Brooklyn and Social Distortion

Sometimes I’ll have a really fun night and I’ll think, “I gotta blog this for everyone!” Then the next day I wake up and second-guess it. Is it going to sound braggy? So many people are dealing with serious issues right now, and others simply don’t get to lead the life that I have been afforded, which, while definitely not affluent, makes up for the lesser funds with excess fun. I worry: are people going to find me irritating, or desperate for attention, or okay, more irritating and desperate for attention than usual??

It’s a quandary. 

I have two minds about it. One is that I have earned my tiny place on the outskirts of the sun. I get pissy when people tell other people they are “lucky” to have what they have. Example: my friend and ex-bandmate Vas Kallas tours constantly with her band Hanzel und Gretyl. She books shows, she drives, she packs merch, makes sure the band gets paid, budgets with those payments, etc. She’s a rock and roll warhorse and it is a long and lonely struggle on a highway in the middle of the night. Yet every time she posts a photo of herself next to someone famous or in an exotic locale, some goofball will write, “You’re so lucky!” as if she just emerged from a vacuum and wandered clueless into that space, thereby negating the extensive history and hard work that went into creating that one moment of reward, which will last only that short time before the machine starts up again. In my case, I haven’t been working that way for quite some time, but I was there in the beginning, goddamnit, and I lugged enough gear, shook it on enough stages (and bars), and kissed enough frogs to allow for some ego about my position.

On the other hand, I am also aware that I AM lucky. My looks played a big part in the opportunities afforded me when I first arrived in New York. I have good and generous friends, a loving family. I am happy and healthy, and though it took time and suffering to get there, I have always felt that my life has been guided by a destiny that others haven’t been so easily afforded. So often I downplay the good times, which are less backstagey and good timey these days anyway, since we’re all too old to get into any real trouble.

Side note: I heard that someone fell and broke a hip at a Del Lords show recently. So yeah, probably more old-timey than good-timey for a lot of us…

Anyway, thankfully, I did NOT break a hip at the recent Social Distortion show at the Warsaw in Brooklyn. My “wifey” and partner in crime Zoe Hansen was determined that we would go to this show, and since her husband is rock legend, DJ and bar-owner Richard Manitoba, and friends with Mike Ness, it was easily arranged.

I am unaccustomed to Brooklyn, although I have finally admitted that in 2013 it is better than Manhattan. I was so in love with the East Village when I moved to New York that I arranged my life around it with no intention of leaving. I live, work, eat, and socialize in the EV. I hate the train and will do anything to avoid it, primarily because I’m bad with directions and get lost very easily. But with the advent of smartphones and the HopStop app, I’ve gotten less tremulous about traveling the boroughs, especially now that my own is populated with guys in docker shorts and flip flops carrying six packs of Bud Light and girls in beige pumps and quirky SATC dresses squealing at each other at the top of their lungs. A simple head poke out the window on a Saturday evening will often send me into a cursing tantrum followed by a weepy and lengthy “back in my day” facebook status update, so I am less loathe to travel if it means a brief respite from the asshole invasion for a few hours.

But of course Zoe and I, being party girls in heels, pregamed at Manitoba’s and after three rounds of “More voddy, Darling?” in a posh British accent, opted for a cab and were fortunate to get a driver with GPS. 

This is another night, but this is how wit always starts out. Dignified, ladylike. 

In the aforementioned cab, Zoe held open a tin and asked, “Mint, Darling?” I rarely take gum or mints when offered. I don’t know why, I guess I feel like I’d rather conserve the calories or chewing effort for more important consumables like spaghetti and voddy, er…vodka. 

Photo of actual tin in question: 

This time I said yes. I stuck my hand in the tin, pulled out a mint, stuck it in my mouth, started chewing, and found my taste buds assaulted by a bitter medicinal taste that was anything but minty fresh.

I gagged and said, “Euw! What the hell kind of mint is that? It’s horrendous, it tastes like a pill!”

Zoe shrieked, “Oh my God. Spit it out, spit it out!”

I panicked and shrieked back, “I can’t! I chewed it! I swallowed it! What was it? What did I just eat??”

She said (still shrieking), “Oh my God, that was a vicodin that someone handed me a long time ago. I forgot about it and it has been rolling around in there forever!” 

My first thought was relief. Like okay, at least I won’t be tripping balls or face down and drooling on the bar for the next five hours. At least vicodin is dealable. Then my second thought was, great, I’ve just had three drinks already and I’ve got hours of socializing to do, backstages to wheedle myself into, and who knows how buzzy this is going to make me? Is this to be yet another night where I make an ass of myself? Please, say it isn’t so, sweet baby Jesus!

All of this sunk in and I shrieked, “Who leaves an old pill in their mint tin and then OFFERS it to someone?”

