HOBOKEN,NEW JERSEY, 1983 – It was Ernesto who first riffed about the bologna in their boots. It was in the “sleeping booth” (see Gurl Sixteen Pt. 1) at the Underground after a sound check by V;, a band that seemed to take their cues equally from the undergrounds Velvet and Weather.
Ernesto was a cipher who seemed equal parts C.I.A. and cut-throat mescalero. He was the perfect sort of partner for someone who was profoundly profane, fearless, subversive, uncompromising and possessed of that peculiar spark of creative passion that leads to either malevolent madness, sublime serenity or a tipsy combo of both.
Ernesto and Gurl Twenty, Susan Anway, circled the scene together in a cloud of danger, fun, ferocious love and kicking-against-the-pricks antics.
To this day, “bologna in my boot,” like so many scenes involving your humble narrator (YHN) and Gurls who shaped his young brain, would only gain some semblance of sense much later in life.
The true meaning of those sorts of amber incidents, the retroactively revelatory remembrances frozen in time, partially glimpsed at occurrence and only capable of being grasped objectively with the 20/20 hindsight of soul leavening and the ego death of aging is the one gift the passage of time gives us.
Looking back, a case can be made that Gurl Twenty is not only one of the best singers YHN has ever known, she is one of the greatest singer/interpreters of other writers material extant. Just ask Stephen Merritt.
Just ask Stephen Merritt.
With her band mates in V; she took the words of Gary Gogel and made them into plaintive wails for love and redemption that resonated within the cold dispassion that was creeping into the scene.
She is also a very dangerous person with skills that most of us should not have.
With the release of their recordings, the band was able to leverage, with the help of the Underground’s major domo Jim Coffman, a handful of dates outside of Boston.
Of course, the big one was a gig at Hurrah’s made possible by Gurl Nineteen and which paid enough money to underwrite the subsequent gigs in Hoboken, Philadelphia, and D.C.
In a testament to the contraventional cloud they rolled in, they had YHN along as a sound person/road manager. At that time YHN was a callow youth whose previous forays into the Tri-State had been either as a young child pulled along by parents guided by the “Prisoner of Second Avenue” or, as an easy mark for the hustlers that surrounded the bus station near Times Square.
Being a sound person is a role that is easy for a layperson to understand. The role of a “road” manager, however, is impossible for most to comprehend.
Herding cats, punching cattle, cornering the market in precious metals or, trepanning yourself are ALL a walk in the park compared to managing a band like V; on tour.
With Gurl Twenty and her band of Marxist/Lennonist musical missionaries, it was a like a week-long cardiac event nestled comfortably in the laps of the gods.
The show in NYC went as well as could be expected. Unless you were “known” there would only be a smattering of interested onlookers while most folks were just waiting for the DJ to start spinning mindless funk again. The pay though was great.
The pay though was great.
The money was used to buy some NYC treats to be consumed at the Upper West Side deluxo-pad that another Boston musician’s father had for business trips and was usually empty. It was the first time YHN had ever seen in real life things only viewed in movies.
It was the first time YHN had ever seen in real life things only viewed in movies.
The next day’s gig was across the river in Sinatra’s birthplace. Under the last evening’s chemical influence and handicapped by blackout curtains, YHN was the first to awake…around 2:30 pm.
Being both logy and louche’ and driven by a Quixote-esque compulsion for chocolate egg creams, the band’s scramble for the Holland Tunnel dive ran smack-dab into the maelstrom that is Manhattan evening rush traffic.
Imagine six people in a metal cube with an internal combustion heat source thrumming away in the forward cabin. Now, imagine that metal cube baking in the summer sun surrounded by other metal boxes moving a total of six inches for every number on a clock’s face.
A sun beating down incessantly creates a solar oven while noxious fumes collect in the nooks and crannies of lungs and other mucous membranes of anyone in the metal box.
Of course, that is when Susan starts cursing and laughing about how bad she needs to pee. Those friggin’ egg creams. It is an old story. Guys can just use a Gatorade bottle, girls, not so much.
Susan was not a normal girl. She rummaged around and found a “Big Gulp” cup. Without missing a beat she positioned the cup, dropped trou and with perfect aim filled the cup near to full and in one, fluid movement not seen since Nasimov, pulled-up her pants, grabbed the cup and tossed it over YHN’s shoulder and out the open window.
Right onto the hood of a tricked-out Bonneville carrying three hard case chavos. Of course, they didn’t see the person who threw the hot, steaming big gulp of piss. They only had eyes for the hapless mug in the passenger seat.
Hot words were exchanged and lives passed in front of frightened eyes until Susan threw open the van’s sliding door and jumped out screaming Latin invectives laced with waving arms and the feminine equivalent of chest beating. Shrinking like violets under the radiation of a dirty bomb they climbed back in their car after giving us a couple joints.
Shrinking like violets under the radiation of a dirty bomb they climbed back in their car after giving us a couple joints.
After an hour or two, the band made it to Maxwell’s and did an amazing show.
Gurl Twenty destroyed everything that girls like. That is important.
No bologna was abused during the writing of this article.
Hazel Motes is a character from “Wise Blood” and is known for having a belief in the precise and worldly knowledge of where to take his life with no additional spiritual or emotional guidance necessary.
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