Friday, July 2, 2010

Several Species Of Small Furry Thoughts - what a weekend!!!

So on Thursday we had our history-making Widespread Panic in-store. One might think that was enough excitement for one weekend. Not for me.

Friday - flew to Philadelphia where my college buddy Banky picked me up and took me to his great little seafood restaurant Seafood Unlimited. If you are ever in Philly check it out. That night we had a different kind of sea creature when we saw Phish in Camden, New Jersey. A very memorable show as it turned out. They opened with two songs they hadn’t played in years: “Alumni Blues” and “Letter To Jimmy Page.” They also broke out a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Free Man In Paris” (the audience was silent and mystified - I don’t think hardly anyone knew what it was). During the second set they played an enormous version of “2001: A Space Odyssey” that contained a tribute to Michael Jackson (who died exactly a year earlier). They teased “Billie Jean” “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” and “Thriller.” The crowd went bonkers when they went into “Thriller.” The other interesting, and somewhat upsetting development was the crowd actually booed the band when they played a new song they weren’t into (“1989”). This is entirely not cool in my opinion and sort of pissed me off. The band did an outstanding show and gets booed for one song??

Saturday - Banky and I take a bus to New York City (city of my birth) and meet up with my wife and daughter - Jill and Sarah. We go to The New York Historical Society and see the Grateful Dead exhibit. Go see it if you can! I wish it was a little bigger - but what you do get is totally memorable. Some of the highlights included Jerry and Bob’s guitars, the dummies from the “Touch Of Grey” video, heartfelt fan letters and gloriously decorated envelopes to the band, the handwritten schematics for “The Wall Of Sound,” and on and on. My favorite thing though was Dick Latvala’s notebooks with his handwritten notes about shows. What an uber-fan he was. Displayed are his notes on the Closing Of Winterland show, and he just gushes in clear longhand about how this was the greatest show and when people hear this the Dead will finally be recognized as… and so on and so forth. I found it incredibly touching. We bid adieu to Banky and we are off to the Picasso exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum Of Art. Not only is this museum one of the wonders of the world, the exhibit was mind-blowing. It followed Picasso chronologically, and there must have been six rooms full of stuff - sculptures, linoleum block prints, an entire room of sketchbooks, photos, films and, of course, hundreds of paintings. Picasso is one of those artistic figures whose achievement and influence are so immense and so hard to get your arms around that he almost doesn’t seem real. This exhibit both allowed one to gain a better understanding of the man (it was all below the waist for that guy) and reinforced that sense of disbelief at his greatness. Again, if you get to NYC - don’t miss this one. That night we had a classic NYC experience sitting at a table on the sidewalk on The Upper West Side eating spaghetti.

Sunday - My friend Rob comes into the city to meet me for lunch. Rob owns probably the best record store on the East Coast, Vintage Vinyl, and I always greatly value our conversations about, music, business and life in general. Like Twist and Shout, his store is hanging in there, doing in-store concerts, selling vinyl, appealing to collectors - same as us. We walked around the area known as The Bowery. When I was a boy, my father took me down there to illustrate the dangers of alcohol. It was the skids in those days -wall to wall bums. There are no bums in Manhattan any more. Since Rudy Guliani’s time The Bowery and all of Manhattan has been cleaned up. In many ways it saved the financial life of the city as a tourist destination, but in another way it stole a necessary element to the alchemy of the city. We ducked into CBGB’s - the club that spawned punk in America. It is now a “Rock and Roll Boutique” selling $1400 used leather jackets and used Styx albums for 40 bucks. It was a nice metaphor for the loss of soul in that part of the city. That night, we went to Fela, a musical stage show interpretation of the revolutionary African musician’s troubled times. I am not usually an appreciator of Broadway shows but this was a startlingly dynamic show, with a real live kick-ass band playing a credible version of Fela’s groundbreaking music. It also was extremely poignant, explaining the influence of his incredible mother (who deserves her own play) and his lifelong struggle with the government in his native Nigeria. It is an extraordinary tale of courage and music. I understand it might come to Denver. I highly recommend it if it does.

Monday - Jill and I sneak over to the Museum Of Natural History. I haven’t been there since I was a child, and it is still a completely magical place. It’s the museum from Night At The Museum and it brings out the child in anyone. That night we take our daughter and her boyfriend out for her birthday and say goodbye on a glistening New York street. It is thrilling, and unbearably hot and humid, and endlessly fascinating, and painfully expensive, and bursting with multi-cultural-hyper-sophisticated-poly-sexual life. It remains the most fascinating place I’ve ever been.

Tuesday - We are ready to return to Colorado. I can’t wait to get back to dry heat and clear sky and long views, and my store. When we get home the first things we see are a doe eating grass in front of our house and a red fox peacefully sleeping under a tree in the back. So very different than NYC, and yet, there’s no place like home. On Sunday Rob had asked me when I stopped feeling like a New Yorker. I thought for a minute and finally said, “You know, I think it was once I opened Twist and Shout, and actually became part of the fabric of our own great city, that I started proudly thinking of myself as a Coloradan.”


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