CJ’s and Erin E’s Thoughts on Becoming Brooklynites Overnight.. a fortnight, that is..

(CJ and I felt it both necessary to relate our tales of our adventure to and in Brooklyn.  CJ started writing first, so all of my comments are going to be in parenthesis.  I should probably catch you up on my adventure out here.  CJ and I made separate journeys. His took him from the upper most regions of the United States to Tennessee, and then back north to New York in a very short time span.  Me, not so much.  I have been spending my time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, working at a small, but sweet, furniture store, all the while planning my escape.  When the time came, I was ready to make a mad dash in the direction of New York; however, in asking my parents for assistance, my dash turned into a long, drawn out, meander to New York.  After spending 2 nights in hotels, going through Canadian security, stopping at Niagara Falls, and dealing with a very upset, talkative cat for 3 days of driving, I made it to Brooklyn.  Surprisingly.)

After surviving the cabinet-car conundrum, I have arrived and gotten a jump on the process of settling into a life in Brooklyn.  The first couple of weeks have been a whirlwind, leaving me feeling sort of like Uncle Traveling Matt from Fraggle Rock, in a constant state of awe at the silly creatures and their interactions with the world around them.  Over the last two weeks, a great many events have unfolded. The constant buzz of the city has left me feeling invigorated, and happy to be a small speck in this ever changing sea of humanity.

Here’s a Top 5 of what’s happened thus far in New York.  (I missed a few days of the experience due to my extended journey, so my top 5 differ a bit from CJ’s top five.)

– My cohorts and I were quite taken aback when we were walking down Broadway, and suddenly heard someone shouting for our attention behind us.  PK noticed that the man behind the vocalizations was staring into my back, so we finally slowed down.  We were approached by well-dressed older black man, who informed me that I had bumped into him at the intersection, and wanted an apology.  I told him that I had said excuse me – which, in fact I did – and he must not have heard me, what with the noises of the city and all that jazz.  He didn’t think much of this explanation, so decided to remove his headphones from his ears to give me some Bushwick street advice.  “It’s all about choices.  I’ve got nothing but love for you, and I’m telling you this as a young brother, you have to think about how you present yourself, and how the choices you make reflect on the man you become,” stated an impassioned Henry, giving me a final hug and sending us along our way.

– After hearing PK and Ginnard talk about the yips and percussion glory of Aa – spoken as “big A little A” – I decided to join them at a music venue called Death by Audio in Williamsburg.  Ginnard promised the live show would be quite the spectacle.  After a couple of false starts we eventually managed to hear the dynamic sound of Aa.  We first showed up at about 8:30 pm, because PK thought the bands starting playing at 8 so we thought this would have us miss the first opener, and jump in when the headliners were starting to get going.  Not so much.  When we got there, they were still setting up equipment and hadn’t even begun to do a sound test yet.  So after making sure we had gotten the appropriate ink on the back of our hands, we headed out, looking for a slice to quell Ginnard’s hunger pains.  You would think finding a slice in Brooklyn would be as easy as pie, it took a good long jaunt to find a suitable establishment, which made PK kinda grouchy and pissy.  Such is life.  After this, we headed back to the venue, to find that the openers were starting to warm up.  We looked at each other with a sinking feeling as we knew disaster was upon us.  The group on the small stage consisted of a drummer, two guitarists, a bassist, a saxophonist, and a DJ/sawist.  That’s right, he was tuning up what appeared to be an electric saw.  The cacophony that assaulted our ears is best left imagined, although I do feel a migraine coming on just thinking about it.  So once again we were out wandering the streets, finding ourselves venturing past an old sugar factory, and underneath the Williamsburg bridge, where PK desperately tried to persuade us that there was something magical inside the construction sit, to no avail.

We eventually wandered back to DbA, and found ourselves just in time for the headliners.  The first group,  Screens,  was pretty good, once they fell into their groove but the echo on the vocalist for every fucking song they played got pretty redundant pretty damn fast.  But then Aa stepped onto the stage, and started setting up their dueling drum sets, as well a hodge-podged synthesizer and various hued work lights.  When the finally got everything in place, the entire room became entranced by their performance.  It was enough to nearly knock a comatose PK off his perch on a stool in the back of the room.  My ears still pine for the sweet tinnitus that was a reminder for the rest of the night of the auditory wonder they had beheld.

