I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been busy and a little stressed, but mostly I’ve been uninspired. I was going to write a political blog about the situation in Syria last week, but I decided against it. No one wants to read my opinion on international affairs; they like when I rant about the guy that farts on the crowded subway car.
The main problem is that I’m not miserable at the moment. It’s so much easier to write when you’re filled to the brim with bile and resentment. Makes for better reading too.
So rather than a rant, or an opinion, I decided to document my day, just to see what it looks like.
Man, am I boring.
My day actually started around midnight last night. I crawled out of the comfort of my cool sheets and a half naked body, to get up and write letters to some people to see if they would be interested in representing and/or promoting my book. I’ve slacked off a little bit since I started the new job, but Im starting to make a big push again in the fall. Not sure what that’s going to entail yet, but it could very well include getting arrested. I’ll keep you posted.
After the letters were written, I put the DVD of “42” into the player. It’s been sitting on my desk for a few weeks. I never got to see the Dodgers in Brooklyn, and I grew up hating them in LA, but there is something in my DNA that makes me long for Ebbets Field. I’ve always loved Jackie Robinson. He’s one of the great american heroes of the 20th century and he’s one of my answers to the question, “What three people dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with?” (The other two would be Thomas Jefferson and Malcolm X, by the way.)
Be that as it may, Jackie was out at the plate.
I’ve read a few books about Jack Roosevelt Robinson, so I know the story pretty well. They did a great job with the movie, from Red Barber’s implicit racism, to Jackie’s poignant dignity in the face of a relentless onslaught. I got the lump in my throat on more than one occasion. At three am, a sleepy-eyed Valarie slides up to me on the couch. 30 seconds later, a jealous Mackie slides up on the other side.
The best part of the movie is Harrison Ford’s amazing portrayal of cantankerous old curmudgeon, Branch Rickey. Not too many people outside of baseball know who Rickey is. The man single handedly lit the torch for civil rights in this country and there isn’t even a plaque or a highway named after him in Brooklyn. It saddens me.
At one point, the irascible Rickey is barking at his mananger.
“I love cranky old men” I say.
“Just like you.” She replies.
Yep, just like me.
We crawl back into cool sheets around 3:30. I wake up alone at 8:30. Well, not exactly alone. I wake up to Mackie marching around the bed, barking every few minutes. I’m convinced the Riley sends him in to do her dirty work. Mackie is an easy mark though, all you have to do is scratch under his chin and he curls right up and goes to sleep. 30 minutes later, a frustrated Riley comes in and smacks him off the head and then cries at the end of the bed until I get up to feed her. She’s figured out that I can’t handle a crying woman.
Once I’m up and they are fed, I’ve got a list of chores for the day. Tuesday is my favorite day. It’s all mine. No obligations or responsibilities. It’s just mine to do with how I please. I start by contacting SiriusXM. When I leased the new car, it came with an XM radio and 3 free months. That’s how they hook you. I always said I would never pay for radio, but it turns out that satellite radio is great. 200 channels. Every music genre. Talk radio, news, and direct feeds of every baseball game. It’s a dream. It’s also 14 bucks a month. Eff that.
When my free trial was over, they gave me an option of continuing for 75 bucks. “No thanks.”
How about $50 for 5 months?”
Three weeks later I got an offer of 6 months for 29 bucks. Every time that I decide to cancel, they find a new deal for me. Monday I got a credit card charge for 97 bucks. Sorry, no can do. I called first thing this morning.
“Hello, I’d like to cancel”
“Are you happy with the service?”
“Yeah, I love it. I just dont want to pay.”
“How about 6 months for $29 bucks.”
After my small victory, the rest of the day is going to be cake. Until I get to the post office to mail the books. There is one guy on duty and he’s not getting paid for speed. There are only 4 people on line, but it takes me 20 mintutes. I don’t lose the serenity that I have gained over the past few weeks, but I seriously contemplate just going to 88th street. It’s the thought of trying to park on 5th ave that makes me keep my spot in line.
Then I head to Staples. You know how women get stupid in shoe stores? I’m that way with stationary. I love pens and I love writing tablets and composition note books and hanging folders and desk lamps. I shouldn’t go there alone. I go there to make copies of my flyer. I leave with uni-ball pens, bubble envelopes and CD cases. $112.53 total.
After staples, it’s off the the gym. Since the job change and the new living patterns, writing isn’t the only thing that has fallen off the track. At best, I loiter in the gym 2x a week. The lack of exercise has shown its’ effects in my breathing and my waistline. My only saving grace is that I still take 15 minutes to stretch every day. And I take long power walks. If not for that, I’m the new float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade.
Going to the gym seems like such a great idea the night before. It even seems great in the a.m. when you wake up. It’s not until you actually get there that things start to go south. I never really like doing so called “cardio” excercises, but I always liked lifting weights. It’s good for metabolism and ego. Evidently, I don’t care about either thing any more. After 20 minutes of stretching and calenstenics, and 8 minutes on the stair climber, I’m ready to quit. Or go to lunch. Or go back to Staples.
