She called the theater. She got on the train.
I walked down to Webster Hall where Patti Smith was going to play one of her infamous birthday concerts in New York just before the New Year. She was doing two nights, Monday, which is when our tickets were for, and Tuesday, her birthday. Patti had been most awesome in Korea, and I adored seeing her with the Kiterunner so I was happy to get a chance to see her again.
I walked down the very cold streets after tossing back a double of espresso to get through the evening. My phone fighting with me the entire time. Damn you white phone. Aside from developing a new crack in the screen after I had already had the screen repaired once, now it likes to forget that it has a SIM card. This creates a problem of making it impossible to get messages or make contact with the outside world and since I was trying to figure out where Psyche was this really pissed me off. I kept starting and restarting the phone and finally managed to get a message from Psyche.
“I’m in line, it’s around the block.”
So, she actually made it, is what I thought. Earlier that night I stood in front of my closet trying to decide what to wear. What was most appropriately Patti Smith, but not too inappropriately my age, but not quite goth, but not overtly rock and roll? Then I said fuck it, this is a Patti Smith concert, grabbed my hoodie dress and leather jacket and went out the door. That with my knee-high Docs I figure I had the look about as covered as the look was going to get.
It was like this that I walked in the cold, fighting with my phone, hoping that I remembered where the theater was, and hopeful that I could find Psyche. As I walked down the streets in the East Village, I heard a couple exclaim “Holy Shit, Patti Smith! I would have gone to that show!” and knew I was heading in the right direction. I saw the sign flashing in the night and walked in that direction, scanning the line when I heard “Sara!”
And there she was.
It has been easily, at this point, five years. She is as I remember her, from the cherubic face, to the purple-tinted hair. She smiles easily, her lips bright, and I remember still the first kiss she stole from me almost 20 years ago now. I smile back and grab her, hold her, smell her. I think of all the tumbling memories of her, of all the women I loved so much in my youth. She smells like memories, like Shimer, like love and most definitely like Psyche.
“I don’t know where the leather ends and you begin,” she smiles into my own hair. And like that we enter the concert. We both get club sodas, as I know I’m going to be out late and the thought of being out late, getting up early, and being very hung over doesn’t appeal. We fight in the line to get Patti Smith merch and I buy a hoodie, she a shirt, and then we go to catch up in a corner were we talk to each other, a conversation that we just pick up, a conversation that is just a continuation of all the conversations because that is how this particular sisterhood of friendship is.
We are surprised when the guest opener hits the stage and it is Michael Stipe, singing on stage for the first time in almost 10 years. We are both giddy in our adoration as we listen, tears in our eyes. And then of course Patti. Patti’s show is more real here, her banter more comfortable. She is in her element, she is New York City. She plays the audience, swears at them, spits on them, taunts us. She declares her love for David Tennant, for the men she has known, for Michael Stipe, for her band, for her city. We are wrapped up in her, the entire audience, a swooning mass of adoration hanging on he every word. The old punk rockers and the older hippies sway and dance and jump about-a grandmother with gnarled head of dreads pushes past me to get closer to the stage. It is all lovely, all the loud wonderful exciting confusing cacophony of elements that I had thought might be here and had yet not. Her show is exciting and full and wonderful.
We stay in and dance and laugh and sing along in the dark until the last encore, until the final strains of "Rock n Roll Nigga" fade away and we walk, star struck, out to get our coats and collect our things.
“You know you can come back to my place.”
“You know I don’t like to be away from home.”
I do. I know that. And I miss her and want her to come with me anyway, but I don’t fight.
“Where are you going?”
“Penn Station, back to the train.”
“All right, let’s get a cab.”
I get the cab, take her to the station and drop her home, and take the cab further to my own door. The night is still swimming and I am still pumped up. I still smell like Psyche and Patti Smith and the evening. It takes hours before I finally fall asleep with music in my head; music illustrating a thousand dreams or memories of where we are and where we are going.
Saturday, January 31, 2015
She called the theater. She got on the train.
