Notes for a song

Category: Travel

Singing in the Train

I was riding the subway home today, listening to the new Nas album (it’s pretty good btw, much better than that Street’s Disciple mess he served up a while back. Bachelordom agrees with him) and the track “Loco-Motive” came on at the same time I reached Grand Central. The start of the song goes “Oooh oooh oooh Forty-second street terminal”. It was such perfect timing.

Then I had a thought. Why doesn’t the MTA hire back up singers to sing you into the station? Everyone would feel so much cooler rolling into a station with back up singers crooning in their ear. Plus it could be another source of income for subway musicians.



Kids, c. 8 years old, yelling at a group of cyclists on Avenue C:

“What are you doing on a bike you pussy?”
“Can’t you ride a skateboard?”
“Why are you going so slow?”
“Are you afraid? Is that why you got a helmet?”
“You are all a bunch of pussies man. You all need to get on skateboards.”

The cyclists had slowed for the lights, and were cracking up at the kids’ taunts.

Neither of the kids had skateboards.

Art class

I caught the L train home tonight, got off at 1st Ave.
There was a man and a woman sitting on a bench, down in the subway station.
They were surrounded by open suitcases, paints & paintbrushes, canvases & palettes spilling out.
The two of them were painting, the man was painting the woman & the woman was painting the man.
Between them sat a finished canvas, which featured them both. I’m not sure who painted it.
Above them was a sign, which read, “Art Class”.

Cherry Pie*

There’s this guy who’s at the L train 7th Ave stop, late nights.
He’s a crooner. He carries a discman which is attached to a PA.
He plays Motown tunes and croons along for a handful of dollar dollar bills.
Did I mention he’s amazing?
If you haven’t seen him and you’re in NYC get down there for a listen.

One night he was singing along to “My Girl”. He finished up the song with a few
ad-lib lines about cherry pie. He turned to the guy sitting next to me and said,
“Mmmm mmm I just love that cherry pie. Don’t you just love cherry pie?”
The guy looked rather lost and replied in a French accent,
“I’m sorry but I don’t speak very well English.”
The singer pointed at me and said,
“Can you translate ‘cherry pie’ for me baby?”
I did my best – “Ummm… tarte aux cerises?”
The French guy looked very happy to be in on the joke finally
(although I don’t know if it has the same meaning in French).
The singer smiled back, and then fired up his next tune. I think it was Al Green.

* Incidentally, “Cherry Pie” is the name of Leila Adu’s first single, which still sounds as sweet to me as it did when it was released.

Wanton abandon

I have abandoned you wantonly in favour of flirtations with scriptwriting, thrift store shopping, unrestrained vacationing, and food consumption.

I offer a list of things I enjoyed today. I hope this makes amends for my reckless behaviour.

1. Sitting in a beige pouf

2. Thai green curry fit for a queen – zucchinis and eggplants and bamboo oh my!

3. The new WordPress login page

4. Attempting to navigate Twitter

5. XXYYXX. Not to be confused with Xx. Or xxx.

Ellen is Leaving

Like so many Kiwis, Ellen is off on her OE.
As Ellen tries to minimize her belongings to one backpack’s worth she realizes she’s lost her passport. As I watch her desperately dig through the backpack’s pockets it’s like watching myself all the times I’ve taken off for far flung lands. There was that time I arrived at the airport and handed my passport over at check-in only to be told my passport had expired a few days earlier.
But of course Ellen is dealing with much bigger issues than where she misplaced her passport. She has to leave her boyfriend and she is having trouble saying goodbye. Her friends gather to farewell her and play parlour games, Ellen experiences that moment I’ve felt, I’m sure you’ve felt, where she realises Holy Crap I’m going to MISS these people.

This is a sweet little film from Wellington babe Michelle Savill. There’s a pot luck! There are fairy lights! There’s celebrity heads! These are just some of the good things. Go, enjoy.

