Leslie Harpold left us ten years ago today. I've already written about her before but wanted to share an email she sent me many years ago as a reminder of how wonderful she was.
----- Forwarded message from leslie harpold
Date: Sun, 26 Oct 1997 04:44:44 -0500
From: leslie harpold
unlike most people, i am experiencing 3am for the second time today.
granted, technically, it's the only 3am we're allotted for this 24 period,
but since i was lax in resetting my clocks, it's still 3am a second time in
tonight was a night like many others. marking time, making the weekend
pass. out for cocktails, on to cbgb, bands , no good, but not bad enough
to actually leave. besides, the real secret is half the time, you don't go
to cbs to see the bands. the real action is outside, between sets. beers
are 5 bucks inside. at the deli on the corner, rolling rocks as singles
are 1.25. since the crowd there is notoriously poor and only posers drink
at the bar (unless of course you're on the band's tab, which i have been
before, will be again, but wasn't, tonight ) you go outside at the breaks,
hit the deli, get your beer, smoke like a chimney and mingle mingle mingle.
it's not about being cheap. it's about principal.
and that's where all the fun is anyway. i mean - no one really talks when
the bands play, you just stand there and look bored and unaffected. it's a
wonder bands bother playing here at all. the only place i've seen it worse
is seattle, where the bored look is even more de rigueur. some bands have
really active energetic followings. superchunk, SY, GBV, all their fans are
geek boys, so they can't help but wriggle around. some big people, like
the ramones, well, they inspire the old kids to keep up with the young kids
and at lest bounce in place. iggy makes everyone thrash about, because
iggy is magic, and the cows just have rowdy fans. but - the basic grunge
rehash requires that "suck this asshole" pose of half aggression, half
disenchantment with a dash of cosmic irony thrown in. it is far too far
gone to change.
so we stand out there and talk to strangers like they are old friends.
it's all quite intimate. i am regularly offered heroin, which anywhere
else is a coveted substance. i am offered more weed than i would ever
need, if i smoked it. in this spirit of giving - i offer my cigarettes,
and never have any trouble finding takers. when i first moved here, the
heroin was cocaine, again, something i had no use for. once i took a hit
of X that my friend michelle's boyfriend's brother gave me, and it was
dead, initially i was bummed, but then i realized how stupid it was to take
drugs from strangers and was glad the worst thing that happened was not
getting off. i didn't have anyone there to fuck that night anyway. i
think m. and i were fighting at the time or he was in asia, or something.
it's all just memories, it could have been some cold, flu or boys night out
and i'm romanticizing why i was hanging with the girls. anyway, i like
being out there. there's a certain comfort - a group experience, and then
you go back and the second band seems better, for a little, then you wait
for them to finish so you can return to the party.
so - no talking during shows. outside - talk is rampant, besides, the club
is so hot that the 20 minute set breaks while the next band sets up happens
to be exactly the amount of time it takes to gulp huge quantities of real
air while you smoke and get cold enough to face another 45 minutes of your
body smashed exquisitely between 5 others on all sides.
afterwards all the hipsters parade down the street and across houston - a
street so busy and big that your mom wouldn't let you cross it alone until
you were about 11 years old and even then would still worry. once you
cross houston you officially enter the Loisaida - what the spanish call the
lower east side. In the daytime, it's hasidic merchants and spanish
grocers - discount land in the most unglamorous dusty, unkept retail stores
you have ever seen, but you're at least not charged an ambience premium.
at night, like tonight - it's a different world. things you thought were
boarded up shops are actually bars. and now, while everything else has the
metal grates pulled down tight for safety. three of them are important and
worth a mention.
cafe ludlow. the owner, clive is a 41 year old real estate magnate who
wants to get a little youth on him. he has a faded crew, a marine cut, and
wears tight black tshirts and tight jeans. they say a woman gets stuck
with her makeup and clothes in the time she felt most attractive, but this
seems to be true of clive as well. when i first started going there, when
they opened 5 years ago, i was a different person. kind of. i dressed
differently, for sure. fetish gear and flannel back then. doc martens
with socks, fishnets and pvc skirts, leather corsets, rows of amulets that
had deep symbolic meaning, 7 earrings in my left ear, nose ring the whole
nine. my friend whitney wore a lot of rubber.
he would come and sit with us and talk to us because we were smart enough
that he could talk about his life - the things he said to us were mainly
the things he told everyone else, but at the end he would tear up our check
and wink, and thank us for understanding. we saw him repeat the ritual
without the check tearing several times, and once we asked him why we were
so lucky. 'you girls understand the big words' he'd say, and tore our
check up. this was the only time it felt as cool as it was supposed to
feel for being smart girls. usually the cool part of being a smart girl is
just being able to spot predators and liars, and even smart girls fail at
that regularly. good grades aren't the reward they're cracked up to be. i
also know he didn't realize we were genuinely smart, the reward was mostly
about having a real understanding expression and a no vacancy sign in our
eyes. both of us blondes too, who would have guessed?
