Tuesday July 24. 2001

played real good for free

So. I got the job.

My first day was yesterday. Things, on the whole, are much more laid back at this particular bookstore chain compared to B&N. I am allowed to wear normal clothing, none of this "business casual" stuff. They seem to be interested in hiring a more diverse workforce - there is pink hair and tattoos, shaved heads and halter tops. I feel much more at home than I did at B&N, where I was the "weird artist" held at arms' length.

The variety of merchandise is far superior to B&N's. They have an amazing section of art books, not to mention a HUGE HUGE HUGE music section. Everything you could possibly want. I exercised my employee discount immediately, getting Steady Pull by Jonatha Brooke and Once Upon A Summertime by Blossom Dearie. The cafe is better, they have music every Friday night and they're only open until 10, which means I can kiss my days of getting home from work at 1 am goodbye.

And I get an hour break for lunch. An HOUR. I came back to the breakroom after a half hour, clocked in and was told by my manager I still had a half hour left. Wow. I'm not even sure what I can do with an hour. It gives me enough time to get a drink in the cafe, select some reading material and eat my lunch leisurely.

Yes, I think I am going to like it here.

I went to see Susan Werner last night. She was playing in Frazer, which ended up being about 35 minutes Northwest of where I live. Taking no chances with my bad sense of direction and rush hour traffic, I left an hour and a half before the concert started and arrived a full hour early to sit in the sweltering heat on my blanket. But I did end up with an extremely good seat.

It was held at this place called Eagleview. It was one of those brand new corporate/retail/residential complexes that is almost Stepfordish in its pristine newness, impeccable landscaping and lily whiteness. The place where Susan was playing was a small outdoor stage, right next to a bistro-like restaurant with a large patio containing several beautiful fountains. In the distance I could see those enormous townhouses that look like miniature Taj Mahals springing out of the freshly planted ground. As people settled on the ground around me, they set up small tables and lawn chairs, got out gourmet sandwiches and uncorked bottles of red wine.

The whole thing was rather surreal.

Susan's opening act, Jeff Lang, was amazing. His set was far too short, but his guitar skills floored me. The only way I can accurately describe his songs were that they reminded me of black and white photographs. All sharp angles and jagged edges and these big empty spaces between his voice and supple, strong guitar. I wanted to buy one of his CDs but I wouldn't have been able to pay the toll to get back home if I had. I'll just have to look elsewhere (perhaps my new place of employ?).

And then Suzie Werner. I hadn't seen her in over a year, and her hair was much longer and seemed more tired than I remembered her. It was probably the heat, and I didn't blame her when she cut the set a litte short. But she was amazing in voice and guitar, and very witty and funny as well. She said her new album was finished and "I'll try to get that out to you guys as soon as possible."

As always, it amazes the hell out of me that I can see one of my favorite musicians like this. Sit on a blanket in the grass ten feet away and hear her grumbling to herself as she tries to tune her guitar. All of the rest of the musicians whose music I love feel so remote to me. People like Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell, Ani DiFranco. Their personalities and the actual person they are will never come into play for me. I think it's kind of sad that that's been lost. It's weird when someone becomes larger than life that you can't even imagine them as a real person that you could go up and talk to. I'm grateful that I love musicians who I can just go up to after a show, say hello and shake their hand and tell them a job well done.

(the many faces of Susan Werner)

One Year Ago:
"I pulled open the dark stained wooden door. The brass handle was slightly sticky. The small lobby was permeated with the scent of bathroom. The architecture was all clean lines, stainless steel, mint green and white."