NYC in July

I'd spend just over a month in NYC, a story of hot dogs, music, tequila, ice cubes and quantum mechanics. Music was the headliner, my friends band, Cyderobin, was having me record and mix their first album, a six song EP.

The first order of business, however, was Nathans Hot Dog Eating Contest. This would be the fourth year in a row I'd be in Coney Island on the 4th of July to watch competitors eat dozens and dozens of dogs. Mark and I made big signs in attempts to be recognized in broadcasts by ESPN and others covering the event, we were rewarded, being featured in a video from the Associated Press. Kobayashi, a former competitor, was not eating this year for contractual reasons, but he appeared and jumped on stage only to be subdued by police.

I caught up with an old neighbor that night at his new place in Brooklyn to enjoy the holiday along with his kegs of beer brought by his roommate who worked for Victory brewing. The night ended the way several would in New York, lost, jumping subway turnstyles to make the eventual return to the Astoria apartment.

The next several days I spent tweaking equipment and playing around. We had our first session, I went to the studio with Carl and recorded drum tracks for three out of the six songs. We left an hour early on accident, but we'd recorded what we'd set out to.

I went into the city with Mark the next day, eventually ending up at his bar a while after he started working. When he got off work we piled into a cab with some other friends, winding up at a bar telling stories over a pitcher while we waited for chicken wings to be cooked up.

We went to his girlfriend's place afterwards, close to union square, I took off when things began winding down. I wound up in the basement somehow, drunkly confused as to how to exit the building. I finally escaped, armed with a broom and a folding chair I'd found down there under my arm as I marched down the sidewalk unsure as to where the subway was.

I walked past a bar a few blocks away, there was a girl sitting alone at a booth. I asked her through the open window as to where I could find a subway. We got to talking and she offered to buy me a beer and have a seat with her. I explained my broom and chair, she talked about loving the city and going to school nearby, also telling me the story of an ex-girlfriend of hers. A couple beers later and we were out the door and parting ways, she pointed me to the subway and I was Astoria bound once again. It was a good ride home, I had a subway car completely to myself, I took the opportunity to run up and down the car, swinging around the poles and taking a leak in between cars somewhere around 49th street.

In the following nights I did some more recording, finishing all the drum tracks at the studio with Carl and getting some guitar and bass done with Mark and Sean. Between this I did some editing and mixing. At nights I would often find myself at the table with at least Carl, we talked about a great deal of things while he smoked a cigarette and we took shots of navi juice, a blue sort of vodka in which there were many a bottle from a party they'd had a while ago.

The night before Mark's birthday rolled around. We started at his bar where we met up with everyone, then headed to Dallas BBQs for good food and Texas sized drinks. Next we were at a two story karaoke bar for good times. I left for the subway with Carl at the end of the night, but later found myself on my own - walking down streets, jumping into different subways, snaking around the city until I finally got back to the Astoria apartment.

The next night, Mark's actual birthday, a big group of us went to the beer garden in Astoria to celebrate. After games of beer pong and the like, a smaller group of us made our way to Doyles - the place that was once the default irish pub when I lived in New York. We kicked a soccer ball on the streets, sprinting blocks and blocks to the pub, running around traffic and passing the ball around. It was a great night of darts and good vibes, I'd wake up on the roof later to the scorching sun.

We got some more recording done in the next couple days, vocals. I made my way to Connecticut where I saw some family. We went and visited some old neighbors by the house my mom grew up in, and more or less myself too. It was a night of good food and catching up with friends that I hadn't seen in a long while.

I stayed in Connecticut a couple days or so, plus a day at my dad's place just a 45 minute drive away. I eventually headed back to the city for a night of catching up with old friends, then back to Astoria where Marlon would be crashing for a while too.

A lot more recording got done in the next few days and I was able to start mixing a few of the songs. The title track, "Enemy in my Head", was coming along great and a few of us stood listening to the mix over and over in excitement.

I spent one night sitting at the kitchen table with Marlon over a bottle of tequila discussing recent goings on and things in general. We went through all the ice cubes soon, also finishing the bottle just after sunrise. Ice cube trays... I made ice constantly in these hot and sweaty shirtless Astoria apartment days, a routine of sorts. We were still up when Sean woke up, we got some coffee and donuts and I next started some more recording with Mark - the string part for "Holding on to you".

In the next week or so we finished recording all the pieces for the EP and I mixed everything down, some occasional beer garden and doyles trips in between. On the night I finished the mixes, more or less, I met up with Mark, Carl and some other friends in the city. They'd been holding the attention of a fun filled jazz musician girl they thought would be perfect for me at the bar, but another guy was commanding her attention with heavy flirtation, despite admittedly having a girlfriend of his own. It remained a celebratory night anyhow, we dragged it out as long as we could at several places in the city.

The next day I spent in Mexican spirits with Mark and his girlfriend, she had fancy tequila, mezcal and had cooked up some incredible food. Towards the end of the night the three of us sat in a room listening to the new recordings, as well as some older ones dating back a number of years.

The last week in the city was spent doing last minute tweaks on some of the mixes and relaxing, mostly around Astoria, looking into things like quantum mechanics and playing harmonica. On one of the last nights I headed to Mark's bar and sat there a while until he got off work, we then went to the Gingerman one last time. A night of drinks caught up with me quick, a patch of the night forgotten, my next memory was being on a train, my phone was gone. I got off the next stop and found a subway, jumping the turnstyle one last time and slowly finding my way back to the Astoria apartment once again. Mark let me in, the sun was out, he didn't seem happy.

The next day I'd find out from Sean and Carl that I'd caught Mark with an elbow and he was pretty upset. I'd wake up a couple mornings later still having not spoken to Mark, he'd been working and otherwise out of touch.

The last morning in town I was up early, I'd arranged a ride to Rochester to begin my journey back west. I slammed down some rice and double checked for all my things, all was packed tight in my backpack - it had been neglected the past month and was ready to go now. Sean walked with me down Steinway, getting me a coffee and swiping me through to the subway, out of Astoria and back to the road.

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