So that was fun, but a bit of a weird night. It began, for me, on the #7 bus on the way to the Princeton, where, with my mutant tongue loosened by a cannabis lozenge (Edison Jolts, AKA the strongest way to get an edible at a government store), I cut loose on a bus driver who had been trying to throw an elderly First Nations woman (with an elderly dog) off the bus because he had decided that she was just riding around without getting off anywhere. I actually stuck up for him while chatting with this woman, who had taken offense, making peace, trying to make her feel better while I was at it: "he probably has rules he has to enforce -- don't take it personally, he's just trying to do his job. What's your dog's name?" ...Except he then pulled out from a stop just after picking up two more elderly people, one with a walker, one with a cane, who were still trying to get into their seats at the front of the bus when he began veering back out into traffic. Both almost fell over. So rather than just pretending that hadn't happened, I actually ended up going right up front and rather loudly telling him to slow down, pay attention to what's happening on your bus, and let people with walkers and canes get seated before you pull out: "You're a public servant, and this is your public. It is not their fault if they are old or poor or disabled! Wait for them to sit down! You can do better than this!"
I am sure my spastic voice served my cause further. It's not often you get people with a mangled locution who speak with the voice of moral authority. I wonder if Jesus had a lisp? (Art Bergmann and I talked lisps briefly the other day; he had asked me if I had gum in my mouth, seeing my white tongue, which is, in fact, a somewhat common, and fair, mistake: how often do you encounter twin-tone tongues in the world?).
Anyhoo, this ended up making me great friends with a few fellow passengers, it seemed; they were grateful and some quite chatty afterwards, as was I (it was the cannabis talking). But then the bus driver sort of redeemed himself a bit: when he was barking at her previously, he had demanded that the elderly First Nations woman tell him what stop she was getting off at, so he would know where to eject her and cut her freeloading ride around town short, and then, even after I'd given him a bit of a drubbing, started in on her again: "You said your stop was Gore, and we just passed Gore, so it's time to get off!"
Which was probably just him not wanting her to keep riding on his bus (because you can't just ride around on a bus all day, you know, to which I say, Why not? Who cares? She's not disturbing anyone). Except she HAD said she was getting off at Gore, and we had passed Gore, so since his gruff manner was just provoking her again, I stepped in, using my lubricated people skills to ask her, kindly, "Did you actually want Gore?" She was dug in on the defensive ("I know where I'm going and I'll get off when I'm ready!"), but it developed that she had, in fact, missed her stop, so the bus driver was, uh, actually right, though he was still (kinda) being a prick about it. The fact that he was still doing his job, however badly, seemed weirdly meaningful and redeemed him a bit, so when I eventually got off, a few stops later, I apologized for having yelled at him, and told him I was NOT going to call and complain about him, which I had previously threatened to do. He got all the punishment he deserved from my mutant tongue lashing -- I mean, maybe he was just having a bad night.
I have'm too.
Anyhow, whatever happened further was not my problem, but the above will end up the strongest memory of the night, because -- at least from the seats in the rear where we ended up, the Princeton show was not very musically engaging, which was not entirely the fault of the bands: with the only seats available being way in the back, there were maybe a hundred people sitting between us and the stage, and maybe a third of them were performers, who were mostly happily socializing amongst themselves while their friends played. Video exists: try watching David M. sing Lou Reed's "The Bed" while everyone at our table, including his bandmates, wife, myself, my wife, and some other friends of mine have overlapping conversations!
Good fuckin' luck!
The songs, by the way, are "The New Reindeer 2013," part of a Christmas tradition of M's (documented on record in a couple of variants, on Five Wenceslases and 27 Other Contemporary NO FUN Christmas Classics, which I guess is actually my favourite Christmas album) whereby he picked a recently-deceased celebrity and appointed him a replacement for a shot Rudolph (the deceased celebrity here being Lou; as far as I know, this was the only song in the evening that had nothing written in it BY Lou Reed, a brief closing riff on "Sister Ray" not withstanding, but that was instead ABOUT Lou Reed, sorta). I believe that this tradition (appointing new reindeer to the sleigh) ended when David's long-time collaborator, Paul Leahy, died; while David developed a suite of songs in honour of Leahy called Leahy Stardust, including a very inspired original, "You Need Your Tongue to Stand Up," which I don't believe has had any official release, he did nothing so glib as to appoint Paul the lead on Santa's sleigh. An exhaustive list of celebrities who received that honour, previous to that, is not within my grasp -- I think there might be a Dal Richards reindeer out there, too -- but there is definitely also one about Elizabeth Fischer (of the Animal Slaves and Dark Blue World), whom David liked because she was friendly with his little dog Ozzy; that version of "The New Reindeer" is actually a slightly acerbic anti-assisted suicide song, relating to Fischer's choice, in the pre-MAID days, to go to Switzerland for an escape from the pain of terminal lung cancer, which I think David found startling and problematic.