I manange to hang around the weights for another 30 minutes, but it’s not a workout as much as a stalling tactic. I don’t want anyone to see me and say, “Done already? You just got here.” Trust me. It happens.
After my half-assed workout, I head home with my new pens. I’m heading into the grocery store, when I spy what I think is a hot chick heading into the salvation army store. My mother used to love SA’s. She called it Sack’s Third Avenue. I head into Sack’s to check out the chick, but it turns out that she’s just an old Russian broad with a pretty tight body. I’m heading out to leave when I’m called by the used book shelf. I’m like a literary pavlovian dog when it comes to books. Almost as bad as pens.
I spy a book called Summer of 49, by David Halberstam. Halberstam was a great writer. He won the Pulitzer for his writing about Vietnam in the early 60’s. He wasn’t here, commenting about it. He was over there, witnessing it. He also wrote two definitve baseball books. Summer of 49 was one, October of 64 was the other. He had this great, deep, speaking voice. I can remember him saying, “The Great DiMaggio” in the Ken Burns Baseball Special. The book is 1.50, but I only have a $20, so I have to buy two more books. I’m anal like that.
Now I have new books, new pens and bubble envelopes. It’s nearly 3pm. Time for a shower and a nap.
This is turning out to be a great day.
I woke from my afternoon slumber refreshed but cranky; my default setting. I had made plans to head into the city to check out some local music. I haven’t done that in a while. If fact, I can’t remember the last time that I did. There are so few music venues in the city nowadays, and the talent pool seems to have dried up, at least I thought so.
She picks me up at 8, and we head over the Brooklyn Bridge into the city. The night is thick and humid, it feels more like July than September. We head over to Houston street and wander around the lower east side. I’m surprised by how crowded the streets are. Despite it being a Tuesday night in September, there are people everywhere. Mostly young punks who came here from Iowa and Idaho, living in the crowded streets around Ludlow and Rivington, going to school by day and waiting tables or tending bar at night. Their world is so full of hope and promise. This is the Obama generation, with their skinny jeans and wool hats and unshaved faces. Poor bastids. They don’t have a clue what’s coming for them.
After turning down several restaurant choices, we decide on Katz’s for the Pastrami and the nostalgia. It looks exactly the same as it did the first time I went there as a drunken teenager, and it looks exactly the same as it did in any one of the various pictures that hang from the paneled walls. This is a true NY institution. The pastrami is still unbelieveable, and the brisket is to die for. This is the best sandwich I’ve had in years. My mouth is watering as I devour half of each. Then I get to the check out and she bangs me for $47 bucks. It’s at this point that I realize that the pastrami was oily and the brisket was dry and fatty. It’s funny how money completely changes your perspective.
After dinner we wander the streets some more. It seems like it’s getting hotter and more humid. We turn down Allen street. This block is leftover from the 70’s. Grafetti on the walls, bums sleeping in the streets, garbage and rats everywhere. It’s fairly disgusting, and yet there is something totally New York about it. Something that the rest of the city has lost to gentrification. I almost hope that they never get around to cleaning it up.
It’s 10 pm when we get to Rockwood Music Hall. The room is dark and cool, a welcome relief from the swelter of the streets. The first act is a singer-songwriter named Jacob Jeffries. I am pleasantly surprised. Well-crafted upbeat pop songs. It’s a fun time. I’m jealous of his talent, although if it were me, I’d be in a completely direction. Everything would be angrier, the way rock is supposed to be. The crowd enjoys the set, as do we. At the end of the set, I make sure to shake his hand and compliment him, and slip him a bookmark as well. Us artists have to support each other.
I love piano players. I’ve always held them in higher regard than other musicians. I grew up loving Elton. Still do. Imagine and Let it Be were written on the piano. So was every song on Born to Run. Any jerk can play guitar. You wanna impress me? Play the piano. Start with the Peanuts song.
The 11pm act is a chick named Anna Harrington. I listened to some of her stuff before we left. I’m looking forward to her set. She’s got a voice that can only come from God cause man can’t make anything that good. She’s got range and feel and balls. It’s a perfect combo. Unfortunately, I’m not loving the songs as the come off the stage. Something is just off. They don’t do her any favors. Clive Davis would find the right songs for her, but right now she doesn’t have them. We leave after three songs, slightly disappointed. I wanted more.
It’s about 104 degrees when we head outside, the humidity is 100 percent. The air is thick and disgusting. We wander some more, people watching, commenting about everything. I’m getting tired and cranky, but I don’t want to go home. I’m like a junkie, there is never enough. We finally head home. She’s asleep next to me as we drive along the Brooklyn Promenade. The city is alive with light. The Tribute in Light 9/11 memorial bathes the city in an eerie glow. It’s midnight now. The day is over. It was a great day.