my mom doesnt like cars. shes a natural woman. but she loves me so when i said hey i wanna go downtown with you and look around she said what moms always say “we’ll see.”
secretly she knew we would take the slow train through the burbs to the city. it was a trip id never done before but she apparently does all the time because now that shes retired the city gives her a free pass, which is nice.
even though this is the busblog, based on the fact that i spent years in LA taking public transportation, i was initially against taking a train to the city. what would we do once we were down there? how would we get around?
but it turned out to be so fun. cabs were plentiful and cheap, and between millennium park, state street, navy pier, and michigan avenue we had quite a fun little afternoon.
the only problem we had, blog-wise, was my good camera’s battery died after only a few shots. so we went to Central Camera an olde fashioned camera store on wabash, bought a battery charger, and asked the man if he would charge my battery in my new charger as we ran around the crazy park. he was cool with that, and i took pics via my iphone.
those turned out well too. see:
millennium wasnt around when i lived in chicago. back then the tourists were stuck enjoying chicago for what it was: huge buildings, great art, mediocre sports, and fantastic food & people
but somewhere along the line they decided to spruce up navy pier and the park and put in some crazy fountains, an amphitheatre, a garden, and this trippy reflection sculpture called The Bean. for some reason it make my truest wanna run.
navy pier was a little sad. it was off-season and apparently its all the rage in the midst of summer, but when its just a few hundred people roaming about its sorta like going to mardi gras the week After its all over.
but we did run past this brightly colored tribute to chicago childrens tv of olden times, namely ray rayner, bozo, and fraizer smith. wgn stalwarts and icons in the minds of any kid that grew up in chicagoland back in the day.
after playing around, it was time to get serious. we had the cabbie take us from the pier to the camera store to pick up the freshly charged battery, and then we were driven to the finest pizza place in the entire galaxy, Gino’s East.
i knew it took a while to cook the pizza but i was under the impression it took about 20-30 minutes. no no. 45 minutes! so the ladies ordered salad to start and i chose the creamiest minestrone you’ve ever had the pleasure of slurping.
mom had water, truest Stella on tap, and i chose old style from the bottle. even with a bad stomach it all went down beautifully and some would say it cured me of all the things Tums couldnt. it was delightful.
we ordered a small pepperoni and sausage and barely made it through our 1 slice each. it was cheesy, hot, and delectable.
the conversation was good. and i was so energized that i was inspired to take pictures all throughout the restaurant.
got on the train right before it was gonna leave the station and almost fell asleep in our chairs because we were so full and happy and worn out from walking and talking and laughing at my incredible jokes.
when we got home the ladies watched Castle and i messed up my moms beautiful house by trying to get her caller ID to work in her kitchen. the end!
yes theres the energy. the possibilities. the buildings. the diversity. the music. the power. the history. the people. the doggies. the newspapers. the food the food the food. the bars. the people in jets and giants jerseys. the lights. the boats. the parks. the little garbage cans. the brownstones. the markets. the late night every things.
but theres something even more.
yesterday we had a great lunch with my dear friend amy who gave me some great advice about Whats Next for me. its weird when i first started at LAist she was all, ok thats great but Whats Next? i was like omg i have my dreamiest job, i get to wear pajamas and blog and blog what could be more than this? and she would say youre tony pierce youre bigger than one blog no matter how much you grow it.
and now shes still saying theres a tony pierce project i should be thinking about. and its fascinating because when she was the editor of our college paper winning every award you could imagine our biggest dreams back then were to work for papers like the LA Times. but still she says theres more.
i dont want more. i want a freaky crazy quality. i want to be part of a fine and funky system. i want to be… i dont know what. nirvana meets miles meets king kong.
this is what i want. i want exactly what happened for dinner.
right before dinner we had a great conversation with our friend anna who knows more about the other dimensions than makes some comfortable. including me. i had been reading the first 10 psalms when she came home. then we all talked. then i had to use the restroom (its getting better) and i read a few pages of meghan mccains book and im loving it. then i rejoined the convo with anna and my truest. it went on for hours.
around 11 it was decided that my baby wanted to eat and since we hadnt eaten since mexican bbq with amy we left the house and found our way to the R train. we were told to get off at R street and walk a few blocks to a Cafe. i figured that because the Giants game was in the 3rd quarter that everything would be open. sadly the Colts were demolishing the Giants so things were closing.
