ticket stub story number four: radiohead — nyc, august 2001

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the mythology of new york always appealed to me, even though everything i knew about it only existed in films, photographs, and folklore. if you were to ask my thirteen-year-old self where i thought i would live as an adult, i probably would have told you new york city. i wanted andy warhol’s new york. i wanted the velvet underground and joe dallesandro and deborah harry and the factory. i guess i was born too late.

in august of 2001, i was chatting with some friends at a bar in chicago and it was decided that very night that we would fly to new york to see radiohead. we had no tickets for the concert (sold out) and no idea where we were staying. i think i had about $100 in the bank and i had never done a spontaneous trip quite like that. i was scared to death. no plan? no money? a city larger than chicago that i had no idea how to navigate? but i had to do it, something in my bones told me i had to.

at that time, flights would sometimes be incredibly cheap, so we were on our way to newark before you knew it. it was late summer, hot and humid. one of my travel companions had some friends that met us out at a bar. they were tall and leggy in stiletto heels, such tiny, delicate birds. i felt like a blubbery pile of sweaty flesh next to them.

the dynamic of friendships among young women always had a competitive edge to it. hell, sometimes, it still does. now that i am older and wiser, i see how i never learned to handle those feelings of insignificance brought on by its good buddy comparison. most of the social dynamics in school was so exhausting and ridiculous to me that i was just fine being different than the popular kids even though it meant feeling ostracized. whenever those awkward adolescent feelings start to creep back in, i get anxious like a motherfucker. fight or flight takes over everything and all rational thought disappears. my body aches to run away, to take flight, but no. fight always comes first.

all night long, from one bar to another bar, and then to a dance club, i felt hideously out of place. but all of that ended once we got to max fish. now that was a bar i could get into, the vibe was just right. even meg white was there, drinking whisky and playing pinball. the white stripes were still so new that summer of 2001 that i felt like the coolest girl in the world just to be in the same room as her.

the next day after wandering the city, i managed to get myself to where the ferry would take us to liberty state park. i still didn’t have a ticket, but somehow, it all came together in just a few minutes. i found someone selling a ticket, got on the ferry and was on my way to see radiohead for the first time.

the sun was starting to set and the light was changing as we coasted along past the statue of liberty, passing a joint around as i snapped photos. i marveled at the manhattan skyline as the sunset painted a wash of pastels onto the shining metropolis. my eyes drank in the scenery as every terrible thought i had about myself the night before melted away into the water beneath us.

kid koala was the first act, followed by the beta band, and then radiohead played. i was alone for most of the night, moving around the crowd, watching everything from different vantage points, taking in the music and feeling my skin tingle. thinking back on it now, that trip reminded me of how fun it is to travel and see live music. i vowed to do it again soon.

here is the setlist from that night:

the national anthem
morning bell
airbag
karma police
knives out
packd like sardines in a crushd tin box
exit music (for a film)
my iron lung
no surprises
dollars and cents
street spirit (fade out)
i might be wrong
pyramid song
paranoid android
idioteque
everything in its right place

like spinning plates
lucky (false start)
you and whose army?
how to disappear completely

true love waits
the bends
the tourist

when i got home to chicago, i had a couple rolls of film to process, but they slipped my mind. i ended up not getting the film developed for a few weeks. as i looked through the photos, i froze. the manhattan skyline was bathed in that perfect light, exactly how i remembered. it was just a few weeks after september 11 and i was looking at photos that had the twin towers in the background.

as i was compiling the setlist above, i did a quick search for photos from that show and found this beauty below. i was listening to “the tourist” when i found this. it just seemed perfect to end this ticket stub story with it.

 

Radiohead in Black & White With WTC in Background - Imgur

brain radio: vipassana

at the end of december i went completely off the grid up in occidental, california for a 10-day vipassana meditation course. i’d been working toward something of the sort for awhile, strengthening the bond between my mind and my body, learning to live in the moment. never had the time to unplug quite like this though: 9 of the 10 days are spent in complete silence without distractions. no phones, no computers, no writing, talking, gesturing, singing, dancing, or even physical contact. we lived like buddhist monks, really.

the hardest thing about it was not having music to listen to. i was aching for nick drake one morning as the sun rose, glittering like gold leaf in the trees. i wanted to belt out lines from “me and bobby mcgee” as i listened to my footsteps squishing in wet leaves and mud. instead, i let my brain play these songs as i meditated, wandered, and soaked up my surroundings with the full capacity of my senses. it was magnificent.

naturally, i had to make a playlist. it’s just what i do. so if you are curious about what kind of music plays in the brain of one who cannot speak or sing or listen to music, you are about to find out!

enjoy, and may all beings be happy.

brain radio: “last christmas”

december 26, 1990.

i was a fifteen-year-old vegetarian kid in a smiths “meat is murder” tee shirt (that i wish i still had). i was on my way to london for the very first time. this classic Wham! song was playing in the airport or possibly on the plane as we were boarding. i think of it every year at this time, it was playing in my head a whole lot while i was in the UK recently. the holiday lights were out, shoppers filled oxford street, and i felt like that same teenager, full of wonder, ideas. this song always ends up on my holiday playlists.

this music video is so of the time. look at that hair!

 

this year, to save me from tears, i am spending the holidays in northern california at a 10-day vipassana meditation course. it will be my first holiday season away from all distractions to go deep into mindfulness. exciting! scary! challenging!

there are a lot of stories still to share from the UK adventures and even more groovy happenings coming in 2016 so don’t be a stranger, ok?

happy holidays to all!

brain radio: “let it happen”

who is your favorite band or musician at the moment? if you know me, we have probably talked about my favorite band of the now, tame impala. this morning and many mornings since it was first released, i awoke with “let it happen” playing on my brain radio. it’s something of an anthem for this time in my life, particularly the last year or so, when i finally started getting in touch with what i really what from the universe and what i want to contribute to it. the hardest part is staying true to that and not deviating from that path.

when this song first came out, i had it on my phone and listened to it on a walk in my neighborhood. the sun was shining, i walked fast, along with the beat. “all this running around, bearing down on my shoulders.” i’ve been so sick of the hustle, selling my marketable skills to the next bidder. i just want to share stories and ideas and things i make with the world, not just the things i do to pay rent. “something’s trying to get out, and it’s never been closer.”

this is a wild time to be alive. listening to music keeps me from getting too lost in the sadness of the world and reminds me of the beauty that exists.

why don’t we just let it happen?

 

 

ticket stub story / november playlist

my morning view / los angeles, november 2015 #apartment #home

A photo posted by miss lisa g. french (@misslisagfrench) on

 

november. it’s finally cold enough in los angeles to have a heater on at night. two pairs of socks if you’re feeling extra chilly. coincidentally, i am wearing socks i bought on a trip to london back in…well i know it was for my 28th birthday. so it must have been 2003. i hang on to the randomest things. you know, like ticket stubs. and memories.

ticket stub story is officially two weeks old today, and it’s been invigorating to write about these moments in my life and hearing about others in the process. while writing about the ticket stubs, music memories, and brain radio activity that i’ve shared so far (and some that i am writing now), there was always music on.

welcome to our first playlist! on it you will find all of the songs mentioned on the blog so far as well as a few that will be mentioned in stories to come. heck, i’ll probably add a lot more to it before the month is over.

i hope you are enjoying everything so far, i am having a blast with this. so much more is coming up: some travel, some live music action, and of course, more stories. let’s listen to some music!