I'm just an animal looking for a home

David Byrne, New York

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Current Mood: sulphury
Current Music: Music from Tony Hawke Pro Skater

First, bios for new people mentioned in this entry.

Diane: My half-sister who lives in upstate New York. She’s around 40, has two daughters, and one son.

Leah: My niece, one of Diane’s daughters. 13 or 14 years old, I think. She’s awesome.

Now the entry:

On Tuesday night David Byrne (creative force behind the Talking Heads) played in Austin. Cecillee and I went to see him. I’ve been a longtime fan of the Talking Heads, and I own and enjoy two of David Byrne’s solo albums. I’d never had a chance to see him live, with or without the Talking Heads. The tickets cost $28 a piece, but I guess when you are one of the pioneers of New Wave, you can charge what you want.

The opening band’s name escapes me (Sise, I think, pronounced See-Say). They were on Luaka Bop, the record label that David Byrne owns/manages/whatever. I won’t say that Sise (assuming that was their name) was bad, but I wasn’t really into the music. They were pretty mellow, and their songs blended together. It wasn’t unpleasant to listen to, but I’ll never be driving down the highway and think to myself “Dammit, I wish I could hear some Sise right now.”

So yeah, Sise = forgettable. Cecillee and I talked through most of their set, after we realized they weren’t going to blow us away musically. When they were done, we got some food (the venue was The Backyard — Ani DiFranco is playing there in October) and waited for David to play.

Finally he got on stage, and the crowd went pretty crazy. I gather he has a very dedicated following. Some of the people (maybe even most) were clearly around when the Talking Heads first came on the scene, so their adoration is understandable. And their dancing was straight out of Stop Making Sense — so they were amusing to watch if nothing exciting was happening on stage.

About one third of the songs were Talking Heads songs, and the rest were stuff he’d done since. He played my favorite Talking Heads song (and possibly my favorite song by any artist), This Must Be The Place. I’m glad he did, and I enjoyed it, but it made me reevaluate my opinion of the Talking Heads.

Previously I’d always felt that David Byrne was the creative and musical genius of the group, and the other three were just lucky to have formed the group with him. Now I have my doubts. I’m still pretty sure that he was the real “genius” of the group, and likewise was probably the driving creative force. But I think the other three brought something important to the table. I’m not sure if I want to call it something as simple as commercial appeal, but it’s something like that. From seeing David Byrne live, it seems like he has a musical vision, and he does his best to carry it out. But I don’t think he’ll ever achieve any kind of real popularity with his current work. This is not because it’s bad, but because he needs people to reign him in. I dunno. I haven’t had a chance to fully flesh out this idea yet. Maybe a good way to put it is that he was the genius, and the other three were the rock musicians. Without him, they might have played entertaining music, but nothing innovative. Without them, his music would be groundbreaking, but it would have a limited audience. Together they were able to channel his vision into something more people could appreciate.

This stuff hit me when I was listening to David perform the old Talking Heads songs. They don’t sound like the originals. And I don’t mean that in the way that most live songs differ from the originals. And maybe it’s just that after 20 years of performing the songs, he likes to try different things. But I felt like the songs lacked some of the energy that they had. They were songs made by David Byrne, reigned in by the rest of the Talking Heads, and then once again passed through David Byrne’s filter.

Okay, I’m done talking about that for now. It has turned to rambling. If I come up with any new insights about it, I’ll share them. The concert was a lot of fun, though, and I am glad I got to see David Byrne perform. He’s one of the great musicians of our time.

On Friday morning me and Matt flew to New York. In fact, I am writing this from my half-sister Diane’s house. The tap water here smells like sulphur. It’s not very pleasant. And their shower water takes FOREVER to rinse the soap off of you. Ugh. Needless to say I don’t look forward to showering and brushing my teeth here.

Okay, but back to Friday. The flight from Austin to Atlanta was uneventful. Then we had a few hours to wait before we got on a plane to Albany. I’d always wanted to send a postcard to someone from an airport. I’d see the mailboxes and wonder “Who sends letters from an airport?” Since we had some time on our hands, I bought a postcard and asked a lady where the mailbox was. She told me. So I sat down to write a postcard. It then occurred to me — whose address do I know? The only one I could remember was Cecillee’s. At least, I was pretty sure I could remember it. I didn’t know the zip code, but I figured the post office could deal with it. So I wrote her the postcard and set out to buy a stamp and mail it. I found the stamp machine, and written on it in black magic marker was “Doesn’t work”. But the little display screen seemed to be working, and the buttons worked okay. The only problem I could see was that the coin slot was jammed with coins. I tried to dislodge them, but I could not. I looked in my wallet for a dollar bill, because it accepted dollars also. Unfortunately, I only had a $5. The machine accepted $5s and $10s, but I didn’t want to risk $5 in a possibly broken machine. After going to several shops, I finally found a woman able to give me a dollar bill in exchange for $1 of change. Armed with this dollar, I returned to the machine. It wouldn’t take it. It kept sucking it in and spitting it out. I turned my attention to the coin slot again. I thought I might be able to break up the coin jam if I hit it with the palm of my hand (previously I’d just tried to wiggle the coins out with coins from my pocket). I hit the coin slot with my hand, and a low siren went off in the machine, and a light started flashing. This amused me. I stood around for a while, and then formulated my next plan.

First I was going to go to a different terminal and get a stamp there, but I wasn’t in the mood to wander so far. So instead I went back to the store that gave me the dollar bill. My plan? I tape fifty cents to the postcard, along with a note explaining my plight to the postman, urging him/her to deliver my letter. The problem? No tape in the store. I searched high and low, and the best I could find was safety pins. So I bought a pack of them from the same lady who gave me the dollar bill.

I walked out of the store and to the food court, where I sat down to write my note. I then remembered that I had left my pen back with Matt, in my backpack. And I also had no paper with me. Undaunted I returned to the store, and bought a mechanical pencil and a pad of paper, again from the same lady. I told her I was going to buy everything in the store, one trip at a time. I returned to the food court, sat down, and wrote my note. Using two safety pins, I attached the note and a dollar bill to the postcard. I put it in the mail slot, and that was done. This entire project took quite a while, so I had to explain my long absence when I got back to Matt. He gives the letter a 40% chance of being delivered. I’d say 75%. I’ll let you know if it works.

I’ve written enough for now. Matt and Leah are playing Tony Hawke Pro Skater, and it is distracting me.


Author: mitcharf

vegan, curmudgeon, animal lover, feminist, agnostic, cat whisperer, bookworm, hermit, Red Sox fan, Cthulhu enthusiast, softball player, man-about-town

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Carry byren | Usgraphic

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