Note: the Residents are working on an album about Jack Kevorkian; Hardy Fox actually died via assisted suicide himself. David M. occasionally covers "Santa Dog," but this is still a digression.
As for actual Lou material, besides "The Bed," David also got Dave Dedrick (not the biggest Lou fan) to hold the Gorgo for "Take a Walk on the Lime Side," then closed his set with "Ozzy's Vicious," a full-length rewrite of "Vicious" but written about his (dearly loved, now departed) dog misbehaving. I had never heard it before, and I barely heard it last night, but I enjoyed what I could make out.
If, sonically, it was pretty much impossible to enjoy the music from the back, given such circumstances, the night was VERY fun socially. I don't think I've talked to so many people I knew in months. A short list of people I talked to includes Ani Kyd Wolf, Eddie Dutchman, Leonard Pennifold, a couple of teaching colleagues, Adam Kates and his gal, David M. and his gal, my gal, Tim Chan, Tanya Van ("Is that ANI FUCKING KYD?!"), Scott Beadle, Cora of Cora and the Moon, Nicky Noodles (by whatever name you know him - Gnick, Cam, whatever), and a couple of the people who occupied the table to the left of us. I also waved at Dan Harbord, Talesha Zimmerman, Mo Tarmohamed, and Tony Lee. But with everyone, including the musicians, happily socializing, unless you were Dan Harbord (or sitting at his table, right up front), you weren't going to be able to exactly ENJOY the performances much. The vibe was OVERWHELMINGLY too social for that.
But that doesn't mean that piquant things didn't happen. Before I comment on the second band, Cora and the Moon, let me note that I am TOTALLY CURIOUS about them, now; but also was very confused by the contrast between their bandcamp and their live presentation, which was more, uh, "Outsider music," if you'll forgive me, than the gorgeously produced, slightly Lynchian dark Americana of the album (Paul Rigby, it transpires, is NOT a performing member of the live band, just a friend of theirs who made their material sound great). Their sound was more Moe Tucker than Lou Reed, which is not meant as a complaint: I love Moe Tucker's recorded output, even if she's ended up in a weird cranky Trump-lovin'-grandma kind of place (I tried being her Facebook friend for awhile and, yeah, no, Moe and I are not on the same planet. Life in Exile After Abdication and I Spent a Week There the Other Night are still great records).
But I digress. Anyhow, I really liked that Cora and the Moon changed up one song that they had proposed for "Average Guy," almost as if they were heeding my wish for more post-Transformer Lou to be repped, but that prompted an odd conversation with the person to my left about why the singer was calling herself a guy. "Because the song was written by Lou Reed, who was a guy," I explained, then had to keep explaining to this person that pretty much all the songs we were hearing were by Lou Reed. They kept asking me, every few songs, "Is this written by Lou Reed?" and I kept saying, "Yes, it's a Lou Reed tribute show," without realizing for some time that they did not know what that meant. Some of this is down to the nature of bar conversations, which are not ideal for the exchange of information; but eventually, when I figured out the source of the confusion, I did a better job explaining. There were still about five instances of, "Is this by Lou Reed?" before that.
