in the morning i slowly emerge into a perfect blackness; the room, is perfectly dark. i am on the top bunk, enclosed with a curtain, two feet from the ceiling, and when i open my eyes, or shut them there is just the black fabric of the universe, as i have heard it called, that curious mutable pattern of starlight shimmering upon blackness when i close my eyes, when i open my eyes. specks of energy all but invisible and impossible to catch outside of the periphery. open my eyes, close my eyes, the blackness surrounds me and doesnt care whether i sleep or wake. it is always there. if i look away from the blackness, the shiny moments make shapes, demonic faces and angelic windblows that comfort me (confuse me) and answer my questions. today as i awake (10:30 am) led zeppelin is still playing in my discman, the headphones embedded in the side of my face. i made an mp3 cd of keith jarrett and led zeppelin before i came (ha!), so i fall asleep to piano crystals and awake to this drumbassguitarvocal sex machine. the song is the crunge and i find that im asking the lightblack beings that live on the surface of my dark eyes, "have you seen the bridge?". this is eerie, too, because two nights ago i saw almost famous for the first time, where the led zeppelin fan has a custom made t-shirt asking this same question. but have i? have i seen the bridge? my stupid fucking metaphysical molasses morning mind turns it into a real half conscious question, shimmering and indistinct yet visceral, have i found a bridge on this ship? where are those bridges to hypernonreality... the light faces break apart the moment i look at them. so dark. some times they laugh, i swear. sometimes i see presents wrapped in silver falling towards me, with nova bows, blue glitter on black pants.
up. up. bathe in vanilla. first to the talent show meeting. fire eater not allowed. lindsey will sing on the street where you live, and god i know that song, and i play it on a white piano well. florence wants love story or la vie en rose. im in the same boat on both songs; know the beginning, dont know the bridge. i tell her ill find them by tomorrow. she thanks me; shes four feet tall, 70 years old, and she tells me in her low wilting voice about her job as a singing waitress in north carolina oh, ill bet she stopped the band. look at her fucking eyes! eyes dont age. they stay glassy clear, able to absorb that dark fabric world when the light disappear and the wrinkled faces hidden under darkness. dakness is the absence of light. light is the fastest thing. i touch her arm; it is warm and clammy. 11:00 and ive already seen a bridge.
lunch. garbanzo, cucumber, tomato, fish, pork. a glass, a goblet of ice water. a cloth napkin. a tray. i sit with the dancers and make fun of their show with them. i tell them the story of the rite of spring riot. we laugh. we talk about marriage. smiles are bridges. i am not eating bread, rice, pasta or potatoes; just lots of meat. a modified atkins, i think, but have not researched.
i stop back in my room, looking for a different led zeppelin song. i find it...its that one, oh god it is so pretty, guitar and strings and then plant, "it is the springtime of my loving..." this song haunts me these days. it isnt hard to feel me glowing. i try to work it out before rehearsal, on the piano, but then the fucker polish violinist is here and wants to run through her fucking numbers, her loud voice, her awful stories, her arrangements of songs from lord of the dance that are a good twenty bpms faster then she can play them. the music vomits and i pound to be heard over the synthesized click track and i dislike her but admire her shoes and laugh inside and i am not upset, im not irritated, im happy and what a bridge, what an opportunity, oh dps i still remember that old buddhist line. i smile at her while playing a solo in tequila. its 1:00. she has a prerecorded piano playing with her on the chopin nocturne, the one in eb, no not that one, the other one, and its the one good piece of music in the show and its prerecorded because the woman is insecure and i wish i were playing. i love chopin. i think he understands me. i dont like this violin player. shoes, though. and her pretty smile.
then rehearse with the a capella quartet, lighthouse, an elton john number, bad chart, misflatted notes, singers in too many keys. a bad rehearsal. i rest my head on the piano whenever i can. there is a giant, three foot long pencil on the ground. then back.
to my room. led zeppelin again. that song is so pretty. the strings! oh, go listen to that song. i rememeber a conversation a few months ago with two of my favorites, a c and a t that rhyme, chinese food dance on the tongue! and which would you remove form the world, zeppelin or the stones? this song is changing my answer, for sure for sure. what is that chord? where did they find it? listen. listen. listen again. i am wearing sandals. i change into gym clothes and head upstairs, 3:00.
the gym, ellipticals, weights, my muscles a presence again, led zeppelin continuing to prove their worth. a bridge, for sure. the gym is on the 12th deck, front of the ship, and you look out onto the ocean rushing as you run in place ellipse, ellipse, hold on the sensors, heart rate, 150, 160, 170, my heart is speeding up, my heart runs blood through my body, my heart has rhythm, 50 minutes, my god. a soaked shirt. i tired leg. and another one. "ive been working form 7 to 11 every night..." next to me, age trots by and hey smile and i watch a man walk up to his wife and drink her water. a bridge. i head back, walking boldy through the passsenger areas that im not supposed to walk through, because i dont care; im looking for bridges, and there the pakistani cabin stewards about to give me another one. i smile at him by his cart and he smiles, good afternoon sir, and i see hes got that little bag of caramel chocolates that they put on the guests pillows and i flutter my eyelashes like a southern belle, god its fun to flirt with men, and ask him for one and he gives me two. "used to sing about the mountains, but the mountians wasted away". fuck! "aw...so good"!
