Recently acquired:o Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Cold Roseso Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Jacksonville City Nightso Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, 29*Things accomplished:o Ate some Warheads, Sour flavor, which Jon loved and bought in bulk.o Watched Brotherhood of the Wolf, which I think Jon would have enjoyed immensely for the bad-assedness of its fight scenes and the intrigue of the Brotherhood's dark arts and pre-French Revolution skulduggery.o Played a game of Scrabble. Tooth and nail does not begin to describe today's battle. At various points my 7 letters spelled out DETROIT, ASTAIRE, and WELFARE - only the last one counts, of course. Damn J. and his making my ZIT into a ZITHER. Jon tended to fuel our family's engagements with board games; after months of playing nary a one, Jon would coax Missy and the rest of us into a Monopoly game that would last days, and when that game ended, he forged on with some two-player Monopolizing with less and less official officiating. Family legend developed that Jon's skill derived from his being the banker, and certain never-proved bank-related "advantages" (i.e. $100's) with which he was able to provide himself. When it came to Scrabble, I tended to parlay this skepticism of Jon into a knack for pretending lettered tiles were blank tiles by turning them over. o Ate a phenomenal dinner of grilled porterhouse, sauteed sweet potato, and seared pea pods, which Dad summoned into this world from more heavenly districts where ambrosia's on the menu.*Things on tonight's docket:o Hitting the Sound Garden in Armory Square.o Hitting Awful Al's, cigar and whiskey bar.o Rendezvousing with Betsy B. - et. al.? - and continuing on through the Square & elsewhere. *I like to think that Jon would've come, although I know he wouldn't've. Aborigines, J. reports, honored the dead by pretending that they have never existed: their names are never spoken and their pictures are blotted out. The idea is that the dead should not be bothered by being named and therefore summoned into the world because they have to continue their travels into subsequent realms. As expected, I have a Westerner's resistance to this notion. But I like the idea that once the departed has arrived somewhere, after a certain interval has elapsed, you celebrate them in a manner more familiar to us, i.e. by not only naming but exalting them. That's what I think we'll start off doing tonight: a shot of something stiff with Jon's name on it.
Today's post's title comes to you from The Go! Team song by that name. Thirty seconds of the song goes exactly like this. An actual Friendship Update would go like so:Good friend, former ex-pat, and rollicking raconteur J. Kracker's been in town since January 31st. Back from Australia, he's in town generally to drink some beers and catch up with yours truly, happening, as it happened, to be in town for Mom's birthday celebration. That's January 31st, for those who missed it. Mark your 2007 calendars while it's fresh in your mind. Sister Melissa and sister's fiance Adam also came down the pike to break bread with us, or rather, break barbeque ribs. Here are some of the results: J. in the flesh. I am convinced that his travels down under have somehow made him taller. How is this possible? Mom in the center there is at her birthday best. We're in this place called Smokey Bones out in Clay, rapidly depleting their stores of Stolichnaya and Blue Moon. Melissa and Adam, wedged apart by Mom only in a visual sense. I post this primarily because I was chided for posting that other Christmas morning picture of Melissa when she wasn't "done up." Silliness! Why would one ever need to get done up with a smile like that? That's my question. And Mom and Adam, of course. Dad came straight from Albany, and Baba and Pa were also there to regale one half of the table with tales of escaping now-defunct Eastern European nations of old. We should've been better about taking pictures of the food spread, and each other, but honestly we were too busy enjoying ourselves. *Plans for the next few days? Hit the Dinosaur BBQ in downtown Syracuse (purveyors of the "Foreplay" Cajun BBQ spice treatment); hit the Sound Garden and assorted brew pubs and cigar bars in Armory Square; perhaps a jog around the neighborhood before all of that to counteract in advance the excellent damage to be inflicted on our persons.