Friday, January 30, 2015
After my day in Chicago I packed up the puppet and we were on our way back to New York city. The flight was short and sweet, the apartment seemed happy to see us, and the place feels more like home every day. My vast number of journeys last year earned me some flight privileges that I took advantage of: to travel with two very heavy bags so I could bring back a number of books. I unpacked, ordered dinner, and promptly passed out so I could begin my next three-day week.
Which also included Patti Smith.
A few months ago on my computer.
“Sara, this is happening.” Link to Patti Smith concert in New York.
“We should go. Let’s go.”
“Okay, I’ll buy a ticket.”
I buy a ticket.
“I have a ticket. Do you have a ticket?”
“Not yet but I am going to get one!”
I shake my head. Oh, Psyche, how I adore you, dream of you, love you desire you –distant muse, sweet friend, a strange companion who cannot be changed by time or distance. You are neither less nor more, but just who you are, always, never ending, Psyche. Someday we will both be dust, but somehow whatever it is that is the bond between us will still be that.
A few weeks before the concert.
“I bought a ticket”
“Just now? The show is in like three weeks!”
“I know. But aren’t you glad I remembered?”
“Actually, I’m pretty surprised you remembered, I admit it.”
“I’m so excited, I’ll see you there!”
The day of the concert.
“I forgot my credit card that I used to by my ticket.”
“They won’t let me into the show unless I show the credit card?”
“I’m going to have to buy another ticket!”
“Dude, what? Just call the theater it will be fine.”
“Tickets are 200 dollars now. I don’t know what to do.”
“Call the theater and get on the freaking train.”
“Okay, I don’t know what to do!”
Sigh. I love that woman.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
The next morning I got dropped off in the city, which allowed me to avoid taking the train which really does seem to be a blessing sometimes. The trains never run when I want them to on the weekend. Door-to-door service to the museum seemed like the most perfect thing. Dinner was scheduled for later in the evening with my love and I went in for some culture.
“Have you seen the Ensor exhibit yet? Dude is seriously messed up. But it’s a great exhibit.”
“I have not seen the Ensor exhibit, I think that is what I am going to do.”
On the way we coordinated by text but I easily beat the Author to the museum. Checked my coat, and headed in to the hall of the gods where I could bask chummily in their glory while walking through to get to the main exhibit.
Ensor, really did have a twisted sense of the world. One of the things that was so interesting to me was to see just how utterly dark his work was, and not so much dark in composition as dark in pallet. This is an artist whose color pallet never met a brown it didn’t like, and it shows. While you can see the influence of some of his contemporaries, the reality is that his particular art and working are a magnificent melancholy on canvas that grow more grim as you move throughout. I was only about a third of the way into the exhibit when I got the text that the Author and his lady wife had arrived so I went down to the member’s lounge to meet them for some coffee before heading back into the exhibit.
The Author is settling in well in his job, my old job, in Chicago; a job he is much better suited for. He has a posh little apartment near the lake on the north side, and is living much closer to his lady wife, at least in time, money, and convenience of flight. Like me, it’s a balancing act between time, distance and closeness with the ones you love. Distance is less distant when you have contact and a real desire to maintain relationships.
We sat in the lounge and talked pleasantries, enjoyed coffee and shared our Christmas stories.
“The Bard and the Electrician cooked, and my GOD the food was amazing. I mean, they really love cooking.” They had apparently gone all out, including a number of gluten-free delights for the non-gluten consuming lady wife.
“All right, so, I only got about half way through that exhibit and I want to finish it.”
“She hasn’t seen it yet.”
“You ready to go? I’m going to head in to where I left off, but I’m really slow, so I think it should be okay.”
So the three of us set off and returned to the dark interior of Ensor’s mind as he struggled with his gods and demons, doctors, health, life and the fickle nature of the canvas and the page as conduits for the human experience. Does it manage to capture all of it, or do we miss it somehow when we try to paint it? Did his exercise in painting his inner turmoil and great conflict make him feel any better at all? It’s an interesting question.
