Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sunday Night Fever

There was a grubby blue Crown Victoria with Pennsylvania license plates double-parked ahead of me at 7:30 this morning, hoping for a spot on the Tuesday-Friday side of the street. I lucked into this spot on Sunday, when I rushed home from Rockaway to meet my sibling Dee. I’d left the Eclair in Rockaway for almost two weeks, on a street of houses that are still new enough for the city not to have put up any signs yet. The car's mildew problem seems to have cleared up a little. My cousin, who visited a few weeks ago, when the problem was so bad that you could smell the car from a distance, had the brilliant idea of spreading kitty litter on the floor of the back seat (after removing the mats), to soak up the moisture and alleviate the odor. Over the weekend, I rolled down all the windows, and even parked the car perpendicular to the breeze, in a beach parking lot, to air it out. I keep meaning to take a box of baking soda out there. By the end of the summer, I hope to be able to once again offer a ride to my friend M.Q., who sold me the car, and who I know would be troubled by the mildew.

The Crown Victoria moved along when a cop cruised by and stopped to ticket the car in front of me, a silver Lexus S.U.V. The cop was still writing the ticket when the S.U.V.’s owner showed up: a young woman with a little white dog. She looked disconsolate as she climbed into the car with her dog and her orange parking ticket. Busted. I heard the Broom on the avenue behind me at 7:37 and started up the car, but instead of turning down the street, the Broom continued through the intersection: false alarm. The woman in the Lexus, having thought it over, got back out of the car with her dog, tucked the ticket back under the windshield wiper, and left.

“The ticket says seven-thirty on the nose,” she said to me as she passed. “She couldn’t have waited one minute?”

I sympathized. “She turned the corner right on the dot of seven-thirty,” I said.

“Whatever—I’m leaving,” she said. She had already gotten a ticket for not being there—what was the point of staying?

The Broom arrived a few minutes later. I was the closest car to the corner, and I got out of its way. It went around the Lexus, and then gave the whole stretch of cars ahead of it a free pass. So who prevented the Sanitation Department from doing its job today, the demoralized Lexus owner or the overzealous cop who provoked the Lexus owner into blowing off her civic duty?

I was glad to have scored a Tuesday-Friday spot this week, because I went out with Dee on Sunday night, and I didn’t feel so good on Monday. Dee is in town to play a show on Wednesday at Le Poisson Rouge, formerly the Village Gate, on Bleecker Street. (She got an excellent writeup in The New Yorker: scroll down to Poisson Rouge.) We went over there after dinner on Sunday to check out the venue and see Rickie Lee Jones. I say this as if I knew who Rickie Lee Jones was. All I know now is that she is female, blond, and her show was cancelled.

What to do? Dee, who is using a cane these days (bad back), remembered that her friend Andrew W.K. had opened a night club at 100 Lafayette Street, below Canal, so we hobbled over to Lafayette and headed downtown. It has to be cool to have a friend who owns a night club, right? When we arrived, the club wasn’t open yet: they were still setting up the bar downstairs. But Dee learned that Andrew would be coming in, and they gave us a drink and we sat in the conversation pit of this big black box of a space, which gradually filled up and turned into a disco, mirror ball, strobe lights, deafening music, and all. The first one there (after us) was an older gentleman, wearing a gray T-shirt with a black squiggle on it that looked like an upside-down backwards comma (O.K., it looked like a sperm). He hailed the disc jockey as he came in, and informed me that this was the best d.j. ever, who had worked at Studio 54 back in the day. The elderly man looked like someone’s boss at an insurance company: come nine the next morning, he would be back at his desk in the underwriting department, but tonight he was a dancing queen.

I understand that disco is back. There was a piece in the Sunday Times about Antony, of Antony and the Johnsons, and a band called Hercules and Love Affair, recording a disco song that has been a huge hit in England. But Sunday night's music all sounded the same to me: heavy drums, a screaming diva, and the occasional police whistle. The gentleman in the sperm shirt danced by himself mostly, waving his right arm around as if winding up a lasso and not moving his feet much. He was occasionally partnered, whether he liked it or not, by a somewhat ungainly-looking woman in horizontal stripes who wore white latex gloves, the better for the strobe light to show her windmilling around on the dance floor.

Andrew W.K. showed up and said hi to Dee, but then he had to go to a meeting and he did not reemerge. We left at about midnight and walked home. All I knew about Andrew W.K. was that he played drums and electric bass (to fantastic effect) on Dee's CD "Safe Inside the Day." On Monday morning, back at my desk in the underwriting department, I googled Andrew W.K. and learned that he is (1) into heavy metal, (2) a huge commercial success, and (3) a party genius.

Back in my mildewed car this morning, I soberly tried to digest the fact that I’d paid forty-three dollars to fill my 11.6-gallon gas tank on the way back from Rockaway. I’d held out on till I got off the peninsula, thinking I could do better than $4.29 a gallon, and I did see a station on Woodhaven Boulevard where the gas was only $4.27 a gallon, but it hardly seemed worth changing lanes to save twenty cents. I have just thought of a way to get a fillup for twenty dollars, however: buy gas when the tank is still half full.

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