International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: New York Stories
(New York City, New York, USA)
John M. Edwards
I flubbed my audition recently @ Mannys, the legendary guitar
shop on 48th "Avenue" (a bit more famous abroad really
than even Sam Ash!)not that anyone was really listening or
watching anyway, except for some black person sitting on an amp
directly across from me with a knock-off electric bass, who looked
like he was trying to steal some of my original riffs.
But. Then. Again.
glance, with an ironic arched eyebrow or two, from a staffer resembling
Joe Pesci or Manolo with a wig mop on top of his head, might not even
count, even if at the same time it seemed to imply, "I know."
Oh, and there is Joe Perry playing backwards and Christopher Guest looking
a little snarly whilst I was calling him Woody. And that young Dutch
director from NYU Film School looking as indie as Tony Horowitz with
his brimstone laughter taking us to account for being Mayflower descendants
working freelance for ZDF in American Indochina.
Who rigged USA Direct straight to Young Tom's Oval Office: But of course,
one again the Germans are left holding the bag! Thank God for that.
The Russian KGB agent pretending to be CIA, who resembled Chris Clarke
of Ogilvy, suggested we hightail it and take that plane, train, bus,
boat, or automobile back home. I chose the "oil ticket" and
arrived with my Bic lighter BTUed at the doorsteps of Manny's, looking
like Dennis Schmidt, the Baptist Austrian Puppet of Lubeck, coming home
from a hard day's night at the SoHo office of Warner.
I'm a Universal Music Man myself, all labels.
Man oh Mannyshevitz (which only educated The New Yorker
readers who talk about the Algonquin Rountable as if it were really
something rather than a bunch of talented sadsacks ruthlessly hogging
column-inch, with no modern-day self-promoter more evident than my Bermudan
beach bum and yachtie friend, the Danish-sounding Henrik Hertzberg,
whom I imagine purposely hires catty hairstylists sub-editors with absolutely
no literary ambitions who stuff envelopes with rejection slips to avoid
"naturals" finding out he may have vaguely filched one or
two or three of their ideas, know is "kosher" wine--an impossibly
abstract concept for one such as I who has dined alone only exactly
twice at Katzs Deli in LES with a little numbered coupon in my
"Uh, can I have some mayo with my corned-beef sandwich?"
"You know, that has Milch! in it!"
I guess even Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese has some milk in
it, and I heard a rumor once that Hebrew National frankfurters inexplicably
contain trace amounts of yogurt and just a little bit of Spam .
But of course, I am also Tom James, Zagat reviewer. Internationally
feared only in his own mind. "Sucks." Anyway, lets just
face it, when you are underproof and bored and only a half-hour away
from Manhattan-- driving around like Clockwork Orangey maniacs with
a bunch of wildass prep-school soccer hooligans on the make, with, "The
Volume King" on the knob--the glossy allure of 48th-street guitar
shops, filled with "axes" (thats fancy talk, man, for
Stratocaster or Telecaster or Fender, what?)lined up like Peking
Ducks in New Yorks "Chinatown"well worth a visit
to when you are just, like, ya know, once again just sort of frigging
hanging around, waiting glumly for a bus at Port Authority!
Wow, a greasy corned beef sandwich folded by a heroin addict with ashes
on his hands and snot dribbling down his nose, like Aqualung coughing
up phlegm balls the size of caramel cornsuh, wait for the late
night pizza, chums. War Child, dance the days and dance the nights away.
A definite maybe, turns, into, a, vigorously rotating Roman thumbs
Just a short "Crazy Train" ride away--(der, der, duh, duh,
da, da, da, der, der, der, der, da, da, dun dun)from MSG (The
Garden, not the ingredient), the only thing to do is knock about trying
more or less unsuccessfully to pick up married chicks, and oh, just
form a rock band and make it big.
Or wake up flat on your back with your wallet, keys, and Elf Camera
missing at St. Luke's hospital wondering where did I come from, before
breaking out after exactly one night in search of a smoko, like dream
and desire twisted into a tire and worn over the necks of statues on
Father Demo Square, wondering which way is Bleeker Street.
I didnt know it then, but the biggest mistake I ever made period
was turning down the job of lead bassist when I auditioned for STP (The
Stone Temple Pilots) back before they were big. They all could read
music and seemed out of my league, plus I was headed off to college.
(That sad New Orleans Tulane song is about me, I'm afraid.) Lead guitarist
Rob Dileo (no relation to Rob De Leo of Pasaic County), who resembled
Michael Sarazin grabbed the neck of my bass and said, "I wanna
play bass, I wanna play bass!"
Whilst my good friend S. Pool said, "I know what you mean, who
does this guy think he is?" Pretending to be rattled I explained
that I was certainly a better bass player than him, in a nice way. I
asked my Watchung Hills party crony Dean Dileo: "Is this your brother?"
"Im a little scared man, no relation."
Rob went off to sulk, turned on his amp and wailed. I thought, "Oh
no, Juillard-trained or something."
"I dont know guys," I admitted, Id have to learn
the songs first."
