The Last Phone Booth?

I was walking down West End Ave Last Saturday night after a gig when I saw it, on 100th street: a phone booth. I stood there and stared at it, then I took a picture of it, then I got inside and picked up the receiver. A lusty dial tone. It worked. I was excited to find this relic of a bygone time, not in the corner of a convenience store parking lot in, say, Indiana, but here, undisturbed, and only slightly (almost tenderly) defaced, on a Manhattan Street corner. It was a little jarring — slightly breathtaking, like seeing a deer or Lucy Liu. I inevitably thought of Superman changing — specifically, the version played by good old Christopher Reeve, who took my breath away in the 1978 movie and from whose era this phone booth seems to have come.

My crappy phone camera does not capture the glory of this phone booth

Some Googling tells me that the freestanding, outdoor, 4-sided phone booth I breathlessly stumbled into is one of only 4 left in all of Manhattan. All four are on the Upper West Side’s West End Ave (there’s another on 101st that I walked past without noticing). No one seems to know why only these four remain. It’s due either to the generous caprice of a Verizon executive, the tenacity of a few preservation-minded residents, or the klout of a Hollywood executive who demands actual phone booths to lend his films veracity. Incidentally, there *was* a movie called “Phone Booth” set in Manhattan, but instead of using a real phone booth they built a fake one, on 53rd and Broadway, before deciding New York was too cold, whereupon they moved the whole production to L.A. That movie contains the immortal line “hang up the f#@*king phone,” which, in a world full of cell phones but devoid of phone booths is something we’ve all wanted to say.

(Update: I was just about to hit the “Publish” button when I chanced upon this terrific article, which tells us that we owe the continued existence of these West End Ave phone booths not to any Hollywood mogul but to the persistence of a “self-described pay phone buff” named Alan Flacks who seems to have devoted his life to lobbying Verizon on behalf of his beloved phone booths. )

Need Gone Now

ok blogging every day is hard. If I could blog every day about being tired, that would be easier. cause guess what, I’m tired again. The commute. The commute from Jersey to NYC back to Jersey is not easy. As soon as I get a chance I believe I will move back to NY. In fact I honestly can’t wait to live in NYC again.

Someone is giving away a stripper pole, and apparently wants it gone very badly.


Here’s to new beginnings.


Album news. We finished the digital mastering today, and it’s being sent to the vinyl mastering guy tomorrow. Artwork and vinyl mastering should be done this week.

I’m excited to have an actual vinyl record out. Apparently they’re making a comeback, according to this article, anyway. The company I plan to use, Brooklyn Phono (chosen for reasons of proximity and expediency), is featured.

Pig Will

Today I woke up after a fitful night’s sleep and knew instantly that I was going to be ridiculously tired all day, the price I paid for having a miniscule amount of coffee the night before to keep me awake in a meeting. I’m constantly falling asleep in evening meetings full of 20-somethings, and in order not to be the old-guy-falling asleep at 9 o clock, I drink coffee and then I pay for it like I did today. It was a church meeting. I’m the oldest person at church, save for Stephanie. Thanks, Stephanie, for saving me from being the oldest person at church.

So I was tired all day, and while I still pretty much got done what I needed to get done, I did it slowly, as if underwater, or being chased in a dream by a slow-footed but determined monster. And my heart felt like I was being chased in a dream too. Stressed out.

I did later manage to muster up enough of a human feeling to tell a girl in a Piggly Wiggly shirt that I liked her shirt. And then later I told a dude with a huge silver handlebar mustache that I liked his mustache. which restored my faith in humanity in general and my own humanity specifically.

here’s a hipster Piggly Wiggly stuck to a lightpole in Brooklyn.


Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Gospel pioneer and the “Godmother of Rock and Roll”

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a gospel/blues superstar in the 1940s and a huge influence on most of the rock and roll icons the world came to love in the 50s (There are stories of Elvis running home after school to listen, transfixed, to her on the radio).  Cool, self-possessed, and exultant, Sister Rosetta made some of the most exhilarating music the world has ever heard and, with a graceful swagger, set the template for generations of guitar-wielding rock and roll heroes to come (all while busting up centuries of deeply-entrenched gender and color lines). She died, largely forgotten, in 1973.

For a long time Tharpe didn’t receive her due as a pioneer of American music and a progenitor of Rock and Roll, but lately that seems to have changed. The debut episode of this season’s American Masters series on PBS was devoted to her. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s next on my queue of stuff to watch. Here’s a clip of her in England in 1964:

Watch Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Didn’t it Rain (Live 1964) on PBS. See more from American Masters.

and the full nearly one-hour episode. Watch it before it’s gone!

Watch Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll on PBS. See more from American Masters.

Jersey City, NJ

Seth Godin blogs every day. I blog every, I dunno, year or something. I’d like to change that. I have a million thoughts, feelings and impulses a day I want to share, but I end up getting bogged down in a sense that I can’t tell a story unless it’s perfect. This affects every aspect of my life.

So I’m going to try, for awhile, anyway, to blog every day, about *something,* and it’s going to be good (dammit), but of course, not perfect, because that’s impossible, and I gotta learn that.

I’m holed up in my room in Jersey City, in a neighborhood called The Heights. I don’t spend much time here, because I’m usually either in NYC or en route there, because that’s where my work is, and most of my friends. It’s an ok room, nothing fancy. I have a bed, a bedside table, a desk, and a bunch of milkcrates I use to store stuff in. I have, on the wall, a big road map of the US, and a rough painting of Neil Young’s “Rust never Sleeps” album cover, done by an artist who’s name I can’t remember. All this artist does is album covers, and he does a ton of them, slapdash but cool looking.

Jersey City is directly across the Hudson river from Manhattan, about half a mile or so. You can see the buildings of lower Manhattan looming in the distance. My dad lived here for awhile when he was a kid in the late 40’s, when my Granddad was, briefly, the pastor of a church here, on Hudson Street.

JC can be rough now but it was much rougher back then, and my dad’s stories reflect it. He witnessed a murder, for instance. I can’t expound on it, cause I don’t know the details. Something about a quarreling couple and my dad cowering in the bushes across the street.

It’s weird to think of my dad — in many ways a consumate Southerner — as a stickball-playing, rough-and tumble-Northeastern kid. But for awhile, that’s what he was, until circumstances forced my migratory grandfather and his large family to pack up and head South to Virginia, and later, North Carolina. (That’s a whole other story, and maybe one day I’ll tell it. Someone should.)

I’m going to clean up now, trying to prepare this place for a subletter so that I can hit the road for tour in July and August.