didnt matter. we kept walking and we ended up at the muy romantico Brooklyn Promenade. quality views. sweet couples arm in arm or cuddling checking out that great view. all the lights. a few boats. but mostly loveliness. we kept strolling. where? who knows. at some point i put “restaruants” in Google Maps but there werent that many near brooklyn bridge. there was one pizza place that said “no slices” but that one was getting close to closing and i hate to be that guy who keeps everyone open longer than they want. so we strolled until a cab came by.
we got in, a nice man with a long beard and a turban welcomed us calmly. “can you take us across the street, i mean across the bridge to the city. we want to go to a restaurant thats still open.”
he said, “there are many that are still open.”
i said, “good, take us to the place where there are many that are still open.”
we got on the bridge. it was gorgeous. he said, “east village?” i said sure.
thats how i want my life to be. quiet, peaceful, working together with my brothers and sisters. trusting. loving. respecting. but at the same time its a little tiny mini adventure of discovery.
some may say never just let the cabbie be in total control. but control is an illusion. whos really in control when youre in the back seat? you could say 42nd and 5th and he drives you to detroit. so why not just sit back and enjoy the ride?
ended up at 7A, which strangely is a place i walked by years ago. its across from a crazy park in alphabet city. theres a wall painted for Joe Strummer. “know your rights”.
you have the right, to love.
you have the right, to learn.
you have the right, to live.
thought about eating ice cream after dinner. a dinner that featured music by jay-z on the speaker. one great hit after another.
thought about a belgian waffle in a store that had lots of nice pictures of our president.
saw a sticker with our president. saw graffiti celebrating our president.
i remember when reagan was around, i remember when clinton was around. i never remember the kids (and adults) being so excited about the sitting president.
if the question is hows that hopey changey stuff working out for you, the answer in many corners of where ive been lately is the people still believe. and better than believing in one man or one party – they believe in themselves. and whoever that guy is who they keep making posters of, he simply represents what that hope and change is. he symbolizes what it is in our hearts and our hoods.
and if you want to make a belgian waffle and name it obama and eat it, thats fine too.
i first met my mother a long time ago. im not sure what she expected but she got me and you know she didnt predict this, but for a mild mannered southern belle from fort valley georgia, she didnt freak out as much as you’d think.
i was wild as a kid. the doctors called me hyper, but my grandparents called me a kid. my mom was very patient with me and quite smart. she was one of the first computer programmers ever. and definately one of the first black female computer programmers ever.
so when the doctors called me hyper she said, but my boy can sit still and do a whole jigsaw puzzle, and the doctors said, oh, really? because of that, they were unable to prescribe the ritalin or whatever they were going drug me with and we went on our way.
my mom raised not only me, alone, but my sister as well, who is also crazy. needless to say my mother was never bored. she worked long long hours at motorolas headquarters in schaumburg illinois and sometimes i think it was because she didnt want to come home to the madhouse that i was responsible for. but when she did come home it was always with love in her heart and mcdonalds in the car and loving questions about school or homework or basketball scores or the like.
i could never have asked for a better mom.
her mother was a librarian at the state college in georgia. during holidays we would go down there and we’d always end up at the library and i am sure that my love of books and writing is directly influenced by my razor sharp grandmother who read two newspapers before 9am and was working on one of her novels before breakfast was done.
my mother worked on computers all day and paid for my first computer, the apple IIc. i will never forget what she did for my sister and i. i will never forget how difficult it must have been to be a working single mother in a town of so few Blacks.
one day a “friend” of mine fell on the playground and lied to his father and said that his black eye was the result of me punching him. the father came to our door with his son and told my mother that he was informing us that he was going to beat his son because no son of his was going to be beaten up by a nigger.
instead of freaking out my mom sat me down and said that she knew that i didnt beat that boy up, but that race is a difficult thing for people to deal with, and some people are just plain crazy, but that we needed to be patient cuz the world would catch up with reason soon enough.
im still waiting on that one, ma.
my mom always threw big birthday parties for us, she gave presents to all the attendees, she drove us to practices and games and rehearsals and recitals, boy scout crap, girl scout crap, science fairs, parades, amusement parks, field trips, she hosted our sleepovers. she went to parent-teacher conferences, she drove us to the airport and back, she took us clothes shopping for school supplies in the fall, she did it all, and i dont remember her complaining and i dont remember overhearing her ever saying that it was too much of a burden.
