i’ve just landed. by far the most harrowing landing in personal aviation history. the passengers applauded. but that is neither here nor there. except that i’m here. i’m staying at a hotel catty corner from my old bowery apartment where I lived the last time new york was my only home — in the year leading up to and months after 9/11.
there was no hotel on bowery back then. halfway to gentrification, it was still populated by as many flophouses as hipster’s lofts, but not so many as to deter the flocks of scenesters from the bowery bar, to which my leaning tower of a railroad loft was attached. i can’t believe it’s still standing. i think the bowery bar must be holding it up. i hated that bar. I’d rarely get a drink there. i opened my building door one night to discover one of their patrons pissing on it. it was tacky sceney. every once in a while i’d lazily drop in in the hopes of picking up a tacky sceney girl so i could show her the errors of her ways. and by pick her up, i mean, sit there until nothing happened, which it did invariably. i preferred, phebes, the quasi sports, aspiring hipster bar across the street, that kept changing its name, and back again until finally it reclaimed it original name. it kept remodeling itself in the hopes of understanding who the hell it was that was hanging out on the bowery in those days. but mostly i preferred the now defunct marion’s downstairs, a sort of throwback cocktail lounge with decent food and occasional revues.
when i had the stomach and even possibly enjoyed playing live, but couldn’t barely write a song to justify such vim, old pal eric who lived a few blocks away and i would play in our sebadoh cum sonic youth cum telvision cum shit band at the acme underground around the corner or push my gear down the bowery to cb’s gallery where we played our last gig as that band i believe.
I was miserable those last months in that apartment . in the throes of a shitty winter, a breakup, and 9/11’s haunting shadow. mine was a soundtrack of karen dalton and a blood curdling wake up call each morning for weeks, courtesy of a billboard being built by the landlords who, unbeknownst to me, bought the building so they could build the the thing. my bed, effectively in my kitchen, which faced the dead zone that was the build site between the bowery bar and my apartment, would shake.
right around the corner was/is the great jones cafe. great drinks, food, jukebox, and the fucking bass player from pavement tended bar. this blew my mind. have wonderful memories from that place. eventually i had to avoid it though — or not so much it, as a waitress friend of my good friends with whom i managed a feeble rebound and besotted makeout session. pathetically, or as if to honor the worm i was or, rather, the worm i did not want to reveal myself to be, i still have not been back. 13 years.
weekends were the worst. the sting of the bowery bar’s jovial congregation bit harder those last months. from my second floor window I could almost touch the young and happys (I was still old then) that flocked to the bowery on the weekends. i could almost touch them. but not quite. i moved back to l.a.
i can see my old apartment from this hotel room. i miss it.