Sunday, June 26, 2016

Brunch: Giving You The Best That I Got

Brunch is controversial.

If you ever worked it, you will never enjoy it. Inadequately cleaned venues (quick turnaround from Saturday night) and exhausted low-man-on-the-totem-pole servers. Too bright light. Variations on Eggs Benedict, which is already perfect, but better at 2:00 a.m. than noon.

In the summer of 1988 I was 25, had been in New York for four years, found no path. I was about to go to Columbia, to film school. Which should have made me happy. Instead, I was a crazy runner. I'd run from my apartment on 10th Street down to the World Trade Center, touch it and run back. It was super-hot that year, breaking all kinds of records, and there were syringes washing up onto the shore at Jones Beach.

I got a job as a bartender at Cafe Luxembourg, one of the few indisputably cool places in town. I didn't know how to make a drink; I bought a book. You're not allowed to dislike me for this, but I was hired because I was good looking. I didn't have a resume. Cafe Lux was a thing back in the 80s, and all of the celebrities came there. Also, the restaurant ingeniously made every customer sit at the bar before being seated, even with a reservation, so I made mad money. Except for the fact that I lobbied to leave early every night.

In this 90s (temperature) in the 80s (decade), I'd get up every day and write, then go running at noon (the perfectly imprudent hour), then shower and take the hot subway up to West 72nd Street. I'd get myself together in the tiny bathroom, put an Oxford on, tie my tie, and go to work. The cast of Thirtysomething would come in, the night would progress... I figured out that I didn't like to talk to customers, so ran the service bar. Problem with the service bar is that you have to make cappuccinos. Fuck me.

There were three other bartenders. Rod, Phillipino-American, totally on top of it. Mike, handome-ish fellow from some damn suburb of some damn state... not so educated. And Mercedes, one of the most beautiful women I've ever encountered, gorgeous brown skin and gorgeous red hair. She hung with Lauren Hutton. Mean as hell, but liked me.

Anyway, since I was low man on the totem pole I had to handle brunch.

I'm 25, I'm going out, I don't particularly care about this bartending job that I'm quite bad at.... But I showed up every Sunday at ten and restocked the bar for service. Cafe Lux had a small footprint, so the wine cellar was next door, in the basement of a residential apartment house building, to which I had keys. Rod and Mike would leave me notes about what needed to be restocked and I'd go over there, no one awake, and fill up boxes.

There was a clock radio tuned to KISS or BLS. The big song of that summer, after Off On Your Own Girl, was Giving You The Best That I Got. I was tired, man. I'd done something fun the night before, and it was so hot outside. But this song kind of moved me. I was looking forward to Columbia, a good-looking guy in a tie, but I had a dim view of my prospects. Love, certainly, had played a very small role in my life.

Patience was the manager on Sundays, and she rode me. Patience was an objectively good-looking girl from London with a textbook accent and a great short Afro. And, it doesn't need to be added, zero patience. She didn't like my swoopy bangs ("Don't you get spots?), didn't care for my lack of knowledge of French wines, didn't appreciate my cappuccino skills. One time I didn't have a clean white shirt so wore a clean blue shirt -- anyone who knows me knows that I have very nice shirts -- and she tried to get me fired.

Everyone else, more or less, was fine. At about 1:00 on Sunday afternoon, the friends I'd been with the night before would roll in and I'd sneak them free drinks, tricky with that damn Patience and her eagle eye. I had a fraught relationship with one of the crowd, a guy named Mark who was also headed to grad school at Columbia in the fall, and would often make plans to meet him come four. James Levine of the Metropolitan Opera, just down the street, came in every Sunday with some young boy, drinking Kir Royales with Chambord. Many, many Chambord Kir Royales.

Towards the end of the shift, the gay waiters would ask me if I wanted to go with them to the Upper West Side bars. But I was always going to meet Mark, or friends, or... Well, I had a crush on a waitress with two names. Not like a hybrid name, but two distinct names. She'd been born Bonnie and then had changed her name to Erin. Now you'd think you might cast a wider net for the purpose, gone with Consuela or Elizabeth or Odile, but I never really got into that with her. She was pale and an eccentric dresser and encouraging of my advances, but never actually did go to that movie with me. Perhaps comprehending the ambivalence of my affections.