i pass a couple in the hall... i overhear...."yes, im still looking for an awakening everyday." this from 60, bathing suit, robe, smells.
back to room. a quick listen to bob dylan, most of the time/what good am i. this is research for guilty pleasures. i start crying on the second listen. third listen. a bridge, to be here in this room alone with this music. the ship rocks back and forth. fourth listen and i have to go....
dinner quicks, taco beef and cantelope, a glass of ice water, then showtime. tuxedo. i read a mens health magazine backstage and learn the 27 sure signs that a woman is interested in me. i notice at least 23 are false. the sax player is messing with overtones again. then, shit, we are called, we are on, a show, a pause, then the same show again, violin and a capella, awful, just awful. and the woman keeps talking....oh how i want to reach down her throat and show her her poor heart, alive and beat beat beat and unveiled. how i want to build a bridge for her!
now. now. 10:00. tuxedo, remember. i walk through the lobby during break and there is the other piano player, the solo player, 55, bulgarian, enormous glasses, prominent chin. i introduce my self, and he says his name, and i cant understand him., it sounds like he has cotton in his mouth. "mmmmmeleolo- hmmph hmm hmmhph hmhp". oh my god. oh my god. i have heard this man play, he is beautiful. and he cant talk. he can talk, he has a speech impediment, for real, he just cant talk very well. speak to me only with your eyes... but this guy, he plays music instead. oh i love music. i ask him if he knows la vie en rose. and he starts humming it, i tell him i know the begginning, C, CM7, C6, c#o, d-, etc., and he walks to the shore excursions desk ("do you have a pen?" "right away mate!"?) and now we are seconds away from the most magical moment of the evening. he starts humming, la vie en rose, he stats moving his hands, he starts writing the chords down. and then he stops and looks up, smiling, to the string quartet a floor above us, up the grand central staircase. they are playing maria, gorgeous. and he smiles and mumbles in his low, "they are playing in c too", and thats why hes having a hard time, because the music he hears in is ears and his head are in the same key and thus heard to separate. i nearly faint with revelation. the music in his head and the music in his ears sound so alike that he cannot separate the two. oh im smiling. heres a bridge. heres a bridge. i stop for a moment...why the fuck are they playin maria in c? (its usually eb) but by now hes off, writing out the changes, and we are humming together, lovely. oh god.
i stop back at my room one last time to listen to that zeppelin song again. oh jimmy, oh god i love you.
then to the scotch bar, michaels club, for a trio gig. and i cant beleieve the shit im playing. i call the tunes and play so well, i havenet played this kind of music in three four years and i am playing it so well, a child is born, all blues, joy spring, goodbye porkpie hat. bill evans type shit. tasty i love this piano. its the white piano again. i love making jokes with the notes. i love getting really loud and then stopping and just playing a ninth up high, one note pretty and alone, plaintive, repeated until my heart cant take it any more. i love the way i move my legs. it isnt hard to see me glowing. i think about people ive loved, and people i long to love. at some point i have had some irish whiskey, by the way. on break, black russians, and a man buys us martinis for playing take five for him. we play for two hours, and im screaming out the names of the tunes like a falsetto cartoon..."that was when i fall in love...and now, another song staring with w!! w!! letter number 23! this is wave--mr. jobim!" and the people kind of stare when i talk but they really stare when i play and im soooooooooooooooo happy being here. heres a bridge. heres a bridge.
and then the night is over, 1:00, and i show the trombone played how to tie a toga, a bridge, and we go down to the crew toga party, im wearing my burning man sarong look, and we get there and jack and coke jack and coke and theres the pretty youth couselor and i tell her i like her shoes because the buckle is in the middle, not to the side where i would expect, but shes not having it and soon i space out and start listening to the music, my drink dancing with me in my hand. its anthem trance. anthem trance. how much anthem trance can one man take? how much anthem trance can one man take?
not much. not much.
so i stumble up the steps and find myself outside among cables and ropes and metal and there for some reason is a giant empty can of heinz chili sauce stashed in the corner, and i think theres a bridge, and then overboard i see the black and white ocean the waves white starlit and never still, luscious, i think of lips, i think of the movement of a woman, and i see in the black ocean again the fabric and light creatures smiling and winking at me on their way to heaven. oh ive got to go and so much so much sings to me today and everyday still and always always and i know how i smile and i know that its true, i know im smiling true, i want you to know, i want you to know too, i want you to smile with me too.
everywhere i look on the ship i see tiny little moving magics. depth perception is the result of your two eyes seeing things from a slightly diferent angle: if you walk into a room for the first time (so you have no memory of the depth) with one eye closed, you will have no depth perception and everything will seem flat. you wont know how far away anything is. you wont know how close anything is. you wont know where the bridges are.
oh ive got two eyes lord, i always have, ive got them everywhere, everywhere i go, sing yodel-dee-yodel-dee-oh.