The guys had not left town. They’d crashed at Jordan’s and Jordan was playing host, therefore we caught up with them at Limelight–Carynne included. Bart had clued her in to what we’d done and so she came down to put her head together with Jordan and me to figure out what the fuck to do with a record we weren’t expecting to make.
“It’s fucking brilliant,” I heard Jordan tell her. We didn’t actually talk with Jordan at Limelight, though, just celebrated.
I did tell her one thing, though, while we were lying side by side on a tuffet in the spacey trippy room when we got tired from dancing.
“Ziggy offered us the opening slot on his tour.”
“Did you just say Ziggy offered you the opening slot on the tour?”
“Yes. And I said yes.”
“So that was the carrot he beat you into agreement with?”
“I’d actually already made up my mind to do it. It feels like the universe just threw me a sign that I made the right decision.” My head spun a little from the lights and the trippy music and the alcohol in my system, but also from the realization that if I’d told Ziggy right away when I got to New York we might’ve jumped into work, and then maybe the whole thing with Jordan’s friend and the subsequent recordings wouldn’t have happened.
“Okay, but who the fuck records an album without knowing what it’s going to be?” she asked. “I mean, besides you. I mean–”
“I know what you mean. It just kind of…happened.”
“I guess I better figure out what the rights situation is with the punk film music, too,” she said. “I get the feeling you did Jordan a favor so he did you a favor.”
“I think Jordan gets off on extracting the best music from people.”
“He’s interesting, all right.”
We ended up back at Jordan’s loft with a fairly large group of people, about twenty, and while there was no blow job contest this time, at one point two drag performers propositioned Ziggy, who turned them down. Eventually they left with a half dozen or so others who were, I gathered, headed off to form their own orgy. Or possibly do one of the drugs Jordan disapproved of. Or both. Now that I think about it, almost certainly both.
That left mostly people we knew, and somehow Jordan and I got in a conversation with one of them who was an old-school Warholian, a woman whose name I didn’t learn but who argued passionately with me about Patti Smith.
“We all knew her. She was on the vanguard of the New Wave,” the woman argued, with gestures as extravagant as her eyebrows. They were Crayola-red and matched her lipstick. “You were still in diapers.”
“I don’t care who she hung out with or what her politics were or her position in the industry,” I said. “Or what her image was. I believe my ears. My ears tell me that musically she wasn’t doing much that was ‘new wave’ at all. It’s not all that different from what, say, Springsteen was doing around the same time. And her comeback album? Please. It has ‘old hippie’ written all over it.”
“Blasphemy,” the woman said, shaking her head. “She was no hippie.”
“Come on, ‘The People Have the Power’?” I sang the chorus of the Patti Smith song that had tried to break out in 1988 but far as I remembered didn’t go far. “It’s totally 1968 again.”
“Plus she grew her hair out long and put it in braids and had that whole sixties protestor vibe to the look of the album, too,” Jordan pointed out.
The woman made a dismissive gesture. “Oh, like Bowie hasn’t gone through a million phases, too.”
“I love Patti but she isn’t Bowie,” Jordan said. “Though now that I think about it, I preferred them both in their androgynous phases. And wasn’t her husband in the MC5?”
“New Wave,” the woman said insistently. “New. Wave. Critics call Horses the first punk record.”
“She covers Jimi Hendrix,” I pointed out. “And ‘Gloria.’ I’m telling you. Musically, she wasn’t pushing the envelope from what came before her other than maybe to strip it down to what was happening in garages all over the country. That’s what it really is. Garage rock. Horses has more in common with The Kinks than it does with The Ramones. If anything, it’s the bridge from The Kinks to The Ramones.”
The woman waggled her head back and forth like she might be able to agree with that. “Maybe.”
“I’m not saying it’s not a great album or that Patti Smith wasn’t awesome,” I said. “But that’s what I hear.”
Jordan shrugged. “You should meet her sometime. I wonder what she’d think of you saying that. She told me once she almost became the lead singer for Blue Oyster Cult so I don’t think she was exactly trying to reject her musical forbears. In fact, wait, didn’t she co-write one of Springsteen’s biggest hits?”
“‘Because the Night,'” I said. “I think they both did versions and they were both hits. And they sound almost exactly the same.”
“You just don’t understand,” the woman said.
“Maybe I don’t, but I would respect Patti Smith a hell of a lot more if she–or someone–told me she didn’t give a fuck about category or image, instead of insisting on cramming her into a label that doesn’t even remotely fit from a musical point of view.”
