When Carynne and Bart and Chris went back to Boston, I went with them. There were still two weeks before Team Ziggy would take possession of the audition/rehearsal space, plus Ziggy had some stuff to do on the West Coast, and I really really wanted to get home for a while. Not that I didn’t enjoy living at Ziggy’s, but, you know, that was more like couch-surfing. (Except he had a bed instead of a couch.) I needed to make a lot more phone calls and that was easier to do from home, too, plus I wanted to work on stuff with Bart and Chris…
Yeah. Time to go home for a little while.
Ziggy actually left first, on an early morning flight to LA. Saying goodbye, even for a mere two weeks, was surprisingly hard. I found myself that morning in Ziggy’s kitchen wanting to pull him close more than kiss him, sliding my hand against the bare skin at the small of his back and squeezing, taking a big gulp of his scent.
“Be careful,” I heard myself say.
“Tony will be with me,” he said. “Don’t be a worry wart.”
“All right. Call me at the Allston house? Tonight after you get in?”
“That where you’ll be?”
“Page me if I’m not?”
I kissed him then but what I really wanted to do was…bite him? I guess? Like I wanted to leave a mark proving he was mine. Then I remembered he already had a tattoo that stood for my name.
I was very glad I was going to be with him in South America. Very glad.
Last thing he did before he walked out the door was give me a key to his apartment. So I could lock up and leave later.
Which I later did.
In Boston the first thing I did was pay my sister to do my laundry. I can’t remember if that was the time we worked that out or if it was some other time I’d come off the road, but it was probably this time, so let’s just say it was this time. The conversation went something like this:
Court: Hey, bro, glad you’re back!
Me: Yeah, well, I missed you and my own bed.
Court: You know, since we got it, I think you’ve spent more nights away from this bed than in it.
Me: Could be. I had to come home to do laundry.
Court: You want me to do it? You know I’m better at laundry than you are.
Me: Wait, why are you quote better at laundry unquote than me? Is this a weird gender thing?
Court: No, I’m sure we’re both equally bad at laundry but if I say I’m better than you I’ll get a feeling of satisfaction and superiority that female family members need in order to remain functional in their gender roles.
Court: I’ll do your laundry if you want me to.
Me: Hang on, let’s not turn this into some kind of passive aggressive family dynamic thing because you and I both hate that shit.
Court: True. But I have this feeling I’m going to end up doing it anyway.
Me: I confess I would really like it if you did.
Court: Which is nice. And you being grateful is always nice.
Me: It still seems kind of unfair, though.
Court: Oh, I agree. The inequities of women’s labor and the way it’s valued, or failed to be valued, is inarguable.
Me: Have you been hanging around with that Brown professor or something?
Court: Funny you should ask…
Me: Wait, I ‘ve got it. I’ll pay you to do it.
Court: How much?
Me: Union scale? I mean, whatever the equivalent would be.
Court: You mean if I was a stagehand doing it for you?
Court: Seems reasonable. Deal.
I took her out to dinner, too, and she talked my ear off about school and about how she wondered if she should get a masters degree or if she should jump right into…the music business.
“You know Carynne’s becoming a part of the talent management team at WTA,” I said.
We were at the Vietnamese noodle place. She was eating the raw beansprouts off the condiment plate one at a time with plastic chopsticks. “I know. She’s confident she can get me in there on the ground floor, at entry level, if it’s what I want. But I don’t know.”
Don’t do it. Don’t do it. That’s what a voice in the back of my head was quietly screaming. But I didn’t want to crush my sister’s dreams. “If you want to go into the business, seems like a golden opportunity,” I said, but I was choking a little as I said it.
She shrugged. Her hair had a blonde streak on one side that hadn’t been there the last time I saw her and I wondered if it made her feel conspicuous. Maybe that was the point of doing that sort of thing? “The thing is, I’m not sure how much I want to be in the general entertainment business and how much in music, you know? And I know, I know, if I worked at a venue, for example, I’d have every different kind of show on the stage. You can’t pick and choose. But if I worked in A&R…”
I clenched my teeth and I swear she heard it.
“You don’t think I’d be good in A&R?”