It was the longest hottest summer ever, the length in my mind but the heat statistically confirmed. By late August, I'd get to work and find myself tearing up as I tried to tie my tie. Face to face with the mirror in the impeccably clean small bathroom. And I am not a cryer.

Then school started and I was distracted. My life was at Columbia, and I got happier and happier and happier and happier.

The way that I got into Cafe Luxembourg was through a friend named Mark. (A different Mark; 90% of the people I know are named Mark.) Mark was a beautiful All-American fellow with blonde hair and a big white smile, and liked me, and helped me out with the likes of Patience and the gay-guy waiters. He thought I was funny even when I didn't and had a great low laugh.

Mark probably had to deliver all of those Chambord Kir Royales. Levine would have demanded him.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Avenue B























This was the building I lived in on Avenue B for a couple of years in the mid-eighties. It was a two-story loft, and I loved it. My bedroom was a drywall situation, with the walls not reaching the ceiling. So kind of like a bad hostel. It had astroturf carpeting. Apparently privacy and cleanliness were not my priorities back then. Downstairs was one big room with a raised kitchen in the back and a raised bathroom on the other side.

My initial roommates were Michael, who was musical, and Tony, who had once been an understudy in Balm in Gilead. Michael worked for Leonard Bernstein, who used to leave the craziest drunken and LONG speeches on our answering machine. Those were entertaining. Tony worked as a private detective (nobody had normal jobs at the time) but his cases all seemed to be about adultery, staking out cheaters, so he had no good stories. It sounded very boring, this kind of private detection.

Over time, they both moved out, and then I lived with Pete, a lighting designer (nobody had normal jobs at the time), and then a guy from Australia and a lovely girl from Liverpool named Nadia Nightingale. They worked in SoHo boutiques.

Here are my memories of Avenue B:
  • My friend Daniel was institutionalized for manic depression, and when he came out of the loony bin (his term) he slept on the floor of my bedroom for several months. He was taking Lithium, which is apparently not pleasant, and would go off it and swim in the Tompkins Square pool in the middle of the night.
  • The Mets won the World Series and my friend Geoff came over every night to watch and I've rarely been so excited in my life.
  • I used to go to this place called King Tut's Wah Wah Hut with considerable frequency. I started seeing the bartender, and he outed me to my roommates, which I didn't appreciate.
  •  The people downstairs played Secret by OMD all of the time. I loved it. 
  • Tony had a very odd way of making dinner. He always had three courses, and he cooked and ate each one in turn. Broccoli, then eating it. Chicken, then eating it. It drove me crazy.
  • One time -- I have no idea what I was thinking, I wasn't a cook -- I made black eyed peas. And burnt the shit out of them. I just stuck the pan on the fire escape. That did not turn out well.
  • Nadia and the Aussie and I had a Christmas party. We had a decorated tree. It was an insane debauch, a hundred people. Friends of mine from Kenyon and Georgetown. And some guys trashed my room. I actually cried about it. Wine may have played a part.
  • My father convinced me to sign up for the LSAT. But because I signed up late, I could only get a gig in Staten Island. He got out maps and determined a route for me. I was going to take it, but I came home the night before and there was a rogue dance party in the basement, so loud, and I couldn't sleep. So I passed. Otherwise you'd be calling me Esquire right now. (I should remind you that nobody had normal jobs at the time.)
  • I tacked things to the drywall that I liked: Concert flyers, weird-ass magazine ads, Thomas Hardy quotes that I TYPED UP... 
  • My brothers stayed with me and coming home from somewhere after midnight (King Tut's Wah Wah Hut?) Chris stepped on a live rat in the park. It was scary.
  •  My friend Doug stayed with me. Doug was a football player with a very broken nose who was also an a Capella singer. He found a VHS tape of The Sound of Music by the TV and insisted that we watch it all the way through.
My room looked out on the roof of a pretty church. I tanned on the fire escape. The vestibule of the building was always cool and smelled good. Earthy. I can still smell it. I was so focused on the future that I didn't really take it in, but in retrospect it was a lucky place to be.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Not Leather Motorcycle Jacket


















This is a story about happiness.

But in order to get there, some background. When I was 18, the summer after my Freshman year of college, I got a terrible case of mono (how I got it is another story). I ended up in the hospital, spent a few days there while Charles and Di got married, and convalesced through the next year. But the thing was that I never fully recovered. I'd have these relapses, which all doctors assured me were just in my mind, when I'd have crazy swollen glands and be fatigued to the point of tears.