there was never anything that i wanted that i wasnt given. ever. and we were not by any means a wealthy family. i have no idea how she did it. she was always there. was there when i went through college. is there now for my sister and my neice and nephew and my brother in law. was there for our dying relatives. is there for our friends of our family. she is rock solid.
one of the finest moments was when my mother took me to my first real rock concert. AC/DC Back in Black tour. i was but a wee lad. she had given my sister the album that christmas and here it was nine months later and somehow i scored 1 ticket in the 12th row. one ticket because none of my friends’ parents would allow them to go to the show. but my mom not only drove me (about an hour away), dropped me off early, and drove home, but after it was over i called from a payphone and she drove back to the arena to pick my little ass up.
not only would most mothers not allow their kids to see devil music (hells bells opened the show and i nearly peed my toughskins), particularily Alone, but how many would make two trips to ensure a safe ride?
when i became of age to drive she tightened the reigns a tad because in her words, “the roads are filled with drunk drivers”, but i was still allowed to drive into Chicago to see the cubs pretty much any time i had saved up enough allowance money to pay for it.
over the years she bought me a few saxamaphones, guitars, drums, lessons of all sorts, sports uniforms, bikes, games, books, junk food of all sorts, anything.
i cannot imagine a better childhood. i cannot think of anything i could have wanted more than the ability to be myself, and free, and trusted, and loved.
my mom did all those things for me and she continues to.
the only thing that she asked in return was that i be a good reflection of her.
and if it werent for the swear words in this blog im doing my best, although i know i fail pretty much every day. although when i quit weed im sure that made her happy.
i love you mom im sure you loved the bears game on sunday!
they built a park ontop of an old abandonded elevated railway track
late at night we tried to see Those Darlins at the Brooklyn Bowl but it was sold out so we went to an oktoberfest styled beer garden in Williamsburg and afterwards we got into a crazy taxi driven by a crazy romanian lady who accidentally took us back to manhattan
not only did she have a pigeon in her front seat that she was resuscitating but in the back of her cab was a tv with nbc programming starring
YOUR MAN SCOTT ROSS aka The Popcorn Biz or something
the lady was so fascinating, telling us crazy stories about romania and 9/11 and astrology that i was about to tip her bigtime cuz it was a show all its own. and right before we got to our stop we saw a black man trying to hail a cab so i said do you pick up black men? she said of course, everyone needs a ride. she said, but i close the partition. we all laughed. and i tipped her bigger for being honest.
my truest went to an idie film one day and one of the trailers was this one above.
one night we were trying to figure out what film to watch on netflix and she suggested “The Art of the Steal”.
i have a terrible psychological problem in that i think that i have to be the one who always brings her all the cool stuff. i have to turn her on to the great music and movies and tv shows. i have to be a step ahead of everything. i guess i feel that she brings everything else to the relationship, that if i cant deliver the other good stuff then im worthless.
its stupid and crazy, but hi thats me.
so i said fine, lets see this thing and then go to sleep. BEST DOC OF THE YEAR! (even though it came out in 2009). its the story of a $25 BILLION art collection where the dude who owned it had no heirs but put together a will that said this art cannot be sold, loaned out, moved, or f’ed with. and sure enough as soon as he died the Philly art world did their best to f with it, and it looks like by summer of next year they will successfully steal it away from the home that he built for it, The Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion.
as you know we are in NYC. but all along we decided that we would make a day trip to Philly to see this art in its natural habitat. the place where Dr. Barnes wanted it to be seen. he didnt want tourists like us to come see it, he wanted students to study it. he didnt want people to buy tickets online, like we did, he wanted artists and check it out and learn and be inspired.
we were doing pretty much what he didnt intend, and we realized that, but i think at this point he’s rolled around so much in his grave that he probably has conceded to the fact that the really bad people are about to win. and to have people like me and the truest journey to where it was meant to be would probably be ok to the old dude.
we took the Apex bus, which has gotten a wide variety of reviews on Yelp from the horrific to the sublime. its a $10 bus that picks you up in the smelliest part of NYC’s chinatown and drops you off in a sketchy part of Philly.
but it’s $10. (nowadays it’s $12, but people still call it the $10 bus.)
like the reviews say, theres no real reason to get your tickets online because once you find your way to the nondescript office on Allen Street it’s first-come-first-served. we got there a little early and noticed a small line-up. there was no sign on the bus so i asked someone in line where the bus was going and they said Philly. so we gave the driver our ticket and 15 minutes before it was supposed to leave we were on the road(!?). had we caught the previous bus or was the correct bus leaving early with only 8 people on board?
