2006-12-14 - 7:32 p.m.
Memories are weird things. Here I am, counting the times I actually met Leslie and coming up with only one ... then, while listening to her CDs again, I poke around between the sofa cushions of my brain and another one reappears.
New York City, 2002. I'm there for a week on vacation. Leslie and I had planned to see the White Stripes at the Bowery Ballroom the night I arrived. The show had been sold out for months, but like that would have stopped her from getting us in. Unfortunately, she came down with the flu and had to stay home for most of the week. So I struck out on my own, using Leslie's what-to-see-and-do list as my Bible for getting the most out of my visit. The Gerhard Richter exhibit at MoMA? Fucking awesome. Circle Line Tour around Manhattan? Freezing, but fun. Avoid Ground Zero at all costs? Didn't have to tell me twice.
I've always felt that I should have grown up in New York, not California. My personality just seems better suited for the East Coast rather than the West. My trip to New York confirmed many of those feelings, but it also left me a bit discouraged. The city was so fucking big, so fucking fast, with so much culture and coolness and toughness that I couldn't even begin to grasp it all. Me? I talk a good game, but at my core I'm still just that shy crippled kid who sits doodling in the corner while the grownups all stand around me and have conversations that will always be way over my head. New York would chew me up for breakfast and shit me out into the East River before noon.
And Leslie ... Leslie was New York. She was a supercool gal with supercool friends -- why was she wasting her time on me?
During that week we kept making, and then breaking, plans to meet up. This was around the time that hoopla.com was stolen from her, so any time and energy she wasn't using to get over the flu, she spent fighting to get her domain name back.
Finally, we got together for lunch with a couple of her friends (whose names I forget, alas) at a deli across the street from my hotel. I was anxious as hell -- me, this goofy guy from SoCal having a New York lunch in a New York deli with Leslie New York and her New York friends -- but I pushed on through and managed to hold up my end of the conversation. Before too long we started talking about music, of course, and eventually someone mentioned a certain well-known and well-regarded musician who I happen to know. Name-dropping isn't Punk Rock, so I won't tell you who it was. Suffice it to say that, if you spent a decent chunk of the last 10 or 15 years in the punk and indie rock worlds, you've heard of this person.
So Leslie -- suddenly and with total casualness -- said, "Oh, Mig knows him."
Her friends' jaws dropped open. "Omigawd, you know So-and-So? What's he like? What's he doing these days? Is he putting out any new records this year?" They spent the rest of lunch peppering me with questions. I couldn't answer any of them, but it didn't seem to matter.
That was the last time I saw Leslie. She and I never mentioned that lunch in our interactions online, and I figured that little conversational gambit of hers was just a way of making me part of the in-crowd-- of showing her friends that I was just as cool as they were.
Now, I'm thinking there was more to it than that. She was also showing me that they were just as uncool as me -- and what difference do coolness and uncoolness make in the warp and weft of the universe, anyway? Scratch anyone -- hipster, dweeb or in between -- in the right place and you'll find a fanboy, every single time.
Or maybe she was showing me nothing, and if she could read this she'd tell me I'm just overthinking. Or apologize for embarrassing me. Those too are possibilities.
Go backwards ... Go forwards