August 3, 1997, Sunday
Diana got a phone call later from a friend telling her that William S. Burroughs had died yesterday. This upset her mostly because she had plans to have Thanksgiving Dinner with him this year. The poet/writer/notorious heroin addict was apparently the friend of Sarah "Rosy" Rosenthal's family. I know almost nothing about Mr. Burroughs except that Monster Boy has a RE/Search book that connects him in some mysterious way with industrial musicians such as Throbbing Gristle. I never got into that whole Beat Poetry thing, though I think my Dad did, just a bit anyway. I freely admit that there are all kinds of holes in my intellectualism.
When she awoke, Virginia (Verge) claimed to be completely recovered from her Strep Throat.
All of us, even Verge's friend Bob, went to a place called Stingy Lulu's Luncheonette on St. Mark's Place just before noon. Stingy Lulu's is a busy place with cadmium medium yellow walls and pictures of chiseled-faced drag queens. On a Sunday morning they have a deal where if you buy a "fixe" meal for $9, they'll throw in a limited variety but unlimited number of drinks for free. Our waitress was a bleached blond girl with a british accent. She said "shew-ah" to mean "sure" or "okay." Verge thought she was adorable.
Most people had eggy omlette dishes, but Leah and I had pancakes. Monster Boy made a miscalculation and ordered cheese-fries and they weren't one of the "fixe" items, so he had to order a "fixe" omlette too.
Matthew had shot up his heroin first thing this morning in the privacy of the bathroom. He looked like hell; he had big red circles around his eyes and gashes in his arms. He casually attributed all this to being tired and rubbing his eyes all yesterday. I found myself being revolted to see his pupils reduced to tiny little mathematical points for a second day. I was thinking that if I was shooting heroin, sure as hell I'd be wearing sunglasses.
The bloody marys considerably tempered my horrible feeling (for the time being). But Matthew continually shot heroin and behaved in the horrible fake unctious manner for the rest of the trip, on the whole giving me a completely miserable experience. I eventually vowed to myself that I will never go to a large city with Matthew Hart ever again.
We rode the subway. It's a long ride through Brooklyn to get to Coney Island. At a certain point you come popping out of the ground and travel in the glare of the sunlight while looking down upon the Brooklyn residential communities. There's a big majestic Jewish graveyard about half way. I remember that from 1989, when I stayed for a week at the Jewish Theological Seminary near Columbia University.
I was drinking vodkatea in complete violation of the no food/drink subway regulations. But anarchy seems to reign on subway cars. Each individual is in his own little world and oblivious to victimless (and even some victimful) crimes>
I tried to talk to Diana secretly about how horrible and fake Matthew Hart becomes on heroin, but she didn't seem upset in the least by it. She even said it didn't really seem any worse than my drinking. Cute little Matthew. Aww look, he's shooting up! Isn't he just adorable? His eyes look so fucking gorgeous when they don't have any pupils!
The others went for an overpriced $4 ride on "the Cyclone," a roller coaster. Meanwhile I wandered around and bought food at vendors. My friends seemed to think I was either a cheapskate, a coward, or both for not riding on the Cyclone. But Deya agreed it hadn't been worth $4.
We went down to the beach, drank some pre-mixed gin & juice, and waded out into the salty sea. Waves came rolling over my body (some even over my head) as I stood on the sandy bottom in dangerously deep waters (for someone who cannot swim). It was absolutely wonderful. I even joined some strangers in the tossing of a tennis ball. Then I came ashore and sat with my friends and covered my body with sand and drank more gin and juice. There was something so stressful about Matthew's behaviour and lack of pupils that I needed to sedate myself.
We all went into a purported freak show. I was in a deep alcohol haze at this point and don't recall that much. There was a skinny woman who climbed into a box and had a bunch of knives dropped through around her. Then there a "bearded lady" appeared and narrated something to do with a woman and her albino python. I later had an opportunity to pet the snake. But the freak show really hadn't been so freaky. The bearded lady might have really been a man.
Later, in the midst of yet more overly greasy food consumption, I lay down on the boardwalk and passed out. Deya came to my rescue and later told me some curious vacationers had been photographing me. Hopefully you'll soon see me sprawled across the cover of the New Yorker. So you see, I was drunk and Matthew Hart was on heroin, but it was I who was the most out of control. At least I had pupils.
Back at Diana and Verge's I pretty much went directly to sleep. When I awoke, there were lots of strangers present, mostly a group of gay men (sorry, I can't recall their names) and a guy named "High Five" who rolled countless joints which he was forced to smoke mostly by himself because the others (excepting Monster Boy) smoke very little pot. I didn't have any.
Diana had plans to go with her gay friends to see a band play at a nearby bar. Deya, Monster Boy and I joined them. Matthew and Leah claimed to be wiped out and went to bed instead.
