13 January 2009

Ain't No Churches On Church Street

I walked into her apartment but I could smell the nag champa as soon as I got off the elevator. Sixth floor. Her door was cracked open as it always was and I could hear "Death Valley '69" coming from her bedroom. Her name was Tove. I'd never known anyone named Tove before. I met her at a Glenn Branca show at Hallwalls back in 1980 something or other. She was introduced to me as Richard Kern's sister but I didn't even know who Richard Kern was then so the joke was lost on me.

I'd hitched a ride up north in a panel van with Barnes & Barnes. They were still riding high off that fucking "Fish Heads" song. There was a whole bunch of people hanging around back then. Liz Carr was always lurking around. A year or two later she began introducing herself around the city as Lung Leg. Even to those who already knew her as Liz. It was bizarre.

Circa then it was all about Pierre and his "musique concrète". It wasn't rare to end up at a party where all you did was sit inside semicircles listening to recordings of French locomotives clanging across switching tracks or the hip sounds of whirring of pneumatic machinery over and over and over and over again.

That was the city as I knew it then. But to get a real flavor you'd have rewind a bit further and start on the corner of 47th and Fifth Avenue. A guy named Solomon and about $4 million in raw diamonds hidden inside a box of old books under the sink in the employee bathroom of the Gotham Book Mart.

OK, so let's talk Church Street. Back then we were signed to a label owned by a Texas oil tycoon who also helped build smart bombs. They loved calling meetings. They'd be shooting smoke up our asses with a snowblower while I'd be in their employee bathroom loading up on rolls of industrial toilet paper to bring home because I was broke. I used to leave there with a giant black garbage bag full of paper goods. Jump on the R train and back to Brooklyn.

These days you see the giddy tweens packed on the train with black garbage bags full of counterfeit handbags. They come in from The Heartland and hook up with some Nigerians who sell them fake Louis Vuitton's for $35 out of vacant storefronts within the bowels of Canal on streets like Walker, White, Crosby and Franklin.

Speaking of garbage bags, after they're done with the autopsy; after they're done dissecting and weighing all your organs it all goes inside a big black garbage bag and inside your chest cavity. Then they sew you back up and that's how your body goes down - with your guts packed for vacation inside your hollowed out chest.

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