Scott Weiland, wearing a groovy flowered shirt and long blond hair said
seriously. "John, all you have to do is this: we meet every day
and . . . " Steve Pool, certainly the coolest and bravest of my
old Route 22 associates, began playing a few chords which sent a chill
up my spine. "Now, that I like. . ." And this, my friends,
this is how all good bands begin.
The song, of course, later became "Plush," which, in my peculiar
Weltanschaung, is the most romantic anti-rape song in history, which
was voted by Rolling Stone Magazine as Best Song of the Century
and reminded me of the plush blue carpet of my primordial bedroom.
Still the lead singer Scott Weiland, who went from wearing long blond
hair and flowered shirts to sporting a demonic Mephistophelian soul
patch, similar to my good Shakespearean actor foil from London Darren
Law, who was almost rogered right in the middle of Leicester Square,
tried to woo me: "You know, Im going to be famous some day!"
Perhaps he knew that Grandpa Bob (Popeye) was friends with Hoboken native
Frank Sinatra and that my own dad, Thomas Robert Edwards Jr., the literary
critic and author of "Imagination and Power," who resembled
a silver-haired Clint Eastwood stitched with Fred Gwyn, the Welsh crooner
who played Herman Munster. And Grandpa Lewis. Hey, "Shakespeare
in Love" babe Gwyneth Paltrow was my little girlfriend back in
the days of the Adams Family Mansion, Old Man Hatchet, and Mrs. Reader.
Hey, even Susan Sarandon was from my hometown, the old spa town of Plainfield,
with its Victorian mansions and Sleepy Hollow days. And Sigourney Weaver
once pretended to be my friend with Anita Van Vactor, Katherine Ross's
cousin ("Butch Cassiday and the Sundance Kid" and "The
Stepford Wives.") Rumor has it that even Dr. Quinn once visited
me after I noticed a resemblance to one of King Henry the Eighth's wives
after Cubby Broccoli's and Harry Saltzman's "Live and Let Die,"
starring Roger Moore as James Bond 007.
Even Peter Cushing, of Forry Ackerman's Famous Monster of Filmland's
Monster Conventions, lived on Cushing Road ("There's that little
hand again!) and Hayley Mills, who was older than me and as omnisciently
silent around me as Patricia O'Neal.
Enter Caroline Magee, no wait!
Page McConnell and McKittrick were in the car too much much later as
we dared "The Night of the Speedbumps." Unfortunately I think
I didnt make it clear to Page that Scott was not only a nice guy
but a powerful Nachtmusicklub singer too, but I dont know, it
takes most people at least 3 times to remember anyones name.
Interesting that, Light and Dark magic colliding like flickerflash thunder
and lighting with indifference masked by. . . . The irreverent pagan
Christian band PHISH versus the friendly Satanist band THE STONE TEMPLE
PILOTStaglines coming years later . . . I guess I just wanted
to be a writer.
To quote John Milton, "Its better to rule in Hell than to
Serve in Heaven.
Deal: Ill do an angel.
By the way, "Angelfuck" is my best poem and song lyrics are
forthcoming via EMI.
my best friend back in high school, as all of you might know (even
though he went to Gill and I to the accursed WH, where everyone
lives long, dies, and leaves behind a waxy corpse), was none other
than the very decent Page McConnell, the American Norwegian with
a Scottish-sounding surname, one of the worlds most masterful
piano players and founding member of PHISH, the sort of psychedelic
jam band that fans follow around the country trying to scalp tickets
for free, with such lyrical eccentricities as "Washa my Uffizi,
drive me to Firenze."
Pic: JE: Almost Famous
I was at best unsurprised
when Page, master of the bon mot and almost as good a backgammon player
as yours truly (the "doubling dice" matches near The Shark
Bar in Little Italy are legendary). I once carefully got into the auto
of his father Jack (inventor of the Tine test and a mean banjo player),
who lightly concerned, "Been doing a little smoking, son?"
Page said . . . in response.
"Who me? No, I dont smoke!"
The reason this appealed to my ingrained sense of the absurd is that
Page was alone in the car with his Father. Okay, maybe I was there also.
Who else would it have been? I wasnt just there sitting next to
him chainsmoking Kents.
After I gave up music after my college band in New Orleans broke (name
moot: I dont have any tapes of our concerts as "The Dingleberries,"
then "High Entropy"), I caught the travel bug. Then years
later I attended Pages very first concert in New York at Bleeker
Streets "Kennys Castaways" Club.
And as all Salon readers know, this small venue charmer where
garage bands either shake like Big Red badass kangaroo Anguses under
the klieg lights or, you know, sign a major record deal, no sweat, baby!
(Unfortunately, Salon ditched their most interesting column,
Don Georges "Wanderlust.")
But I finally got it when I saw PHISH in Paris, where I had expatriated
myself for a year or three or seven, off and on, and elsewhere, to learn
how to write, period. Hey, my friend was a real rock star. . . . Nice
that, catching up alone on the Isle St. Louis at night.
Though my lead guitarist friend in our garage band Static, the supercilious
Eric DAmato, (a.k.a. Damon Villegracias) acted like a pretend
dwarf crybaby lampooning them in Psychology Today, I never felt happier
for literally my best friend or, more accurately, platonic brother,
then, in my life. There have been others.
