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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Perambulating Around Manhattan On Our Way To The Winery
or washing off Satan's stench

Okay, so what better way to stave off PTSD (Post Traumatic Shuttle Disorder) than spending a beautiful day wandering around lower Manhattan with a good friend.

This lightning fast trip to the Big Apple was bittersweet. Sweet because it's always a blast to hang out with Steph, no matter what city we end up in together. Bitter because it was the last adventure we'll have together in long time. Steph's life is about to change in a magnificent way. She's expecting her first child in September.

Between buying a new house, nesting for the new nipper and wrapping her head around this whole birthing thang, she's going to have little time to venture past her own playground. I am so excited for her!! She is going to be a great Mom. She's bright, compassionate, and grounded. (don't roll your eyes, Steph. you are.) She has an amazing wit and humor that will keep her sane. She's a modern chippie who won't let a baby stop her from living life on her terms. I envision her hooking her progeny on her hip and whisking him off for his first foray into the wonders of Manhattan in no time. And her child will be all the better for it.

Still, I'm going to miss her.

But wait, this is about the sweet part of our trip.

First things first...BREAKFAST!

We walked off the nausea (Steph had a wild ride herself) over the course of our trek to NoHo Star. This funky bistro offers vegan friendly fare including the delicious goat cheese and egg bruschetta I gleefully shoveled down my gullet.

(Insert food mantra here: Yuuummmmmmmmmmmmm...)

Anywho, we headed downtown to the 9/11 memorial in another nausea-inducing cab ride. What the hell? Clearly Satan's minions had placed a tracking device in our purses. ACK! We stumbled out of the cab... and directly into a bar.

Now before you get all nuts about pregnant girls drinking, let me explain. One of the positives about palling around with a future momma is she has a frequent need to tinkle, but you can't just waltz into an establishment to use the facilities and leave. They kinda get pissy about that. Ergo, one must purchase something at said bar. That's where I come in to order a tall, cool cocktail to preserve our place, or stall as it might be. And Dude, this joint had Tito's as their house vodka. Winning.

make mine a double
i'm drinking for two
Let it be said, I'm always willing to take one for the team.

After our short pit stop, we ventured over to the memorial. After weaving through the long line at security, we were let out on the grounds.

Okay. I know. I'm weird, but the steady snake of this line fascinated me. So sue and/or bite me.

The two foot prints of the North and South towers are filled with deep pools of rushing water, whose roar blocks out all the city noise, allowing one to get lost in one's thoughts. The monuments are well thought out, listing the names of each of the fallen by category on an easy to locate grid: firefighters, policemen, passengers and employees. They even included the names of the victims from the initial bombing in 1993.

It was incredibly moving watching family members etch the names of loved ones with pencil on paper. A sobering tribute to those innocent people caught in the cross fire of irrational hatred. And yet there were people standing in front of the pools, smiling broadly for photos.

Really? Really people?

Geo and I encountered similarly inappropriate reactions in Dallas at the "X" in the street marking the fatal gunshot of President Kennedy's assassination.

I don't get it. People are totally clueless assholes.

Meanwhile, another potty break (and cocktail) later and we motored back to SoHo in a mercifully calmer cab ride. Lucifer must have been on his smoke break. It was after 3pm when we got back to the hotel, and did something really crazy...

We both, wait for it... took a NAP.

Woo Hoo! Call the Po Po coz we outta control, yo.

I woke up in an unattractive puddle of drool, but Lord Almighty, it. was. BLISSFUL. I was ecstatic when Steph confessed she needed a time out. I had been up since 3:30am and was running on some serious fumes, but I didn't want to seem like a lame old fart.

Question: Why did I ever want to quit taking naps as a kid? Seriously. What the hell was wrong with me? These things are awesome. AWESOME, I say! Naps need to be reincorporated into the work day much like the trolley cart of liquors, two hour lunches and an afternoon dance break.

Rejuvenated, we walked a block to the reason for this trip...a Rhett Miller solo show at the City Winery. I know. It's ridiculously redundant, but what can I say? His shows are worth the 400 mile journey. Something special always happens there.

This time the cherry atop this musical sundae was the opener, fellow Texan Salim Nourallah. Salim is a first rate producer who helmed the last three Old 97's CDs as well as Rhett's last solo effort. He is perhaps the sweetest, gentlest man on Earth. Unbelievably nice and approachable. He's also a talented singer/songwriter in his own right. His newest collection of works, Hit Parade, was fan-funded through PledgeMusic and it is stellar. More and more artists like Ian McCullouch of Echo and the Bunnymen, Luscious Jackson and Juliana Hatfield are utilizing this site to maintain complete control over their music. If you're a music fan, it's worth a look. You never know who is going to show up on there asking for your support.

