VII

VIII

From the alley, I hear the opening band's set grind to its scheduled halt. I wait a few minutes (seven, actually - the time it takes to smoke a Pall Mall), then go back inside the club to wait at the mixing board - the meet-up spot for Josh. And, ten minutes later, there he is...

Josh, a roommate emeritus from the Peter Laughner Memorial Crash Pad, my first off-campus dwelling. He arrives from Richmond, camera in tow, grabs a chair to sit with me. We "hello", we hug, we sit down.

And then the bottom drops out. Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo - it was Vertigo, wasn't it? - falling into his fear abyss...

I'm sinking. I can't nudge into autopilot. I can't even summon up small talk. How's Marie? How's your brother's band doing? What's going on in New York? How often do you get up there? Nothing comes out. I can eke out something more immediate: "Let me see if I can plug you into the board," so we can feed the PA's audio into the camera.

I'm frozen on the inside, an instant nuclear winter. I'm disconnected from the hustle and bustle swirling around me in the club. I manage to eventually get autopilot working at least...

It comes time to get on stage. I'd normally grab a beer before playing; it has become my usual hedge against stage fright. But I'm afraid to do so now - if the Primatene is to blame for this implosion, adding alcohol is probably a bad idea. I don't know. Better safe than sorry...

A good-sized crowd, not like the fuck-the-fire-code sardinery of the last Sonic Youth visit, but this is a good showing for a Thursday night. We play yet another uninspired set. The audience goes apeshit anyway. I quietly, surreptitiously sneer at them upon leaving the stage - where were they when this band was good? Before I joined, as the "temporary" replacement for the original bassist (he quit right in the middle of recording the album), it was the loudest, rawest, rockingest thing in town. Now, an LP and EP later, it sucks, just a generic little trendy indierockband. And don't blame me - I just work here. I didn't tell these bastards to smooth out their rough edges - I signed up because of the rough edges.

We load the band stuff in the van, and the Josh stuff in his car. I leave my bike at the book store, and ride back to the apartment with Josh.

IX

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