Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Baseball Project and slipping back to 1984

So what’s it like seeing The Baseball Project. A year after their release, Mike Sweeney, Jeff Parkhurst and I were in front of the stage. A month or so after we bought the tickets – we stood close – almost arm in arm like survivors. Having ignored the lack of sleep; our tired middle aged bodies made it to the Bowery Ballroom. Before such an event – I struggle with the thought. I knew it would be a late night. Damn, did they really need to play to midnight? Did they really need to hit the stage at 9 PM? Why did I have to be late?
Ali dropped out since this was back to school night at the high school. Eric dropped out since it was back to school for Eileen. And I could not get any replacements. I should have called Frank, but it was back to school night for him I assumed. Dennis couldn’t make it. Not even for a drink.
I drove up from Philadelphia. I was there a couple of days for a cold chain session and stayed at the Courtyard. The hotel is across from the city hall building. I was late leaving the city since I had to wait for an hour for Les. I agreed to drive him back into the city – so he could catch a train at Penn to take him back to the island. 76 was slow, but once we hit 476 and 276 – traffic moved very well. There was little traffic on the turnpike. We stopped at a rest stop where I filled the tank with cheaper New Jersey gas, and bought some horrible food at an Arby’s. But we were starving. It was close the 7 when we stopped. Les hoped to make an 8:06 from Penn, but he hit the sidewalk around ten after. And this was after taking the Holland Tunnel – I don’t like tunnels. By the time I dropped him off, and made my way to the Bowery – I knew I was running late.
Damn the GPS. It kept announcing “calculating route…” but I got out of the car on Bowery – close to Grant and felt I was close to Delancy. MTS suggested I head up down – away from China town and this led me away from Delancy. I asked a street cop where Delancey was. I went in a full circle and after sweating in the late summer humidity and feeling beater that beat – we walked down the staircase to the Bowery Ballroom and heard the song – Ted Fucking Williams. The guard said we only missed the first song. I’d like to know what it was.
It’s been a little more than twenty five years, when Mr. Feinstein and his wife took me and Bob Miller and Dave to see REM in concert and the opening act Dream Syndicate. Mr. Feinstein saw my REm T-shirt when I was in summer school and he told they were playing out east and he’d be happy to take me. I brought a tape player and made a fake ID – WNPT radio and laminated the homemade card with Scotch tape. We drank beers with our teacher. High School kids with a slight buzz. I asked where press would go and I was directed out of a side door at the Roller Skating rink in Setauket. There was a long bus as well as sleeper vans and Bill Berry was there in his white cowboy boots. He swore I was someone from Athens – happy to see me again – and I explained who I was and why I was there – to interview him and the rest of REM.
We set up the interview in the camper, and were joined by Michael Stipe – who sat in for most of the time. He had black fabric Chinese slippers on. A few days later, I found a pair for sale at the Commack Flea Market as well as a small handbag. I think I bought his somewhere as well. Peter Buck was by far the most energetic and outgoing. Berry was just as cool, but the band could sense I was not there as a reporter – though I had twenty minutes with the band. I discussed my REM dreams and asked about songs. There were a couple of lulls and I would ask Bill how was I doing – “You’re doing fine…keep firing away…”
Last Wednesday must have been about the tenth time I met Buck. He was signing CD’s and I shook his hand and introduced myself. I was a little buzzed after a couple of beers and might have appeared worse off, with my loose belt and disheveled appearance. Got a CD signed, and went back up to the floor.
The show was great. I was surprised they played as many Dream Syndicate songs. And I was brought back to the roller skating rink – summer of 84 and hanging out with Bob Miller and seeing Steve Wynn back in the parking lot and interviewing Dennis Duck. It was a short interview – since I didn’t buy the latest Dream Syndicate record at the time – Medicine Show – and he was upset – he caught on – the interview was a waste of time – for both of us. I wanted to interview Steve. Steve seemed more appealing and interesting for the wanna be rock star/journalist/fan I was back then.
The Days of Wine and Roses!