The band tonight was called something like the All-American Fun Cover Band. It was lead by a dapperly-dressed former raver, and would you guess what they played? Nothing but 80s classic pop-rock, the kind of music every Generation Xer knows all the words to. They opened with "We're Not Gonna Take It," moved into "I Love Rock And Roll," did a sterling version of Def Leppard's hit "Rock of Ages," had a little trouble with the pitch of the vocals in "99 Red Balloons" and carried on through Heart, Bob Seeger and the Silver Bullet Band, Billy Idol, you name it. Someone shouted "Free Bird!" and they said they'd get to it later. This band could have been just another cover band, doing their best on stage to help us relive those awkward teenage/pre-teenage memories. But this band went beyond that. There was a subtle subversive quality, a tongue-in-cheek Andy Warhol thing going on. The tunes were covers, no doubt about it, but they were coming through an oddly distracting frame or a thin little prism. Now and then the vocalist would lapse into punk rockesque screaming or the musicians would blaze away insanely. The music was being mocked as well as thoroughly enjoyed. I appreciated it rather more than my sobriety would normally have permitted.
The beers, meanwhile, were somewhat on the overpriced side, you might say. It would appear that New York City vacations are designer-made to encourage the excretion of surplus wealth.
My contingent all sat together crowded on a couch. Monster Boy was looking particularly glum, though a hard looking woman was dancing energetically near him and Diana shouted hoots of encouragement at her. She was convinced the woman was looking to sleep with Monster Boy this drunken night.
The others were entrigued when Deya and I mixed up some vodkatea. They'd never heard of such a thing and went to try it themselves. Unfortunately, we made it with gin, which was all we had, and it tasted horrible to the others. The one unknown girl in our contingent did her best to drink her gin-tea cocktail, but ended up donating it to a bum.
We walked around a bit. I was becoming pleasantly drunk again and greatly enjoying the (for lack of a better word) energy of our little contingent. There was none of those disgusting Matthew-Verge vibes going on. And, something else I like, I felt sort of like the center of attention. More on that particular need in a bit.
Despite the protests of Diana and the unknown bum-pleasing girl, the gay boys led us to a gay bar. It looked like a perfect sociological adventure for me, so I marched right in. Monster Boy did too, but he looked around in fear and quickly fled.
I mean, it was quite the sausage party. After Diana escaped, Deya was the only girl in there. But unlike a real sausage party, the boys were plenty happy with their sausages. There was no waiting for the girls to arrive. Indeed, the only girl present was causing problems. Deya, you see, was clinging to me like velcro and there wasn't a chance for any of the boys to "eat me alive" (as one of the gay boys we'd come with had secretly predicted to Diana). I think Deya felt an almost maternal need to protect me, but in fact I would have been happier to fend for myself. Gay guys don't scare me, and this was supposed to be a sociological experience.
The damn 3D Pacman machine ate my 50 cents, but I still had a good time. So did Deya. We agreed among ourselves that this was the best sausage party we'd ever attended. Diana almost had to drag us out of there.
Diana and Monster Boy while Deya and I went off to the nearby Mars Bar together. It's a tiny littl place and the Budweisers are cheaper than any other place I went to. An aging Gen-Xer with bad teeth scoped out a pretty blond [dreamlike, she waved at me across St. Mark's Place the next day] who had her hands full talking to a pair of Baby Boomer regulars. A cautiously friendly border collie named Gertrude paid me the ultimate respect of walking out from her hidey hole beneath the pinball machine and sitting dangerously underfoot at my bar stool. Deya needled me with fact that she was cramping my style if I hoped to pick up ladies. We were drunk, oh yeah, we were drunk. We started kissing when we sat in the chairs out in front. Under the NEW RULES that isn't supposed to happen.
And neither was the other stuff that happened way high on the roof of Diana and Verge's building. The pathetic thing was, I had to beg for it. The roof was gritty and hard, but the view was spectacular.
The reason I dislike traveling is that when I go somewhere and don't know the people, I stop being the center of attention.
I've noticed this time and time again. When people sit around talking about people I don't know and events I didn't attend, I feel very left out. The others start to seem evil to me: superficial, overly-fashion conscious, and, most hypocritical of all, gossipy. In retrospect most of these feeling go away, but at the time, I suffer. I feel underappreciated and underestimated. My social skills start to slip, and that reinforces a feeling of inadequacy or idiocy. It becomes a vicious cycle, and I just want to go home where I can find the source of my power. This doesn't always happen. It didn't happen on the trip to Warren Wilson or on any but the first trip to Malvern and it certainly never happens on trips to Oberlin. There was something about the Matthew-Verge dynamic that really brought it out on this trip.
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