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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

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 (from Levon)

I’ve been quiet on here because I thought we had turned a corner and we try to keep this a story of hope.  The hope is there, but the circumstances have left me brimming to push the story of the Flight of the Walker’s forward.

I’ll need to back up a bit.  Ashley took a Greyhound to the Virginia mountains to be with a close relative who underwent a major operation.  Fortunately the situation is going well.  She left 11 days ago and will be back next weekend.  In five years we haven’t apart this long, so remember as I tell the story of the last few days that I’m missing her stability greatly.  

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If there are 8 million people in New York City and our nation’s unemployment rate is 9.1%, then we’ll say roughly 1 million people are looking here.  NYU grad students are competing for retail jobs just to get through the times.  I see 15 applications placed per day, and there is always a persistent soul in the lobby hoping to see the manager.  I was lucky.  Everything else is bogus craigslist offers and unpaid internships which undoubtedly were once someone’s job.  Who can afford to work for free?  We’re not set up like that.  Other than the two hours before getting fired, Ashley has had no luck.  (By the way, I learned that they pulled a common practice called “baiting” where they “hire” four people and keep the one that will take the least effort, meaning she wasn’t the only one let go that day.)  So with the rent scratched together, the metro fares, dog food, and greyhound tickets go on plastic.  Might I add that the rent is almost twice my mortgage in Knoxville.  Good thing I get gigs.  Now here’s this one for you.

Friday night I was refused performing my show at 169 Bar in the Lower East Side because I didn’t bring enough people out.  Club policy, even though the place was effortlessly packed. No one told the doorman that they came to see me, so they got to hear the DJ playlist instead.  This is rare even in New York, and three people have since told me that they’ve heard of the place’s brutal reputation.  I came to play for the tip bucket, hoping to win the crowd and find people to bring back.  That’s how it works, right?   No, apparently my fan base was supposed to drive to New York to see me there.  Where were you people?  Don’t worry, believe me.  I’m coming to you.

The next day, the club even took the extra time to email me the following: “You can’t even bring out a crowd on a Friday night, you’ve got to be kidding.”  They wrote the endearing words in an all caps, size 30, red bold font. Red is a warm color, which is is how I took it.  

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So I’ve been sitting around the apartment practicing cover songs for paying gigs somewhere I don’t know yet far away that appreciates hearing good music, if only good familiar music.  By this, I mean I’m emotionally going through my Elton John charts and any song about the South.  Haven’t eaten anything but day old mark-outs from work or my roommate’s extras.  Thanks, Lyndsey.  My writing has been furtive and I’ve gotten two songs written in the last week that I’m really proud of, or at least feel I’ve truly earned.  I’m laughing at myself and having a good time, deliriously lonely, cracked from stress, and sustaining by caffeine and stale marble cake.  The two southern kids who tackled the big apple without much and got further busted.  It was bound to happen, but it needed a fair shot to see.  Baby we were born to run.  

We needed two crap jobs and got one,

We see the lights but we have no fun,

A little break never hurt anyone,

A marble cake and the day is done.

Okay, three songs.  May throw that one back, though.  Today was my last day at Starbucks and now I find myself another notch deeper in my post college career research.  This time I call it a follow up study; I was actually a barista while in college, but who’s really counting anymore.  I sometimes find myself walking slowly past financial institutions.  Not because I want to rob them, but because I may compulsively put in a resume.  One in the same.  One musician stereotype it seems I cannot break without a longwinded explanation is flightiness.  One that I can break is personal financial responsibility. 

It didn’t really make a difference if I made 8.75 in my green apron or not.  I picked up extra shifts, left my store late to close at other stores for an extra $20 cab fare home.  I kept the money and found a bus.  I’m not even complaining, my financial experience has given me formulas to utilize which predicted it would not be enough.  I did hope, however, that I could hang in there while Ashley found something similar and we got our artistic footing a little better.  There were no stars in my eyes, just curiosity.  

But hey, what an experience.  I’ve cleaned up what a crack head will do to a public bathroom, dumped a puddle of mocha all over myself, and met Renee Zellweger twice.  Even today, I was frantically changing the garbage by the door when a man opened it and reached inside handing me a waded up piece of plastic without breaking his stride.  It was full of dog poop.  I’m not complaining.  Late nights I talked working-man to working-man with hotel doormen and cab drivers that came in to get their regular coffees three or four times over.  I can remember the last seven things people have said to me and say them back faster.  Some of the world’s largest Louis Vuitton bags have sat on my counter. I beam with pride when asked to give subway directions, or answer questions like “how do I get to the Met from here?”  So maybe I don’t recommend mutual funds anymore, but do you feel like something chocolaty today or something more fruity? 

 

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Let me say one more thing.  This may be the most over-said, cliche, even turn-offedly lame realization but I’m saying it.  I found a lot of myself in this city.  I’ve been to 48 states and 9 countries so it wasn’t just a matter of going somewhere.  It was a matter of a life turned upside down, up against the odds, up against the mire, see what you’re made of, because you’ve got to try, situation.  When there is something you know that you need to do, then you need to do it.  How can you fail if trying was the whole idea?  Yes, I lost this one. I respect myself, and I don’t want to lose that one.   

I’d be amiss not to mention that I began and rekindled great friendships, played a lot of good shows, and still have a few left.  Over the next week I’ll make my goodbye’s so that’s not for tonight.  I’m well over my word count so goodnight.

 

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