There is a very steep pricetag for fame.
Im not blaming anybody, but how stupid could anybody be to have
an unlisted phone number. Time to snailmail me your loaded address books
so I can call you back.
Thats all it took.
Advice: there is nothing more important than a good address book to
keep in touch.
Anyway, its fun having famous rock stars as friends. Especially,
when you know you could have easily been one yourself.
just hold on, lets hop into the new time machine (nuclear
car) Im theoretically testing (I also dabble in speculative
fiction) in the hidden "basement" and drive back along
Hegels timeline apace to see why things sometimes seriously
go wrong in alt universes, including Bernards-Lee's World Wide Web
and the U.S. Department of Defense's "Internet."
Dudes, I dont mean to scare you, but there was something before
the big bang!
"He KNOWS!" bruited a group of hiphop hipsters as I was
off and running down the street, icycles spritzing in my wake, until,
I paused like a frozen Thing from Outer Space. Like revery itself
outside the entrance of Blue Star Cinema (on the Garden States
infamous clogged artery Route 22, the second most dangerous highway
in the States (the LA Freeway is second), I stared in through the
double-glazing, like the freaked-out ghost of burnout Jimmi Hendrix
wondering idly if he would have voted for Obama.
Or, the friendly
protagonist from H. P. Lovecrafts "The Outsider" giving
himself the high five!
So there I was again like yesterday standing stock-still and nodding
my head vaguely like a symbolic British mafia general who means well
but can be a little bit of a slavedriverbut only so you too can
have a good time. Uh, tired. When during a premature innermission during
a reprisal showing of none other than Led Zeppelins "The
Song Remains the Same" I too was predestined for what? Done-done-duh-did-done,
done-done-done-duh-done, ahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-ah, ahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-ah!"
A tall tipsy rocker with Vandenburg-long hair, whom I think later turned
out to be one of the lead singers in my various suburban New Jersey
garage bands, accosted me:
"Led Zeppelin for breakfast! (finger lick), Led Zeppelin for lunch!
(finger lick) . . . " At a loss for words, eyes glazed over like
faux glaucoma, while Greg Loomar scooped up my girlfriend Erin Enderlin
and Carl Cochrane (of Thor) reminded me he lived only seven or so blocks
down the street picked up all the stayalones, Dennis Beam finally alit
upon an alt verse for the usual suspects lined up like young hopefuls
at Westfield High, burning with revenge for nothing in particular and
vowing pent-up rage and fury only for effect at the so-called staple
of angst and defiance: the so-called Battle of the Bands!!!
"Led Zeppelin, for, T-BONE STEAK!"
(TO BE CONTINUED. . . .)
© John M. Edwards September 15th 2009
Bio: John M. Edwards has traveled worldwidely
(five continents plus), with adventures ranging from surviving a shipwreck
off the coast of Thailand to getting caught up in a military coup in
Fiji. His summer jobs have ranged from book editor at Simon and Schuster
Inc to copyeditor at Emerging Markets, which covers world devolment
bank meetings as they develop (European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development, Inter-American Development Bank, African Development Development
Bank, and Asian Development. His writing has appeared in Amazon.com,
CNN Traveller, DVD Express, Missouri Review, Salon.com, Grand Tour,
Islands, Escape, Endless Vacation, Adventure Journey, Condé Nast
Traveler, International Living, Emerging Markets, Coffee Journal, Literal
Latté, Lilliput Review, Lonely Planet, TFAS, Poetry Motel, Dark
Horizons, Space & Time, Mango, BootsnAll, Verge, Slab, Zagat, Glimpse,
Verge, Stellar, Poetry Motel, Hack Writers, Road Junky, Trav Monkey,
Richmond Review, Vagabondish, Adventure Journey, Go Nomad, World Hum,
ForeWord, North Dakota Quarterly, Michigan Quarterly Review, and North
American Review. He recently won a NATJA (North American Travel Journalists
Association) Award, a TANEC (Transitions Abroad Narrative Essay Contest)
Award, a Road Junky Hell Trips Award, a Literal Latté Travel
Writing Award, a Bradt Travel Guide Independent on Sunday Travel Writing
Competition, and a Solas Award (sponsored by Travelers Tales).
He lives in NYCs "Hells Kitchen." His future bestsellers,
Essays Over the Edge and Move: History of the Royal World remain
unpublished. His new work-in-progress, "Dubya Dubya Deux,"
is about a time traveler. His new upcoming literary annual, ROTTEN VACATIONS,
with coeditors Bruce Northam and Tony Perottet, promises to reintroduce
the Great Game into travel writing and welcomes submissions from anybody
on the planet.
John M. Edwards
rogue ancestor, Aaron Burr, shot Alexander Hamilton with a Hoss-pistol
from a mere ten paces awayand got away with it. Happening upon
Hamiltons gaudy mausoleum in New York City, Edwards says our foppish
former Treasury Secretary deserved it!
John M Edwards
decided to enter the forbidden zone. Whence I was immediately greeted
by a stunning woman with long black hair and wide friendly eyes who
acted like a member of an evangelical church welcoming a walk-in with
a rhubarb pie.
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