who knows, who cares, welcome to Apex.
the A/C was blasting and i had foolishly forgotten to bring a jacket and since it was 77 degrees and humid i didnt think i needed a wrap. so i held my true love in my arms and we shared her jacket and i fell asleep in her arms. 1 2 3 awwwwww. somewhere near philly the bus driver pulled over near a mcdonalds. he called out the street name. no one got off. apparently they can drop you off in 3 parts of the crappiest parts of the city of brotherly love.
the second stop the guy pulled over and yelled at someone sitting on a bench. didnt pick that person up, didnt drop anyone off. and in seconds we were rolling again. finally, under 2 hours after leaving chinatown, we were on Broad and Onley. last stop, everyone off, the man said. we got up and the bus kept rolling. we were being dropped off across the street from a greyhound station. apparently Apex doesn’t have an official terminal. but who cares ITS $12!!
soon as we got off the bus we were surrounded by my people. black folk. a dude approaches me and says “need a cab brotha?” i look around and there are no yellow cabs. so i say, “sure, we are going about 8 miles away, how much?” he says lemme hook you up. and we make our way to another brotha who walks us to an unmarked minivan.
shady $12 bus, shadier minivan… i know, i know, im 105 years old, i make a decent salary, i dont need to put my life on the line like this, let alone my beautiful bff, but when you get to my age its nice to see what the universe provides and roll with it. and the universe was giving us a gypsy cab and it was so great.
is Michael Vick gonna do it? i asked. the dude was all yeah but can he please just shut his mouff? we had a great conversation about sports, and how Kobe has turned his back on Lower Merion (where he’s from), and how Oprah turned her back on Baltimore (where shes from), and how traffic is always bad in Philly even at 1pm which is what time it was and why we were experiencing traffic. and we made it to the Barnes Foundation in 15 minutes, the guy said $20 and we gladly handed it over.
we said we’d call him for the ride back but im xbi, i cant let people pick me up after dropping me off. what if they figure out who i be? now that would be dangerous.
the barnes was having problems with their online ticketing. thats fine cuz even though we had gotten our tickets online ($15 each) i hadnt printed them out. which was fine because there was our name on the list. 1:30pm reservation. it was 1:15pm. close enough. step right in.
we got the headphones and little box. $7 each. and started. and people immediately, just in the first room, there was a George Seurat. one you had seen before. huge. and all around it a cezanne, a matiste, a monet, a few manets. and whats this, a van gogh youd never seen before.
and thats how it was in every room. density of beauty. a greatest hits of artists. a who’s who of brilliance. and because Dr. Barnes had owned this art for decades and because he was no sell out, this art had stayed in one place for 50-80 years. it hadnt ended up as a cheesy print poorly framed at Z Gallerie.
around each priceless painting were odd door hinges or door knockers or candle sticks. underneath them were antique dollhouses or wooden chairs. it was clearly one man’s vision of “omg check out how monet used red in this painting, it reminds me of how this guy used red or that guy, so lets put them all together on one small wall, and lets put some chairs under them and some hinges around them and have some crazy painting of a guy looking down over it so his eyes are looking at the entire collection.”
each wall was a collage of million dollar art cold chillin together in a way no museum would ever do. another thing a museum wouldnt do is have no description of the art next to each piece. all there was was a frame that had the artist’s last name. if you wanted to know the title and the year, there was a laminated sheet nearby. the wall is art. preserve the art.
room after room after room there was another picasso youve never seem, another van gogh you didnt ever see at the van gogh museum, another renior prettier than the one before, and a modigliani right next to a picasso – challenging it, holding its own.
it made me think about excellence. how i want to be excellent. how i want to have a Blue Period just as amazing as my Cubist period. how i want to do new things and great things. it made me wonder why people dont want to be the best ever and i am like that sometimes. it made me think that i dont spend my time crafting interesting tales on this blank canvas and tweak it and edit it and shape it so that its better than the first draft.
and there, proudly displayed, was that punk rock master, the dude who thumbed his nose at The Academy, Gustave Courbet, and his Woman with White Stockings. dr. barnes keeping it real. dr barnes saying yes i hate the rules too. dr barnes saying i too want to say to the art world that they can kiss my ass (or in this case, kiss my taint). overheard, “hey harry, so is she putting on those stockings before or after? hehehe. or during?!?!”