“You’d be fantastic in A&R which is why record companies wouldn’t be interested in you,” I said. “With all the mergers and things going on, they’re not really interested in finding good music anymore. They’re interested in grooming product. Think about it. They could already fill their entire release schedules with albums from artists they already have signed up. New A&R people aren’t being trained because the old A&R guys are still there, and nobody’s signing new talent. And it’s just going to keep getting worse.”
“You think so?”
“Have you listened to the radio lately? Well, okay, maybe Boston is an exception, but in so many places it’s…a mess. An overproduced, mass market-driven, middle-of-the-road mess.” I sighed.
Courtney looked at me critically. “Are you depressed?”
“No. Just a pessimist, I guess.” I waved for the check. “Let’s go get a drink.”
“Ice cream first?” she asked.
“Okay, yeah, ice cream first.” I handed the waiter two twenty dollar bills and didn’t wait for change. We went down the street to the ice cream shop and then squished ourselves onto a bench in there to eat it. “I’ve been listening to Barrett and a lot of other people talking for the past couple of weeks. I hadn’t realized it but the only new ‘real’ rock band to break out in the past two years–go platinum as well as get mainstream impact–has been Guns n’ Roses. Metallica is selling like crazy but they’re still walled off in the metal ghetto.”
She licked her ice cream (something with almonds sticking out of it) on its cone and tried to come up with a counterargument but couldn’t. “You’re right. That’s…crazy.”
“You know what I think? I think it’s because Moondog Three isn’t the only band that hit a wall and didn’t make it.”
“Playing Madison Fucking Garden is not exactly ‘not making it,'” she said, offended on my behalf even while she argued with me.
“That’s what I mean about hitting a wall,” I said. “We know the fans are out there. Yet we couldn’t sell enough records to make the album go gold.”
“BNC couldn’t sell enough records you mean.”
“Yes, but from their perspective they threw us against the wall and our shit didn’t stick.” I felt slightly stung saying that but I knew this was the truth. “And how many other bands did they throw against the wall who didn’t stick? Why was Guns the only one that made it? You know I believe it’s their fault, not ours, but maybe it’s the whole…ecosystem. Our species didn’t make it.”
“Or this thing you’re doing with Ziggy now is the evolution of it?” She looked and sounded highly skeptical.
“I guess. What I’m saying is, I guess…” What was I saying?
She remembered. “You’re saying going into the music industry is a dead end.”
“If what you want to do is discover interesting new music and bring it to the public, yeah,” I said. I remembered I needed to give Ziggy’s album a few listens tonight. “You want to hear Ziggy’s new album? Let’s get a six pack to bring home instead of going to a bar, and I’ll play it for you.”
“That sounds like a plan.”
So we swung by the liquor store. In addition to restocking beer–I think we got three or four six-packs between us–I picked up some bourbon just in case after five listens the album started to get harder to listen to instead of easier.
The phone was ringing as we were walking in the door and I hurried to answer it. I grabbed the receiver off the wall in the kitchen. “Hello?”
“Hey. I made it to the other side of the continent.”
“Awesome.” I was a little out of breath from the hurry. His voice was soothing. “I mean, no, not awesome that you’re three thousand miles away but glad you made it in one piece.”
“I love you, dork,” he said with a chuckle. “Can’t stay on the phone, have to go to a thing.”
“I love you, too.” I hung up and noticed Court had put most of the beer into the fridge and then was standing there with a bemused smile on her face. She held up a six of Rolling Rock in green bottles instead of making a comment about me and Ziggy. I barely registered that the fridge was a different color from the old one (it had been white, now it was red) and that all the chairs now matched.
We ensconced ourselves in my room and I put it the cassette into the player and we lay down side by side on the bed because where the speakers were in the shelf above the bed made that the best place for listening to anything.
I watched the beer bottle on my chest rise and fall with my breathing while I let the songs soak into my ears. La la la.
Next thing I knew I had demolished two beers and we’d only just begun side two.
(Reminder: now we’re 16% of the way to another bonus chapter! Or if you’re thinking of making a donation to the tip jar, could you pledge $1 a week? If so, consider joining the DGC Patreon! New Patreon site design was just rolled out here: https://www.patreon.com/ceciliatan?ty=h -ctan)
(Here’s a song that charted in the Billboard “Alternative” Top 20 in March 1991. -d)