My writer's block, aka procrastination, aka bone idle laziness continues. I can barely drag myself to the keyboard these days... Well, actually, that's not true; I'm plopped down in front of the computer as much as ever, but all I manage to do is vacantly flip from one website to another, occasionally mustering up enough energy to compile lists of all the things I need to write about and then filing them away until they are hopelessly obsolete.
I'm not sure what's brought on this flagrant mopery, but there you have it. I'm not even sure why I'm bothering to tell you about it, since there hasn't exactly been an upwelling of anguish from the internet when I've absented myself from blogging for a few days or more. Which I guess proves that I'm doing this more for myself than for an audience, though sometimes it's hard to tell which is which.
Certainly I'm no 327 Dave, who's just completed the self-posed challenge of writing blog entries on 327 consecutive days, each consisting of exactly 327 words (bear in mind that he's a professional philosopher, and if you ever wondered just what it is that sets philosophers apart from the less lettered masses of humankind, now you know). For one thing, I rather doubt I could muster the discipline to limit myself to 327 words (though if I used the same formula as Dave, i.e., based on his birthday, I'd have to crank out 1,028 words), and more to the point, my life is not sufficiently structured or consistent to do much of anything on a daily basis.
A sad commentary, some might say, and I'm often tempted to agree with them. Dave, of course, is gainfully employed and a family man to boot, both of which require a structure and consistency which have largely eluded me even during those occasional (and rare) years when I did have an actual job. Bear in mind that the only time I ever worked at one place for more than a year was when I was the boss, and even then I ended up firing myself. Several friends, knowing that I'm at least semi-looking for a job these days, have helpfully suggested that I put together a résumé (I've never had one, seriously, except when they made us write pretend ones in high school), but while I'd like to think of myself as a creative fellow, I doubt I'm creative enough to make a record like that look good.
So, no job and no responsibilities apart from coming up with an occasional blog entry, and now even that is becoming too burdensome? If this were the Old West and I were a horse, they would have taken me out and shot me long ago. But this being New York City in the no longer quite so early years of the 21st century, I got some pizza and went to a punk rock show.
Rotterdam's Apers were ostensibly the headliners, but technical difficulties prevented the boys from being at the top of their game. Even Kevin, their diminutive motormouth pothead frontman, seemed unusually subdued; normally he spends at least as much time talking (and hilariously so) as the band does playing. The Apers were still frighteningly tight and powerful - if they were an American band, they would have sold hundreds of thousands of records by now, but tonight the show was stolen by the Steinways, a last-minute replacement for New Hampshire's Guts.
It was a triumphant return to form for the Queens pop-punkers, whose last couple shows have been a bit desultory and lackluster. Elfin-eared Michelle Shirelle may be no virtuoso on the bass guitar (singer-guitarist Grath McGrath frequently had to coach her on how a particular song went, e.g., "This one's in the key of 6"), but she gets the job done, and deserves to be front and center if for no other reason than her delightful line of gibberish. And Grath, as I've said before and will no doubt say again, is a genius.
The Steinways, also consisted of Handsome Ace and internet celebrity Chris Grivet, are rumored to be backing Ben Weasel for at least part of Baltimore's Insubordination Fest later this week. Longtime readers of this blog will know that last year's fest was the most amazing cultural event thus far in the 21st century, and this year's threatens to massively surpass it. Normally you have to drag me kicking and screaming to get me out of New York City, but I'm eagerly packing my bags for Baltimore already.
After the show (New York's other faves, the Unlovables, and Florida's Hi-Life also played), I jumped into the Apers' van, piloted by roadie Sebby Zatopek, for the journey from the Knitting Factory up to the East Village. Thanks to Friday night traffic, it would have been faster to walk, but that would have meant missing out on the rapid-fire commentary of four Dutchmen on the current state of Nieuw Amsterdam. You thought Americans had an attitude and didn't hesitate to express it? They're shrinking violets by comparison.
Our destination was Manitoba's Bar on Avenue B. I've walked people there, I've hung out on the sidewalk in front, but I'd never been in the joint before, assuming it would be little more than elephant's graveyard for old punk rockers (and no, I don't think that necessarily means I'd feel right at home there, Mr. Smartypants). But as it turns out, it's a fairly pleasant place as bars go, crowded but still negotiable, and with a decent blend of ages and cultural affiliations.
About 10 or 15 of us were there, mostly habitués of the Pop Punk Message Bored, and while some busily occupied themselves with getting shit-faced, I had the privilege of hearing a baleful tale recounted by Chadd Derkins, who's an even bigger internet celebrity than Chris Grivet, if such a thing is possible. Chadd, it seems, regularly has to go out to New Jersey to house-sit his parents' apartment. I'd always thought that a bit strange, not understanding how much sitting a high-rise could possibly need.
As it turns out, the real job involves looking after his parents' dog, which has to be taken every morning to a doggie day care center called "Hounds On The Hudson." Affable guy that he is, Chadd takes this in this stride, but he admitted to being a little put out by the doggie report card that little Foo Foo or Fifi or whatever it's called, brings home each night.
"It's not so much the idea of the report card that gets to me," he said, "but for some reason I'm supposed to believe that it was actually written by the dog. I'll get this card that says, 'Today I had a very good day. I ran around a lot and played with Sasha and Fred (I'm assuming these are dogs, not people) and had a delicious bowl of kibbles.'"
Does it always say positive things, or does he get a bad report sometimes, I wanted to know? "Well, they put it diplomatically, yes, but sometimes it will say, 'I was really very lively today,' which I'm assuming means 'I was a holy terror.'"
Always intrigued by these slice-of-life tales from mysterious New Jersey, I asked Chadd if he thought his parents' rather intense relationship with their dog mirrored or was an attempt to replicate the relationship with Chadd himself. He was, after all, the last child to leave home, and not all that many years ago, either.
"Well, let me just tell you this," he said. "In the living room my parents have a frame with spaces for four photos. My parents have four kids. In the frame are pictures of my three sisters and..."
"Their dog?" I asked. It seemed the most obvious answer but apparently nothing is obvious in the Derkins family.
"No! It's a picture of Dr. House!"
"The guy from the TV show?"
"That's the one."
"Don't they have a picture of you?"
"They must have thousands of pictures of me. But in the frame is Dr. House. It's cut out from some magazine."
At this point I was left speechless, as I often am when attempting to plumb the depths of the ever-amazing Chadd Derkins and the world from which he emanated. Chadd and his band Short Attention will be in Baltimore this week too, so I suspect you haven't heard the last of him just yet.