Zoo Zaireeken York
· 8 September 2004 ·

Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space. The throat is a little sore and the Lips are Flaming, but I’m in the middle of a James-and-the-Giant-Peach style adventure – except that I’m in a big apple instead. Having a peach of a time nonetheless. I’ve been on this side of the universe for a week and a day and have had a fair share of random happenings, surreal situations, sonic bliss, and feline frenzy. I’ve also sat in a bathroom with a laptop for much longer than is healthy. Wait! Don’t misinterpret that, I just go in there to use the internet. Wait, crap, no don’t misinterpret that either! Ok, well i know i’ve sort of dug myself into a hole here and you probably won’t believe this, but anyway. Here’s the story: my brother’s apartment doesn’t currently have an internet connection. Except that it sort of does. You see Zack and I have discovered that we can hijack a wireless connection from someone else, but the signal is only strong enough on the side of the apartment where the bathroom is, so you have to go in there to use the internet. I don’t care if you don’t believe me, it’s the truth

Occasionally, I feel like I’m in Bangkok – smelling certain odors on the street not experienced since last summer. There was a lot of fresh air today as it’s been raining all day. This rain has left zack and i feeling rather limited in opportunity for an escapade into the depths of the urban jungle. Instead we’ve mostly remained indoor for large portions of the day coexisting with two black cats and the four discs of the Flaming Lips’ underrated underheard underknown underwear of an excellent piece of four dimensional composition – Zaireeka. It’s eight stunning channels of Soft Bulletin-esque beauty. We aren’t even listening to it in the intended simultaneous listening environment where all discs are played at once. I almost think it should’ve been released as four separate albums and that people could have just eventually realized they could be synchronized ala Dark Side and Oz. Back to the rain in New York. I woke up this morning and reached for a glass I’d set on the windowsill of an open window to notice that there was a thin coating of some grayish substance where the rain had come through. Yum, metropolitan rainwater. Walking through the misty streets today was really nice though, everything has a certain kind of vibrance to it when it’s being cleansed. You get the richness of a slightly underexposed photo rather than the overexposed bleached out nature of sunny days.

Looking backwards at my stay here I somehow recall being in Boston. Yes indeed Wyatt, Zack, and I wandered about the marvelous city and experienced much of it’s very european atmosphere over the course of a few days. When I say european, I suppose I mean a city with much more of a timeless feel to it than say burlington, or lynnwood, or los angeles, or even much of what i’ve experienced in new york. There are a few things that have probably helped to augment this sentiment. One being that I’ve read the works of Edward Bellamy which describe the Boston of the year 2000. Bellamy wrote two books about this, “Looking Backward 2000-1886” and “Equality” each of which present an in-depth description of a socialist, very egalitarian society in Boston in the year 2000. The book was written in 1886, I read it in 2000, and just recently experienced the city to much pleasure. While my brief experience there was surely biased view in many ways, it feels like the most elegant, functional, intelligently designed city I’ve been to in the country. A large city with an atmosphere of something more like the smaller community feel in downtown mount vernon or bellingham. Well anyway, that’s another tangent.

It certainly seems a strange predicament that Wyatt has ended up at a music school full of metal-heads, but at least he has a very likable roommate who just happens to be from La Conner. I’m sure Wyatt will continue to craft blissful jazzy tunes for years to come. While in boston I had some sort of sore-throat-sickness-of-death which left me pretty much lifeless and mute, I took many naps. During one such napping session, I recall falling asleep to Wyatt’s songs from the album he recorded this year only he was playing them, not a cd player. No offense to the wyatt circa 2002 or so, but at the time his singing left a little something to be desired. In my half-wake vegetated state I lay witness to his swooning musicianship and realized that the sound coming from his vocal cords was just as silky smooth as that on the cd. I shamefully have to admit to wondering if they’d been polished up a bit for the recording. You found yerself a real fine voice there wyatt.

Oh, just to make this really painfully long I’m going try to recycle a little anecdote about the other day that I’d included in an email. I know I’m cheap, but hell why not.

Zack and i returned to the shadows of the skry skrappers and i was in an abysmal state of mute sore-throat-deliriousness. Monday was the only day my brother jesse was freed from the slave dungeons of editor of Res Magazine. He was begged to work, but wouldn’t it seem a little wrong to work on Labor Day? We woke up noonish, got some excellent food at a little vegetarian cafe in the village which made my throat feel much better, tried to find me a clinic, then decided to go see great aunt jane – one of the few relatives whom i had never met. She’s my grampa Rex’s sister and one of the heirs to his legacy of some 1,500+ paintings. She’s also a wonderful old lady with a serene 1929 manhatten apartment just a skip and a hop away from john lennon’s old flat and strawberry fields in central park. Wonderful neighborhood, magnificent view from her tenth story flat. Over a few hours we waded through a few glasses of wine and talked about family, art, and monopolies then we were off to a rooftop barbeque. While we were on the subway we came to a stop where someone was standing outside and asking jesse if this train was on the F line. Jesse frantically answered, “no, i mean yes, yes” as the doors were closing. The doors ended up closing in on his head, so it was jesse’s skull that was preventing the doors from closing and thus not allowing the subway to depart. The guy who’d asked for directions opened the doors more, struggled to get in and then out of the blue Jesse was like, “Hi David, how you doin” I had no idea they knew each other. Maybe the head in the door was just a strange form of sign language. David got off a stop later where upon two guys (read: gansta rappers) came right up to where the three of us were standing, set down a boombox and proceeded to announce that they were artists, new york city performers, and at this very special occasion we would have an opportunity to see them do their thing. They turned on the beats and I assumed they were going to start rapping, but instead, they started dancing. Mind you this is a crowded subway in motion. One guy did a few summersaults in the air, his head coming within a half inch of the ceiling of the train, his spinning body about twelve inches in front of me. They spun all over the train, at one point they locked arms and legs or something and rolled down the aisle more than half the length of the car. These subways don’t move very steadily, they tend to shake like an earthquake most of the time, but nevertheless one of these guys was able to balance his body by holding himself up by one hand on the floor. A tad random, a bit surreal, fully enjoyed. Must be a total adrenaline rush for those guys. Their act had no lack of precision, every movement they made was obviously meticulously calculated and they were finished exactly when we arrived at the next stop, just in time to collect change as people were leaving.

Oh and we walked through central park in the afternoon during the most perfect, mild-yet-sunny, late-summerish, early-autumnal weather. There’s a large field in central park called Sheep Meadow (or something similar), but rather than sheep the lawn was completely littered with young sunbathing new yorkers and a myriad of frisbees, whiffle balls, and dragon flies buzzing over their heads.

And that’s what it’s been like with Zack and the Giant Apple.

Written by Philip Ashlock


  1. Peter Ashlock    Sep 20, 12:40 PM    #