Zoe said, “Oh, I’m so sorry Darling, but you’re a trouper and really, it will probably be fun and honestly, you should be fine and…” 

But she couldn’t get out the rest before we collapsed in laughter in the back of the cab. We laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe, and then agreed that it was going to be a typical evening for the two of us. No matter how much Zoe and I would like to comport ourselves with dignity:

We usually end up falling slightly short of the mark:

We got to the venue, and I was immediately overjoyed. The staff at the door was friendly and the place packed to the rafters with genuinely cool people. How often does that happen anymore? Most attendees were well into middle age, but they looked great. Everyone had great tattoos and the guys were working the rockabilly gas station attendant thing while the girls either did the low-key rock chick or victory roll rockabilly girl thing. People were sexy, even the fat dudes were sexy. Everyone was in a good mood. The woman serving pierogis (Warsaw is an old Polish theater) had to be close to 70, had blonde hair piled on her head and wore blue eyeshadow and false eyelashes. She was fucking sexy! Not a docker in sight. I wanted to hug everyone in the room.

Zoe was not pleased yet, though. We didn’t receive VIP stickers at the door. We hustled to the bathroom and she called Richard, who was working at his radio DJ gig, and demanded that he handle this problem immediately. I danced around her nervously as she grumbled into the phone, “Zoe, he’s busy, don’t bug him, we’ll be okay without them.” She shook her finger. “Oh no. We are GETTING.OUR.PASSES.” Richard having been duly informed that no good deed goes unpunished, rushed Zoe off the phone to work on it and we marched back out to the door, where she then explained that we were the Most Important Females in the History of all Rock and Roll and magically, miraculously, and perhaps out of fear, VIP passes appeared.

Pit stop at the bar. Me: “Oh, I’d better not drink since I just got dosed. Oh, you know, little old me, I’ll just have a club soda…Well, okay, maybe just put the teensiest little bit of vodka in that soda…” 

Straight upstairs to the VIP balcony, whereupon the booze and pill kicked in and the show did not disappoint. Social Distortion never does. The sold out audience was fully into it and I couldn’t feel my legs. We jumped up and down and shouted, but carefully so as not to spill our drinks. 

After the show, which seemed short because it was so good, we plopped ourselves down to wait.

And remarkably, no one came by to shoo us out. Because, I discovered, in Brooklyn, or at least at the Warsaw, you are allowed to drink and socialize and eat pierogis after shows like civilized gentle-people, instead of being rudely shoved out the door as soon as the last note rings, as you blink confusedly under newly flicked on and extremely unflattering fluorescent light, as is tradition at Irving Plaza or Roseland in Manhattan. What a treat!

After some waiting, we were allowed to visit with Sir Ness, who was very gracious. Years ago, when I managed Coney Island High and he was single, he had expressed some interest in me, and even went so far as to make sure I got the entire SD back catalog on CD. He was friendly, smart, and interesting. I liked talking to him and it was tempting. But I knew his reputation with the ladies and was newly dating his friend Jesse Malin and busy being pissed at Jesse for not telling Mike what was up to get me out of the weird position of hanging out with two guys with one not knowing the full story. Anyway, I didn’t know if Mike would remember me, but he did, and we got a photo. My arm is cut off because we were photo-bombed at the last second by a friend of a friend and Zoe and I insisted that the photo be cropped to feature only the two of us with Mike. We are constantly getting photo-bombed and then cropping to make it look like we’re the only females in the vicinity. Rewriting history on facebook since 2009!

I am always concerned about being too much of a pest in these situations, so I quickly stepped out of the fray and to the side, whereas Zoe stayed and took another photo. Afterward she said, “People are surprised at how shy you are! You never talk about being in a band and you never get pushy at these things. You’re such an ANGEL.” Zoe is the only person in the history of the world to think I’m an angel, but it’s true that I can be overly laid back when the night calls for some backbone. I have become accustomed to the luxury of a friend like her, who can finagle us anywhere with her British accent and ballsy attitude, so I tend to let her handle the details while I stress out about how old I’m going to look in the photos. 

But this time I said, “Oh GURL. Mr. Ness is SOBER, and I’m HIGH AS A KITE RIGHT NOW. Remember?”

And she said, “Oh…THAT! Oh well…You LOOK fabulous, and that’s all that matters! Darling, should we get one more teensy voddy before we go home?”

And I replied, “Of course, Darling!” And we wobbled off arm in arm, into the Brooklyn night.

The end.

Author: Raffaele

Rock and roll juggernaut, writer, muse, animal lover, Cycle Slut from Hell, friend, lover, sister, daughter, nerd, fagwoman, Slytherin, killer queen.

One thought on “Brooklyn and Social Distortion”

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