...We Call it Home

Last night was great, just very relaxing. The whole helping beaten women and fighting men with cerebral palsy thing had been starting to weigh on me, so it was wonderful to have just a nice, peaceful, bullshit-free, and lucrative evening.

It started with me hanging out at the garage for three and a half hours, and it looking like I wasn't going to get a cab. The last hour of which was spent listening to another cabbie my age talk endlessly about how he couldn't take much more of this job, and had to get a new one. Good times. I can certainly understand where he's coming from, but am still a ways away from that point myself. I'm still optimistic about and enjoying the job, it's when intense things happen in short periods of time that I start to get angsty. This cat was complaining about how boring the job was. I love this job when it's boring. Not "sitting around and reading because there's no work" boring, but the "everything's cruising along nicely" boring.

So I was waiting around with very faint hopes, not expecting to get a cab, and B waltzes in to get his. B is a swarthy, grizzled old cab-driver who's central casting's idea of a retired hitman who just wants to raise his granddaughter in peace. Raspy growl of a voice, shaved gray hair with a goatee, always wear sunglasses, stocky dude who looks like he can lick any SOB in the house. Homeboy's scary. I wish I could tell you what "B" is short for, because it's his actual name, and it's fucking perfect for him.

Anyway, he sauntered into the room, asked if me and the other two guys are waiting for cabs, then pointed at me, smiled, and growled "How would you like to drive my cab."

See, the grizzled old lease drivers love me. I don't even really know many of the other hip, young, cab drivers' names. But the lifers and I are chill. Whether or not this is a particularly good sign is debatable, but it tends to tangibly come in handy a lot more often than cultivating an impressive array of tattoos to show off around the garage would.

Anyway, my response to B was, and I quote, "Fuck yeah." B's got a nice ride. He's a lease driver, but he's got a steady on this pimped out little number with sheepskin seat covers. No great stereo, but it drives nice. So B talks to the superintendent, and I'm paying his lease and driving his car for the night.

I get out, do a quick little $15 fare, and then get a $35 trip out to Tualatin. Instead of deadheading back without looking at the map or screen like I often used to (my new project is learning the western suburbs), I check it out, and immediately after dropping off get a call like 20 blocks away. Going back to Portland, another $35. Do another $15 trip as soon as I got back, and I've paid my lease in less than 2 hours, with all of Friday night ahead of me.

See, that paragraph right there is another example of the kind of stories cabbies love, but aren't very interesting to most other people.

Not many stories tonight that were all that interesting. Had my second conversation in as many weeks about jazz drummers with someone else who knows jazz drummers. This guy didn't think I was crazy when I told him that while I could appreciate Max Roach, I'd just never been able to get into him. Also agreed with me that Danny Richmond is criminally under-appreciated. It's really all about Art Blakey, who too many people my age who are into jazz seem to have just not been exposed to enough of.

The guy who does the 3AM - 6AM show on KBOO every other Saturday morning has always pissed me off. He plays a lot of music by underground artists I know and love, and he always plays their most pop and/or subpar stuff. As a very serious music geek/snob, I've always found his aesthetic admirable and his actual taste seriously offensive, if that makes any sense at all. I always try to avoid this show, and just listen to the Friday night/Saturday morning blues marathon on KMHD instead.

At 4:30, however, I gave "Further" (the name of this guy's show) a whirl. And the first thing I heard were the opening bars to "Angular," the first song on Shopping Carts Crashing. He was doing some APC retrospective or whatever. I was just really happy, as I'd had the song stuck in my head Thursday, but hadn't listened to it, and it never gets played on the radio. I love me some Anti-Pop, I was the first person to play them on the radio in Portland, the person who introduced them to the Mercury, the person who introduced them to my college. And loser that I am, I've always taken some pride in that, of having discovered something I loved and helped get the ball rolling in bringing it to others. And this guy I can't stand hit me with just what I needed.

I know that this is interesting to absolutely no one, but it's the kind of small moment that can push the job from just a job to a lot of fun, suddenly driving around to music I love and explaining to the black kid in the back seat why I think this is the illest shit on earth, and him really digging it, the crazy vocals and wonderfully put together backing tracks, telling me that it's nice to have a cool cab driver for once (most of the hip young cabbies are definitely not working outer Northeast).

Then, of course, Mr. "Further" starts playing whack tracks from their solo projects, so I call him up, and it turns out that he doesn't even know any of the songs by name. I have him play "Tuff Gong" and "Driving in Circles," and everything's wonderful.

And yes, I understand completely that none of this makes me cool, and in fact reveals large swaths of my inner geekitude. But fuck it, I had fun last night. All my passengers were polite, many were fun, and some were interesting.

I'm listening to "Flatlands" by Sonicsum right now, whereas this morning I was listening to Earth. This reveals an enormous amount of attitudinal shift for people who have any idea what "Flatlands" and Earth sound like. Hm... let's just say for those who for some reason don't happen to be down with both drone metal and U.K. avant hip-hop that "Flatlands" always puts a smile on my face, and is a beautiful track constructed around a haunting old Tangerine Dream keyboard sample.

Earth, on the other hand, is essentially Dylan Carlson. Carlson played a huge part in inspiring the contemporary North American harsh noise scene (I'm especially looking at you, guys with guitar drones and effects pedals), but is most famous for being the guy who took Kurt Cobain to buy the shotgun Cobain blew his head off with (said shotgun having been purchased here in Portland at the much lamented Maury's Gun's Rack, formerly at SE 82nd & Woodstock). Some would argue that making Cobain listen to earth2 at high volumes would have done the job just as effectively though (I kid because I love, Earth is wonderful stuff).


Blogger NYC TAXI SHOTS said...


July 29, 2006 6:56 PM  
Blogger MJ06 said...

Hey man being happy is what it is all about.

July 29, 2006 7:07 PM  

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