Have you ever been so hungry you open a jar of mayonnaise and do a spoonful? Not like the slightly paranoid too-stoned-to-go-downstairs 4 AM hungry, but the gnawing 2009 version I am experiencing trying to stretch my dwindling New York dollars to cover inflated pricing. I mean, first there was the wheat shortage…or the corn oil pseudo fuel thing. Whatever. My Super-A Cornflakes are priced like last year’s Kelloggs. Then there is the petroleum product thing which makes jars and containers expensive despite the fact that oil futures dropped like 70%. Then there was the $5 gallon of milk, the $2 a dozen eggs, the toilet paper hike. You name it. They give us a reason, then we just buy it because we’re too worn out to fuss about yet another thing when our neighbors have cancer and our kids are committing suicide or being arrested. The only thing reasonable is peanut butter which has been marked down because it can like kill you, and trust me, I’d be spooning it in if my son wasn’t technically allergic. Am I going to feel guilty one day for all the cheap tasteless pasta and generic cereal? Because I was too broke to afford the butter and flour for apple pies except on Thanksgiving when we’re too full for dessert anyway? Maybe, maybe not.
And the damn metrocard increase which totally wrecks my $4-a-day thing. If there was any reasonable way for me to protest the bottomless money pit of the Second Avenue subway, I would. I’m just not up for biking. I’m too rock and roll. Besides, I just did my 9th cd photo shoot in the good old metro at 3 AM. Where else can you find fresh graffiti, vintage tiles, cavernous empty space and cooperative rats without hiring a set designer and signing off with the ASPCA?
On the bright side, I don’t have to feel guilty about not contributing for the Michael Jackson memorial because it won’t be in my town, no matter what the doorman down the block swears. And not to detract from the legend of MJ, but the whole media fest is not really about celebrating the guy, but digging just enough into the freakshow to pull out some gigantic mutant plum. Didn’t the guy already tip you off with the Thriller video? Yes, there is a dark side. You, too, will be dead and maybe dissected and autopsied and revealed as the fake or secret pervert you might be. It certainly distracts us from the Ponzi scheme which is America and if they spent 1/100th of the time investigating the CDAs and predatory lending scams, we might have a story worthy of 24/7 network coverage. The alternative tonight was an Ovation documentary on Jeff Koons where I swear this guy was saying’if art were religion, Jeff would be its pastor’. How about ‘if art was human, I’d invest in an enema-bag to flush the Koons down the toilet with speed and efficiency.’
I took Latin when I was a kid, and the word for ‘speed’ seemed dangerously close to the root for ‘celebrity’. Back then, famous people stuck around a little longer. I mean, there was Mickey Mouse and Mickey Mantle and the Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe… the Beatles… They showed A Hard Days Night tonight and it all feels so remote and non-nostalgic to me tonight I couldn’t even find George cute. In fact the Beatles seemed a bit watered-down and slow, and just so ‘pop’. I wonder if Paul McCartney misses the good old days. Maybe not… because let’s face it.. he’s no longer Paul McCartney. He’s some old guy that got swindled by a fake slut with a wooden leg. The thing is, Michael Jackson wasn’t Michael Jackson any more… no amount of surgeries and masks can change that. Personally I didn’t miss Elvis when he died. I never liked the guy, but certainly couldn’t stomach the ‘In the Ghetto’ Liberace version. That’s the thing about celebrity. It comes and it doesn’t always leave when it gets late. It stays the night even when you wake up all puffy and hung over.
This afternoon I met this old photographer from New Orleans who’d moved up here because, let’s face it, no matter how much they rebuild and advertise, the place is wrecked. The soul blew away with the goddamn hurricane. No matter what they do, It’s the fat Elvis New Orleans now. So this guy is a little bent over, wizened--a little dapper and washed out… but smart, with a good eye. He knew Herman Leonard, copped for Dr. John in the old days. He seemed like a good guy. His hat was battered but cool. We talked about jazz, Mingus, Miles…exchanged numbers.
Just now I took a walk down to Duane Reade where I hoped to cash in the $5 reward I finally got after $100 worth of inflated purchases because in my overpriced hood, nothing else is open at 4 AM. And I swear I saw the guy digging around in the trash. I tried to stay close to the buildings and walked real quiet…but there aren’t too many ex-punks on the streets here, and I’m worried he saw me. After all, there are times in life when you just don’t want to be an audience.