So after work, I took the train into Penn Station. Met up with hiphopatcong under the big board. Unlike the last time I was waiting for someone, I didn't need a giant sign that said ``PING''. I got to explore areas of the transportation nexus I hadn't seen during my many long nights and days waiting in it, and see some beautiful works of art. As we walked through the bowels of the complex, I told him that Pete wasn't able to make it, as he wanted to visit his father in the hospital. We jetted down to the village, I think getting out of the same Subway stop that I found myself emerging from weeks ago for the homosexual street fair.
We had some time before the show, so we wanted to grab a bite to eat. Remembering an amazing Empanada place that I visited with chiquib back in 1997 or so, I started looking it up on my Palm while we watched some b-ball at The Cage. For those not near NYC, this is the famous court you've seen in movies, commercials, and video games like Street Hoops. It's a tight little place, where we saw a bunch of hip hop fans drinking Red Bull and Sprite. Two groups were battling, while another group hung back around a guy giving the play by play with a megaphone. hiphopatcong was in heaven, taking shots of the warriors of the court. I located the place, only a half mile away, and we started off. hiphopatcong started complaining as we came to the end of our trip about the distance, saying that he wouldn't have agreed if he had known how far it was. When I told him that I made it clear that it was a half mile, he kept on saying, ``This isn't Jersey!'' So when we passed a pair of dogs playing to reach the place and I saw it was closed, I was prepared for him to tear me in two. We walked all the way back up to the venue, and decided to grab something in the area.
Back in 1998, I was reading the New York Times Magazine when home from drewuniversity. I've been a big fan of the magazine for ages. There was some interview with some hoopy frood chef who got the idea of opening a PBJ restaurant in the village. Yeah, a restaurant dedicated to the PBJ, with a great menu of offerings. Laughing at the time, I filed that memory again, only bringing it up years later when talking to the GM of EB who eats them every day for lunch. Five years later, hiphopatcong suggested the place that's been resonating in my memories. He had a Cookie Dough Surprise, I had The Elvis, sans bacon. Great shit, now I finally have closure with that reoccurring thought process. The place had copies of The Onion lying around, which still creeps me out every time I'm in the city. I'm used to hearing about physical copies from cybersphere people living in WI. So after our snack, we headed for the joint, which was packed.
At this point, I was nervous. Just like the Santana show, things weren't looking up, but I didn't have the feeling in my heart that things would come together like I did back then. I had led us astray to a place that was closed. I had led us astray, causing us to get there so close to the start time that we were forced to stand. I feared that hiphopatcong was pissed as fuck at me, and I was feeling like a fucker. Just as it happened with Santana, the music started, and it all came together. Maybe he's a good luck concert charm for me. I'm glad he'll be there for Maiden in MSG!
Holy shit was the show absofuckingfugling amazing. Tuli spent most of the show sitting in a chair, sometimes with his fingers in his ears. Yeah, you can tell he's in his seventies. Not just from the song, ``Septuagenarian in Love'' (updated version of ``Teenager in Love''), but from the way he looked and staggered about the stage. His banter with Ed was amusing, and he seemed to get younger as the night went on.
Updated version of ``Kill for Peace''! Updated version of ``CIA Man''! Updated version of ``River of Shit''! Who knew that antiwar hippie 60's songs would be so fitting in modern times, eh? I was chatting with hiphopatcong about that during the intermission. ``Remember listening to Fugs back in the late 90's? Laughing about those crazy times, with protests and unpopular wars, and all that wacky stuff that could never happen in our modern enlightened age? Remember that? Now here we are, less than a decade later, listening to the master poets of the sixties revamping their songs a little too well to fit modern political problems.'' I mean, shit, as Ed introduced ``Kill for Peace'', he talked about all the Vietnam vets that told him later that they hid from gunfire listening to that song. He made a comment about how it seems fitting these days, and Tuli quipped, ``Kill for peace? That doesn't make any sense! We're doing that again??'' When they did an updated version of ``Nothing'', including the line ``Village Underground nothing!'', it was like when Wesley Willis did a song about the band that opened up for him, singing about how WE roared like a lion. When The Fugs said this place, this institution, nothing... woah.
Now, don't assume that they just did songs about protest or humor. Fuck that. They also did one of the most powerful and touching tributes I've heard in my life. Tears, meet the corners of my eyes. After they did the aforementioned river song, they mentioned how that song was Allen Ginsberg's favorite, and how they wouldn't exist if it wasn't for him. After a few more kind words, they launched into a tribute to him. ``He was one of our heros!'' They said such kind things about him, spoke such wonderful simple truths about the man, and expressed an unconditional admiration and love for him that left me speechless. The line about the amount of Blake he had memorized gave me pause, and the rest of the night they illustrated how a huge deal of their softer songs were Blake-inspired. I mentioned to hiphopatcong the Bruce Dickinson obsession with Blake during one of his last solo albums. Awesome. I'm pretty amazed that I never picked up on the number of Fugs songs that quoted his works word for word, after my obsession with him during high school and again when Dickinson released Chemical Wedding.
