Been listening to some teenage favorites.
Principally, the Rolling Stones. “Moonlight Mile,” “Gimme Shelter” (that bonechilling vocal, after the guitar solo, by Merry Clayton), “Dead Flowers,” “Stupid Girl,” the live version of “Midnight Rambler” (so menacing).
The trouble with being a recording artist is that you’re just trying to make art, but so many of your listeners relate to you as a symbol of their memories. Weirdly, my memories of these late 60s recordings are of the dorm of a hippie school in the mid-1980s.
I loved Keith Richards and hated Mick Jagger. How strange, considering I went around singing the songs in my head without relating them directly to Mick. Just completely blanked him out as a creative force, which was absurd.
My room’s wall was covered with pictures of the 60s-70s Keith. So I guess becoming a heroin addict was a teenage ambition.
More graffitti from Kate’s Joint’s wall: “Yaphet Kotto Fucking Crazy.”
My friend Kelly Sue always liked to think that the guy was using Yaphet Kotto as an adjective. “Yo, that shit is like YAPHET KOTTO FUCKING CRAZY!”
I’m in PDX over the weekend, went down to the Powell’s on Hawthorne and was looking at books, this girl comes up and says she reads my blog. Ooh, I feel bad that I don’t update more. Is that every blogger’s lament or what? I promise you, interesting things will happen.
Relatively stable in Eritrea. I may go. Relatively stable in Portland. Still, I may not go.
I found this awesome, awesome pad walking distance from the Fresh Pot and Mississippi Records–I tell my New York friends about it and it’s like real estate porn for us cramped Manhattanites–but I don’t know if I can do it right now. Too much shit to do. Weird way to throw my life into turbulence in the middle of the life of Haughty.
I moved to London in the middle of working a record once, and it was madness.
In Portland, I was drinking coffee and walking around and looking at books, like, Ooh, I’ll read more Chekhov in Portland! I’ll buy a turntable!
Can’t I read Chekhov in New York? It’s funny.
Living on the Lower East Side, of course, I have NO FUCKING ROOM FOR A TURNTABLE.
Graffitti No. 1: Robot is a Czech word. It means ‘Worker’.
Under that, a dis: Did you learn that at NYU?
And under that, in shaky writing: NO LARRY TOLD ME.
I’m in Portland right now.
I spent yesterday wandering around Northwest–Nob Hill, they call it, fancifully–and decided: I don’t dig it. Too yupped-out for me.
McGonigal took me down to the North Mississippi area–Fresh Pot and Mississippi Records–I love it over there. A guy at the counter of the record store knew somebody showing an apartment near there, and we looked at it, and it was just the most macked-out pad I have ever seen with my own two eyes. Two levels, spiral staircase. But–too expensive. I think. The place was so fantastic my breathing gets shallow when I think about it.
Then we went to Belmont and Hawthorne, also amazing areas. Basically, I just want to live walking distance from a Stumptown or a Fresh Pot.
I’m not moving just yet–in fact, I’m not completely sure that I’m gonna do it–but it sure is great around here.
It looks like I’m not going to Eritrea. Very sad.
It’s a stupid, stupid nightmare, but Ethiopian and Eritrean troops are once again facing off over the tiny village of Badme, on their mutual border. Ethiopia is being cagey about it, but they hate the border that the UN set after the previous war ended in 2000. It’s all about this little village. 70,000 guys died in the last war, and it was all about this little village.
But maybe calling that futile is kind of like saying, “Dude, it’s only Burlington, Vermont, let the Canadians have it, what’s the big deal?”
Remembering what my friend Genanew told me in Bahar Dar. “Eritrea are like Germany, they think they are master race of the horn of Africa. Eritrea think you can make a country with blood and iron,” he said, “But Ethiopia know you can only make a country with loving.”
A crazily biased view, of course. But it was the Eritreans who began the initial tensions by kicking out UN observers in the area.
And speaking of Bahar Dar–a couple of weeks ago dudes attacked a bus full of German tourists. Bahar Dar is where I had this joyful experience. I wonder if these were the same guys I danced to R. Kelly and Aster Aweke with in the John Bar, the Africa Bar? These little holes-in-the-wall that I felt privileged to be taken to.
A kid–eighteen, maybe–came up to me at the Africa Bar and said, “I HATE MOTHERFUCKING WHITES. But–I like you.”
That’s very nice of you to say, I said.
It sounded like he was trying on a role. Imitating some cartoonish version of supposed Black American attitude. It was kind of surreally adorable.
(The French rioters, they too are enacting a conception of American gangsta pose, aren’t they? I do know a little about the angst of North Africans in France; I remember the Zebda album Le Bruit et L’Odeur–the noise and the smell–named after the comment of a French politician on the Parisian suburbs.)
Ethiopia is pretty chaotic. Violence over a contested election. News of slain students every week or so. Very, very sad.
Where the hell have I been? The ole iBook was at Tek Serve getting beefed up in the hard-drivage region. No bloggy for Mikey.
(Incidentally, I’m blogging to you from TekServe, the redoubtable old Mac repair joint on 23rd Street)
Tigrinya is the predominant Eritrean language, and they’ve been on and off at war with Ethiopia more or less since World War 2. So I’d be kind of fucked if I walked into Eritrean customs when I landed there with a big ass piece of Ethiopiana on my forearm.
I was emailing hotels in Asmara when I decided to be completely weird and email all these reservations ladies JPEGs of my arm. Also the guy who seems to design every website in the Horn of Africa. I was coy about it, like, “Uh, I have this friend with this tattoo, and I was wondering, uh…”
So the reservations lady at the Crystal Hotel, near Harnet Avenue in the heart of Asmara, wrote me back. Thank you, reservations lady.