You can see Ellen is Leaving at the New Zealand International Film Festival 2012. You can watch the trailer here:


Trying to be discreet

I decided to start my career as a street style photographer.
There are several problems with this career move.
First of all, to be a street style photographer you kind of need some hi-tech equipment. Or you need one of those little point-and-shoots you can clutch whilst clutching your clutch.
I only have my crappy phone camera.
Second, you need to be able to be recognised so you don’t seem like a creep. Like Bill Cunningham. No one would be like, “Hey creep, quit taking photos of me” if Bill was taking photos of them.
Third, you need to be real social and friendly. You need to be able to go up to people and be like, “You look amazing. Can I please photograph you for my blog?” And then maybe have a business card or something.
I’m quite shy. And I don’t have a business card.

So I decided to just be a discreet creep. I saw this beautiful girl wearing a multi-coloured stripey 1930s hat perched on top of her glorious curly up-do. It was kind of like a pillbox or stiff beret. I held up my phone like I was going to make a call and pressed the button. The indiscreet click caught her attention. She turned to me. Not knowing what to do I just flashed her this big goofy smile. Luckily she smiled back.
“I love your hat!” I said.
“Thank you.” She mouthed over the street musicians.

I’m not sure if I will stick to my new career, but I’ll let you know.

Judging a book by its cover

I love playing guessing games. Guessing games at airports are the most fun. So many infinite possibilities.

Some of my favourites are guess which airline those attendants work for? This game is great, just don’t get racist about it.
This game is easy to win if you have a bit of time before your flight and can snoop around the airport to see which plane they’re getting on.

A similar game is guess where people are travelling to.

Guess what’s inside that weirdly shaped luggage.
Guess what those business class passengers do for a living.
Guess why those guys are travelling to New York.

The only way you can win at these guessing games is to actually go and talk to the people and find out which can be a bit intimidating if you’re shy. Like me.
The other way to win is if fate throws you into the seat next to/in front of/behind them. Or if you’re next to them at the luggage carousel.

Another game is guess how much longer there is to go with the flight. You can win at this game by checking the flight’s progress on your TV screen. Bear in mind you only really win if there’s less than 2 hours left.

Lack of focus

No wonder I can never finish things.

I’m packing up my room today and I have unearthed some treasures.

There’s the beginning of a novel which starts out as a kind of magic realist vampire story and a few pages later is more like pulpy romance.

There are no less than 8 half-full notebooks which shift from poetry to shopping lists to journal entries to short film scripts.

There’s the nude lipstick, the neon orange lipstick, the cherry red lipstick, the purple, the bright pink.

There’s the baseball cap, the sequined hat, the schoolgirl beret.

There’s the start of a Master’s since abandoned… no wonder, I was trying to combine thrift markets, hip hop and internet performance into one cohesive argument.

This a diagram of asanas to be performed each night to aid insomnia. Another diagram of asanas to be performed in the morning to increase energy. I’m not sure which is which.

I am unfocused by nature, preferring to spend a little time on a wide variety of activities. my old school reports I found suggest the same.
I like so many different things, and am passionate about more than a few.

I’m packing to Gang Starr and The Fugees – that hasn’t changed.

Tram footsie

Oh the great game of tram footsie, played by many a gentleman and rogue alike. Sitting opposite a MOTOS* on those cramped tram seats, with that casual way you slouch, your legs stretched out in the hope that you might sleep at a right angle, you glance up at the MOTOS across as you suddenly realize your feet are touching!

There are several possible explanations for this:

a) It’s a complete accident – MOTOS across was a little overenthusiastic in his foot-tapping or position-rearranging, misjudged the distance between and is now embarrassed by the contact. Evidenced by a sharp pulling away of feet, inability to meet your stare, potential faked “this is my stop” exit.

b) It’s intentional – MOTOS across is into you. MOTOS also happens to be a major babe. Evidenced by an eyebrow lift, an unnecessarily long lingering of the feet, potential cool movie move like a phone number on the back of a tram ticket.  (This has not happened to me yet, but I’m sure it could happen to someone, somewhere.)

c) MOTOS is an alcoholic – foot rub neither accidental nor intentional. Foot rub is repeated, and becomes more and more blatant as you remain frozen trying to think of a solution. Evidenced by a smell of alcohol, bloodshot eyes fixed on you, a slurred proposition. Potential sexual harassment. Probably best to change seats.

*Tram footsie can of course occur between MOTSS as well. Tram footsie does not discriminate.