across the street, kitty corner is max fish. back in the day there was
nothing on ludlow street, this was the only place to go down there.
artists the likes of which are legendary paid their bar tabs in art, but
only a few us can tell you who did what pieces anymore. the collection
isn't as impressive as the stairwells at the chelsea hotel, but they're
kind of amusing. people still pack in to max fish to get that feeling that
something great might happen there again, but my money says it won't.
lightening rarely strikes twice in the same place. but if you whine about
your rep not getting you anything but crappy european shows and lament it's
been almost 2 years since your last ny solo, you can cut the line for the
pool table, and if you have a good partner, hold on to the table for a
couple of hours. which is why when i go, i always try to play with Boo.
Boo is a loan shark, a westie who moved from my neighborhood downtown.
he's a great pool player, if you don't mind the occasional breaks he takes
to go "talk business". he has offices at the bar as much as anyone can.
he knows how to tell who has parents that will bail them out if they can't
pay. he wears shorts even int he winter, thinking most people won't be
able to tell he's carrying a gun. he won't lend money to women since he
doesn't have the heart to collect from them. he loves women, and if you
get him drunk enough he will tell you this, and add that he would never hit
one, except that once he had this girlfriend who liked to get smacked
around a little bit, and that she left him since he could never hit her in
he's a criminal, yeah, but he actually has a pretty good heart. and he can
kick anyone's ass in pool. he wears shorts because he has a really amazing
tattoo down one of his legs that he got from a guy he met in the federal
pen in pennsylvania, they got released on the same day and grew up three
blocks away from each other in manhattan. turns out their dads were rival
- well, whatever rival westies called each other and both had been killed
in unmentioned ways. tommy, the tattoo artist still lives on ninth avenue
across the street and a half a world away from me. once my friend wendy -
who we call supermuffin decided to walk on the wild side and sleep with
tommy. he's a bad boy, but not the kind that went to art school. she
still won't talk about it.
the third is the newest one, and they can't decide what they want to be
yet, so it's like a big empty black room with second hand tables and chairs
and red lights. it's easy to wander in, and there's always a place to sit,
so mostly it handles overflow from the other two bars. the crowd there is
a little younger, since the owner borrowed some money from boo to open it
and clive is his landlord, so he serves underage kids booze.
clive needs to hang out with younger people to feel better though, so about
the time i turned 30, he stopped coming to sit with us. i say that because
i don;t want to think it had anything to do with dressing like a tart and
being visibly loaded. i don't want to remember the time he slid his hand
up my skirt while he was telling whitney about how to save enough money to
retire early so she could do what she wanted, to postpone her career as a
photographer until she had the money to support it fully. because i know
the next night, while he was telling me he had seen one of my paintings at
our friend stuart's loft, where i was working on it, he slid his hand up
boo only introduces himself to girls as boo. men have to call him bobby.
tonight i was at max fish, and boo was there but not available, a young
girl who is rumored to be 17 was in his clutches and in that environment he
was wisely not letting go. it was the usual crowd of hipsters and
wannabes, and hipster wannabes, and me, just being me, whatever that is
these days. i was out with todd - the one i call hip hop boy and he
naturally had the big pants on which always makes me laugh. something
about a 29 year old guy in big pants, i guess. he's totally good though,
although he acts like a hard ass, he's the one who decided we should finger
paint with fluorescent paints under black light when i was in a funk i
couldn't see over. and his job actually dictates he follow that style,
since he works for XL and X-girl. All the men there are neo beastie boys,
at least on the outside.
todd's special talent is knowing when to fold. he looked at me at one
point and motioned for the door. i was ready to go. he knew it, which was
great, since i didn;t. halfway to ludlow, we ran into clive on the street.
'bad night', he told us, record label party. "what label?" we asked,
knowing that would make all the difference. 'elektra.' we went home.
i walked in the door at 2:58. i sat down and smoked and thought about how
much things change, even though they don't look any different at first
glance, or rather that sometimes what changes is you and that makes
everything else so different.
then it was 3am. and since my life now means that email could be waiting,
i checked it. business account fill to brimming with list mail, personal
account drips of notes and replies, nothing too moving. and the computer
said "we've adjusted your clock" and then it was 2am again. i wondered if
there was anything about the last hour i should do over, and i realized
there was more than an hour's worth of work, so i was just grateful for an
extra hour anyway. i wanted to hear the noise so i got out a pencil and
some bumpy paper and drew a picture of a hand with a ball and a jack in it,
something that keeps showing up in my head inexplicably. it's offering
these things to me. so i took them and put them on paper, knowing how
reassuring the scratch of pencils eroding on paper is, and it was 3am again.
how was your night?
http://www.hoopla.com + http://smug.com
"Red shapes replacing art is most frequently
caused by a low-memory situation" -John Dowdell