Archive | June, 2014

No Headphones

22 Jun

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Nothing compares to seeing a full moon along the NYC skyline
as fireworks fill the night.
You can feel the electricity from the ground up
even when you sleep.
This city is a big machine with cogs
wheels, and wires for veins
pulsing currents towards the mad mass of crowds.

I don’t want to miss any of it.
The gears the trucks the squeals
in my ears.

The people on the street
the music and the beats
the cars and the jeeps
the honks and the beeps
the planes, the cranes, the elevated trains
the old man in the subway behaving insane.

The pace. The race
the lack of personal space.
The culture and the humanity
all up in my face.

The rhythm of the city as it moves above me.
The rhythm of the city as it moves beneath me.
The rhythm of the city as it moves around me
The rhythm of the city as it moves within me.

~Edward Austin Robertson

A Fresh Start

22 Jun

Back at Aimee’s diner
he sat on the stool
gnawing on his country breakfast
drinking coffee.

Easy to ask why he didn’t move here to begin with
but that was being shortsighted.
As unfortunate as things were
most of it (all of it?) was his fault.

He needed this to happen
to get the horseshit
knocked out of him by life.

He paid his bill
walked around town–
shivering
trudging through ice
his socks wet and his
feet cold.

All the tea, coffee and warm layers
could not keep him warm enough.
He thought that four seasons
could actually be nice for a change,
and if this was as bad as the weather got,
then he may be able to handle living up here.

This was the next step.
Now was the time to go back and set things in motion.

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~Edward Austin Robertson

Poem for Little Eli

21 Jun

Family.

The minute you decide to start one
becomes the day you must emotionally prepare for a series of goodbyes.

The first day back to work,
their first day of daycare,
their first day of school,
their first day of sleep away camp,
to when they leave for college
and get married.

Parents to children who become parents to children, who become grandparents to grandchildren.

Meanwhile
we hold onto, validate,
and appreciate the authentic moments that we share–
the laughter, smiles, and tears.

Curiosity leads us to wander
as our tribes spread out,
but love is why we always return.

~Edward Austin Robertson

East Coast Trippin’ Days 21-23 : The Denouement

16 Jun

In three short hours I will be leaving the city and essentially going off the grid. Vacation is officially over and my summer job in Maine begins. This trip has been eye opening to say the least. The things I’ve encountered and the people I’ve met along the way helped steer me towards possibilities that I was unaware were available to me.
I guess you could say that my reality has opened up a little bit.
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Tonight I was at a bar in Queens, drinking caffeinated beverages and watching the Spurs wrap up their fifth NBA championship. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and couldn’t get past the shit eating grin I had on my face. It was a good moment with myself. A Texas team had won the NBA title. I had managed to knock out my goal of traveling the east coast and see some states I have been wanting to see for at least ten years. It felt good.
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Last year at this time, I was nursing my wounds from my Austin failures, running towards this dream someone had sold me, and witnessing the Miami Heat rip the hearts out of Tim Duncan and company. This year was different though. Lebron James was sitting on the bench watching his team get carved up by an improved Spurs squad. I had just spent the weekend catching up and hanging out with old friends. Today was spent out in Long Island, swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, and leering behind my sunglasses at women’s bodies.
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New York City has been really good for me. I love this city. I was jogging this morning out in Queens when I realized that its no longer a matter of if, but when I’ll move here. Well not in the next 5 years. My five year plan is to make money and travel in that order. Everything else that happens in those five years is gravy. Who knows, maybe I’ll move here with a gal, get hitched and earn a tax break. Never say never right? As for the immediate future, I’m looking forward to no phone or internet for the next couple of months. I need to reset. I want to get fresh air and catch up on my reading. In order to execute these plans I’m hatching, I’m going to need some space to think. You’ll hear from me again in late August. Have a good summer.

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East Coast Trippin’ Days 19-20: And it rained all night

13 Jun

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Beautiful Burlington, Vermont has a nice little state university that has 10,000 students enrolled there. I would have liked to have seen more, but its been raining buckets since I have been here. I managed a quick stroll along the waterfront of Lake Champlain early Wednesday morning, but for all the beauty here, I have been stuck indoors.

