By Michael Barron.
12:01 am: cab
Yesterday, Friday, was two minutes ago. I’m being driven back to Greenpoint, but not home. I’ve just left one party and am now heading to a club to see my friend Aurora perform an afterhours live show and DJ set at a new club—Good Room. I’m going alone—Hermione has stayed in for the night to catch up on work after an extended period of illness. I haven’t asked anyone to come—I’m feeling too tired to be socially obliged to someone else. The cabbie is in a good mood. He’s whistling along to West African kora music.
“This is Senegalese, right?”
“No, it’s Guanian!”
There’s a kora player that occasionally performs at the Bedford L platform. I once asked him what kind of music he was playing and he replied, “Senegalese.” I gave him a dollar. He’s vastly more talented than the guy with his belly button poking out of a greasy t-shirt belting out the words “New York, New York” while shaking a maraca out of rhythm. I never see him anymore; I hope he found the help he needed.
1:35 am: Good Room
I’ve entered into a large room lit entirely by red LED lights. Over the speakers, I can hear the light thump of a bass drum. The dance floor is sparse and the few people occupying it are either clustered in conversation or nodding their glowing faces into their smartphone screens. There are more rooms, I discover, each lit with a different primary color, an optical effect that gives everyone a nice hue of anonymity. Aurora is in the DJ booth and I stand alone to one side of the dance floor nodding my head and observing a stiff but growing crowd. A spot a couple of friends and say hello, but mainly I keep to myself. I think back to a few months before, when I DJed a literary party in Fort Greene. The club was divided into two floors with me and an empty dance room on the second and everyone else back down on the first. Eventually people did come up, but by then I had been on the decks for a few hours. I even started repeating tracks. No one noticed. On the way home, I plot my return to the DJ booth.
7:12 am: bed
I feel the leather on my face followed by the cool metal of a zipper. My eyes open to Hermione’s smiling face. “Bye, love!” She kisses me on the forehead. I hear the door close. The sun is peaking through the window. I think of the word peaking as though the sun being too loudly played through a speaker. “Turn down the sun” I say to no one.
8:17 am: bed
I wake up and grab my phone. It’s no longer 7:12. My head hurts. Text from Hermione saying hello.
9:32 am: bed
I wake up again. I’m becoming the definition of opportunity cost.
9:57 am: bed
I reach for the nearest reading material, an issue of Cabinet. I became a subscriber during the LA Art Book Fair when subscriptions were being sold at fire sale prices. I’m a sucker for a good deal. I’ve never actually read Cabinet, and now I’m about to find out what it’s like. The first piece is an essay by Wayne Koestenbaum musing over a photograph of a shirtless man at a picnic. “When a guy goes topless on a warm day, no one asks him questions, arrests him, or calls him an exhibitionist…if the young woman sitting on the lawn were suddenly to disrobe, she’d be scolded, shunned, sent to a psychiatrist…the shirtless man, whom I call Pasolini, wears the veil of certainty.”
10:23 am: Greenpoint
I finally get out of bed. I feel wobbly, curvy, twisted.
10:25 am: Greenpoint
Text from Hermione: Watchu doin?
10:32 am: Greenpoint
To combat nausea I suit up for a run, my top is Hermione’s senior year hoodie with the names of her classmates printed on the back, and around my head I tie a Rambo bandana. Either I’ll vomit on the way or flush out whatever toxins are currently residing in my bloodstream. My route goes up through Long Island City. “Yeah, I run to Queens and back,” I like to tell people. And it’s true, I do.
10:40 am: Long Island City
What I listened to on the way to the Pepsi-Cola sign: https://soundcloud.com/ln-cc/ln-cc-store-mix-033-veronica
11:10 am: Long Island City
What I listened to on the way back from the Pepsi-Cola sign: http://warp.net/news/listen-to-and-download-a-new-mix-ahead-of-the-album-out-this-month/
11:50 am: Williamsburg
On the way to meet my friend Jocelyn I purchase a pink coconut water. The packaging on the bottle is smartly written, the kind that assures me that I’m drinking the best coconut water in the world. I wonder how any food or drink produced in great mass maintains good quality, but I’m also a sucker for good packaging.
Jocelyn and I meet up on the corner of Guernsey and Berry and walk up into Williamsburg without a clear destination. It’s that tail end of winter, where the weather is just cold enough to be insulting, and yet everyone is outside, turning the other cheek. There’s no predicting where wandering will take the wanderer, especially when the wanderer and his companion need a bathroom, and so Jocelyn and I find ourselves inside of multi-floored department store, an expanded Urban Outfitters. This place, with its selection of colored headphones, its male and female sunglassed mannequins, its abundance of loft-enhancing knick-knacks like terrariums and hammocks, its fully-stocked bar, its empty restaurant watched over by a glassy eyed, tattooed hostess, its rooftop deck blocked by a sign that reads: “Closed until the days of summer,” is one big institution of manufactured hip.
“My friend Lizzy used to live here,” says Jocelyn, “before it was converted into a Sears for dandys. So that’s that I guess.”
