Thursday, August 19, 2010


For years, the minute the skyline appears in the window of the airplane, I've started hearing the song New York, New York in my head.

I didn't take this picture, I found it on the internet - but you can see Buzz Kill's building on the edge of the park. Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters is just outside of the photo.

The same thing happened on the plane this time, except in my head, nobody was singing, "I'll make a brand new start of it, in Old New York." I want to get the hell back to Austin. I've been feeling this way for a while, but when Velvet and I were in Austin last weekend, I knew for sure it was finally time to come home.

On Friday night, my friend Miss Jeannie and her husband Jim Bob (his name is really, truly Jim Bob and he plays guitar around Austin) took Buster and me out to Threadgill's to see a local musician named Bob Schneider who was playing in the beer garden.

Austin Chronicle photo. Threadgill's is an Austin landmark. Janis Joplin played at the original location. We were there at night and saw shooting stars from the meteor shower.

Bob Schneider is lovely and talented, but if you ask me, he's kind of an asshole. I base my opinion on the way he hung out in the yard after the show and was clearly delighted by some skinny cougar-mom who was pimping out her nubile daughter. Maybe they were a team - what do I know? It's just that when Velvet was getting Bob to autograph the CD recorded live that very night at Threadgill's, Bob was a dismissive dick. Whatever. He clearly has a solid local fan base and put on a good show. In fact, as a result of a little vignette at this very show, I knew that no matter whatever happened in this life, Velvet was going to be just fine.

They say, "Dance as if no one is watching."

I hadn't seen Velvet dance since he was a little kid, like before we called him Mandark even. At the time, we observed that the child took his party with him wherever he went. Last Friday night at Threadgill's, it was easy to see why his brothers at Hookah House call him Tiny Dancer. He was fully aware of the people around him, so that even though he moved with abandon, he didn't kick anybody - although he did stir up the dust in the yard a few times. Plenty of people were dancing, but only Velvet and this girl down front in a black mini skirt were dancing up a storm. They were each into their own groove too much to notice each other - and besides, she may very well have been a lesbian. Somebody once told me that there were more lesbians per capita in Austin than in San Francisco - and looking at the crowd, I could easily believe it. Plenty of women were openly couples, which made me feel much more comfortable about moving home. I've been afraid that Austin might have been overrun with those damn Bible Thumpers. Now, my fears on that score have been put to rest.

So lots of these apparent lesbians were dancing together in the crowd. Me and my buddy Miss Jeannie were sitting comfortably on the side, drinking cold Shiners and enjoying the show. Part of that show included Velvet's dancing. Occasionally, even Buster had to take a break. He's picked up a resting technique from studying rave culture. I didn't know there were raves in Syracuse last year, but Velvet seems to have studied them thoroughly. Apparently, when you stand with both hands in the air, connected at the thumbs and fore fingers so that it looks kind of like a triangle, you're saying "You Fucking Rock" to the band. To me, it looked more like Velvet was trying to signal Space Aliens, but I'm not familiar with the gesture. From where I sat, it looked like nobody at Threadgill's was familiar with it either since Velvet was the only one doing it. Not that Velvet noticed.

Velvet also didn't notice the young douchebag who snuck up behind him and started mimicking his wild dancing. This douchebag wasn't much older than Velvet. He stood a few feet behind Velvet, acting like a clown and trying to get the girls who were all around Velvet to join him in laughing at Velvet.

As it happened, the women started dancing with Velvet. And when Velvet raised his arms to signal the aliens, the women all did that too. Velvet was surrounded by a cluster of protecting females of all varieties. Old ones, young ones, hot ones in cut-offs and cowboy boots - and the douchebag slunk off in disgrace.

I was proud. Nobody even knew his mom was watching from the sidelines, although later on me and Velvet danced together a few times. I realized that I still jump up and down exactly like when I did the pogo years ago as a New Wavy kid in Austin. It's just that now, I'm only good for about ten minutes especially when it's over 90 degrees. Watching Velvet dance was like seeing the Austin, Texas of Myth and Legend alive today, jamming under neon signs and star light. That was enough, in and of itself, to make my heart sing - but seeing him protected by a circle of appreciative women, I knew in my heart that my work with that child was done. He would be safe no matter where he went in this life, and I could come home.

It's hard to say exactly when Buzz Kill and I will put this apartment on the market. May be the spring, but could be Thanksgiving for all I know. Things have been very smooth with Buzz Kill lately, which makes me suspect he's fixing to pull the financial rug out from under my feet. I may be legally guaranteed alimony until next August, but that doesn't mean he'll cheerfully pay it - and without that money, I can't afford this place for more than a month or two. I suspect he likes having that power because any time I've asked that work be done to get the apartment ready to sell, Buzz Kill has said that his chiropractor has forbidden that sort of activity. Notably, Buzz Kill recently completed a mini-triathlon in under four hours. We'll see what happens this weekend when he's over here sorting through stuff in Velvet's room. It's one thing for Buzz Kill to recycle a bunch of paperbacks Velvet read in middle school, it's quite another for Buzz Kill to get his own boxes of memorabilia out of the closet where I've been storing them for him for four years. I'm pretty sure we're both ready to let go of the marital connection, however, and let this apartment be somebody else's home.

Velvet's ready too. He wasn't ready to let go of his childhood home last year when he went off the college, but ever since we went to see the judge at the beginning of August, Velvet's been calling Syracuse home. And I've realized that I don't need to make a home for him anymore. He'll be making his own home from now on. I'll be creating a sanctuary: a place where he can come to relax, knowing he'll be understood, protected and well-fed, for as long as he wants. As long as he keeps the living room clean. It'll be my damn house, after all. Maybe I'll get a little plaque for the wall:


MRMacrum said...