All three of us were drawn to one of the most interesting (if most disturbing) pieces in the exhibit. A painting of a man being held down by doctors, while one wound out a tapeworm from his bowls, the others looking on with garish faces, seeming to be laughing. Clearly a scene of great distress. It was also one of the lighter pieces in the exhibit which interested me, and reading the card I could see why it was not only so ghastly but relevant to the artist.
Apparently, Ensor was afflicted with a very large tapeworm, one so big that it was eating more than half his food. Making him sick, and of course, causing him to lose a great deal of weight. From his perspective it took laughably too long for the doctor’s to correctly diagnose him, and in the end, he lost all faith in the medical profession while maintaining what must have been a rather gruesome memory of having had the awful thing removed. It was an effective scene and painted in a way that left little to question about his feelings.
Fascinating stuff. From there the only thing for it really was a couple of very well-made martinis, pleasant chat with old friends, rehashing life the universe and what not, before heading out for some shopping to end my evening.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
For Christmas I went to Chicago.
I wanted snow, and I admit that to myself. I desperately wanted to see it snow in Chicago while I visited there. My tiny little overlord, the munch, the dog, the Tino, flew with me to Chicago to see my love and to visit one Graceful black dog. Tino was overjoyed to fly out, which rather impressed me, how much he really wanted to fly. I couldn’t blame him. He hates being left behind, and while he was good with a dog sitter while I was in Korea, he was upset that he didn’t get to go and I could tell. It was nice to be able to take him, and nicer still that the flight was really just a hop skip and jump away.
We hit Chicago and took the train to downtown which Tino also thoroughly enjoyed, although the best part for him was finally getting to the car, jumping out of the seat, and into the lap of the driver where he planted himself firmly for the rest of the trip. I think, while Tino likes New York, he misses driving a lot. He is very good at it.
For the most part Christmas was quiet. We woke up early in the morning and hit the local cinema, early enough to beat the families trying to escape each other after having spent the morning with presents. We took in the most recent hobbit flick, agreed that The Hobbit really didn’t have enough material to pad out three films, and then happily went home to chill out and relax for the better part of the day. This was essentially how I spent most of the holiday in Chicago, with my head in the lap of my love, fighting for attention with two needy dogs, cooking, cleaning, and packing things up. On Saturday I wanted to head into the city to do some shopping, hit the museum and get a few drinks at the bar I missed. Once feeling entirely content on my domestic bliss this is in fact what I did.
First, of course, I got a hold of the Author.
“Sure, the wife’s in town though. She’d like to see you too.”
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Before the winter got started completely, I got a membership to a few things. One was a website that gets me free or discounted tickets to things around New York City, mostly on recommendation of a kinkster friend I met in town. The second membership to the Guggenheim. This felt to me like a very good idea at the time. Granted, on a recent trip to Chicago I had renewed my membership to the Art Institute, which was of course worth every penny, but I figure I also need a museum in New York. I’ve yet to make it to the MET. I’m sure I really should, but I have Chicago. It will always be my favorite collection.
My membership at the Guggenheim, among other things, gets me a guest pass and invitations to special events. I do love a good special event. And so it was that one of my first special event treats for the Guggenheim was an After Dark event that would allow me to see the exhibit showing called Year Zero at a special members-only showing with a bar and music.
I like bars.
I like music.
And I could bring a date for free.
“Want to go to the Guggenheim?”
“Okay, for what?”
“After Dark art event.”
“Sounds good, sign me up.” Hellion manages to be a good date, showing up on time and we grab dinner and a few drinks before heading off to the show downtown.
The Year Zero movement absolutely fascinates me. It is, in my interoperation, a beginning of the post-surrealism movement and into more contemporary modern abstract where art begins to break some very interesting boundaries, moving away from a visual interactive experience, to one where the audience is invited to interact in a 3-D motion, sound, and movement experience. It’s really a fascinating movement where artists did all sorts of things, using mediums like sand, color, motor engines, light and fire. One of my favorite pieces in the exhibit was a fire painting that was created as the artist held a flamethrower while an assistant stood nearby with a hose, wetting down the canvas so that it would not go up entirely in flames. This was such an amazing thing to see, really beautiful how the burning patterns worked into the canvas. The thing is its entirely intentional, not just random burning because it can be burned but trying to make something interesting and meaningful.
