07 April 2007

A Not So Bad Friday

After so much time off - I guess it's been a couple of weeks now - it's kind of hard to get started on this bloggy thing again. First the excuses, I guess: aside from the usual chaos and confusion to be expected when setting up shop in a new city, I've completely failed to make the chronological adjustment from Australia to New York. In other words, I seem to still be on Sydney time, which was simultaneously eight hours earlier and a day later than the East Coast of America.

That's the only explanation I can offer for being up most of the night and sleeping for large parts of the day, not to mention constant confusion as to what day it is and what if anything I'm supposed to be doing. Adding to the disorientation was the fact that for the first week and a half I was essentially living out of a suitcase, as most of my clothes and belongings were marooned somewhere out there in UPS Land. And when the boxes finally did arrive, they created a traffic jam in what had been a living room during the several days it took me to get them unpacked and find some place to put everything.

Want more excuses? For at least a week my internet access was limited to whatever unpredictable hours the upstairs neighbors chose to turn on their wireless. Sometimes they'd leave it on all night, which meant of course that I had to stay up checking email, bulletin boards, my bank balance, and the daily newspapers from several continents. Yes, I could have used this time more productively, if blogging could be so dignified, but I came to learn that attempting to post something on my blog sent a psychic signal through the ceiling that told the neighbors it was time to shut off their wireless for a day or so. Net result being that I decided I was meant to use the internet for frivolous purposes only.

No change there, you snarkily point out? Well, all right, but then about a week ago I was finally able to get hold of one of those elusive humans who reputedly work for the cable company but who of course can't be expected to actually answer the phone in person, and get my internet sorted out. So I could have been blogging for this whole past week, true, but most of that time, the part that wasn't devoted to unpacking and breaking up cardboard for recycling and figuring out how to dispose of 37 cubic feet of styrofoam peanuts that UPS felt it necessary to encase my guitar and keyboard with, sadly had to be spent catching up on all the internet business I'd fallen behind on during the previous week.

Oh, and along with the cable internet comes cable TV, something I've rarely had the benefit (or not) of; those of you who are familiar with this convenience (or not) will know of its ability to consume large amounts of otherwise useful time. Which brings me up to yesterday.

Awakening late in the morning as usual, I was confronted with a dilemma. I wanted to go to church for at least part of the Good Friday observances, which usually go on between 12 and 3 in the afternoon, the hours during which Jesus was reputedly hanging on the cross (yes, I too occasionally wonder how exactly this was determined, given the paucity of reliable wristwatches in those days). Trouble was, my many-channeled cable TV was offering a live broadcast of the Everton v. Fulham football match.

Blasphemous as it may sound, I found myself rationalizing that while Good Friday comes around every year, it's not that often that we see Fulham matches in the USA. Well, if I'm going to be honest, we see them more often than Good Friday comes around, but still... We certainly wouldn't see Everton v. Fulham more than once a year, which, as things would turn out, is probably just as well. But I digress...

I then came up with an even better rationalization: Good Friday is more or less the climactic point of Lent, a time during which we're meant to engage in sacrifice and self-mortification. As any long-suffering Fulham fan will tell you, there are few activities more likely to produce mortification of the spirit than watching our boys trying to avert another humiliating defeat.

Still, 12 years of Catholic education, not to mention Mel Gibson's valentine to violence aka The Thrashin' Of The Christ, made me all too aware that Jesus's sufferings were of a rather higher order than those endured by followers of a crap football team, so I was still wracked with guilt and indecision. Football or church, church or football? Fortunately, fortuitously even, at that moment church solved my problem by coming to me.

There was a great racket outside my window consisting of horns blowing (musical horns, that is), people chanting, and the shuffling of feet (well, that last was largely psychic, but I swear I could feel it). I looked out to discover a few hundred people conducting a Stations Of The Cross procession that wound its way for a couple miles up and down the streets of the neighborhood. We used to have this at my boyhood church, but only up and down the aisles inside the church.

For those of you unfamiliar with the ritual, there are 14 Stations, representing an aspect of the Crucifixion, at each of which the congregation stops and meditates and prays. This particular procession had small boys dressed up as Roman soldiers and who took what seemed to be inordinate pleasure in whipping the young man portraying Jesus at the appropriate intervals. Then a brass band would play some mournful tune, to which someone would sing along over a bullhorn, first in Italian, then English, then Spanish, before the crowd would move a block or two to the next Station.