So what does one do when they are stuck indoors? They go do five minute sets at stand up open mics, and then head to the bro-iest establishment possible (Manhatten’s Pizza–Burlington’s version of The Wheel in Lawrence) and sing badly played acoustic tunes to no one in particular (I was actually relieved that no one was listening–felt free to play whatever I wanted).

The stand up open mic was fun. I forgot how much I used to enjoy going on stage and making people laugh. I hit them with some old ones just to loosen up, then ventured out into some little used jokes that I been wanting to work out for a while. It didn’t feel like four years had passed since the last time I had done it, but believe me, my nerves used to get the best of me on stage when I was younger. Now I don’t give a fuck if I bomb or not, because I really don’t give a fuck about anything anymore. Life is too short. Ask anyone who lives in a country merged in a civil war. The stuff we get hung up on is totally absurd. If there is something you want to say, then say it. If there is something you’ve always dreamed of doing, then do it. If there is something in life that has always frightened you, then kick that fear in the balls. It doesn’t matter if you do it or if you don’t do it. The universe gives zero fucks. 2014-06-11 12.46.35

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I spent the afternoon yesterday in an Irish pub, drinking French-pressed coffee, watching the babes, eating wings, and joking with some locals as the Croatians got hosed in the first World Cup match of the tournament. Burlington has certainly lived up to the hype, and though its pretty expensive for a college town; its still a pretty rad place. It could arguably be the coolest college town on the entire east coast.

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Time to head back to New York City. When I originally made my itinerary, I had booked a bus to Amherst. But after the way NYC slapped me on my behind, I got’s to go back. This weekend I will be spending Father’s day with one of my best friends,his wife and son, and hopefully we’ll bust out some bubbly to celebrate the Spurs’ fifth NBA championship. Monday morning I have to head to Boston to report for assignment. Vacation is just about over.

East Coast Tripping Days 17-18: Nestled within the folds

11 Jun

Monday was the first legit fuck off day I’ve had since I been on vacation. I basically spent the whole day doing laundry and hangin’ with the homies. We went back out to Brooklyn to play pickup ball, with my boys from Austin and Portland. We got some good running in and managed to avoid getting any cramps in that stuffy gymnasium. It was nice to not have anything terribly important to do because yesterday was a travel day. Not only would I miss the most efficient first half played by any team in NBA Finals history, but I had to ride the Dattco bus instead of the Megabus.

The Dattco bus? No idea who owns it or where it came from, but let’s just say it was not ideal:

“No wif-fi. No outlets. No stops. No problem. Dattco. As in Dat company you never heard of. Coming to a city near you.”

The thing about these buses is that if you forget to pack water, you are fucked. This is where the whole express bus works against poor planners like myself. No stops means exactly that, no stops. I of course forgot to pack water and had to wait until the trip was nearly over, when we made a scheduled stop in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The bus ride still was not too unpleasant though. There happened to be tons of Vermont cuties along for the ride. I managed to score a seat next to a guy who looked familiar, but it would take me a half hour of conversation to figure out why he did. Turns out I’d seen him in a documentary about his uncle, a bass player in this 70’s punk band called Death. He himself plays bass in a band called Rough Francis.

He was a pretty cool cat who had basically lived his whole life in Burlington (except for a brief stint in the Bay Area that interestingly intersected with my own time out there). He gave me the lay of the land, told me what spots to hit up, and what restaurants to avoid. He was good conversation. We talked about music, women, and traveling–even traded some “Unforgivable” quotes to our neighboring passengers’ dismay.

Vermont itself is just as breathtaking as I imagined. I’d often heard that Vermont is basically the Oregon of the east coast, and the corollary seems pretty dead on. The same quiet reverence I felt the first time I visited Oregon washed upon me last night as we silently crept north. Replace the Douglas Firs of Oregon with Maple trees and you have Vermont. The state is packed with mountain ranges, tall trees, and the ocean not too far away. The more my boy Julian told me about Burlington, the more I liked what I heard. The town is only an hour and a half from Montreal, Quebec (wish I’d have planned better–would have loved to take a side trip up to Montreal again) and Marijuana is decriminalized here in Vermont. So did I not break the law last night when I got settled? You bet I didn’t.