Yesterday my father and I had lunch at Cafe Steinhof in Brooklyn, at 14th St. and 7th Avenue. It's an excellent spot for lunch or brunch: their fare has a strong German aspect to it such that the omelets come with like sauerkraut mixed in, and even the steamed vegetables are flavored to a salty, smoky nirvana. They know their Bob Dylan, as likely to play Nashville Skyline in full as they are to play, oh, the first track from Blonde on Blonde, and they know their Magnetic Fields as well. They offer Gosser beer, both the lager and the dark varieties. Dad and I ate here in October when he was helping to set me up in Brooklyn. Here's a picture of that day, in October, which is pretty much the same look and feel to yesterday's excellent meal.Come to think of it, I think Dad's got a bowl of white bean soup in front of him, which is the same soup he had yesterday. This is an unplanned coincidence. Here I am. To picture yesterday, picture grey light over my shoulder there rather than sunlight. Also, yesterday it was raining. *We packed everything up with an ease and efficiency that I found exhilarating. After only an hour of packing things up before his arrival, everything was ready to go; after only an hour of packing the truck Jon effectively bequeathed to us, we were ready to go. This fact says a lot about how few worldly possessions I really do have, but I like to think it says more about what precise packers we can be. I believe we were on 380 West when we came up on a rest stop and snapped some photos of our handiwork; I'll have to find them for you. There was sun for awhile. It did us good. I began to think of The Polyphonic Spree's song "It's the Sun", which begins with a vast harmony of voices singing "Suuuuuuuu-uuuun!" (a two-note snippet of melody), and then lead-singer Tim DeLaughter says "Suicide is a shame!" Very, how you say, apropos. Other appropriate songs played yesterday include all of Sufjan Stevens' Come On Feel the Illinoise, which my dad liked a whole lot as it turned out, and Paul Simon's debut album, especially "Paranoia Blues" which fit my own feelings about leaving New York and "Mother and Child Reunion," which had a special and pretty obvious initial poignancy as here we were on our way home to increase the number of souls in the house by one, whereas my dad had recently done the pack-up-and-come-home thing out in Colorado, solely with Jon's stuff and w/o Jon. I can only suggest that yesterday's physical return exerted a partial counterforce to the work of returning Jon's stuff in Jon's truck without Jon himself. Another thing about "Mother and Child Reunion": my dad, on recognizing the song and the album, began singing along. He'd had the album himself in the early 70s, and even played some of Simon's songs in his high school band The Sentries. But I wasn't impressed until the next song, "Duncan", which my father says he hasn't heard since playing it when he was in the band, which is to say 30+ years ago, and as he sang along he knew 90% of the words. The casual, automatic way in which memory can function and sweep aside intervening years like so much irrelevant detail, can return a person to a previous time so completely and instantly, had me beaming from ear to ear. I've used this metaphor before but it still seems appropriate: moments like my father singing along to "Duncan" remind me of that idea in the young adult book A Wrinkle In Time - which if you're a young person you should read and if you're a parent or teacher should have your kids read - in which these three strange witch-type characters explain to the young heroine Meg and her brilliant but socially awkward younger brother Charles Wallace that they're able to travel through space and time via a process calling tesseracting - verb: to tesser / noun: tesseract, i.e. "How was your tesseract?" in the way you'd ask "How was your trip?" To tesser is to bring two disparate and faraway points together, via means I find somewhat hazy in my own memory, in the same way you'd bring two points on a piece of string together. Space is like the string, and so is time. It seems linear, but you can collapse that linear surface to make connections, and travel between points that had seemed removed from one another. But the Best Song of the Day goes to Andrew Bird's "Tables and Chairs" from Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs, a fine album and an even better song which asserts that in even during the final collapse of civilization there's going to be a) the personal impulse to regret that one didn't take the time to be with friends and b) the opportunity to be with those friends again:There'll be pony rides and dancing bearsThere'll even be a bandCause listen, after the fall there will be no more countriesNo currencies at all, we're gonna live on our witsWe're gonna throw away survival kits,Trade butterfly-knives for adderalAnd that's not allWhoa-oh, there will be snacks, there will,There will be snacks, there will,There will be snacks.Hearing this made me think, if only fleetingly and not in a concrete exact way at all, about parties and seeing friends - God this is becoming inane and goopy - but I do nevertheless want to forge on and tell you that there in the car as night finally fell I listened to Andrew Bird sing this lyric about the party after the apparent end of the world and about the presence of snacks - which some of you know is a lyric I've been plenty fond of in recent days - and in spite of or perhaps because of this simple and youthful-minded statement of joy at the future presence of snacks my face just opened into this goofy teared-up face which for fear of being seen I had to direct out of the passenger side window at the dark forests passing by; I mean, it was as though the two masks of theater Tragedy and Comedy were precisely aligned and on my face at the same time, that's the kind of irrepressible crying smile I had on, listening to a song about snacks. We'd been snacking, actually: trail mix and, for me, one piece of black pepper jerky of the kind Jon loved and I hated. So there: in the dark, sitting next to my father, listening, I think I felt incredibly happy.