A tropical storm arrived on Saturday evening delivering one of the most thorough drenchings that New York City has experienced since I've lived here. And as usual, Eddie arrived at my apartment two hours late, delivering one the most thorough drenchings of ennui a little man can carry.
I managed to hitch a horse to Eddie's perennially tardy buggy and get us out of the house and over to the Farmboyz pied-a-terre on the Upper West Side, where they were hosting a small cocktail party prior to our trip up to Columbia for my Ivy League debut. Unfortunately, cabs are rare enough on a Saturday night during curtain time on Broadway, but during a downpour, forget about it. Hence, Eddie and I slinked over to the party via the ignominious midtown bus.
The Farmboyz already had a handful of smiling gentlemen gathered in their soon-to-be-gutted studio/alcove/junior/one bedroom. I was given a quick rundown of the planned renovations, but while they were talking about gas lines and moving walls, all I could think was, "These guys are going to make a fortune on this place".
Aaron arrived and soon the party conversation turned to the usual Upper West Side topics of architecture and building preservation. Interestingly, no one seemed to be a strong supporter of the movement to save 2 Columbus Circle , a hideous monstrosity that I used to think was a ventilator shaft for the subway. I know very little about architecture, so I mostly just nodded my head and glanced at my notes for the Columbia show.
I left the party first and headed up to Columbia at 9PM for the sound check. Not being a musician or a singer, I wasn't sure what I'd have to do, but that's what the organizer requested. If only the musicians and singers had been so prompt. Mostly I milled around and ate cookies from the huge dessert table and watched the organizer attempt to quell his panic attacks that the torrential rainstorm was keeping both the performers and the audience at home.
At 10pm, the planned showtime, a small platoon of Joe.My.God. supporters arrived, at that point constituting about half of the audience. The Columbia students slowly straggled in, arriving in groups of four and five, descending the staircase to the basement auditorium in choruses of whoops and giggles. We took up position in the back of the room and watched these rich kids, these priviledged children, enjoying the unprecedented luxuries of position, power AND an open welcoming place for their nellie persons. I was conflicted between resenting them...and envying them.
At 11pm, the show finally commenced, with an Alicia Keyes-ian singer and band. The audience continued to drift in during her 4 song set, finally overfilling the space. My friend Captain Steve, whom I've seen take initiative in these situations before, brazenly invaded the wings of the auditorium and returned with a rolling dolly of stacking chairs, which my relatively elderly supporters gratefully accepted.
And so, with an now overpacked house, the show proceeded. And proceeded. And proceeded. The emcee, a gay lounge personality named Scott Nevins, had advised me that I was to follow an act called The Fire And Reason, ninth in an 11 (eleven!!) act roster. There was a gay rapper. There was a middle-aged drag queen, whom we'd previously been speculating was probably just a very supportive faculty advisor. There was a bizarre female performance artist. There was a dyke folk singer who tortured us with a song called "My Nips Are The Clits Of My Tits", which trust me, is MUCH funnier to read than hear. "C'mon, now EVERYBODY sing! My nips are the..." So. Not. Kidding.
So I sat there. Watching my friends squirm and check their watches. Midnight arrived and I started apologizing to everybody as my still-unseen 15 minutes onstage began to suck the life out of their Saturday night. I rifled through the four short stories I'd selected to read and mulled some time-conserving deletions. At 12:15AM I watched the always charmingly bizarre Dan Fishback, scheduled to follow me, pack up his stuff and leave. By then, half of the audience had been driven out by the "By the way, I'm not gay" not-so-punk rocker. The remaining half of the audience was clumped in the back of the room, talking loudly and doing their best to ignore the stage.
At 12:30AM, the organizer came by and asked me if I was going to completely lose my shit if he went ahead and ended the show with the performer on stage. Not in so many words, but that's what he meant. I looked over at my yawning fan club who'd been sitting there for 2 1/2 hours. Tony said, "Absolutely not! We CAME to hear JOE!" The issue was taken out of our hands a moment later when unseen university officials began blinking the God lights, signaling their decision to pull the plug, literally.
And thus it ended. Sans Joe.My.God. I hadn't been sure that my stuff was gonna work with a bunch of really young kids, and even if I had gone on, by that point I would have had scant attention from the audience, so maybe the God lights were a blessing. I collected my fan club and we emerged on the street to find the rain had stopped, but that the temperature had dropped about 30 degrees.
Captain Steve and Brian (thanks guys!) exited towards their new place in the West 100's, and the rest of us returned to the Farmboyz pad to plot salvaging what remained of our evening. We walked in to find their houseguests ready for sleep, reporting that they'd just returned from a visit to an empty Eagle. They inquired about the show, and when Tony indignantly reported that we'd had to suffer through an old drag queen doing a number from Chicago, his houseguest interrupted, "Oh! WHAT SONG?", which just killed me. I. Love. My. People.
Eddie, Chris, Tony and I wrapped up the long, pointless evening over a long, pointless beer at Candle Bar. Big thanks to all my guys for enduring. And thanks to those of you who've asked how it went.
Folks, you dint miss nuttin.