We get to the exhibit and head straight to the top to watch the light shows, but they were not yet lit and I was getting antsy. A helpful usher spotted me trying to leave.
“No, it starts again just any minute. Just wait.”
I want to move out, start to make for the exit but Hellion pulls me back and urges restraint and before he can say anything the lights begin to move again. The lights move up and down, fixed motion against paper, a constant moving. What fascinated me more, though, was not the mobile light show on the paper, but the shadows it cast upon the walls. It seemed almost a different kind of intent, art not just in a single fixed time in a single fixed contraption, but art that makes its presence known in a multidimensional environment, transcending space and time. Exquisite, fascinating.
Many of the exhibits included light shows that played out internally and externally making a shadow and light spectacle of the rooms in which they were stored. It fascinated me to stand and watch the interplay. There were pieces that also used the light and reflection off of mirror surfaces, that explored the interplay of shadow and light on modular pieces that could move. There was one exhibit with a rolling script directing the viewer to action with imperative commands. A perfect introduction to the Guggenheim, really.
“I don’t think I understand any of this.”
“That’s okay. You don’t really have to understand it. Just think about it. What does it make you feel?”
“I’m not sure.”
“That’s the thing with art. I can sit here and tell you all day what an artist maybe saying, but what I have learned from being an artist is simply this: what the artist intends and what you perceive are never the same thing. I go on feeling and instinct and try to figure it out from there.”
“I get it.”
It was a glorious time.
Thursday, January 08, 2015
Perhaps it was how he was dressed. Where the rest of the party was in head-to-toe black fetish wear, naked, or (like me) in a corset with pants that I hoped did pretty things for my Puerto Rican bottom, he was wearing button-down plaid and jeans.
It may have been the blue eyes, noticeable even under the low light.
It may have been the fact that he was the only person wandering about who wasn't with anyone else, and seemed slightly younger than the rest of the crowd, most likely 25 or 26. It wasn't that he stuck out like a sore thumb, just that he looked out of place considering the usual menagerie that I find at Powder. And he looked lost.
I have a thing for lost causes and people that need educating. Let’s face it, it’s the teacher in me, the mentor, the guide and having been in and around enough, I like helping people out who seem like they don’t know what they are doing.
So I did what I do.
“You look lost.”
“I’m not lost.”
I introduce my most devilish self to this creature, who is not lost.
“And what are you, Hellion?”
We talk for a bit and realize that we are both on the same side of a coin, dominant, but me with better gear and more experience. Which of course lead to me handing whips over (much like teaching a flogging class) and giving instructions on hand motion, swinging, how to hit, when to hit, what to hit and why to hit. Which of course lead to dancing with floggers in the pale moonlight.
"You aren't a succubus aren't you?" he asked at some point as the evening was winding toward its inevitable end.
"Jury is still out on that."
The lights went out on the evening in the nicest possible way, and at least at the end of it I had made a new friend.
Regardless of the distraction of naked people wandering around a dungeon, whips and chains and loud music, we managed to at least remember to exchange numbers, which made it easier to find him again for hanging out later. Which he was happy to do, since I could offer company, a clean apartment, a small dog, and booze.
"I'm going to go to a movie."
"I want to see that."
"Want to come with?"
"Cool, I'll get tickets."
“Want to get drunk before the movie?”
That stopped me.
Which lead to questions I should not ask.
"Exactly how old are you?"
"Excuse me?" No, really, I was actually incredulous.
"20. Why; you're like 28 right?"
Somewhere, on the other side of the country, the Balance was laughing his ass off.
There is something interminably fun, though, about hanging out with 20-year-olds in New York City. One was never at a loss for hanging out with 20-years-olds in Korea, or at least those in their 20s, as the country is full of them. Maybe age, more than anything else, is one of the many reasons I’m not sorry I’m gone. The crowd was getting younger ever year, and those that were staying were marrying and having families, which was a road in Korea I’d never travel. Hanging out with Quartermain and Ladybug, both decidedly in their young twenties, and both very smart, well thought out, and fun to be with, made life easier, and more exciting. Granted I'm not ageist enough to care, I just like good company, fun times and conversation. At this point, I'll take it where I can get it.