Anywho, unlike Mr. Miller's commanding, full-throttle delivery, Salim has a quieter stage presence. Perhaps taking a cue from Rhett's stylebook, his latest songs are substantive, darker tales set to catchy pop rhythms. A formula that is seductive and satisfying for the listener.

It's too bad the crowd was so fucking ignorant to take the time to listen to him. Jesus H. Christmas! For once there was a terrific opener, and they would not SHUT THE FUCK UP. I had to check my GPS to make sure we hadn't accidentally transported to Dallas-land of the rude Mutha EFers. Because of their trivial chatter, clever imagery like this went completely over their heads.

And then the Fall gives way to Winter
You're standing in your favorite coat
The sleeve is ripped, it doesn't fit you anymore
Another thing you love outgrown...
I'm so in love with my
Goddamn Life 

Or this teriffic tune, Unstoppable, about his spirited five year-old son, Gavin. (The recorded version has an amazing drum line by John Dufilho.)

The only time they remotely paid attention was when Rhett joined his friend on stage for 1978.

It's great fun to see these old friends enjoying each other's company on stage doing what they love.

Side Note: Salim brought his lovely wife, Jayme with him. She an accomplished children's photographer and a blogger and hilarious. This witty mother of two is irreverent, calls her kids assholes because they can be and swears... a lot. She's right up my alley. As quiet and calm as Salim is, Jayme is boisterous and outgoing. I love her. She's delightful. It was a pleasure meeting her.

Moving on...

The lovely blue-eyed one finally took the stage and plowed through a 22-song master setlist with his signature verve, working up a drenching sweat by the fourth song. The sold out crowd was treated to an eclectic sampling of old classics, rarities, a couple of covers, a handful of new soon-to-be-favorites from his upcoming release in June and one lame joke about a Cadillac and pussy precipitated by a broken string.

Oh, and then there was this.

I had heard of women in past audiences stepping up to the plate to sing the girlie part of Fireflies, but I have never witness such a thing in person. Honestly, I'm okay with never seeing it again. I prefer him being both the babe and the boy.

This girl, Misty from the table next to us leapt at the chance to take a turn at the duet in front of God and everyone. She was pretty good. She actually knew all the lyrics. I give her a lot of credit for having the stones to share a mic inches away from that trademark mole. That alone would have wiped my memory clean. Even if I could carry a tune, I'm sure I would have inadvertently concussed him with a spazzy head-butt, let fly a big-ass loogie in his now blinded blue eye or at the very least, melted his face with my demonic, roadkill-fueled breath. Ack!

Normally I record more of Mr. M's shows, especially the banter, but this night I just wanted to hang out, sing along loudly (and badly-sorry table mates) and absorb the evening. I did, however, have the foresight to capture his energetic performance of Tom Petty's Free Falling.

I know I'm biased, but he's one hell of an entertainer.

Rhett learned this song for a performance he was to do in Minneapolis for NPR called Wits at the Fitz. It's a show in which a comedian (SNL's Tim Meadows) is paired with a singer (RM) to verbally spar, field questions from the host and perform topical skits, this evening's bit being the reading of Republican candidates Twitter feeds. Hilarious.

We got to listen to half of the hysterical live stream which included a whole lot more than the final edited version found here. Upcoming shows feature Paul F. Tompkins with Amiee Mann and Amy Sedaris with They Might Be Giants.

Before I knew it, it was 5am and I was on another shuttle sent from the eleventh circle of Hell heading for home and husband with another memorable New York experience tucked under my belt.

Setlist for 3/23/12 
(for those who care about such things)

State of Texas 
My Valentine
The El
Buick City Complex
This Ain't Love (??- new song on upcoming CD)
No Baby I
Champaign, Il
You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome (Bob Dylan cover)
Marina (new song on upcoming CD)
Big Brown Eyes
Nobody Says I Love You
Melt Show
Let the Whiskey Take the Reins
Out of Love (new song)
Barrier Reef
Sleepwalking (new song)
Cryin' Drunk
No Simple Machine
Every Night Is Friday Night (without you)
Our Love


Free Falling (Tom Petty cover)
Come Around 
Time Bomb     
The end  boo :( 

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