Monthly Archives: November 2005

(Take Your Elbow Out of the Soup) You’re Sitting on the Chicken

Imperial Bedroom. Elvis Costello’s masterpiece. I was a major Elvis Costello fan. I first saw him on SNL in the seventies, with his Radio Radio attack. He was supposed to do Less Than Zero, but figured it wouldn’t go over well on US TV so he switched into Radio Radio after the first few bars of Less Than Zero. On a time specific show like SNL that was a betrayal. Supposedly Lorne Michaels was giving him the finger through out the song, off camera.

On SNL, Elvis Costello and the Attractions had replaced the Sex Pistols who had imploded in San Francisco. So that was 1977-78. Between his first and second albums. He was angry, fast and very literate. Then came Armed Forces in 1979. I snagged fifth row tickets at the Capitol Theater in Passaic NJ.

On that tour Elvis and Co. were wired up. They had gotten into a fight with Stephen Stills and Bonnie Bramlett in Columbus OH, with Elvis getting pummeled due to a drunken racist remark about James Brown and Ray Charles. He later admitted it was wrong, it was stupid, he was fucked up and did countless penances.

He also held his first press conference and he was besieged by the media about it. That was the afternoon of the show I was going to. He was incredibly loud. Prior to the show and the press conference, reports from the road were about how he was playing very fast for about 30 minutes and then charging offstage to white noise feeding back from the amplifiers.

If he did that, that night, my brothers and I would be deaf. We were five rows from the speakers. But he came out and sang Hand In Hand. He played for a long time, quite disciplined and perhaps even humbled. No feedback. Played for 90 minutes then he was gone.

Saw him on New Years Eve 1982 at the Palladium in New York City. He was only doing three shows in the states, one in NY, LA and Nashville. This was for his country music album.

I found out that he was playing on New Years Eve at the Palladium and mentioned that I wanted to go to my mother. She forbade it. ‘The city is a nightmare on New Years Eve. You’re not going.’ Twenty years old, living under her roof, I had no choice. I had to lie.

The day of New Years Eve I told her that I was going to a frat party in New Brunswick at Rutgers and I won’t be back until the next day. I was going to be THAT drunk. That was fine with her. I had her blessing to have drunken frat fun.

I met up with Dave Bell, an old friend of my brother’s and mine and two of Dave’s friends. I was hopped up on caffeine pills then. We drove into the city after picking up one friend at Newark airport where he worked as a flight attendant. Wound up parking on Astor Place, and I was so wired I had barely an idea of what was going on. It was drizzling as we walked up Fourth Avenue to 14th street. It was about 11:15pm and we scalped tickets for the show. The cost of the scalping was 20.00. The face value was 19.82. Special New Years prices.

We got to our seats as Elvis was saying, ‘Thank you! We’ll be back in a little while’. Well at least he said he was coming back. A little past midnight, Steve Nieve the keyboardist came out, played Auld Lang Syne and a few classics, then Elvis and the other Attractions came out and did a two hour set.

I saw him on most every tour after that. The English Mug and Spoon tour with Squeeze. Another excellent show.

Imperial Bedroom was his ultimate though. He worked with a new producer, Geoff Emerick who had engineered a lot of the Beatles albums. Brilliant with a touch of psychedelia. I think quite a few people at that time were dabbling with the Lysergics. There was the paisley underground scene in LA. Bands like XTC were getting all trippy. Echo and the Bunnymen. Teardrop Explodes. Acid seemed to be everywhere.

Or at least it seemed to me as I was doing a lot of ‘magic’ at the time myself. I recorded Imperial Bedroom and played it for several friends. One time in my excitement I was moved to tears. Beyond Belief. Another time I wouldn’t leave the car until the final notes of Town Crier couldn’t be heard anymore.

Elvis and Co. played Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. That was great. A wonderful summer night, excellent sound. Just perfect. Somehow he pulled it off. Some jerk threw a beer can at him and it hit him on the chest, Elvis just pointed him out, and he was removed from the arena.

I did meet him once, signed a copy of an unissued 2 Tone single. Another time, he was working with Burt Bacharach at Right Track. I couldn’t bear to meet him. I was intimidated. I eventually moved on from Elvis. He released a few really crap albums, lost the Attractions and grew a beard. What the hell was he thinking?

I Saw Her Again

The interview ritual. Los interviewes ritualoso. A drag by any other name is still a drag.
Interesting happenstances on the job search today. Well, one started yesterday. Some agency, Advantage Human Resource located in the Jesus Chrysler building, saw my resume that I’ve sent out through various online job search engines. It seems, or so Neil said, that I would be perfect for an admin position for Goldman Sachs in Jersey City.

Sweet. Look at me, corporate whore! I laugh. After being ‘indie’ for so long, I find myself pimpin out my services to the best price I can get. I played the boho route, and it was fun, but had no health benefits. This scene has the benefits and I dress sharper. And dressing sharper is a benefit in itself. I enjoy it to the point of fetishizing.

The Jesus Chrysler building is an Art Deco marvel. I’d love to work in the office of Advantage Human Resources, but I’d probably fall out a window. They’re the old fashioned windows, probably like the kind in your apartment if you lived in Washington Heights. Why Washington Heights? I don’t know.

So I went and filled out their online application. Told the truth at the college part. Me no go. Me hang around smart people. Me sponge. They have pretty paper. Me have friends with pretty paper.

That actually hung me up years ago. I had an interview at Arista Records in the nineties, before I actually worked there. Had an interview with Naughty Aloyuisis, a nice A&R friend of my friend Jimmy B. It was going great. Very comfy and cozy. Then Shenequa entered the picture. She was Naughty’s boss. She sat in, looked at my resume and asked, “So, where did you go to college?”

I had to think fast. Columbia, big university. Could lose my records there somehow. NYU? Hip, sleek, modern. They’d have my records. Or maybe, yes, quite possibly, Bergen Community College. I told Suzanne, “ I didn’t go to college.” “Oh ok. Thanks for coming.” That was it. Interview over. Rani had no say in the matter and probably got chewed out by the the one named Shenequa.

I eventually got a job at Arista, working for Shenequa directly. She had no clue. She turned out to be mean to everyone but me and she was understanding when Zed died.
The fake diploma must’ve helped.

So I sat with Neil who says he holds the keys to the magic world of Goldman Sachs. I would be perfect. He was dragging it out, I was watching the clock. Then he ended the interview, and gave me an eighth of a ream of paper to fill out, telling me to just skip parts that I have questions about.

I started writing and realized what a pain in the ass this was. I also had to get back to the office. This was my lunch hour now going over 90 minutes.

But there was a ray of possibility, but not with Neil. I had an interview a few weeks ago at Skadden, the largest law firm in The USA. Bill works there as a temp and was able to get me in for an interview. That went well until I mentioned that Bill and I were partners. The woman, Laurie said that because of that, she wouldn’t be able to hire me. Nepotism. Bill didn’t know. I certainly didn’t. I said, ‘But we’re separated! It wasn’t legally binding!’ No dice.

So I figured my chance at bat with Skadden was over. But today, I got a call from Laurie who asked if it was ok to forward my resume to Lawrence a headhunter for the sixth largest bank in the world. Has a bone through his nose. Spanky’s Uncle. I spoke with Lawrence several times this morning, so I hope everything is progressing nicely.

So it was a very Zen interview day, though I still find them a drag. Whee!

I really hope he likes me.