Having never read The Shack, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of its message, based solely on my experience of getting Stacked.  For those of you that haven’t heard the word, Stack is a “high gravity (first clue as to what’s to come..) smooth lager, brewed with the finest extra malted barley and select hops for a bold smooth flavor.”  It clocks in at 12%alc/vol in a hefty 24 oz. can (second, very OBVIOUS clue).  All this, for only a buck fitty (final clue).  Of course, this cost is only the monetary one, and says nothing of the toil, anguish, and pure unadulterated disgust you feel on both an emotional and physical level (this becoming quickly apparent not only through CJ’s actions and painful grimaces, but also the neon red color it had turned his face).  Let’s start with that bold smooth flavor.  Or as it’s known in some circles, the sweet sweet nectar of turpentine.  Now, I fully expected Stack to be god-awful.  I mean really, it’s designed for hobo drifters and other never-do-wells that want something cheap and effective in getting them drunk. This is what Stack was designed for. The type of drunk you get out of it definitely makes you feel like curling up and dying in a dirty gutter is a pretty good option (I was surprised CJ didn’t find himself a nice little corner).  I should have known, I was after all, warned earlier about the evils of Stack.

The following is a reaccountment of a reaccountment based on hearsay, and as such, is subject to error and falsehoods.  That said, I think it’s still pretty damn funny.  Apparently Ginnard and JR had decided to get Stacked.  After a night of heavy debauchery I’m sure, they had retired to their respective beds.  As often happens after drinking, JR awoke and found a need to relieve his bladder.  He stumbled bleary-eyed to the bathroom, but upon returning to his room he thought something was amiss.  JR remembered leaving his door open, and found it shut.  Frowning, he went into his room, and watched flabbergasted as Ginnard moved JR’s laptop onto his bed (on top of his pillow, no less), and proceeded to urinate on it, all the while giggling and mumbling “Dude, your computer! Your computer!”  After a brief moment of reflection, JR bitch-slapped his roommate out of the bedroom. Part of the way through JR’s fit of rage, Ginnard came out of his blacked out state, and wondered why the fuck he was being hit. “Do you realize what you just did?” exclaimed a disgruntled JR.

I should have taken heart in the underlying message of the story, but instead of vowing never to try Stack myself, I decided I wanted to see what all the fuss was about up close and personal.  In the shack you can find God and converse with Him, in a can of Stack you find demons that have a disco-dance party inside your head and stomach.  Throw in some Phase 10, and you’ve got yourself a night of regret that you know you will never get back.  (I have to add that even sober, Phase 10 is a torturous game that should be reserved for only the most desperate of times.  We only made it to around phase 7, if that, and I’m surprised CJ even made it that far.  Oddly enough, I think that Stack gave CJ an advantage, putting him in the lead for a good portion of the game.  Also, when I say collective, I’m excluding Josh from this comment.  I think he made it to phase 2.)

In order to wash my soul clean from the episode with Stack, PK, Watso, Erin E and myself decided to let our senses be assaulted by the eerie surreal beauty that is Fantastic Planet. This feature-length animation from the early 1970s offers trippy visuals and a stellar soundscape, as you follow the trials and tribulations of an Om named Terri as he fights for his continued existence in a strange and often brutal universe.  (For this movie, there is no reason for you to be high, drunk, or even the least bit out of your element.  This movie will easily put you there without it.  I think, perhaps, that one showing of this movie will be more than enough for me in my lifetime.  It was intense, and incredibly inspiring.)

Upon reaching our apartment, we ended up creating a collaborative sketch, inspired by the visuals within the film.

– Recently Erin E, Joey Z and myself witnessed the spectacle of the Knave and Sir Walter, that is, The Big Lebowski as re-envisioned in the hands of Shakespeare.  While some of the multimedia effects used in the play seemed a bit rough, the overall experience was magical.  The entire cast did a wonderful job, some being more true to the film version, this makes sense given how the Dude and Maude Lebowski couldn’t ever truly be embodied in the audiences mind other than the performances given by Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore respectively.  With this in mind, Josh Mertz (the Knave) and Brianna Tyson (Maude) managed to capture the essence of these characters, which served the play well, drawing the audience into the stage world.  It would be a disservice to the rest of the cast not to reiterate that the acting was very well done across the board. You could tell everyone involved was excited to be a part of the production, and this gave an energy throughout the performance.  (Many of the other actors gave their characters a pretty good spin off of the original.  A few of the characters were made all their own, but were well played, such as Sir Walter, who was not really John Goodman-esk, but boisterous in his own right, completely embodying that character through every single line.)

A pox upon it, Knave. Let's play at nine pins.

I’m one that’s not impressed by Hollywood’s constant rehashing of previously done work, but seeing a movie I can recite in my sleep (which is not an exaggeration, I’m sure CJ could recite the entire movie without help if you asked him to) done in a different style and medium was pretty sweet.  The manner it was done in wasn’t simply a remake with profit as the bottom line. The motivation was a love of the Coen’s original work.  Maybe someday the comparison to Shakespeare will simply be two geniuses from different eras coupled together in a re-imagining. (I just have to add that for someone who is a casual Lebowski fan, this play was pretty great.  I definitely think that seeing the film really made this play hysterical, but could pass as a stand alone as well.  I hope it does well.)

This is our life in New York thus far. Onward and upward for another round of who knows what.  At least we know that some adventure awaits in the shadows, in the not too distant future. (We will be sure to keep you avid readers informed.)

– CJ & Erin E