Nice. Very nice.

Vancouver Voyeur said...

What a beautiful story. I was right there with you at the live show beneath the stars, as I have attended many like that myself. Austin has a special character and style that you don't find in the rest of Texas. I know you'll be happy to return to such a cool place.

PENolan said...

MRMacrum, you should've been there
V.V. What can I say except: The stars at night are big and bright?

Beach Bum said...

Careful,if Austin's secret gets out the Biblethumpers might launch a crusade.

Blueberry said...

Come on back!
Bob Schneider is talented enough but I refuse to go gaga over him. Too many others I like more.

Jennifer said...

Wow, what a satisfying read. I'm so glad for you, and excited for you. I know this feeling of being able to let go of having to stay somewhere and maintain a home for the child (children). Near the father. Maintaining a home for mine was a delight, but when the time came I was ready to move on (and out of a city).

Good for you Tricia. I can't wait to read all about it.

Liberality said...

Austin sounds nice considering it is in the middle of the reddest area in the United States. That may be an exaggeration and maybe not.

Buster can dance! What a great momma you are!

PENolan said...

Liberality, it is a little blue oasis surrounded by red necks - and we've beaten off the Bible Thumpers more than once, Beach. There's always a contingent of Conservative Christians in the Bible Belt, but there's too many hippies and pagans in Austin for them to get a vice grip around politics.

Blueberry - If all goes according to Plan A, I'll be in Austin about the time the bluebonnets bloom, looking for a job teaching preschool in the fall. As it happens, there are plenty of houses are for sale in my old neighborhood - near Woodrow Ave, 78757). It's almost like I never left - except I've been in NYC for 22 years and have a kid. As it happens, I weigh less than I did when I lived there, although I've got some wrinkles and now I'm a redhead.

Jennifer, I have noticed that you and I are on similar trajectories. I've been thinking I should do that writing project you did a while back about Thirty Days of Beauty . . .

Gail said...


I loved, loved, loved this post. I Loved that you were watching while your boy danced and those women surrounded him. Loved it. I love how you felt about it and what you realized because of it. Loved it. I love that you know with great certainty that it is time to 'go home - I Love it.
Great stuff here. I Love it
peace and hope......

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I close my eyes and I can see you dancing to the same New Wave music I danced to. I hope things work out for you so you can get back to Texas quickly and smoothly.

PENolan said...

Doctor, when we were kids, I had so much fun dancing that most mornings I woke up feeling like I had whiplash from bouncing up and down so much the night before. I still had tons of fun, but I only dance like nobody's watching when nobody's watching. Barefoot in my living room

Gail, I love you, too. As for the women - I know the Power of the Goddess when I see it, for sure.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Penolan glad to hear that you enjoyed your visit. And you know the saying there's no place like home. For all of us home is where the heart is.
I had opportunity to visit Austin, twice. Austin is kind of like going to NYC, a nice place to visit, but they have snakes that jump from tree to tree, and hot, really really hot. But it must be the place that you are most comfy at, or you'd never want to go back. :) And think you correct in the thought process regarding your son, he will be ok.. Good Luck on your move whenever it happens.
Pat from NY

Vancouver Voyeur said...

Oh great, now that song is stuck in my head! Argh! ;-)

Lisa said...

In my head, you're back home in Austin already.

I love your stories about Buster aka Velvet.

PENolan said...

VV, Just think of Pee Wee Herman. He did the best version anyway.
Pat, tree jumping snakes? No wonder we all wear hats!
Lisa, he says Buster sounds like a dog's name and that he's so pimping he should still be Velvet (after the Eddie Murphy character, Velvet Jones the Illiterate Pimp). I said I thought he'd outgrown Velvet. Now he wants to be Velvet Squared. Not sure how to put one of those little 2s behind his name.

Jennifer said...

Well if you do embark on the 30 days of beauty, this could be number one. Maybe I'll join in once in awhile. Either way, I'll read you whether you're writing of beautiful moments or if you're doing a kick-ass rant about dumbfuckery.

intelliwench said...

May all the Velvets/Busters of the world forever prevail over the douchebags!

tnlib said...

Love how you watched Velvet dance and how the women danced with him. I'm thrilled you've made up your mind to go back to Austin. Whenever you have a "I miss NY" moment you can fly up for a few days to get a fix.

PENolan said...

Your mouth (keyboard) to God's ears, Intelli.

tnlib: I've got two friend's who have spare rooms waiting for me, AND I'll be coming up regularly so that Max the Psychic Life Coach can do my hair. He's in touch with angels about hair, for sure, and there's no way I'm giving that up just because of a little Geography.

jadedj said...

"...tree jumping snakes"? Damn. Well back in my hometown they have walking catfish and flying cockroaches, but it's still home.

I will say, I entertained going back a couple of years ago after a visit there with my wife and children. They loved it, and I thought that it had changed from it's old racist ways from my youth...which drove me away from it. But then recently, I saw a report where a mosque had been bombed by a local WHITE boy. I can't help but think, not a damned thing has changed.

I will say, I visited some friends in Austin who taught at the university a few years ago. My impression island of sanity and civility in the middle of what I grew up with...dumb fuck Bubba country.

Love this post Tricia, and I know you are making the right move.

Btw---isn't it grand when the douche bags stumble?

jadedj said...

As long as it's not a that would be insulting.

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