19 August 2006

Snakes On A Cometbus

Surely it's a heretical mingling of the sublime and profane to juxtapose one of America's longest-runing and most fiercely independent fanzines with the mass-media viral marketing hysteria which will succeed in dragging me and millions of my fellow Americans into the movie theaters this weekend.

But there you go. With nothing special to look forward to this weekend except Oliver's Snakes On A Birthday party (which promises to be very special indeed), I was lurking around the cave, er, apartment tonight when a phone call came from the elusive Mr. Cometbus, saying he was off to Manhattan to distribute copies of his new issue (Cometbus #50, the 25th anniversary edition), and did I want to come along?

Certainly, I said, and volunteered to meet him nearby so I could help him carry boxes, but with typical Cometbus vagueness and inscrutability, he insisted I meet him on a seemingly obscure street corner on the Upper West Side. It turned out to be across the street from the Seinfeld restaurant, which I found mildly enthralling, but left Aaron, not someone you would call a keen TV watcher, distinctly underwhelmed. We dropped copies off at a couple bookshops, then retreated to a cafe near Columbia where I could have sworn I'd seen Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in The Way We Were. Possibly not, but it looked very familiar even though I'm pretty sure I've never been there before.

Then we set off to walk "a little way" along the river, according to Aaron's plan. Now there's something you need to know about traveling with Aaron, or at least something you used to need to know. Let's say, for example, you were driving up California's Central Valley from LA and saw a road sign with two arrows, one that pointed west to Berkeley, the other east to Reno. Now which way would you go, assuming that your intention was to arrive in Berkeley sometime in the near future?

If you'd ever ridden in a car or, better yet, a tour van, with A. Cometbus, you'd know, of course, that the answer would be "Reno." Not because he had any desire to go to Reno, but because following the road to Reno would, in his judgment, provide a more "interesting" way of getting to Berkeley. Of course if you had a third option available, a sign pointing straight ahead and labeled, "Trackless Infernal Wastes From Which Few If Any Have Ever Returned," well, you don't need to ask...

The point is that any trip with Aaron was likely to turn into an unpredictable adventure, something which he usually seemed to enjoy much more than whoever else got dragged along with him. But times have changed. After a beautiful walk through Riverside Park, Aaron started edging toward the subway at 79th Street. There were still more copies of Cometbus to deliver in Williamsburg. "Let's stick by the river for a while, it looks like it's going to be a beautiful sunset. Maybe we can catch the train at 59th street," I said. "Or Times Square," I muttered under my breath. It was too nice a night to be hopping right back on a train.

Then, once we'd got down by the river again, I said, "Why don't we just walk all the way down to 14th Street and catch the L to Williamsburg there?" We'd walked about an hour when Aaron said, "Wait, we've totally changed places. It used to always be me trying to lead everyone astray, and now I'm the one trying to get things done and take care of business while you're the one fucking up the program." Interesting, I thought. And true.

Anyway, we finally got to Williamsburg after a couple more adventures on stupid subway trains (the B and the D, in case you're interested) that stopped at every podunk station down the West Side and then skipped the one station that any sensible train would stop at, 14th Street, and were of course too late to drop off the magazines because the store had already closed. After standing around for about 15 minutes in hopes that it would magically open again, and arguing whether walking from South Williamsburg to North Williamsburg meant you were going "up" or "down" the street (the answer is "up," of course; just look at your globe and see whether the North Pole is up at the top or down at the bottom), actually did walk up (or down, as Aaron would have it) to North Williamsbug, where we met a kid from Long Island.

For some reason Aaron told him about my plan to start a scene war between Brooklyn and Queens, and he said, "You mean the Queens pop-punk kids? Chadd Derkins and Grivet and Grath and all those guys?" It was the first time I realized knowledge of the Pop Punk Clique had penetrated so deep into the heart of Williamsburg, and while I marveled over this, Aaron took the opportunity to slip off into the night, as is his wont. I was left holding the bag of Cometbuses, which I guess it's going to be my responsibility to deliver tomorrow en route to Snakes On A... that movie. Then I went and curled up in a booth at the diner and read about half of the new issue. It's a classic, I reckon.


Tim said...

New issues sounds like its gonna be good. Could you ask him when its gonna be sent over to the uk or at least to little type.

I'm debating whether to sea that film, i just know it'll be waste of my time and money. But....You know, its got a cool title.

G2 said...

I wonder how much time it´ll pass until I can get a copy. A classic? I hope so...

Larry Livermore said...

I know he's already sent off many boxes, so I'd assume at least one of them is on its way to Little Type. I don't see it listed on their website yet, but it couldn't hurt to send them an email and ask.

Amy said...

"For some reason Aaron told him about my plan to start a scene war between Brooklyn and Queens..."

Sounds like "The Warriors" without the complete randomness of types of gangs.

Crumbly said...

We (Little Type) will hopefully be getting the new Cometbus in soon! I was notified that some were coming our way. As soon as we get it, it's going on the site. They were probably sent media mail, which can take 7-14 days....Can't wait!

Jim Testa said...

Can you save me a copy or did you give them all away?

p.s. I will not be at Chadd's show this weekend at Desmonds, I'm playing some rinky dink folk festival in Upstate NY.