JUST BACK FROM TRAWLING THE STREETS:
Went to City Lights again, bought ‘Pictures of the Gone World’ by
Lawrence Ferlinghetti & a copy of Robert Frank’s ‘Pull My Daisy’.
The place still smells of paper, ink & wood & all the time in the
world. What I liked the most was the singing of the drunks in the
alley behind the store. You could hear them through the skylight
in the basement where they stored the heavy literature. The guy at
the check-out had a ruby stud in the valley between his nose & upper
lip as he turned me onto ‘The Ending of Drama’ by Car Seat Headrest,
the best thing I’d heard all day besides the drunks in the alley.
He kept looking at me like he wanted to say something only getting
as far as offering me a bag that I declined. We strolled up the street
to an Italian restaurant where walls were covered with signed
photographs & classic Roman busts wearing military hats. The music
veered between 1980’s Italian pop & American Metal as we discussed
Brussel sprouts & vintage guitars, watched over by a kindly nude
in oils. Back out on the street we met Tim from Dublin, who’d been
at the Fox Theatre last week & showed us photographs to prove it.
Said he’d been singing Ovanova on the street only that morning.
Said it made him feel good & thanked me as we posed together for
photographs. We told him we were looking for a good bar band for a
swift one, so he pointed us in the direction of The Saloon on the
corner of Grant.
“It can be hit-&-miss” he said
The music was great, country, fast lickin. A big old semi acoustic
through a tape echo, an upright bass & a stripped down kick. The band
were hot, none stop, sound like the Stray Cats, confident & never
dropped a beat. The licks got faster & the grins wider as we propped
up the end of the bar, a beer for my buddy & a cranberry juice for me.
It tasted of chorine, so I left it, transfixed by the balletic moves
of the old barman with the silver pony tail trailing halfway down his
back. He knew his stage, was sharp as a razor, read every customer
pin-point accurate with a constant indecipherable smile in his eyes,
wiry, nimble, always just out of reach of drunks lunging hands.
“You gotta pace yourself!” he yelled, grinning at the kid who
muscled into our spot & stuck his thumb up in my face, leaning back
to focus & wonder where we’d met. His energy was out’ve sync
with the rest of the room, he was potential trouble & the kid
chaperoning him looked like he knew it, glanced over with a thin
apologetic smile & shrugged when trouble wasn’t looking.
Outside, the oldtimers smoked & chewing over times as we swerved
rivulets of piss running from behind a dumpster where a solitary drunk
leaned propped up a wall, cap pulled over his eyes, fists rooted in
the pockets of his urine soaked strides. A great night for romance.