Then I'd be fine. But back and forth, a seesaw between health and not-health.

After moving to New York and failing to find a career for several years, I applied to the film school at Columbia University. And got in. My father and my brothers moved to Brussels and I considered going with them, but chose film school instead. The first year was good, I made friends and discovered that I was far more prolific than my classmates. I read great books on the subway and wrote some things that I am still proud of. I learned "film grammar" -- how shots work.

The summer after, I spent a month in Europe with the family and then went down to Washington to write scripts for a lovely nutty woman, catering on the side.

But the second year!

When I got back to New York I crashed with Kenyon boys in Brooklyn. Kevin (modeling) and Dave (doing his thing) were chain smokers, and I was a runner, but all went well. I was probably the most accomplished couch sleeper in America at the time (I'd spent the summer on a couch in Mount Pleasant anyway). I hunted for an apartment through the Village Voice (natch) and ended up subletting a place on 106th Street, Duke Ellington Boulevard, from the boyfriend of a close high school friend (Kismet).

The day I moved into my pristine sixth floor walk-up, Kevin and Dave huffing and puffing up the stairs with my meager possessions (for Chinese food, what great guys), I bought a pack of cigarettes and some beer and sat on the fire escape and listened to this on my boom box. A switch was flicked.

I'd been fine. But suddenly I was the most energetic man in New York. I didn't need sleep. It didn't matter if I drank or smoke or stayed up late; I jumped out of bed with the sun and made good coffee and wrote pages and pages and pages. Then showered and walked up 106th to Amsterdam, bought a croissant at the bakery, passed St. John the Divine, then plunged into epochal days. If class was over at five, I'd buy a beer and smoke some cigarettes on the Low Library steps, then go to the gym for an hour or more. I'd play tennis on the terrible Columbia courts.

There was a "booze cruise" outing on the Hudson to welcome us back, and I spent it with Gretchen H., with whom I'd been mildly friendly the year before. On the boat, she told me that she'd thought I was an entitled preppy asshole (no news to me) but we discovered that we shared all of the same opinions, about film, literature, life, and music. One of those great nights when you make a new friend and then become inseparable.

We were both writers, but also aspiring filmmakers. To Columbia's credit, the projects were shot on video cameras they supplied (cheap and easy), and then you transferred your VHS tape onto larger tape and edited that in video carrels. Gretchen and I shot our projects together, intensely, little laughter, then edited late into the night. We used my friends (Daniel and his boyfriend Dave) and her friends (Brian and Allen) and made some not bad stuff. I remember that I tried to keep dialog out of things because nobody could really act, so all my films were very artsy.

We'd go out afterwards for drinks and cigarettes. Amaretto and soda was something we invented. There was jazz. And so much talking. On the weekends, we'd go downtown to drink at Downtown Beirut, then WALK BACK to Morningside Heights. We are talking more than a hundred New York blocks. There was so much endless energy it makes me almost cry to think about it.

Gretchen was very into Halloween, and we had a mutual friend in SoHo who hosted a big annual party. I went to her teeny-tiny apartment in the nineties (with roof access that doubled the size) and she died my hair black and gave me the famous not leather motorcycle jacket. We had good fake fangs and got on the subway and went to the party as punk vampires. Long before that was a thing.

We made a proper Thanksgiving dinner at my house, for the usual gang and her friend from Colorado and mine from Georgetown. I'm sure it was terrible. I had a very small galley kitchen, but there was copious wine. The night before we'd gone to Central Park West to watch the balloons being inflated, then down to the horseshoe bar in the East Village. Snow flurries, fun.

The rest of the year is a blur. I just remember being certain that I was going to wake up one morning with swollen glands and exhaustion and its attendant depression. And I didn't. I woke up happy. I woke up writing. I woke up with ideas about what I wanted to film that day. I woke up superhuman. I ran past crack houses to get to school and didn't come back until midnight.

What I didn't do, much, was "date." Completely uninteresting. If I wasn't outlining an idea for a screenplay to Gretchen, or shooting her in Central Park, or doing this insane analog editing thing that was so very time-consuming, I would have been bored. (You had to build every shot on the shot before, in linear progression, and backtrack when something went wrong; I can't imagine where my patience came from. Except that Gretchen was in the next carrel.)

