He doesn't believe in you, either

by Sam Means | 5/9/00 5:00am

Lost on the Hutch in southern New York state, listening to Jean Pitney's orientalist classic "Mecca" and drinking cream soda, we continued our departure from the Windy Apple. Okay, so I'm a dork, I'd never been to New York City before, but I made up for it this past weekend, embarking on a debaucherous road trip with The Virtuoso himself.

Friday night we had two options: sit in my NYU friend's room smoking pot and watching The Rock talk about someone's "candy-ass," or go to the Village Vanguard with my old-school buddy Smack, now studying tenor at Mannes. We chose correctly and caught the late show of Johnny Griffin, with Kenny Washington on drums. The pianist had a few too-long, unimaginative solos, but the show was still pretty incredible, highlighted by the appearance of Ron Blake and some very nice, low-key bass by John Webber. We felt comfortable that the trip had been worth it, no matter what else happened.

Which is why we were ambivalent at 3 a.m. while we begged for sleep and Paul and his friend danced with their glow-sticks. It was actually pretty cool. They were pretty incredible with those things, since all they do is practice.

Saturday, after checking out the new show at MOMA (including a fantastic Otto Dix, and some very cool Giacomettis) and enjoying some Chinese cuisine in Times Square (a rather crass, dirty version of Picadilly Circus), I hit Strong Island.

Catch-22 was playing with Mustard Plug and Edna's Goldfish, and I couldn't resist. At the famous South Beach Dance Club, despite the fact that I was inconveniently left off the list by Victory Records, who are now on "The List," the show was excellent.

Coming from D.C., I've been kind of spoiled by the 9:30 Club and the cool people who go there and make me feel cool by association. The South Beach Dance Club was filled with 12-year-old girls in pastel tank-tops and boys with offensive accents calling each other "pussy" and spitting on the floor. There was a big argument between a junior high couple. Apparently, the girl had "climbed into [Mike's] bed," and was a "dirty slut."

Nonetheless, there was a nice atmosphere, and a good breeze coming off the water and a good girl on my arm, and The Wonder Years came on at 4:30. They were decent "punk," kind of like Blink but with a harsher lead singer and a couple songs that actually said something. Nice riffing, even though the bass was uninteresting and the drum work sounded like it was coming from an old Yamaha synth. Y'know, where you could set it on "Rhumba," and press the "Fill" button when you wanted to change chords.

Errortype 11 sounded like every other pop-punk band ever, with shades of Shades Apart and, guess what? Yeah, Blink 182. Every goddamn band sounds like Blink 182 now. Not too hard on the ears, though, and I had a good time. Catch-22 was fantastic third-wave ska, the kind that everyone's kind of forgotten how to play, ever since they started trying to sound like Blink 182. At least, they were until I realized that I was supposed to catch a train in twenty minutes and we had to jet.

Just so you know, "jet" is the slang that Sonic the Hedgehog used in his animated television series when he had to leave the scene. In case you were wondering why I use the phrase. "Keasbey Nights," the title track from their first album, was a highlight. Despite getting lost in Jamaica, Queens, and at Penn Station, twice, it was a pretty successful trip to the big city.

I met The Virtuoso at Grand Central and we hopped on the Metro-North to Greenwich, where we left his car, parked next to 911s and Beamers, content in the safety of the fancy Volvo station wagon that I love so dearly. For the record, Greenwich is on "The List." So that's where I started, on the way to visit Vassar College. Vassar is about the prettiest campus I've been on, which was a shock, it being in Poughkeepsie and all. Beautiful open green spaces, lakes, manors and New England architecture were everywhere.

Again, our hosts spent the night smoking up (we graciously abstained both nights), but we went for a nice walk around the Vassar campus, talking about weird, horrible things and catching up. In the morning we feasted, and again hit the road, rolling into Hanover with Skynyrd blasting on the radio. It's nice to know that the radio still sucks.

And that was my weekend in New York City. Also on "The List" are the outskirts of Montreal; Scarsdale, NY; the Hutchison Parkway; Coscob, CT and Jack Cooter, for past sins. I'll never let you go -- I'll never let you turn around.