They did plenty of songs off their upcoming new album, ``The Fugs Final CD (Part 1)'', which they kept on plugging. Unfortunately, they didn't have any copies with them, which was pretty amusing. At one point Ed commented, ``We're not very good at this capitalism thing.'' Some guy near us in the audience yelled, ``THANK GOD FOR THAT!'' It sounds like a great album, with songs like ``Cameleon'' and ``Where is my Wandering Jew?'' based in lore, and fun songs like ``I've Been Working for the Landlord.'' Looking at them, considering how the last album came out almost twenty years ago, it might very well be the final CD.
We kept on looking at each other, saying wow over and over again. At one point during the break, I pointed out that some seats near us were free, which led us into a conversation about the seats on the subway for the elderly/crippled that you always feel guilty sitting in even if no one who needs them is there. We agreed that there were plenty in the audience who needed the seats more than us. Pete was wondering what the crowd would be like, and it was an interesting mix. Rows and rows of bald or grey heads, some old guy wearing a Korn shirt, and some hipsters behind us, including one particularly hot young hipster. hiphopatcong and I were definitely amongst the youngest non-employees there. And we're no spring chickens. Then there was the guy near us who screamed, ``MY BABY DONE LEFT ME!!'' in a fake drawl before every song. He REALLY wanted them to play that song. At one point I said to hiphopatcong, ``I see why his baby done left him...''
Also during the break, we talked about how they were shaking hands. We talked about going over to them, but hiphopatcong pointed out how there were obviously many who deserved talking to them more, who had waited for longer than we were alive to talk with them. But as he posted, Ed walked right by us giving him the perfect chance to shake his hand. Doug touched a Fug! Hot damn! Now Pete just needs to have sex with the Great Kat, as hiphopatcong pointed out.
As we were walking to the venue, I joked about how hiphopatcong might meet a ``Slum Goddess [from the Lower East Side]'' there. They did that song, updated with a story about a girl they knew. At one point, they had someone passing out sheets of music to the audience, and called for the lights to be turned on. WTF? Why, it was sing along time! They had everyone sing along to the first national anthem discovered, from 4002 or so BC! It looked like a typewritten sheet, photocopied. Ah, The Fugs. They did a whole sequence similar to the Rhapsody of Tuli, asking why he isn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Priceless. Covered some of his finest moments. He was great, in his yellow baseball hat. Ed was no slouch, getting into a red garish outfit with a peacock feather from the sixties, explaining how they were God's eye on the world. Every time I hear a song now, it makes so much more sense, having watched them banter on the stage.
Walking out, we agreed that this was going to be a tough act to follow for the rest of the great summer of music. We ventured back up to Penn Station, hiphopatcong making sure I got to where I needed to go. Of course, I fucked up. I forgot that I had missed the last train out of Penn Station as usual, and had to take the PATH over to Hoboken to take a train back from there. This happens to me all the time, yet I always forget. I should have remembered, and taken the PATH from downtown while we were down there. So I walked to the PATH station, took a wrong turn, and ended up missing the PATH train I needed. Sat on my ass for a half hour, and finally made it into Hoboken shortly before one. Missing the 12:45, that left the 1:45 for me to take. Luckily, the train was there, so I had to try to sleep on it for forty-five minutes.
The announcer's comments were great. ``This is the last train going out from anywhere to anywhere.'' ``This is the last train out west. Transportation at this time is difficult to find, one taxi in Dover and one taxi in Morristown, so stay awake.'' I could have napped more while waiting to go, but a couple of pretty young things were chatting loudly about life. When one said, ``Isn't it funny that we can say, "Remember back in high school?"'' I felt incredibly old. Finally we started to roll, just as hiphopatcong sent me a text message letting me know that he was sitting at our spot near White Castle smoking. Aaah.
Right before I got off in Madison, two drunks were discussing Madison. It was amusing to hear them go on about what a great town it was. As I got off with them, I grabbed a PowerAide from the gas station on Kings as I usually do when I find myself in Madison around three in the morning. First listening to two wandering drunks talking about the town, then walking around the corpse. The usual flood of ghosts... between the PowerAide reminding me of the Hackensack Y to the phone booth and chiquib running desperately towards it. Made it to campus, drove home.
At exactly three in the morning, while listening to Rachel on WSOU, I saw a shooting star. She was doing a show dedicated to songs about hating everyone, and I was just about up to the 287/80 junction. The shooting star filled me with an overwhelming sense of selfless love and joy.
I'll post about Game Night later. I gotta get home, tomorrow is XDfest with windexcowboy.