I love jukeboxes – pack ‘em right and everyone in the bar’s a pretty good DJ, all night long.
The jukebox at Washington DC’s Black Cat is out of order. Or, it’s out of order as a jukebox – it works just fine as a multi-disc CD player, stuck on shuffle. Someone took the protective covering out from under the glass on the front, and you can see right into its guts. It’s pretty beautiful, I think.
I took this photo with TrueHDR via a wide-angle lens stuck to the front of my iPhone 4, then ran it through the Photoshop app and some other stuff to get this image:
Man, am I beat. In case you hadn’t noticed, we had two shows outside New York City last week. I’ve been consumed with them for months, and we’ve all been super excited. And that excitement pretty much paid off, too.
The bus ride down to Washington from New York was pretty uneventful. The cab ride to Eric and Sarah’s (our hosts for the evening) was another story. That was when I found out that we’d sold out the Black Cat.
It’s really, really difficult to articulate what that felt like. Everything got brighter, sharper. Sounds had more clarity, and all the hairs in my nostrils stuck out straight. I think my metabolism tripled. We all had a belt of bourbon before going down to the club, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that it burned up before it got all the way through the esophagus.
I’d been getting a cold, and my body did this incredibly strange thing. First, it fast-forwarded through the generative stage of the cold, stuff running out of my head like a child had salted a slug’s nest in my brain.
Then when we got to the club and literally had to walk through a small crowd of total strangers to see this sign on the door, everything just stopped completely:
So it’s the night before our And I Am Not Lying – Live show in Philadelphia, and I’m antsy. We’re bringing this storytelling, comedy and burlesque gig to L’etage tomorrow night and I’m really hoping that folks turn out.
Brad, Cyndi, ****** and I all met as regulars at story slams with The Moth in New York. Brad and ****** have won their share of Grand Slams, and Brad, ****** and I have all appeared on the Moth’s podcast. I was on This American Life a while back, and was featured on The Moth’s Radio Hour recently, too. Cyndi’s an accomplished storyteller fresh off her show “Wonder Woman: A How-To Guide for Little Jewish Girls.”
And just last week, we added Philadelphia comedian Doogie Horner to the bill, too.
I’m pretty stoked to meet him – the guy is really funny! In addition to performing on America’s Got Talent (I know), he’s a graphic designer by day — and actually designed the cover to “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”
On Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, I am going to be performing along with my troupe of storytellers and burlesque performers at the Black Cat in Washington, DC.
It’s going to be me (Jeff Simmermon) as a storyteller, along with And I Am Not Lying members Cyndi Freeman and Brad Lawrence, along with additional burlesque by Runaround Sue and Cyndi Freeman as Cherry Pitz. Tickets are $12, show starts at 8PM.
This is a cool trailer that our generous, warm and talented friend Tracy Rowland cut together for us. If you happen to write a blog or want to shout it out loud on any sort of social platform that you fancy, do please go right ahead:
And I honestly cannot believe that I just standing here in my office, typing this like it’s the most normal thing in the world.
We used to sneak off to the Black Cat in high school and college all the time, to pretty much see everybody. It was the beacon on the hill, the magnet in the big city that produced Bad Brains, Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses and God knows how many other bands — many of which contained my friends that I secretly admired but never told because I was so jealous — and sucked me right up there. I hung out there all the time in the years that I lived in DC, and now I’m thrilled and terrified to be a tiny part of the continuum that made me.
Imagine if you ate at incredible potlucks for your entire life, full of incredible, nourishing delicious everything you could possibly imagine and then found all these new things you didn’t ever know existed but blew your mind apart all the same.
When it comes your turn to put a dish on the table, you just really hope it doesn’t make people barf on the walls, is all I’m saying.
I am nervous enough to barf on the walls right now. I started this blog in Washington, DC as well, and it’s going to be a pretty weird homecoming.
I made this fun little flyer to promote the show, too. Just go right ahead and post that on your social platforms as well:
I saw him on the PATH Train a few weeks ago. I don’t see him that often, but he’s not like, white buffalo rare. A JC Pimp sighting brings you goodluck, but it’s rapidly expended: you get the privilege of seeing him. That’s good enough. I have no idea what this guy’s name is, or what he does, or how he afoords those suits that make him look like Flavor Flav starring in a remake of “The Mask.” But he’s probably not a real pimp, like that other guy in Jersey City.
People in Jersey City try to photograph him, and they track sightings on the JC List. I saw him on the train once, wearing a floor-length faux-raccoon fur coat and a fedora covered in matching fur. I asked him if I could take his picture, and he waved me off, muttering “no pictures, no pictures.”