And if it's in the young set in the Americas, why not?
I nothing else, it will be an adventure.
"You know, we can also get drunk in the movie," I say, dangling shiny metal objects.
“You have a flask?”
"That's so awesome! I've always wanted a flask."
I'm almost positive that flask is as old as the Demon child, but I'll keep that to myself.
We hit the movie with my flask full, and left with my flask empty. Fall in New York was over, and winter was most definitely in the air. It was chilly and the night was flush, lights twinkling, and wind that sounded like a song. I had enjoyed my movie and the company was making it even better.
I feel like there will be stories in it.
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
I hit Powder after having a chance to see Mr. Mark Lanegan sing again, this time with his band. Mark brought everything I would expect him to bring to a concert, opening with the "Gravediggers Song" and ending with a few pieces from his Screaming Trees days.
I was pumped, wearing a corset, and feeling ready to get some spank on so I hit Powder. At previous parties I’d managed to spank the rears off a few willing victims so I figured I could at least burn of a bit of energy. I got in the door a bit late, but that is neither here nor there for a dungeon.
Step two, of course was to visit the local dungeon, and I wasn’t in a hurry to leave. The party that night was fairly quiet-mostly as a consequence of there being about five different events in New York to choose from that night. I think I chose wisely.
I wandered about the party for a bit and spent way too much time talking to a leather worker who talked me into two beautiful patent red leather dragon tail whips, which I very much intended to take with me to Korea (with an awareness that this might well get my suitcase booted, but it seemed worth the risk).
With whips in hand I wanted to dance. There is something about dancing with floggers that is a lot of fun, and when the dungeon is quiet and there aren’t a lot of people to talk to, dancing with floggers always seems like fun.
Sometimes I have to wonder about what I do for a good time.
Tuesday, January 06, 2015
“Can I have some giggle juice?” asks Hellion as we sit down in a theater to watch John Wick.
Contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Check.*
It’s been awhile since I’ve been so amused and felt so wrong while feeling so right all at the same time.
“But of course.” I passed over my flask.
It goes without saying that after spending two months in New York I was due to start making friends and the good goddess knows I would have preferred not to have spent all of September locked in my tower. Were it not for a long walk in the park with friend Ramsey I would have done absolutely nothing in New York city before October.
Fall was hitting the city, and even though I knew my November was going to be insanely busy, I wanted to at least try to get out of the house. It was a crisis of issues that prevented me from leaving home of course: deathly ill, broke from a move, traveling too much. All the usual things that keep me from going anywhere, but I knew that at some point I would have to break through and actually get out.
The first step was starting a kinksters meetup in my neighborhood to replace the one that was absent from my life with Chicago in the middle of the country. That was easy enough to do, and through it I’ve made some lovely friends and started to explore the nightlife of Harlem. My new group of friends brought with it one Mr. Spanker, who it turns out has a love for theater.
Step two, of course was to get out of my neighborhood.
Mr. Spanker, with his love of theater invited me out to a play in which a naughty Priest and a naughtier Nun question God, life, living and love, with some murder and betrayal thrown in. It was quite awesome.
Step three, of course, was to hit the local dungeon, which I did on Halloween night, and from there talk to some locals and bring the gear. The gear was much admired, but the local dungeon turned me off almost immediately when a couple doing a fire scene was not only screaming so loudly that you could hear them on every floor of the dungeon, but part of the screaming included safe words that were being ignored by DMs.
Step four, then would be to find a better dungeon, which after a bit of searching I stumbled upon in the form of a pop-up party. The pop-up party usually happens in one place, but can happen in any number of places, and it is most often known as Powder.
Powder has quickly become my favorite party in NYC.
Having proceeded through most of my usual steps for meeting people, it was on to Step six.
*For the record having lived in a country where the legal drinking age was 19, I'm not really all that torn up by this at all.