November 20th, 2008

Ellen Ripley 1

"They've got cars big as bars, they've got rivers of gold."

Home again. Well, home again since 5 a.m. this morning (CaST).

And we forgot to take the camera, and I can't hope to reduce it all to mere words. The reading was genuinely marvelous, and my great thanks to Ellen (ellen_datlow) for having me, and to everyone at KGB Bar, which is still as wonderful as it was in May 2001. I read two short pieces, both from Tales from the Woeful Platypus —— first "Still Life," and then "Untitled 17." And the two worked well together. "Still Life" is funny and sweet, perverse but almost naïvely so. Then "Untitled 17" comes roaring in like a steam engine, all anger and blood and wickedness. And, I swear to fuck, I think my reading of "Untitled 17" last night was one of the two or three best readings I've ever done. I wish I had it on tape. I doubt I could reproduce it. The story combined with the atmosphere of the bar, with the crowd, with my weariness, with everything, to make that reading what it was. Also, I had my first bottle of Baltika 4 (Originalnoe), a dark Russian lager brewed with caramel and rye malt. Delicious. Also also, my thanks to all the folks who came, especially the two guys who came all the way from Toronto (!). I signed a lot of books, when I'd not expected to sign any at all.

We left Providence about 2:30 p.m. (CaST), and made it to Union Station in New Haven about 5 p.m. (CaST). We took the train into Grand Central Station in Manhattan. I'd never seen Grand Central, and my gods, what a beautiful building. I wanted to lie down on the marble floor and stare up at the astrological mural painted on the vaulted ceiling. But we were running late, and it took longer to get a taxi than I expected. My taxi-fu used to be quite good. Last night, it took forever. So, we were almost late getting down to KGB. Benjamin Parzybok read first.

After the reading, we walked over to St. Mark's Place, about four blocks I think (passing a bakery window, and Sonya taught me about hamantashn), and had a delicious and enormous dinner at Grand Sichuan. There were about thirty of us, and a bezillion dishes were ordered. I'm not sure I can remember it all. There was a huge flat-screen television showing Chinese soap operas (or something of the sort) with Mandarin subtitles, and I had serious Firefly flashbacks. Let's see. We had: cold diced cucumber in scallion sauce, steamed pork soup dumplings, Sichuan cold noodles (with a peanut sauce), chicken with string beans, orange-flavored beef, double-cooked pork with chestnuts (my favorite), the braised whole fish with hot bean sauce (yum), the smoked tea duck, sautéed pea shoots, fried pumpkin cakes, and shrimp with salted pepper. Afterwards, we walked back out into the freezing night (it was in the 20sF), to a dessert truck parked about half a block away, and Sonya got the pomegranate macaroons and shared them with me and Spooky. And then we had to say our good-byes and grab a taxi (much easier to hail than the first one), and rush back to Grand Central to make our 11:22 p.m. (EST) train back to New Haven. My feet were numb by this point, and I was very grateful for the walking stick that Spooky's mom gave me last week. I sat down on the floor in GCS and stared at the painted stars. A homeless man gave me a pack of peanut M&Ms.

On the train, Spooky tried to get some sleep, while Sonya and I had a long conversation about Harry Potter, and all the opportunities Rowling missed to make the books truly good (on the way up, we'd talked Firefly and Babylon Five and Farscape, Joey LaFaye, "Tam Lin," and Thomas the Rhymer). I think we made it back to New Haven about 1:30 a.m. I'm not sure. It was all such a blur. We were only in Manhattan for maybe four or five hours. I'd forgotten how much I adore NYC, especially at night. Driving back through Connecticut, we stopped at a convenience store in Mystic, where I apparently left my iPod. My iPod from 2005, so it was sort of a fossil, anyway, the Millennium Falcon of iPods, but it did have all my music on it. We're hoping it was turned in, but won't know until tomorrow. Back home, I went straight to bed.

And that was last night, as best I can translate it into words. I'm sorry I forgot the camera.

I've received news from my sister that a member of my immediate family is seriously ill, and so now I have to go and speak with my mother.

Oh, by the way, yes, I did post the video to the Editors' "An End Has a Start," but it was some autoplay thing, so I took it down again. Sorry. It is, however, my new favorite song.