I will never have an explanation for that year, but I will always have deep gratitude.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Equally Probable


So hard to come out. I was moved in high school, found some buddies in college, but never really admitted the nature of my love until grad school.

The Return of the Native.

Initially I was captivated, but didn't finish. There were too many books, and I was taking AP exams, man.  But I had this image of Egdon Heath imprinted on my odd brain. Then, at Columbia, I'd take the subway up from the Village (I know this sounds very name-droppy but tant pis, it happened.) and read with such great concentration that I always missed the stop.  Harlem. Pre-gentrification. Eliot, Trollope, and Hardy. And I realized somewhere (on the 2 and the 1) that The Return of the Native was MY book.

When I write my novel, it's doubtful you'll get much about nature. Let alone an opening chapter. But my god the nature in this is glorious. And Hardy is all large personalities and melodrama.

As a gay boy, I like these things.

Look, the language is astonishing. And the battles are epochal. And fate is a goddamned bitch. (And by fate, of course, I mean character.)

At Kenyon, I brought up Eustacia Vye without much hope of return. But all of my smart handsome friends sparked to it. There was a girl on campus, older than us, who fit the bill. We called her Eustacia all Freshman year. Has there ever been a better written female character than Eustacia? Only Emma Bovary, who caused unnecessary surgery.

As far as the men, Clem was a prig and a bit of a noodle, but tragic nonetheless. I always wanted to be Diggory Venn, the reddleman. Who didn't?

But here are some lovely lines about Clem that make it clear who I truly am:

He had been a lad of whom something was expected.
Beyond this all had been chaos.

That he would be successful in an original way,
or that he would go to the dogs in an original way,
seemed equally probable.

The only absolute certainty about him was
that he would not stand still
in the circumstances amid which he was born.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Plenty of People Who Could Have Found Me Disgusting

I have this photo of me for European transport in which I'm wearing a very thick wool sweater. And goddamned handsome. A very heavy boat-necked wool sweater. I'll find it for you.

In 1984 I set out on a grand European tour. The English part recounted. But what happened was that I got to Paris in late June and just stopped touring.

There was this one day -- I won't tell you what I did the night before -- where I had to go to a Gare to book my ticket south, and I showed up at the station and just didn't do it. It was going to make me too sad.

I was always not doing things in Paris. I was not going to museums and not contacting people whose numbers I'd been given and not finding restaurants where I was supposed to meet people for lunch. I guess that constitutes irresponsibility.

But there was so much going on in my head. I couldn't believe how beautiful -- you know what, never mind, I can't tell you what I felt. Just that I felt more.

I took a hovercraft over and then a train into Gare du Nord, and then (no notion how I would have known this: Fodor's?) queued up to get a hotel assignment. In French, naturellement, the brusque lady asked, "Right or Left Bank?" In 1984, no self-respecting fellow would ever have said anything but Left.

What's remarkable is that she sent me to the best place I could have imagined! It should, by reason, have been a bad place. But the Hotel de Nevers Luxembourg changed my life. For two months, I lived on the sixth floor (cinqieme etage), after the oriental carpet runner ran out, up two flights of linoleum stairs, nobody above me (recipe for the rest of my apartment life), and there was a sink in my room with a sign above it that said something to the effect of: Do not do laundry! (C'est interdit.) I did laundry in that sink every other day.

When I arrived in Paris it was sunny. And, because I'm like this, I went for a little walk, six or eight hours, from the edge of the Fifth up to the Eiffel Tower, and then over to the Sixteenth (where I ended up living for awhile) and down the other side. It is doubtful that I've ever been happier in my life. I didn't stop for a drink or a bite to eat; I just walked.

Eventually back to the Nevers, which, by the way, cost $7 a day. There was a WC on every floor, but only one salle de bain in the building, and you had to pay for that.  So I took A shower A week. I went to the pool every day, so I don't think that anyone found me disgusting. And there were plenty of people who could have found me disgusting.

(This is a boy I vaguely remember.)

There was a café next door on the rue  where I had two crèmes every morning and smoked cigarettes and wrote in my journal.  Don't judge me. The Luxembourg part of the equation was a block away, and... just bury me in the Luxembourg Gardens. I have never been in love with a place like the Luxembourg Gardens. A bit later, I discovered the most gorgeous painting I ever saw (fuck the Louvre).