2:34 pm: Practice Space
I’ve rented a practice space in the same building in Greenpoint since 2006. It’s very small, about the size of a queen mattress, if mattresses were shaped like wedges of cheese. I mostly come on the weekends, when I have time to think about music and not books. Despite my equipment and my eagerness to make my own music, I’m terrible at it. Sometimes, to jumpstart my creative flow, I invite friends over to jam, which is like having a special guest on a TV show. Today’s special guest is my friend Audrea. She’s in a two-person electronic band called Odd Rumblings that put out an EP on a small British label, an EP that I once schlepped across London looking for in various record stores. I think it’s sold out, but she says she has a few and offers to sell me one. Ask and ye shall receive.
Audrea is very adept on a keyboard, and while she conjures up a melody, I trigger a sampler and drum machine. Things start off well, and I’ve even brought my computer to document the session in case something dazzling emerges (one can always hope), but when I do attempt to record, my equipment doesn’t complying with that desire. The jam deflates from there. We take five and grab a beer at a bar down the street.
4:44 pm: home
Hermione is on a business call with porn star. I take a shower. She pops in to say hello and talks to me through the curtain.
6:30 pm: couch
I read Proust, but my thoughts wander to Björk who, at this very moment, is performing at Carnegie Hall. I’m sorry to miss her.
7:33 pm: home
We have to be at a benefit concert at 9:00, but Hermione has to finish a piece, and it’s seems unlikely that we’ll make it. I feel bad—my friend put us on the list—but what can we do? I go fetch ingredients for tonight’s meal, that’s what I do.
8:07 pm: dinner
Hermione makes a delicious green curry with shitaki mushrooms, broccoli, scallions, and tofu. She and Lisa Simpson both became vegetarians as eight-year-olds, and at least one of them has grown to be an outrageously great cook of meatless dishes. “I don’t think we’re going to make this event tonight,” I tell her. We’re now unsure what to do. Then Jocelyn texts about a gallery open at Aikon curated by her friend Heems who will perform a couple of tracks off his new album: Eat, Pray, Thug, and do we want to go?
9:45 pm: Aikon Gallery
Eat Pray Thug, along with being an album (and commaless), is also the name of the group show of mostly young contemporary South Asian-American artists (I think) curated entirely by Heems himself. Blocking the art is a group of people surrounding a rapper who’s accompanied by what sounds like a live drummer. The crowd isn’t just mesmerized, they’re hanging on his every word, and he knows this, and points the mic at them who finish his lines passionately. The drums sound incredibly brash and sloppy, but the harsh sound works only to enhance the fury of the rapper’s delivery. “This is the new punk,” I think. And then the rapper suddenly stops. “Thank you! Heems on drums everyone.” Heems does a little rat-a-tat-tat solo. People cheer out his name. Then he stands up and thanks everyone, including himself, “because I’m pretty cool too.”
In the crowd, Hermione spots her friend Teju, who’s here with some female friends. “Is it over?” he asks with a large grin on his face. “Is the hippity-hop over?”
10:24 pm: Swift’s
I don’t know who recommended it, but we find ourselves at a shitty Noho Irish bar, the kind that draw in tourist bros, both male and female. We’re a rather large crowd: Teju and his friends, Jocelyn, Hermione, and myself. There is a live DJ who is dropping golden oldie after golden oldie over the stereo—clearly a wedding DJ. I can barely hear anyone speak and how to shout to be heard. Somehow we stay for two rounds. Teju tells us he worked with Heems and Vijay Iyer to stage concerts for his book. Jocelyn says Heems might join us, but he never shows. Everyone seems keen to go dancing, but when we suggest our next destination—a dance party—only Jocelyn, Hermione, and I end up going.
11:30 pm: Call Box Lounge
Hermione and I leave Jocelyn on the L and get off at the Bedford stop where our bikes are parked. We ride out (our first real ride of the year) and follow the BQE toward the last block of Brooklyn before it climbs over the Kosciuszko Bridge and into Queens, arriving at the Call Box Lounge for the Call of the Pisces—a quadruple birthday party. It’s rammed with friends, the kind of party where you can’t go take a piss without giving out a dozen hugs on the way. And yes, people are dancing and throwing their heads back and shouting the lyrics to the shiniest pop songs that a lone DJ, sitting on a table in a corner, plays off of her laptop. The only downfall is the bar, which is cash-only, and I don’t have cash. I’m directed by the bouncer to a gas station within which lies an ATM. I take out a few $20s and, thinking about it, purchase a few beers which I house in my large jacket pockets. The bouncer doesn’t notice them and I successfully spend only eight bucks on beer the whole night.
As Hermione and I are leaving, I talk to a friend who introduces me to a friend of his. She recalls me as the DJ at the aforementioned literary party.
“Oh, you remember?”
“Yeah, I thought you were pretty good. You should DJ more often.”
“Thanks.” I say. “I’m trying to figure that out.”
Michael Barron 9-5s for the avant-garde as an editor and director of publicity at New Directions. He is currently working on a book and an album at the same damn time.