Jonathan and his boyfriend (same guy I had met before) were in a three-bedroom place on the Upper West Side that apparently belonged to Davide’s family. Court and I got there around the same time and went in together. She was in full on punk mode, in a secondhand leather jacket I didn’t remember, a Mighty Mighty Bosstones T-shirt (remember this was before they hit the mainstream), and a pair of worn out jeans that I suspect were mine once upon a time. She’d added a second piercing to one of her ears–a pink triangle stud–and an undercut to her hair.
“You look nice,” I said as I kissed her on the cheek. You know me. I was kind of curious what prompted the rebel girl look but I wasn’t about to come right out and ask.
“Thanks,” she said, taking my statement as sincere, which it was. “You look a little underdressed.”
I was in my usual high tops, jeans, flannel shirt, and leather jacket. None of them jazzed up, just the everyday ones. “As usual?”
“As usual,” she agreed. She told the door man who we were there to see and he waved us through to a narrow elevator door. “Although nice hair. You saw Bernard I’m guessing? How’s he doing?”
“I ran into him just by luck while I was walking around. He’s working at a salon in the West Village and he managed to fit me in.” Was that the day we saw the lawyers? “I figured I wanted to look my best for all the meetings I have this week.”
The elevator came and I opened the door for her. It was a small one, probably as old as the building, the kind with an inner door and an outer door that opened separately. “So, fill me in,” she said as the elevator started to rise. “Lawyers, doctors, and…?”
“And A&R and who knows what else.” I groaned. “Short version: Digger’s the source of all our problems with BNC, money, and the law; my hand still hurts but it’s really just scar tissue and maybe psychosomatic, and Artie wants another instrumental album out of me ASAP whether I can play or not.”
“And are you going on tour with Ziggy?” she asked.
“I don’t know. His plans for both album release and tour are contingent on–get this–what kind of movie role they develop for him next.” We reached the tenth floor and got out. I could immediately hear the sound of boisterous chatting coming down the hall. “They’re super concerned about how his image plays in the US market and it’s all fucked up with genre expectations and other bullshit. Barrett just left for LA to take some meetings to try to get things moving from the movie-making end.”
At the end of the hall the door into the apartment was open and a couple of people were milling in the hallway with plastic cups in their hands. They were wearing adhesive “Hello My Name Is” name tags.
“What kind of event did you say this was?” I said to Court.
“Primaries watch party,” she repeated, like those words should mean more this time. “Davide and J. are doing fundraising for Paul Tsongas.”
“One of the candidates,” she said, instantly exasperated. “Wait, you knew that and you’re pulling my leg, right?”
“I didn’t know how to pronounce it,” I said. “So this is a fundraiser?”
“No. It’s more of a gathering of a bunch of the people involved in the fundraising. Come on. You know some of them.” She pulled me between two women wearing campaign buttons who made greeting noises and gestures and pointed us at the name tags.
I wrote “Daron” in Sharpie on one and stuck it to the pocket of my flannel shirt. Court made a beeline for a familiar face, the Brown professor we’d met on the train and who I guess she’d had a kind of thing with although I’d missed it at the time? She was talking with another familiar face: the Columbia grad student who used to date Sarah. Small world, small world.
Sarah was not there, but that was all right. I got to fill Jonathan in a little on what was going on with me–and by a little I mean he got about the same amount of recap that I’d given Court on our way in–and we had a hug about Jordan that almost made me break down. But I just really didn’t want to cry in front of a room of Democratic party fundraisers, or Davide, even if he was really nice to me this time and very careful with my hand.
Grief’s a funny thing. It was like I didn’t want to spread it around, like some kind of contagious disease. That would be horribly rude and a social faux pas. So I stowed it away like an Altoids tin packed with earplugs buried deep in my jacket pocket and then walked around the party kind of hooking on to various little conversations without saying much myself. I gathered from what I heard that Tsongas had just won a bunch of primaries like the week before? And so he was something of a front runner.
Having just had all these conversations about Ziggy’s image it was kind of curious listening to these people who were diehard Tsongas supporters talk about his image problem. What I couldn’t quite tell from these fragmentary discussions was whether the guy’s problem was he came off as “an elite Northeastern policy wonk with no personality” or whether the problem was that he actually WAS an elite Northeastern policy wonk with no personality.
Can you ever get to the “truth” of who someone “really” is in public life? And if you do, are you always going to be disappointed? I think we’re sort of hardwired to want our leaders and idols–pop or otherwise–to be somehow better or different or larger than we are. But they’re just humans. They’re always going to be just humans.
Maybe that’s why we invent gods. And since those gods don’t actually exist, they can never be proven fallible. Of course they can never be proven to exist at all, and that’s where faith comes in.
Those are pretty cynical thoughts to be having in the middle of a bunch of conversations about a presidential candidate, honestly. I decided to retreat to the kitchen to soak my hand in the sink.
That’s where I was when everyone else was gathered around the TV news as the various early results began to come in.
By the time Court and I left there that night, there was a new front-runner in the race. Some guy from Arkansas named Bill Clinton.
(MINI LINER NOTE! Heyo, readers in Nashville and Atlanta! Also St. Louis and Kansas City! I wanted to give you a heads up about Amanda Palmer coming to town. I just saw her solo show in Boston and it’s amazing. Although I’m a patron of hers on Patreon, I went in without listening to any of her new album There Will Be No Intermission so that the songs would be completely fresh and new to me and it blew my mind. It’s not a “concert.” It’s a show, with Amanda telling serious, sometimes heartbreaking stories about motherhood and daughterhood, childbirth and abortion, grief and joy, threading together the songs.
As you may know, Amanda fled her record label years ago and has been making it with crowdfunding, so a lot of the buzz about the tour is purely word of mouth. So from my mouth to your ears: go see There Will Be No Intermission. [Note: there is actually one intermission…] Popdust calls the show an “inimitable experience.” The album is good, too, they note, but it’s like listening to the cast album of a Broadway show. The live theater experience is incomparably richer. And man, she is a kick-ass songwriter.
May 10 San Francisco
May 11 Los Angeles
May 17 Nashville
May 18 Atlanta
May 30 St. Louis
May 31 Kansas City
Jun 1 Denver
Jun 6 Vancouver, BC
Jun 7 Seattle
Jun 8-9 Portland OR
Nashville and Atlanta in particular have a lot of tickets still to sell because she’s in quite large venues in both cities!
UK and Europe dates are also on her website (which is NSFW btw… for naked skin as well as emotion…)
If you can’t make it to one of the shows, and are looking for more about the album: Popmatters calls There Will be No Intermission her “best work,” NME calls it “dense and intense,” NPR said it was “unfathomably ambitious, by and for feelers of grand feelings.” Ziggy loves it for that, and Daron loves the musicality.
You can also find Amanda on Patreon.
While I’m talking about Patreon, I’ll also mention that I’m revamping mine to not be solely about Daron’s Guitar Chronicles anymore, but also to expand to support some other writing projects that I have simmering on the back burner. Soon I’ll begin sharing more details there! You can join in for as little as $1 a month at http://patreon.com/ceciliatan.
If you go see Amanda come back and comment about it bc I have feelings and thoughts and want to talk about it!