So what I did, Georgetown graduate, big scholar (I paid attention in three classes -- why was I so bad at school?), was learn the town. I know it better than any place I ever knew. You could blindfold me. You shouldn't, but I could still get you to the Opera.

That's a good line.

Back then, I always got lost. But being lost in Paris is winning. One time I tried to meet my girlfriend
Agnès who worked at Galleries Lafayette... and never found the café. It was a particularly sultry day and I was particularly hungover, but still expected to find her and the sandwich. That's when you sing this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CAzwewVjZ0


Agnès was from Velizy, which is near Versailles, and her mother eventually did my laundry (properly, not in the sink, although French people didn't have dryers). The missed lunch date may or may not have delayed my laundry by a day.

I was just an ass, but I had a good time.

My day would be like this: Wake up, drink a lot of coffee, go to the pool.  (Not so many museums.)  The pool, which no longer exists, was the Piscine Deligny.  (I have a very good French accent, better than yours.)  I would walk over to the pool around noon -- that walk through the Sixth is the best walk in this world. The pool was on a barge in the Seine. I took everything for granted then. If I wanted to see a Monet, I could. (No.) Or.... just tan on a barge in the Seine.(Yes.) From the Deligny, you looked up at those beautiful white/off-white French apartment buildings with orange awnings.

There was this song (there were so many good songs that summer!) by Isabelle Adjani called Pull Marine. There is hopefully a pun here but my French ends short of it. Pull means sweater. It's a very bad song.

What was good that summer is anything by Tina Turner and (apologies) Girls Just Want to Have Fun and You Take My Self Control by the amazing Laura Branigan and -- most important -- It's My Life.

It's My Life defines Paris in 1984.

Eventually, deciding to be productive, I took a class at Alliance Francais. (Later, as a slightly more serious person, I used to take classes at Alliance Francais in New York. With broadcasters. At one point I got kind of good at French.)

My Alliance class in Paris was filled with a motley crew of tourists like me, none of us from the same country. We had an outing in the Luxembourg Gardens, and the thing to know about the Luxembourg Gardens, my resting place, is that they have these impossibly lovely little cultivated mini-gardens that will break your heart. And we all sat in one -- I could take you there -- and talked French. In the midst of it, this Spanish guy, a real card, stole my wallet to be funny. I had no idea he'd even touched me. Precursor to this other not-funny guy who thought about pushing me into the Seine but settled for stealing all my francs from Olivier's apartment, which... Separate post coming about living chez Odile and then chez Olivier. (All French people, truly, having left Paris for Aout.)

I couldn't tell a good French joke to save my life. Or take a decent shower. Or judge a pony club competition -- I forgot to tell you about the pony club. Agnès and her younger sister were horsey, I guess, and took me and my American Friend Brian to Fontainebleau one rainy weekend for the pony club competition. We stayed in a vacant dorm -- can't explain it -- straight out of Get Out Your Handkerchiefs. Brian and I so hated the dorm that we went out in the pouring rain and put up a pup tent. I don't know why there was a pup tent, but Brian was backpacking through Europe.

The competition, however, was amazing. In Fontainebleau, they had these paths through the woods and the judges (comme Agnès) had walky talkys. And our job was to hide behind trees and then communicate the results.

You can write this on my tombstone in the Luxembourg Gardens:  Obstacle Numero Trois Bien Franché
That will always make me laugh. I can't find any record of this word online, so take it with a grain of sel.
Sleep deprivation from a pup tent?

I did nothing well in Paris except be handsome and laundered.

Agnès would scratch my back in the morning and those guys were all bad news.

There was an Army radio station that had like 25 songs on heavy rotation. One went, "I could get over it, if you could get over here,"  If you can find this song I will give you a thousand dollars. Love Will Tear Us Apart and Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now were present, along with Talking Loud and Clear.  Were they trying to kill the armed forces, or get them dancing?

Agnès had a boyfriend (of course) from Munich and he came to Paris in August and drove us very badly at night. Uli in the Etoile was petrifying. But he played Talking Loud and Clear. And of course he loved me, the guy sleeping with his girlfriend... The only big surprise was that we'd come out of Le Petit Prince and his antenna would be snapped and his car keyed and I'd be upset and he and Agnès nonplussed.

He had German plates.



