THE CMJ MUSIC Marathon is New York City's annual, daunting menagerie of Next Big Indie Things (That'll Be Obsolete in Six Months) and the publicity/radio/print journalism vampires who play god—if god were afflicted with Down's syndrome—with the rock. I was psyched to witness this train wreck and am beyond psyched to tell you some half-truths about the four days I spent there.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 30: Since check-in at the Marriott is approximately eight hours after my red-eye floats into JFK, I walk around Williamsburg, Brooklyn, all day with Kyle Fischer, Rainer Maria's guitarist (ooh la la, droppin' names in the second graph!). We scrounge for vintage. I snap up a pair of "gorgeous" Wranglers but lack a "man bag" to tote them around in. Kyle scores boots and adjusts my unkempt hair. It's like I never left Capitol Hill.
By sundown, I'm in Irving Plaza awaiting Gandhi, Page Hamilton's (ex-Helmet) first rock band in six years, a.k.a. The Reason I Flew Out Here. I hit on a smoking N.Y.U. (or something) editor who keeps pronouncing Maynard James Keenan's name "Maine-art" while Ours' front dude does his 1984 Bono impersonation onstage. When Gandhi starts, I promptly drop the ball by treating my right thigh like a floor tom. Six songs into their abrasive set, some cretin lisps, "Get off the stage!" and I slither off to Times Square, where a bouncer informs me that my press badge won't get me into some awful WWE store where the band Thursday's playing. I spit, "Fuck this shit," dutifully dishonoring the Weekly, and trudge 20 blocks to my hotel to sleep for the first time in 51 hours.
THURSDAY, OCT. 31: Sans costume at noon, I spot Maggie Vail, Bangs bassist and Kill Rock Stars publicist, at the Hilton (marathon HQ). She's off to "do some work" by attending a panel discussion. This reminds me: I'm technically a "journalist," so I scope three panels in 20 minutes (including "Metal Militia Maneuvers," during which a disabled Santa look-alike loudly dubs a panelist a "douche bag"), kill myself, get resurrected as myself, slap on way-too-dark zombie makeup, and dart through 2 million Greenwich Village Halloween parade revelers to interview Minus the Bear.
After the Bear's set (and a critical facial touch-up), I consider inviting a cute lady to the ensuing "Mother Fucker" costume party at Club New York, but her favorite band is Nirvana and she "just wants to see Krist" playing with Eyes Adrift, and I don't want to think about Seattle tonight or, um, ever again. Kyle arrives at Mother Fucker as a ballerina (he "shaved his junk" for the occasion), some dudes pogo-mosh to "Teen Spirit," and I receive my first gay fondling during "Personal Jesus" by a 250-pound Vincent D'Onofrio clone. Fifth best shower of my life ensues at 4 a.m.
FRIDAY, NOV. 1: Finally a perk to my stupid badge: I'm front row center in a Hilton ballroom for Triumph the Comic Insult Dog anally conquering Sesame Street's Ernie. Afterward, Sweden's Division of Laura Lee take the stage, superbummed to be playing for lowly writers. I jet early, take the E to Ground Zero (I wish my liberal N.Y.C. friends wouldn't call it that), get super-duper bummed all afternoon, and warm up at a Sub Pop press dinner in Little Italy. I "establish contacts" or some shit, meet people who boned people I danced with last night, and engage in the human functions of "smiling" and "laughing." The Kill Rock Stars showcase at Knitting Factory is, big surprise, packed, but at least every band delivers. I take a blurry photo of a calculator embedded in the sidewalk, and for the first time seriously entertain the idea of moving to New York.
SATURDAY, NOV. 2: Vaz is headlining a "Fuck CMJ" gig somewhere tonight, but on the verge of dropping $500 in four days, I'm intent on exploiting my badge. I head to Greenwich with my friend, Andrea, and stumble into a "secret" afternoon showcase featuring Minus the Bear, Hot Hot Heat, Party of Helicopters, and Ted Leo. I falsely inform the door dude that Dre's on the list (which works, oh, 1 percent of the time), but . . . score! We burst in, have a great time, and end up dancing to Electroclash and Missy Elliott at Brooklyn's Luxx late that evening. Peaches is in the house, and when some woman starts pestering her, the emcee bleats, "Bitch, you can eat her pussy and lick her tits later! Right now you're gonna listen to my motherfucking monologue!"
You just endured mine, punk. To paraphrase the brain surgeons in Incubus, I wish you were there.