Traffic was blocked off, and a police escort ensured that even irreligious drivers couldn't get overwrought and try to drive through what was essentially a funeral procession. Bemused hipsters pointed, gawked and photographed the faithful as we made our way up Bedford Avenue, and I wondered what sort of explanation I would offer if I saw anyone I knew, until I remembered that no explanation was necessary. I was quite glad to be able to participate in this neighborhood ritual, for community reasons as well as spiritual, but then I noticed that it was nearly time for the kickoff of the football match.

Since I'd put in almost an hour and a half walking the Stations of the Cross, I didn't feel too bad about leaving just a bit early to see the start of the game. As it happened, I'd sort of forgotten that there were 14 Stations rather than the 12 I'd been thinking there were, so when we passed No. 12 and headed for No. 13, I couldn't help feeling I'd done my duty.

Which was terribly self-indulgent of me, of course, and naturally I paid the price, watching Fulham, after teasingly (and uncharacteristically) get off to a 1-0 lead, go down to a rather humiliating 4-1 defeat. Still, it was an exciting match: lots of goals, anyway, even if they were for the wrong side. And the knowledge that href="http://www.kendrak.com/blog">Kendra K, just out of hospital after her surgery, would probably be watching and cheering on Everton, brightehttp://beta.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifned matters a bit. Well, heck, I never thought we were going to win anyway.

And Good Friday evening, I headed into the city to see my old pal Tim Barry (you'll know him from his years of fronting the band Avail) doing his solo act at a place called Rebel on W. 30 St. I ran into Tim out front and got to talking, which meant that I missed the opening band, locals The Challenged, who I'd intended to see, having met one of them, Mr. Rob Suss, the week before last. Regrettably, that'll have to wait till next time. I did see another band called Fifth Hour Hero, who I'd never heard of before, but were really rather good, even if they did all have beards (well, except the girl, and you got the feeling she might have grown one too if she could, if only out of solidarity). I guess it's lucky I got to see them when I did, too, because apparently they're and this was their last NYC show ever.

I had been expecting Tim to just show up with his acoustic guitar, but instead he had a whole band of truly impressive country and honky-tonk style musicians, including his very talented (and pretty!) sister Caitlin on the fiddle, and one Josh Small, whose masterful licks on the electric guitar reminded me at points of some vintage Grateful Dead (circa Workingman's Dead/American Beauty era) sounds, and I hope I don't get into too much trouble for saying that.

Tim always had the crowd in the palm of his hand when singing with Avail, and if anything, it was even more true at this little hootenanny/shindig/hoedown/Friday night beer blast. I was surrounded by people who apparently knew the words to the songs just as well as Tim did, and were determined to sing them just as loud, if not louder. The only other times I've experienced that, where the singer could have taken a break if he'd been so inclined and the crowd would have happily carried on without him, has been at Weakerthans shows. This was a bit more rowdy and raucous than a typical Weakerthans show, but every bit as much fun.

I only stayed for about half of the headlining band, Smoke Or Fire. They were very loud and very tight, a bit Avail/Hot Water Music-ish, but nothing really seemed to jump out about them. Their singer bragged that he had been "drunk for the past two weeks" and that his wife was none too pleased about it, but I'm not sure if that's the kind of thing I'd want to be wearing as a badge of honor. Really, they're quite good at what they do, but I think I was all hootenannied out by the time Tim and the gang had finished playing. So I grabbed a slice of pizza and made my way through the freezing streets (seriously, it's like 30 degrees here, and it was snowing tonight!) back to my warm bed in Brooklyn.


Amy said...

Good lord, I love Avail. Over the James is one of my all time favorite albums.

Anyway, glad to see you're back to blogging. Hope you had a nice Easter.

kendra said...

larry, i was cheering for everton in my own drug addled way. i'm convinced they must have got them memo about my operation, how i wish it weren't necessarily against fulham! oh well, i hope they keep it up against bolton tomorrow...

ps. i'm alive.

SKiP said...

I had very possibly that same good friday parade go past my window last year when I was under the illusion of freelancing from home. Fortunately my old catholic guilt didn't compel me to join.

The Marathon goes by just up the street too

crystal said...

the cable has been messed up??