It's hard for me to commit to 2009. The inauguration helped. Then I watched All About Eve last night at 2 AM...a film that is older than I am, with a script which makes today's Hollywood sound even more pathetic, and it got me thinking about all of us aging artists.
Not to mention at my Times Square subway platform, there was a fresh face-- a young Eve, with her case open, an innocent delivery and self-conscious announcements of an 'original' song called, and I quote... 'When Will I be Loved'. Sound familiar to those of us who remember Bette Davis before that obnoxious 80's song?
So did I cringe? I did, and I do...even though she had passable talent, even though she could marginally play her Takamine lame guitar undoubtedly purchased by supportive and loving parents who pay her LES rent and pray every night their little girl will be the next Sara Bareilles or whatever her name is.
Am I jealous? Because her open case contained more lovingly rendered bills than mine ever could? Because she was cute and solicitous and Eve-esque, and I have that old rocker chick vibe with the jagged edges and even my case looks tentative and half-closed? Because I curse the act of subway beggary and refuse to be logged in among the new breed of busking musicians?
Here's what I resent: like everything else New York, we now have the gentrification of the subway platform musician. Few and far between are the down-and-out soul singers who do their Otis and Ray for a cheap pint. Gone are the aged never-have-been Lynnyrd Skynnyrd clones, and even the seriously talented but unmarketable poets. We are in the era of Asian muzak-creators and break-dancing in the cars. Drums beating everywhere and in the spaces, the Dave Matthews, the Fallout Boys, the endless K. T. Tunstalls and student jazz bands. And since fully 90% of platform population is equipped with an ipod, it takes serious eye candy or a weapon to get their earspace. Bring back the crude and un-photogenic. The underpaid and overtalented who are being forced out of even the subway underground in 2009.
Maybe it's the competitive and claustrophobic vibe that's beginning to get to me. I long for the white noise of trains without the overpopulation of mediocre performers. Watching the film reassured me it's okay to be a bitch. In fact, the sweet young mediocre newcomer was finally the talentless villain. Edge won out. Relieved was I, as I went to bed by dawn. At least until my next subway ride this morning, with the cool-jah percussionists riding my car, the jacked-up young rock drummer slamming on his kit so loud I couldn't hear the guy with the cheap Casio around his neck who looked like he was improvising some possibly hip stuff. Whatever. he probably won't make it into the new Zagat guide to subway performers, for those of you who are sick to death of Success-by-Myspace.
While we're on the subject of All About Me, I've been noticing the traits of middle age taking their toll. I returned a pretzel to one of my favorite vendors because it was so steeped in kerosene fumes that my band members whined. Did I need the refund or did I truly want to protect his customers? I'm not sure what he thought but I walked away feeling petty. And hungry.
I also managed to stop into Best Buy to let them know that in case anyone had believed in Santa Claus and received a gift from their store, the spirit of Christmas was forever gone. My son's shiny new computer with the newly cracked screen will cost $700 to repair-- not under warranty, as the salesman had led Santa to believe. Merry Christmas, Best Buy. I hope Tim Geithner refuses you a bailout package, you pathetic greedy robbing gremlins. The Geek Squad was muscular and well-tattooed and listening to TI when I dropped off my damaged goods. Besides the loss, I will get the additional gift of a pricey roundtrip shipping bill if I refuse the repair, which I did. And a $39.95 charge for recycling the thing, the whole of which originally cost those bastards 50% of the estimated repair. Without tax.
Well, in the Best Buy line of reasoning, it certainly takes more time to piece Humpty Dumpty together than to lay an egg.
Happy Year of the Ox.