Friday, May 27, 2016

Euchre Uber Alles

Recently wrote about the oddity of Montrose having a jukebox on the lawn. It's actually funny to think about everything Montrose-related. Like the tadpole stuff in the water and Euchre, which seems a very random game to have adopted, Gretchen. And just the worst food! Cotton candy and popcorn and hot dogs and Coke. You would spend the entire day there eating... And then be STARVING for dinner. I have never been so hungry in my life as coming home from Montrose.

For some reason we felt it necessary to do everything. You'd driven all that way...  So, for example, I dived off the high dive. The scariest thing in the world. Obviously played tennis on all of the courts. There were courts up high, and courts down below. In the winter, for a time, they put a bubble over the upper courts. This was when tennis was booming.

My best memories, though, are lying on the lawn by the jukebox and playing cards by the baby pool with Gretchen.

Don't tell your friends about the two of us...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhDtQtYZL8E

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Year of the Cat

Only alluding for forty years seems like an increasingly poor strategy.

In tenth grade, when we were fourteen or fifteen, Charlie died. I was the most stoic of the bunch -- and the one who never let it go.  

Initially my mother picked me up after swim team, in "November dinnertime darkness" was how I put it. Among many things that break my heart, she said, heading up Garman hill, something like, "Charlie and his dad didn't come back." (From a fishing trip in Michigan.)  And I didn't respond well.

Through some confusion, Firestone High School let a substitute teacher announce to an English class that C was dead, and then Carolyn found me in study hall and we were by definition hysterical, racing into the teachers' parking lot crying and laughing.

There was no attempt at school counseling, and sad to say useless parents. "You just seemed to want to be left alone."

Yes, I did. I wanted you as far away from everything that mattered to me as... really, there couldn't have been anything more grave, and I wanted your hands off. You had left me alone since four or five, you'd never inquired about my cuts and bruises, you'd never done anything that parents do except love me. And I was easy. 

About Charlie: Handsome, great hair. Mom says she always thought that he was too pretty, which is funny, because I think that people thought that of me. He looked like all of us, which was slender with a big sweep of 70s brown hair and some freckles and... brown eyes? I don't remember thinking any of us were so good looking; just that all of us were better looking.

Charlie misspoke, said "I don't matter" one time, mixing up I don't care and it doesn't matter. That'll break your heart. But he also wasn't particularly nice. He picked favorites, caused rifts, reacted badly to any kind of literary overture. But always went for guys like me and Steve and Pat who were literary.

So much of what you do from 6th to 10th grade is listen to music, and Charlie learned guitar. Today I hate a good 50% of what we listened to (I can't bear Elton John or Kiss or Queen or a bunch of guitar bands I've forgotten the name of.) I resent it. I think about being downstairs in the den by Charlie's bedroom, in the Reymann's modern house... A house made of cedar, I think, with cut-your-hands rough stucco walls inside, and many levels off a siloed staircase, all on a hillside just beneath the railroad tracks, overlooking Lafayette. Belleau Wood. I could be making these words up. 

My parents were vaguely appalled by Charlie's house. (Anytime they disapproved of something it was vaguely, silently for the most part, and yet we always knew.) They thought that cars were dumb and that Akronites were ridiculously snobbish about a not particularly fancy town. They saw no reason to join a country club, not being golfers, and rightly judged the tennis courts at Montrose to be far superior to those at Fairlawn Swim and Tennis. Dad found a place to sail and Mom joined League of Women Voters. Dad took anyone who wanted to ski every single weekend.

I was fond of Charlie's house, weird as it was. There was a loft in the silo above his parents'  room that I particularly liked, where we listened to A Wizard, A True Star over and over. At  Charlie's  house, as at my house, there were rarely parents around. Were they all out dancing? At a secret parents club?

There are a bunch of songs that I associate with Charlie. One, Baby I Love Your Way, is unlistenable to me. (When they played it in Reality Bites I almost left the theater.) All of Frampton Comes Alive is off limits. Todd Rundgren, as mentioned. Daniel by Elton John -- the only tolerable Elton John song and it makes me think of Charlie and Steve Wise, who is another story.

And The Year of the Cat. It was a big radio hit but for some reason I think Charlie's sister Liz introduced it to us. It made me think about how DRAMATIC life could be, which is appealing at fourteen. Well, always appealing, until you figure out that the drama in your life is just going to always fucking hurt.