March 17th, 2012
Wake up at 8:10, and I just know it. No laptop. My heart sinks. I look under the hotel bed, in the bathroom, under the bed again, out by the pool, in the van, in the lobby, under the bed one more time. Nothing. I remember having a brief conversation with a woman last night at Opal Divine’s since she was reading some Bukowski, and I had just lost some Bukowski. I’ve been losing things down here, you see. First, there was the phone I left in the back of a taxi. The cab driver brought it back but before giving it to me, he just looked at me, spread his arms, gave me that look that said he’d gone out of his way to bring it back to me. What could I do? I needed the phone so I gave him $20.00 and said thanks. Then there was the Bukowski book, You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense. I bought it years ago. It traveled with me to Korea and Japan and Bali, had pages dog earred, had receipts in there from bars and coffee shops during all that span of time, but now it’s somewhere in Austin where I am not..
And now this morning it’s the laptop which means the laptop case too, which means my phone charger as well. My phone has a battery life of about an hour at most when it gets any use other than simply being on so it looks like I’ll soon be completely off the grid, back to the old days when I carried the Bukowski book to Japan in 1998 and spent a day and a night in Osaka’s Kansai airport because I’d planned badly with regards to money. That was a good day though, a quiet day. I went to the top of the parking garage, looked out over the water surrounding the airport (It’s on an island in Osaka Bay) and read some of Buk’s poems and spent a day in contemplation as the planes landed and took off and landed and took off with all those people in them going places and coming home while I read verse to the sound of the waves.
“…I walked off
clubhouse, it looked
like a damned good
all i had to do
So here in Austin, I am bookless and laptopless and powerless it seems. I text the woman who will pick me up from the airport, “If my phone dies, see you Tuesday … happy early St. Patrick’s Day ” And then I grab a pen and some paper and head to the official Seattle SXSW Showcase. I’d heard it had been billed as the only all Seattle thing happening down here, and that, of course, wasn’t true because of all these Critical Sun shows I’ve been going to. Still, I want to catch the Young Evils and ask them about playing a show with me for a reading I want to do for my book in April so I hop on the bus and head downtown checking my phone too frequently for messages that don’t come and watching the battery power indicator grow less and less.
The Seattle SXSW event is at a place called the Palm Door, and when I arrive Fly Moon Royalty is playing but the sound system is having issues, and the vocal mics don’t work. It takes away from the performance, for sure, but Adra Boo has a powerful voice, and she projects pretty well considering the situation. They get through their set of eletronic soul, or maybe soulful hip hop, and I write in my notebook that they’d be a good fit to gig with Darrius Willrich, maybe mix and match some of the Critical Sun things with some of the other stuff happening in Seattle.
After some technical difficulties, a band called Don’t Talk to the Cops comes on. Even though I write about music in Seattle and do get out and about to music clubs a fair bit, I’ve never heard of them. That’s good though, means there’s a ton of stuff happening in Seattle so it’s good to come all the way to Austin to see a Seattle band I know nothing about. They say they’re trying to do some dance kind of punk or punk dancing infused with pop and hip hop and all manner of things, but they just don’t do it for me. There is energy in some of the beats but the vocals and raps on the whole leave me flat, unmoved, so I go out to the patio to wait for the Young Evils set.
Out there, I see Mackenzie and Troy from the band, and we talk briefly about the show I want to do with them, and things are tentatively confirmed. They go on then with some of their pre-show needs, and I, of course, check my phone for a message. It’s there.
“Let the phone die and have fun. Looking forward to seeing you when you get back Tuesday ”
She’s right, and so I do. The Young Evils play. I have fun. They’re a good band so I stop checking the phone, and the vocals get me. They understand melody and hook. They pull me in so I sing along to the ones I know and text back just before the phone dies, “See you Tuesday.”
She’s picking me up from the airport, and all I have to do is be there.