my couchsurfing hosts last night were these two lovely gals from Boston–both just recently of drinking age– and so much fun. They took me to a couple of bars to watch a Grateful Dead cover band (Dead Set every Tuesday night at the Nectar–a spot made popular by Phish’s early days), and another spot where there was a sweet little honky-tonk band. When they played Gram Parsons’ “A Song For You” I knew they were the real deal. Burlington reminds me a lot of Eugene, Oregon–tons of happy white people, good music, ubiquitous buds, and a super chill vibe. I’m digging it.
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There are a couple of open mics tonight I’m going to hit up. Decided I’m gonna try some stand up comedy after four years of inactivity. Later there is one at the pizza place where I will break out the old acoustic. It should be fun. Of course, to complete the Oregon/Vermont parallel, it has been raining all day, which believe it or not, bodes well for me. If the girls in Vermont treat me anywhere as good as the Oregonian gals did, your boy is in for a good night. Wish me luck.

East Coast Trippin’ Days 15-16: “Gotta Pay to Play”

9 Jun

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This has to be one of the best weekends in recent memory. Friday night of course was the Outkast show and it was awesome. I spent most of Saturday recovering, but by that night, I was ready to get back out there.

Brooklyn Museum is one of the more unique museums you’ll ever go to. The relationship between the museum and the community is like no other I’ve seen before. The DMA in Dallas is a fairly stuffy arrangement and their “Final Fridays” events I have often found to be lacking in joy, life, and color (no pun intended).

First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum felt like a singles nightclub. There were tons of people in their extravagant gabs and accessories. I was very happy I didn’t wear my “never nude” shorts as I originally planned.

Wow. New York women. It isn’t that the women of New York are prettier than any other major city in the world. There are just more of them. Why is this the most expensive city in the United States? Because there are so many dime pieces living here bruh! Every five minutes, I would see the most stunning woman I’d ever seen, until the next woman happened to stroll by.

If I moved to this city it would have to be with a gal already in tow. Too much to choose from. Anyone who has ever gone to dinner with me can attest that I’m notoriously indecisive. It takes me 10 minutes just to decide what kind of soda I want to drink. Not only that, but the city is huge. You meet someone and the chances are you’ll never see them again. It leads to a very informal, impersonal exchange between people. The chances of me landing a date without the use of an online service would be slightly better than getting struck by lightening. I think it would be the same situation for me if I happened to be a woman. It makes me miss the innocent days of college where I could just chat up a girl for a few minutes, listen to her talk for 2 hours, then bring her back to the crib for some casual sex.

Once my claustrophobia wore off (which may or may not have been due to the hyper aware state I was in), I peeped game on some of the exhibits #Activism. There were a lot of good pieces, but my favorites were the Ai Wei Wei, “According to What” exhibit, and Judy Chicago.

Some of her pieces were pretty trippy. There was this “Rejections series” that she did, where she would paint these electrifying and colorful labia-esque objects and write notes within the paintings. I only went to the first, fourth, and fifth floors, but each level had at least one mind blowing piece in every room. It was inspiring, stimulating, and thought provoking.

I got invited to go to the Comedy Cellar for a 10:30 show. The Comedy Cellar is kind of a grab bag kind of deal, you never know who is going to perform there. We saw Colin Quinn hanging out, someone said that Dave Atell was probably going to perform. I’m not a big fan of either comic so it was whatever. A couple of comedians who’d been on Letterman performed and it was funny. Not dying laughing funny, but it was good. Then the MC that night comes out and says “Well like we say, you never know who is going to be here…..ladies and gentleman…. Chris Rock.” My eyes lit up. My buddies and I just looked at each other in curious disbelief. Sure enough, the “Rock” appears on stage and commences to give us an hour and a half of un rehearsed jokes. It was incredible. It took my brain a few minutes just to process what I was seeing.

Chris Rock was one of the original reasons I got into comedy so much as kid. In high school I had all his comedy albums (on cassette tape) and I loved the Chris Rock show. There he was literally 10 feet away from me, MC Gusto, Pookie from “New Jack City”, and the narrator of Pootie Tang. It was bananas.

After seeing that badass exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, I thought there was no way my mind could be blown any further. Wrong! Wrong!