It’s fascinating to me, that someone could want to draw so much attention to themselves in one way — and so little in another. He’s not exactly trying to blend in.
I had the honor of performing in The Moth’s GrandSLAM back in January at the Highline Ballroom here in New York City. The night’s theme was “Into the Wild.” Naturally, I told another story about the brief period of time I spent working as an assistant to a kangaroo shooter in the Australian Outback.
I’ve been to that well before, and I think I’ve about beat that thing to death by now. Still, I’m glad I was able to squeeze another story out of it.
It’s not every day that a giant lizard tries to eat your blood-soaked pants. And the opportunity to talk about having a giant lizard steal my pants on a kangaroo shooting trip doesn’t really come up in conversation at the office all that much either.
So I’m really glad I got to use that little gem for something. I’ve probably forced it a few times too many over the years.
The Moth was awesome enough to include my story in their podcast today, too. I’ve wanted to make their podcast for years, and it’s a pretty huge honor. I feel like running down the hall at work high-fiving people, but I’m pretty sure that opportunity’s not going to present itself either.
Here’s a video of me telling that story from today’s Moth podcast at the January GrandSLAM, in case you’re stumbling in off the Internet and wondering if I am, in fact, a bald-headed white dude with glasses and a suit:
A little bubble of summer weather surfaced just after Thanksgiving in Jersey City, late enough to be a treat but not so out of place that the guy on the corner in the velour tracksuit with a cigar would make a little global warming joke about it.
I’d just walked up the street to see DeCarlos about a suit he was working on for me. When I walked up the sidewalk, it was completely clear. Fifteen minutes later, this fridge appeared in the sidewalk, maybe coalesced out of some swirling dirty plastic vapors or something. It had no front door, nothing in it except for this one PBR gleaming in the freezer compartment:
I was trying to get Tracy Rowland for Standard Issues from the moment we started the show, but she always had some conflict, like moving to LA. Then that cleared up and now she is back on the correct coast and here she is from our latest Standard Issues show.
In this story, Tracy like so many American girls abroad, accrues some very strange bedfellows.
In related, but more self-promoting news. I am currently experimenting with travel essay over on my blog so have a look.
I started this blog back in 2005. At the time I figured that if I just kept banging on my laptop, eventually someone would recognize my nascent brilliance and offer me a sack of money. That person would also be able to reach through a hole in time and pull out a finished copy of a book, by me, and drop it on the desk next to the money.
Then I’d never have to work pouring concrete driveways or slinging pizzas ever again. While it’s true that I stopped working in both the concrete and pizza industries shortly after starting this blog, the rest turned out a little differently. I haven’t seen a fricking dime of profit from this thing, and nobody’s offered to turn this into a book. Apparently, to write a book you have to do something more than just type whenever you feel like it.
Here’s the thing: while I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I’ve also always wanted to be in a rock band. My early efforts in that regard were similarly misguided. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from storytelling, it’s that making a crowd feel something I’ve written — like a whole, big, crowded rock club — that ‘s pretty much the best feeling in the world. If you could chop up the laughter of several hundred strangers and line it up on a mirror, cocaine would go out of business and the would be no more killing in Mexico.
I was reading “Our Band Could Be Your Life” on the subway a few weeks ago and it hit me like Galileo’s apple. I’ve got the Internet platform and the storytelling skills – and now we’ve got Brad and Cyndi on board, two hilarious, exciting and weird burlesque performers AND storytellers, as well as D.Billy’s peerless art, design, and production abilities.
We’re turning this blog into a live show and we’re going on tour. I don’t know how and I don’t know when exactly, but I’d expect to see some of you people outside New York City by spring 2011.
When Napoleon went to his final exile, they sent him to a place that was really – really – really remote, a place from which he could never escape, St Helena Island. I was curious to learn what’s up with St Helena today.
To find out what’s going on, one must go to the most reliable source, high school girls. These girls live there and they are on a mission to get local news on TV. They show us around the island, interview the acting governor His Excellency Andrew Wells and the editor of the St Helena Herald – who was head girl at their school last year.
St Helena is 1,200 miles from Angola, the nearest land mass, and 1,800 miles from Brazil. A 47 square mile island, it is one of the most remote islands in the world. Current population is around 4000. There is no airport – yet. All goods are sent in via Royal Mail Ship: The RMS St Helen. The ship also has rooms available for if you want to cruise there.
Political cartoonistshad a great time taking shots at Napoleon and most artwork portrays the island as a rat infested hell hole. In this one Napoleon leads an army of rat soldiers on the Island of St Helena – 1815
This is what the place really looks like. Which is not to say they don’t have rats. They have rats.