You might have noticed when Ziggy went off to have a one-night-stand with the lead singer of Sugargum, he didn’t ask me what I was going to do. That would make you quicker on the uptake than me, since I didn’t think of it until later. It was a lot of new stuff to deal with, you know?
Me and Bart and Chris didn’t stay to see the headliner and we ended up at the Deli Haus, where we got recognized but it wasn’t a big deal, and then we went to Bart’s place so he could show it off, even though it was only half-renovated. It was a warm night and we walked up Beacon Street to get there.
The place was a brownstone, narrow but they had the whole place from basement to rooftop. The full finished basement he was going to turn into a small recording studio. The first floor had a front parlor with the kitchen in the back. The second floor had what had been a formal dining room above the kitchen and would be again once the floors and ceilings were refinished, another parlor-type living room that Bart had already turned into a media center with the biggest TV money could buy, and the third floor had three bedrooms, one for him, one for her, and one with skylights that was Michelle’s office and design studio.
“How do you decide which bed to sleep in?” Chris asked. “Flip a coin?”
“Whichever sheets are cleaner,” Bart said, without any apparent sarcasm. “Check this out.” He pulled on a rope hanging from his ceiling and a sort of cross between a ladder and a stairwell came creaking down. He climbed up into a space the size of a phone booth and pushed open a door to the roof. We climbed up after him. Up there was a deck with wrought iron railings and a view of the Charles. Across the river we could see the dome at MIT and the big beige building with the round thing on top of it.
“Next year, Fourth of July, this is where we’ll be,” Bart said.
“Unless we’re on the road,” I added.
“Unless we’re on the road,” he amended.
“Amen to that,” Chris said.
We hung around until maybe two in the morning at which point Chris declared he definitely had to get some sleep. Bart harangued him again about the job. Chris swore that all he was doing was painting, nothing with sharp objects, and that it would be done probably within a week.
When I got home I lay in bed thinking. If the things that were the most commercially successful were things that fell into categories and styles that were already known, then why didn’t record companies simply recruit studio musicians and make them into bands and make them into hits?
Then again, isn’t that what they actually did in the fifties and early sixties? I guess the whole thing about rock and roll, though, was this constant need for change, for new things. That’s part of what made it popular. The whole “rebellion against the previous generation” thing made it kind of necessary. But now that we were on the generation AFTER that generation, no one had quite figured out how to make that work. The corporations were looking at the upheaval of the sixties with psychedelia, and then the wave that was punk and New Wave, as trends that were over and done with. Like everything should just settle down now and let them market all the flavors we had, like a Baskin Robbins ice cream store or something.
But that’s the problem, I thought. They’ve made “alternative” into a genre–like “girl band”–which isn’t a genre. It’s not a genre, it’s a lifestyle. Okay, so not a genre, but maybe you could say it was an audience, right? But “alternative” is the audience that the mainstream doesn’t know how to fucking reach. By definition.
I realized at that moment how fucked every “alternative” band in the country probably was at that moment. Moondog Three included. Unless all you ever wanted to do was play clubs like Axis and sell your tapes and CDs at shows. If you wanted commercial success, you had to be part of a very tiny, elite group.
The thing is, we had been a part of that group. I felt like Mills had kicked us out of the club.
Now he said he wanted to invite Ziggy into the club, on a higher level, even. Hm.
That brought me back to thinking about Ziggy, of course. So he was out there getting his “needs met,” as the expression went. It had taken me a long time to admit I even had needs.
This raised the question I mentioned before: what did Ziggy expect me to do about my own needs tonight? Did he expect me to do anything? Did he know I wouldn’t, which was why I didn’t need his permission the way he needed mine? Or was it that he didn’t care what I did, but he knew I cared what he did?
I’d have to ask, wouldn’t I. I’d have to ask and we’d have to talk about it. Hm. I didn’t dread that idea as much as I thought I would. It would really depend on whether he was in a mood or not.
And whether I was in a mood or not. I admit.
Which still left the question about what I was going to do that night. About my needs.
I decided I liked my needs. Knowing that the next move was mine, and that it was likely to be met with positive enthusiasm, made lusting after him so much better. Instead of painful, it was kind of nice to be on that edge of desire, to think about him without worrying whether I was ever going to see him again. It was kind of indulgent to think about him–to fantasize, even–and to know it was for the sake of enjoying how much I wanted him, rather than out of desperation because I couldn’t have what I wanted.
There were nagging voices, of course. You’re going to fuck it up, they said. He’s going to bite you. it won’t last. He’ll pull a Jonathan on you. You’ll pull a Jonathan on him. Et cetera.
I didn’t listen. I got in the shower and took care of my “needs” and fell asleep on my bed with my hair still soaking wet.