it was really too much to absorb in one sitting. two-three hours isnt enough. to really be one with such a mass amount of high quality art. from baby sketches to medium sized paintings to freakin a picasso tapestry. its too much to figure out.
meanwhile the whole time youre in this building that was meant for this art and you had the horrible bittersweet taste in your mouth that this work was about to be yanked out and put in the last place that its visionary collector wanted it: in the philly museum of art.
it was like seeing the final year of the cubs playing in wrigley field before they would be moved to the south side to share Cellular Field with the hated white sox.
the cubs should only play at wrigley and the art collected by dr. barnes should only be seen at the barnes foundation. seeing The Art of the Steal convinces you, but viewing the art in person brings it home.
walked a few blocks, ate at a place called Cosi’s. called a cab but a white Lincoln Continental showed up and honked. dont honk at the xbi. dude got out of the car and said tony? did you call for a cab? all the cars were out, so the boss had me take his car to pick you up, where you going?
said a little prayer and told him. when it finally dawned on him that i was asking to be driven to the ghetto he called into the office “broad and Olney. yeah. OLNEY! i know.” very nice guy but white and clearly not into going where we were gonna go. he, however, knew everything about the Barnes and the film and philly and the bad politics, and so much. another good conversation. when we got to the place i asked how much as there was no meter. he calculated $18, i gave him $23 and we got out.
broad and olney is a subway stop, a busstop, and a greyhound station. its also kitty corner to a school for girls and a zillion other things. lots of people. lots of old dudes with canes waving their canes at people honking as they drive by. its black folk being black folk. if youre not into the culture its scary, if you can hang its entertaining and heartwarming and beautiful. we got there a little after 5. we realized the next Apex bus wasnt coming till 6 so we looked around for a bar, only found one that looked so shady we chose to chill at the dunkin donuts cuz my belly was sour.
finally a shuttle bus appeared around 6. it honked. we got on along with 10 others. i had tried to figure out how Apex made any money driving 8-10 people on a big bus from NYC to Philly – gas alone must cost more than the $80 that they were getting from us, so the shuttle bus made more sense. several miles later they picked up some jamacians. and then after a few more miles the driver said Get Out, Changing Busses.
confused, but prepared for anything, we all got out and stood in front of a chinese restaurant. others were waiting there too. i really had to empty the bowels so i went into the chinese restaurant and as soon as i was almost done i heard a knock at the door. the truest alerted me that the new bus was there. it was a huge bus like the one we arrived in philly in. but now more people were there. so many that i wasnt able to sit next to her. instead i drew the short straw and was forced to sit next to an 18 yr old college freshman girl with pretty long hair.
turned out she had a bf at nyu and they took turns visiting each other. he normally won out because manhattan was a tad more fun than philly. tried the bathroom about 90 minutes into the trip, noticed there was no tp and the stench was insane. and decided not to risk it.
got to chinatown safe and sound. really needed to go number two, but figured i could hold it till brooklyn. but we couldnt find where the subway was. asked a young man running a tea shop. he pointed. but his buddy said ok but buy drinks! i said if you let me use your bathroom i will buy a drink. they agreed. truest got a hot green tea, i got a ginger ale. i destroyed that bathroom. got out and the look on her face was amazing. she was drinking the finest green tea of her life she announced. he said his secret is he boils the tea first. whatever, she was in bliss. and i was more comfortable.
got on the subway. got back to brooklyn. had another deep, meaningful, bizarre, spiritual conversation with ms anna rose who was spending a few months in the basement of aj’s three story park slope flat and around 1am we decided that we would test out one of the all night diners.
truest and i strolled romantically down 5th ave, arm in arm. youd think we were newly weds or bf/gf but no, we’re exes. just extremely loving ones. we’ll duck into a corner and kiss. hold hands. say sweet things. but in a month or two she may be in india and i might be named the new manager of the flubs. who knows. who cares. we are soul mates and if more isnt on our dance cards for this incarnation, we will see each other in the next one. or maybe not. maybe we were together in the past and this is the bonus extra dvd directors cut encore.
it really does feel that easy and familiar. it really is that beautiful and carefree. there really is no tension to get “serious” or have kids or even be together tomorrow. but for right this minute theres no one who matches up with me better. theres no one who i feel more manly and smart and confident around. theres no one who knows me better. theres no one i feel safer around. despite the fact we may never see each other again.