What was weirdest about that, though (sorry, Cora!) was that (stoned, you understand; I was high; please do not accuse me of transphobia!), prompted by this question about "Average Guy," I then began to wonder, from my seat way at the back, if maybe Cora was in fact trans or a drag queen? I mean, I didn't know anything about this band, besides having really kinda dug what I heard of their album (I'm arranging to get a CD of it), but there sure seemed SOMETHING quirky about the singer -- I just couldn't tell HOW quirky. She was dressed in a very cute frilly vintage-Americana top, like she'd just flown in from a Nashville cowboy bar, and had quite a fullsome head of hair -- fullsome enough that I began to wonder, "Is that a wig?" My somewhat dope-addled speculations were not helped by the fact that we far enough away that I couldn't really make her out; while it seemed very unlikely that a female-presenting transperson (or drag queen) would make an ironic gesture out of singing "Average Guy," which, surely you realize, was ALREADY an ironic gesture on Lou's (gender-non-conforming) part, I actually utterly loved the idea: I would LOVE it if there were someone from the trans community (or a drag queen) in a frilly top singing Lou Reed tunes, you know? I'm sure Lou would have dug the idea, too; that aspect of Lou was not really visible last night.
...And speaking of the trans community, at one point I told Erika that "Mo is sitting at the table over there," and she heard me say, "Beau is sitting at the table over there," and, before we cleared it up, she got all excited that Beau Wheeler might be performing. I bet he could pull off a hell of a Lou Reed cover, actually -- maybe even "Average Guy!" Note for 2025...
Anyhow, later I chatted with Cora and yeah, uh, no, she's a biological female. (I mean, I didn't ask, but it seemed fairly clear). She's been around for some time, making music, apparently, but I still don't really know much about her, except that she loves how Rigby made her record sound. I plan to investigate further. More to come, maybe? If she's not too pissed off at this!
Ani Kyd Wolf and I
...You begin to get the sense of the kind of night it was. By the time of Ani Kyd's set, I basically gave up trying to appreciate the music and reconciled myself to socializing ("One of us, one of us"), because no matter who played, there were a hundred conversations happening between me and them and no matter what was happening onstage, I wouldn't have been able to properly listen. I still tried to get a gander of Ani doing "Heroin," and Ani looked like she was enjoying herself (to answer my own previous question, it was much more a reading of the Velvet Underground and Nico's version of "Heroin" than Lou's Rock n' Roll Animal "Heroin," btw)... but focus was not really possible.
Determined to enjoy at least one set of the night before we escaped, I got right up front for Pill Squad. It worked; they were the only band whose music was not impacted by the packed room, who at that point were to my back. Seems sitting right up front is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY if you really want to get into the music at the Lou tribute. Otherwise, bring people to talk to (or be prepared to talk to whoever's at your table, which is sometimes fun, too!).
By the by, Pill-Squad-wise, I also shot this vid, this vid, and this vid (with Scott's assent). Turns out that Kelly, the bassist of Pill Squad, was the one singing "Femme Fatale," not Tracy. After that, our little group left in a cluster to go hang out for awhile at David M's place, where we watched the first half of John Carpenter's Starman.
Dear Nick "Monsterdog" Mitchum: this means I did not stay long enough to see Leonard Pennifold's set, let alone video it, as you requested. Hell, by the time we turned off Starman and Erika and I went home, Pennifold still wouldn't have taken the stage. I did, however, chat with Leonard briefly, when I found myself standing next to him, to apologize that I wasn't going to see his set and to let him know that a friend of mine was a big fan... though he was less excited to learn that he had a fan when he figured out that it was, like, just you, not because there is anything wrong with you qua fan, but but because he thought for awhile that he had a fan HE DID NOT KNOW ABOUT. But no, it's just Nick Mitchum: "Oh, that guy! Yeah, I know him."
Anyhow, I said hi for you.
It ended up being a fun night, but not for the reasons I had hoped. I missed a bunch of people I had hoped to see, but I have no regrets -- we left when we had to leave. And now, having completed my report between my 6am pee-and-feed-kitten wake up and the present moment (9:29 AM), I am going back to bed for awhile. Next up, if they write back, will be piece on the SLIP~ons and Tranzmitors, playing a March 8th birthday gig for Brock (competing with the Dayglos at the Waldorf, but I may be able to catch all three bands that I care about if I time it right -- the Dayglos seem to be going on a bit later).
Oh, by the way, in other news, Betty Bathory's Paranoid Romantic has a gig coming up. Didn't see that coming! In my experience,this is "Betty lite" -- if you want the full-on shock rock effect, see Daddy Issues, but if you just groove on Betty's singing, sans theatrics, she's great in whatever she does!