With that said, yesterday was pretty low key. Spent the day in Prospect Park with my buddy, and then we got some frozen yogurt. Then I spent the rest of the evening watching a travesty of a basketball game. Tomorrow I take off for Vermont in hopes of interviewing the “Spaceman” Bill Lee. I don’t even know if he even lives there. He is probably out playing in some baseball league somewhere exotic like Nova Scotia, or Halifax. Sigh. Why do all my heroes have to be weirdos?

East Coast Trippin’ Day 14: Droppin’ the ball

7 Jun

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If you don’t like waiting in long ass lines, large crowds of people, and overpriced food, then a music festival is not the place for you. I enjoy none of these things and somehow I forgot that when I bought my Friday ticket for the Governor’s Ball. I would have preferred to have seen Outkast in a smaller, more controlled venue, but that was not an option. They were only playing festivals and if I wanted to see them I would have to get over myself and get out into the world.

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It took me a while to get out there. I had to schlep all my stuff across town to Brooklyn where I am staying for the weekend before I could leave for the waterfront. I got the “midwest okeydoke” pulled on me because I thought a ferry was the only way to get Randall’s Island. I could have saved myself 20 bucks and walked across the passenger into the harbor. I waited in line for an hour and half and missed the entire Washed Out set. Damon Albarn’s whole set was scheduled for the entire performance of Outkast, so that was another act I was destined to miss.

I was able to find my friends at the main stage and catch enough of Phoenix to feel satisfied (after about 6 songs it all started to sound the same, but goddamn they had a bad ass drummer) and decided to get some more free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream:

Ferry ticket to Randall’s Island- 20 bucks

One day pass for Governor’s Ball-115 bucks

Lying in the fairgrounds and eating free cups of Phish Food while checking out the ladies in their festival garb- PRICELESS.

There were so many beautiful women there. I haven’t seen that much tail since my daddy took me to the Fort Worth Zoo. The offset to this little dalliance was that I lost my place at the stage, lost my friends and my cell phone died (which didn’t matter–no one could get decent coverage out there). I was left to meander about and catch a small glimpse of TV On the Radio, a band I feel like I’m supposed to like, but for whatever reason can’t get into them.

There was free water there but only if you had a receptacle, so to save money I found an empty plastic water bottle, washed it out as best as I could and used that (who says I don’t have survivor skills?). I was getting pretty hungry but I didn’t want to incur an 8 dollar ATM fee just to get a 7 dollar grilled cheese sandwich. Later I saw a guy eating one and asked him if it was worth it. He shrugged and told me I could have the rest of his–he’d only taken two bites of that motherfucker. Did I eat it? Of course I did. I had to find out if a 7 dollar grilled cheese sandwich tastes better than a free grilled cheese sandwich. The truth is I couldn’t tell the difference.

I was beginning to regret not selling my ticket to a guy outside the festival grounds when Outkast came onto the stage and blew it up! Shit was krunk. I wasn’t sure if they had the juice to pull off something so big, but it was authentic, it was funky, and they were having fun.

I was hungry, grouchy, and kind of tired from the night before, but Outkast made me forget all of that and the 100 dollars I spent on my ticket just to essentially see them. Once the music started playing, it was impossible to not enjoy myself. Having very little money to piss off left me pretty sober. The edibles I was traveling were starting to go bad back in Carolina, so I had to eat those before I really wanted to. Sure enough during “Spottieodiedopealicious”, the guy next to me in a Jason Gardner Arizona jersey, passed me a huge bomber he’d been puffing on. Since weed is legal here in the New York, I took him up on his hospitality–oh wait it isn’t? You mean I broke New York state law? Well I guess me and Raymond Felton will be bunk mates in prison won’t we?

Within three hits I was taken back to 1998, where I was hanging out with pizza delivery drivers and getting stoned on the regular while listening to “Aquemini” in our cars. I was one of the few old heads who knew all the songs from the first 3 albums, and I couldn’t help but smile I looked around saw someone else dancing, and singing along to “Elevators.”

“ME AND YOU
YO MOMMA AND YO COUSIN TOO”

Some people got loose, others only when they played the hits that they knew from “Speakerboxx/The Love Below.”
I laughed at the irony of some of the younger, prettier girls singing “Roses” not understanding that they were singing about women like themselves.

