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The best thing about any new year is that when the calendar rolls over, you get your full compliment of vacation days back.

Last week at work, we received an e-mail about an opening on the day shift – Monday to Friday. 6am to 2pm. I sat down and gave this some serious thought, which means more than 30 seconds. I thought about being able to have weekends off again. To eat dinner at the same time as the rest of the world. To be able to go to a family event on more than 3 hours sleep. The opportunity seemed enticing. Then I thought about the cons – no more empty supermarkets. No more empty DMV appointments. Crowded subway trains filled with people coughing and sneezing. I shuddered at the thought. I started to do the math in my head. In order to be in the city at 6am, I’d have to leave the house by 5. That means a 4am wakeup. I can’t contemplate a shower at 4am in February, I simply can’t. A 4am wakeup means that you have to be in bed by 9pm. That’s somewhere around the 5th inning. I quickly dismissed the idea of moving to the dayshift.

I took two days off instead.

Most people can’t wait to get out of their usual routines and head out to the farthest reaches of the planet in order to re-charge their batteries. Not me. I don’t even like to leave Brooklyn for too long. The extent of my travelling is a tank of gas. Everything I need is in New York State; beaches, mountains, museums, restaurants. You want to spend a week in a third-world country, be my guest. I’ll be here when you get back.

On Thursday, we went down to BAM to catch a movie. I don’t go to the movies much anymore because they are so disappointing, and it kills me to waste 3 hours and 50 bucks on trash. When I see an interesting movie trailer, I usually say, “I’d like to see that movie… in 4 months, when it hits Netflix.” Thursday I suggested that we see American Hustle. At the very least, I wanted to get the bad taste of Wolf Of Wall Street out of my mouth. If I was killed in an industrial accident, I didn’t want that to be the last movie I saw. How that got nominated for an Oscar, I’ll never know, but then again, most Oscar movies suck anyway.

American Hustle was cool. It was fun and entertaining, and I’ll give it a B. It was loosely based on the Abscam scandals of the late 70’s, and I suspect that the 70’s music and clothes were a big part of why I liked it. There is something about those songs that transports me back in time. I guess that’s what music is supposed to do, although I wonder if hearing Kayne and MandM 20 years from now is going to make me long for 2008. I doubt it.

We had planned to reserve Friday night to head into the city to listen to some live music. We had spent the day running around Brooklyn doing errands. I got an estimate for the damage on my car, and finally returned the clothes that Val bought me for Christmas that were 7 sizes too small. I got a new pair of Nike’s instead!

After a trip to Brennan and Carr’s and two saturated Roast Beef Sandwiches, I was ready for my nap. When Val arrived back at my house at 7, I was ensconced on the couch, wrapped in a wool blanket with one cat asleep on my hip and another across my legs. A trip to the city didn’t look promising. Val suggested that we just stay in, and for a minute that seemed like a good plan, but as I lay there in the darkness, I heard a voice in my head say, “don’t waste a night off on David Letterman and Craig Ferguson.”

I jumped up and headed to the shower. I’m glad I did.

We headed over the the Rockwood Music Hall on Allen street. On the drive in, we encountered a clearly intoxicated driver who was weaving all over the road. He almost hit the guardrail twice and missed numerous cars by inches. I remebered the advice my old man gave me when I was a kid, “Never pass a drunk driver, always keep him in front of you. You can always stop in time. Chances are, he can’t.” Of course this was before cell phones, so we called it in. It felt good to report this guy. Maybe they caught him, maybe they didn’t. Maybe we prevented a horrendous accident. Maybe the guy needs help, but there is no excuse for drunk driving.

After I had four near meltdowns driving down Houston street, while playing chicken with the cabs, we arrived at Rockwood. We slipped into the crowded club and were treated to two songs by an singer-guitarist named Sam King. This cat was amazing. We walked in on this amazing, dark, sparse song that had the crowd memorized. It was pin-drop silent in there.  I was filled with artistic jealousy. I’ll never be as good a writer as this guy is a singer. I’ll never be as good a singer either, but that’s another blog.

I couldn’t wait to get home to check this guy out online. Some of his songs are posted on his page, and much like Mariko, they don’t truly capture what I heard last night. He’ll be at Rockwood again in two weeks. I suggest you check it out.

The next act was called Mamarazzi. They were big. They had a rapper and two horns and a keyboard player and a guitar and bass and two percussionists. There were 8 people on the stage. They were talented and dynamic and energetic and the crowd loved it.

I was bored.

Call me what you want, but I go to hear singers. Long instrumental passgeges are fine when I’m sitting at my desk in my underwear, but not when I’m in a live venue.

We stayed for their set and then two more songs of the next act. It was a good time, but we were hungry and restless. We headed down Houston to the Remedy diner for a pulled pork sandwich and well-done fries. My night was complete. Almost. There was a table near us with 5 guys drinking coffee. It looked like they had been there a while. It looked oh so familiar to me. Of course I eavesdropped, but I didn’t really need to. I had been there before. I stopped to say goodnight on the way out and hit them with a few of the code words I’ve learned over the years. It was great seeing the recognition on their faces. Keep up the good work fellas.

We headed back out into the night.

We got back to my car at 12:38, and I was greeted with a familiar orange envelope on my windshield. Evidently I was parked in a night-cleaning zone. This is just another scam to milk people out of their hard-earned money. The next time someone sees a street sweeper at 1am, please take a picture and send it to me. At moments like this, I don’t wonder why people leave the city in droves, only to be replaced by transplants from Iowa.

But despite the ticket, despite the congested traffic and the 20 minute parking search, despite the honking cabs and the selfish drivers, despite the bad smelling hipsters and the drunk in the Gray Kia, I love my city.

I love my city and despite my incessant complaining, I love my life. All in all, I’m pretty lucky.

The staycation was over. I had a great time.

Can’t wait to do it again.