20 May 2012

Right, so I guess I have some catching up to do.

 2011 ended. By November, that was the best I could have hoped for. It had been an almost entirely bad year. I had a few stalwart friends who acted as my shrouds and stays and plenty of fair-weather friends who paid lip service to the idea of friendship.

By late 2011, R&S--one of the worst ideas I've ever had--was up to several hundred (600 or so at that point) supporters. If any good came out of the organization, it's in the fact that I made some--literally a handful--of very good friends. That fact aside, it was an albatross.

The photos to the left were taken at a private party in the basement of The Standard Hotel. The band pictured is Camp Freddy: an L.A.-based outfit composed of seemingly everyone who has had any kind of impact in Rock and Roll in the last 30 years.

On the left is Steve Stevens, on bass is, I believe, the former bassist from Jane's Addiction (whose name escapes me, I was never a fan of the band), Courtney Love, and Billy Duffy of the Cult.

Whatever one might say about Courtney Love, the only thing I know for certain is that she can sing. Her cover of Cheap Trick's Surrender was one of those moments that felt absolutely historic. I don't mean to romanticize her, but there's something painfully tragic about her presence. Watching her on stage is like watching a woman composed primarily of scar tissue who has, somehow, managed to do what many in her profession have failed to do: survive their job.

There were quite a few surprises that night: covers of Billy Idol, The Cult, The Sex Pistols, and Deep Purple (Glenn Hughes showed up and sang Highway Star). It was strange, to say the least.

 This is Sebastian Bach, the former singer of the seminal 80's/90's band Skid Row. It can be very difficult to get a picture of Bas with a camera phone because Bas moves far faster than shutter speed.

It was Bas who got my friend Sarah-Sol and I into this gig. How I know Sebastian Bach is a long, strange story, but he has, as I am constantly saying, been one of the most consistently decent people to me over the last year or so.

Distractions like the Camp Freddy gig and Bas' shows with Steve Stevens at The Iridium kept me from losing my mind during the fall semester and, indeed, during much of the spring semester.

Beyond that, it's been a long time since I had a straight male friend. I realize that sounds very strange, but if you go to my other site, you'll see what I mean.
 Bas played a bunch of songs from his Skid Row days, though he released an album last year that showcases his voice as well as anything he did 20 years ago. Still, people want to hear "Youth Gone Wild" and "18 & Life" and "I Remember You." I have no idea how many times he's had to sing "Youth Gone Wild," but I'm sure it's too many.

It's weird to see friends with such public lives. I cannot fathom what it's like to live your life under the microscope of not only press coverage, but the infinite needs and demands of the public to whom, for better or worse, provide you with the audience for your talent. Sebastian Bach has literally been a "rock star" for his entire adult life. How do you know who your friends are? How do you know who you can trust? How do you not see the entire world as one big, weird joke?

Then again, perhaps that's exactly what the world is. 

I spent more time binding--or rather rebinding--books, mostly for friends. FSF is still, for whatever, reasons, my favorite writer to rebind, partially because there are so many cheap paper copies of his work that deserve better bindings and partially because, well...beautiful words deserve beautiful bindings.

This is a rebind of a paper edition of The Beautiful and Damned that I did for a friend in hardcover Florentine wraps and quarter calf-skin. The end papers are also Florentine.

 If you're going to have a copy of The Prince, it might as well be in Florentine paper, lest the ghosts of Machiavelli and the Medicis haunt you for allowing ugly Penguin editions to disgrace your shelves.

I gave this copy to my consigliere as part of my gratitude for her good counsel over the last year. It's important to have good counsel. Ask King Lear.

I want that glib and oily art/
To speak and purpose not; since what I well intend,/
I'll do't before I speak. (1.1.227)

Fall semester came to close and as it did, I spent a few nights seeing Bach play a few sets with Steve Stevens at The Iridium.

So ended the fall of 2011. My GPA was high enough to land me on the Dean's List and my sanity, miraculously, remained intact. 

 For my great-great-great grandmother's 200th birthday, I visited her grave in New Bedford, MA and stayed at a small bed and breakfast that had, unfortunately, some very alarming clown paintings in the bathroom.

I don't have any kind of clown phobia, but if I did, it certainly would have been preyed upon by paintings like the one you see on the left.

New Bedford is a dead little town, surviving on the remains of a fishing industry and tourists who come to see the whaling museum. It's far cry from its place in the whaling industry of the 19th century. My ancestors' portraits hang in the museum, but whatever legacy and fortune they have is now only found in blood.
Still room for one more. It occurred to me that there were no graves less than a hundred years old. 

"And, as for me, if, by any possibility, there be any as yet undiscovered prime thing in me; if I shall ever deserve any real repute in that small but high hushed world which I might not be unreasonably ambitious of; if hereafter I shall do anything that, upon the whole, a man might rather have done than to have left undone; if, at my death, my executors, or more properly my creditors, find any precious MSS. in my desk, then here I prospectively ascribe all the honour and the glory to whaling; for a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard."

--Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Death to the living, long life to killers, success to sailors' wives, and greasy luck to whalers.

150 years ago, you'd have seen tall ships and barrels of whale oil. Now...trawlers and tugs.
After New Bedford, I went a bit sea-mad, and as the spring semester came to a close, I started hanging around the tall ships that serve as tourist vessels that sail the Hudson. Later, I learned to sail on a Colgate 26: a light, fast keelboat. As I write this, I am still suffering from dock rock: the curious feeling of seasickness while on land. I'm fine on a boat, but sitting still on terra firma makes nauseous. Blame it on the tourists.

"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me."

--Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The spars and rigging of The  Peking: one of the largest barques ever built. A steel-hulled behemoth.

The schooner America 2.0, modeled after an America's cup winner from the early days
of that race. Built mainly to try to compete with....

Clipper City. 158 feet long with masts going up 120 feet, this is NY's largest sailing vessel.

The schooner Adirondack, seen from Clipper City's deck. 

Liberty, seen under the reeflines of Clipper City at sunset.

The new Freedom Tower is now taller than the Empire State Building. The glass looks almost obsidian, though this picture doesn't pay it justice. 
Some other schooner--not sure which--out on the Hudson. This might be the Shearwater.

It's enough to give you some semblance of hope. Sometimes.