I liked that they paid homage to some of the NYC Hip Hop pioneers and reveled in their opportunity to perform in the city where hip hop was birthed (Big Boi even kind of looked like a young Afrika Bambaataa). You could tell they got it, and they were having a good time. If you’ve ever been to a Flaming Lips show, then you understand how fun concerts can be if the artists are intentional about their shows. Outkast was on that level, cool graphics playing behind them, and a live band onstage (along with with a DJ);they did not miss a beat.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself until the very last song when I realized that everyone (they momma and they cousin too)would be heading for the exits and onto the ferry. I booked it to exits and left before the set was over and STILL ended up waiting for an hour to get onto the ferry. People were lollygagging, and taking their sweet ass time, chatting it up alongside other lollygaggers. I had no gumption at all about skipping in the line (its New York–you can do anything).

I was finally able to relax and be stoned for the evening ferry ride across the East River, taking it all in before
arriving at the island. I found a couple of 7-11 hot dogs on the way to the subway, scarfed them down, fell asleep, on the C train, and ended up on Rockaway Avenue. This cost me at least another hour of sleep, and when I finally made it to Crown Heights, I slept like a baby, but woke up dehydrated this morning. Today’s objective: drink plenty of water,stay out of the sun, and take a nap. Gotta rest up for pickup ball tomorrow. Below I posted more pics. There was a lot of eye candy yesterday, and I don’t just mean the ladies. I saw so many sweet throwback jerseys. In fact the guy who almost bought my ticket was wearing an old school white with gold trim, Warriors’ Chris Webber jersey–just like the one I wanted as a kid.

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All in all a pretty good day, but I’m way over budget. I may have to whore myself out on Craigslist on Monday and Tuesday to recover some ill advised purchases. I’ve got the clothes for it, t-shirt, shorts, and dirty sneakers. I ain’t scared. I’ll go up to a stranger’s house and help them move furniture to another apartment. Wait a minute what were you thinking I was going to say? Tsk. Tsk. You’re one sick fuck you know that?

I’m out.

East Coast Trippin’ Days 10 and 11: Built vs. Bought

6 Jun

This trip has been a game changer in so many ways. My definition of hospitality and generosity has broadened in some degree because of my time spent on the road. It is one thing when friends allow you access into their homes and lives, that is a natural result of knowing someone for so long that trust becomes preternatural. It is another thing to allow a stranger into your home, provide them with a key to get in whenever they need to, pick them up when they are lost in a strange neighborhood, cook them delicious meals, and introduce them to all of your friends Some people have not only given me directions, but physically taken me to the place where I needed to go–and without even asking my name. Almost everything I originally generalized about east coasters has been wrong. I am very happy to admit that.
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My good time continued as some old friends from Austin flew up for the Governor’s Ball Festival on Friday. Today we played pickup ball at the elementary where our buddy teaches at. We were able to use the gym and get some shots up. It was fun to have that leather ball in my hands again, but it was just as nice getting to hang out with my old Austin homies.

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The night before we tried unsuccessfully to get into the free show out at Prospect park. Everyone and their mom was out their trying to get their Janelle Monae on. It was a little insane. It felt like we were at free show at SXSW without a name badge. I ended up leaving and visiting a friend out at Crown Heights. We visited a little bit. I met her roommate and then split for Queens. On my way out I ran into a crap game with like 6 fairly fit black dudes. I was on my phone, and I could tell they were sizing me up. I was a little inebriated and was in no shape to run so if they were going to be beat my ass, the best I could do was make it difficult for them (at best). I just kept walking to the end of the block and tried not to look back at them. After I crossed Franklin Ave. I picked up my pace and then crossed to the other side of the street so I could sneak a peek behind me to see if anyone was following me.

Even if Brooklyn is safer than it used to be, I’ve lived in too many bad neighborhoods to know that all it takes is to slip up once, and that’s your ass. You’ll never catch me slipping like that. That is why I never sit with my back to the entrance of a restaurant, and I always hatch an escape plan at the movie theaters–shit happens, and people be tripping.

