of Julie and Eric's careers in music, that would be Daddy Left Me Alone with God and that is available both in print and digitally via my Amazon page as well.
And now for the real reason anyone reads my blog - news about Julie and Eric Slick.
Eric is currently on tour with Dr. Dog in the United States and he's out on the west coast. Very important: This Wednesday night, Dr. Dog will appear on the Craig Ferguson Show (it's their second appearance this year) and the special guest that night will be Stephen Fry. Last night, they played in Seattle and if the tweets I read are any indication, it was yet another kick ass show. Dr. Dog has released four brand new songs with Eric on the drums, and I know I'm his mother, but holy cow, these songs take the band to a whole new level. Especially Black-Red, my all-time favorite Dr. Dog song. To listen and/or purchase these tunes, which are also available on a limited edition seven inch vinyl that you can pick up at their shows, please click here.
They will be playing two nights in San Francisco next week, and Eric is all happy because he will be joined by his significant other, the lovely Nicky Devine. You should see those two together - they are soulmates. You know how most mothers never think anyone is good enough for their kids? Well, I lucked out. I adored Nicky the minute I met her, and I hope she doesn't mind me doing this, but you should all friend her on Facebook right here. Nicky lived in San Francisco and is from the area so her parents will be coming to the show at the Fillmore - I am sure they will love Eric, too. How can you not love Eric?
I miss J&E so much right now it's ridiculous. At least Eric will be home in time for Thanksgiving, and since Nicky is going out west now to see him and visit her parents, that means I get the two of them for turkey day. Which is good because, sob, for the first time ever, Julie will be on tour and won't be home until December. After the European tour wraps up on November 20, Julie, Adrian, and Marco head for Sweden, where they will participate for one week at an extremely cool event you can read all about right here. Julie wrote to me the other day that Thomas Olsson, who coordinates this event, has gotten her access to a kitchen where Julie can prepare a Thanksgiving meal for the many musicians participating. In other words, she's going to cook a massive meal for a massive amount of people. If she didn't look exactly like her father, I would swear they switched babies on me in the hospital. Eric, too. Where did I get these two brilliant, gorgeous people from?
Okay, I've been working on this blog post for the past four hours. I know I have a lot more to say and as usual, if I think of anything else, I'll pop back and edit it. In the meantime, in case you are not on Facebook and haven't seen the most recent You Tubes, etc., here are a couple of Julie on tour last week in Europe and Eric and Dr. Dog on the wonderful television show, On Canvas along with a You Tube of Black-Red.
Later! For sure!