“She probably would tell you to fuck category,” Jordan said with a nod.
“We don’t see her much around here anymore,” the woman said. “She’s living in the midwest with her family.” She rolled her eyes. That irritated me, as if choosing to raise a family was an inferior choice to partying it up with us in the big city. Which I know that sounds weird coming from me, but I’m not anti-family, I was just anti-my-family. Maybe it was the midwest thing, too, as if the New York area were so much better. I’ve been all over the country now and can tell you there are places where the conformity is crushing and places where art and weirdness flourishes and it’s not separated by region. I wasn’t about to get into an argument about New Jersey versus New York or anything right then.
Then another thought hit me, given what Matthew had said about the West Village being like ground zero for the AIDS epidemic. If Patti Smith had lived through a lot of HIV and AIDS deaths, I sure as hell couldn’t blame her for wanting to get out of the city after that. (Call me slow: I didn’t connect her and Robert Mapplethorpe until years later.)
I extricated myself from that conversation and ended up sitting between Ziggy and Colin on the futon by the window.
Ziggy murmured in my left ear, “The number one reason we shouldn’t be monogamous is sitting on your right.”
“Stop what?” Colin asked.
“Not talking to you, sorry,” I said, nudging Ziggy in the ribs in what I hoped was a playful manner.
This led to Ziggy roughhousing with me until he was clinging to my back like a monkey. “You’ll need a sherpa, won’t you?”
“No. If I’m the musical director I need the whole tech staff under my supervision,” I said.
“Tsk. All work and no play–”
I wrestled him off of me and flattened him on the couch. “Don’t.”
“Should we go home?”
So we said our farewells and our last congratulations to everyone and caught a cab back to Ziggy’s and the whole way there I wasn’t sure if we were in the middle of a fight or a serious discussion or foreplay or all of the above, but you know? It was kind of familiar? And I was kind of cool with that? Like I was content to calm down and wait until we got there to find out the answer to that question, which I guess increased the likelihood of it being a serious discussion and foreplay and decreased the likelihood of a fight.
In fact, we didn’t fight. Ziggy heated up two Pop Tarts in the toaster oven and we stood there in the kitchen burning our fingers slightly while eating them without bothering to get plates out of the cabinet. He finished eating his first and was licking crumbs off his fingers when he said, “I won’t ever tell you you can’t have Colin.”
“Am I supposed to tell you that means you can have Janessa on the side then?” I asked. “To be fair?”
He shook his head. “First of all, I’m not interested in Janessa anymore, but forget that for a second. That’s not how it works. This isn’t like a tit for tat contract, Dear One, unless that’s the only way it’ll feel fair to you.”
“Well, I mean, no one likes to feel like things are unfair, do they?”
“It’s not unfair for you to ask me to keep my dick in my pants if that’s what you need to feel safe and secure in the relationship with me. Even if it’s okay with me if you fuck Colin.” He had crumbs in the corner of his mouth.
“Okay, you know what, though?” The crumbs were very distracting, but I tried to stay on topic. “I’m also fine with you fucking Colin. I have no problems with Colin.”
“So maybe we should approach this on a case by case basis instead of trying to make any general rules?”
I thought about something Digger used to say and I inverted it. “How about we have to ask for permission first instead of forgiveness later?”
Ziggy nodded. “That seems like a reasonably level of maturity and commitment to ask.”
I licked the crumbs off his face then, and we fell back into bed. We managed to have sex without getting into any discussions in the middle this time.
Afterward, though, an old, nagging fear floated through my head. “You’ll tell me if you feel like I’m asking for too much sex, right?”
“Are you asking this because Jonathan thought you were a sex maniac?”
“Daron, let me assure you we haven’t come close to what I’d consider too much sex.”
“Okay, that is reassuring.”
“If anything, we should keep an eye on my tendency to pretend that if we’re having sex it’s proof the relationship’s healthy when we both know we’re capable of having sex even when we’re getting along terribly.”
The sky was turning light outside and the sounds of morning traffic had long since been rushing by in the background. I could hear a garbage truck down the block. “Does that mean we shouldn’t have sex if we’re not getting along?”
“Oh no, we definitely should, since we tend to get along better after we do. I guess I mean let’s not use it as a crutch for fixing the relationship instead of actually working on what’s bothering us.”
“And if what’s bothering us is sex?” I pulled him against me.
“Something tells me you’re not as bothered by it as you used to be.”
“No lie, bwana.”
(Happy New Year, everyone! -daron, ctan, and everyone here)