Once I was on the train again I allowed myself to relax and consider what it was like to live in New York during the early 90’s during what some think was the golden age of Hip Hop. You had the Beasties Boys back and forth between NY and Cali working on that “Ill Communication” album. Wu-Tang was beginning to take over the hip hop world. A Tribe Called Quest was representing. Nas dropped “Illmatic”, and De La Soul was throwing out some ill shit. The Rangers won the Stanley Cup, the Yankees were about to start their dynasty, and the Knickerbockers were competitive year in and year out.
I would like to sit down and talk with New Yorkers about this time period–it’s a conversation worth listening to. The world was changing and I was too young to even realize it.
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I’m really digging Queens though–especially the Woodside neighborhood. It feels like another country and is definitely the most diverse of the boroughs I’ve visited. The other Boroughs seem more socially segregated. In Williamsburg, you see the same types of people dressed the same way, having the same kind of tattoos. In Harlem there are mostly blacks. Manhattan seems more for the wealthy or the Chinese business owners. I feel like Queens is the most authentically New York spot right now, in terms of diversity. I dig it. If I were to move to New York in five or six years, Queens would probably be the spot for me.
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Tomorrow is the big day that I have been waiting for. Outkast and Phoenix are two groups that have been on my wish list for a long time. It’s going to be fun. Taking the ferry over to Randall’s Island and gonna drink a lot of water, and try to find an edible to enjoy for the show. I could be like “Rimjob Brown” for Grantland and have mammoth expectations, or I can just go, get fucked up, and have a really good time seeing music with some good friends. Now tell me, which option do you think is best?

East Coast Trippin’ Day 9: Heightened Sensations

3 Jun

“I’m going back to New York City I do believe I had enough”

~Bob Dylan

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I never thought a city with so many universities could be so whack. The minute I got on that 4:45 Megabus for New York I fell asleep in relief. It was getting muggy and my head was pounding. Outside of my time spent at the MET (a really awesome organization that helps youth find alternatives to regular high school), I didn’t do much smiling. I found the locals to be either stuffy, or sketchy. Imagine a town like Topeka, Kansas suddenly having a couple of universities built downtown. That is what Providence is like. The buildings and architecture were neat, but the people themselves??? No thank you.

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I had a roommate in Oakland who attended Brown university and he said that he hated the east coast and had no desire to return. Now I can understand why. 4 years in a place like that would ruin my perspective forever. That being said, I had two random strangers (one a Peruvian woman, the other a bald early forties, white man) offer me rides to my hotel and my campus tour. Which proves to me that even in hostile environments, a positive attitude will attract the right kinds of people.

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After my meeting and lunch, I took advantage of my remaining free time and did some busking along the canal on Rhode Island School of Design campus. Then I jumped on the bus to New York, thus fulfilling the last leg of the David Byrne east coast swing.

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Our bus driver was a professional and he got us into the Bronx in 3 hours, when it was supposed to be a 4.5 hour drive. The bus dropped us off on 7th Ave and 28th st. I deftly navigated the Times Square traffic and found my subway train without any problems (I only had to ask one cop for directions to the Flushing train).

Can you believe it was only 20 years ago, when the Rangers and and Knicks were both in the Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals?
I was looking around at all the lights, tourists, billboards, and hockey jerseys, and happened to pass Madison Square Garden. I was 15 years old when Adam Graves and Mark Messier (who has the same birthday as me–no wonder he was my favorite hockey player of all time) hoisted the cup. That was the summer of OJ Simpson and the white Bronco, the Beastie Boys’Sabotage video, and my mother getting free Pay Per View.

I spent that summer alternating between watching “A Perfect World”, “Dazed and Confused”, and taping every single lesbian scene I could stay awake for on the Spice and Playboy Channels. I had yet to venture outside of Texas, and at that time never dreamed of visiting New York (or traveling anywhere outside the state to be honest). Now I’m in the NYC–a place where the senses are heightened ten-fold.

This has already been the best US vacation I’ve ever taken. The Stanley Cup Finals (which the NY Rangers are back for), the NBA Finals ( GO Spurs! GO!) and the World Cup (Cameroon anyone?) all kick off in within days of each other this week. There is also something being held out on Randall’s Island called the Governor’s Ball. I’m only going to Friday night’s festivities featuring Outkast, Damon Albarn, and Phoenix among other acts (kind of wanna see Washed Out). I can’t think of a better place to end up during the first week of June. This is a going to be a really good summer–been pretty kick ass so far. I fucking love this place.