East Coast Observations

There’s no traffic.

I know, I know, if you go on the 95, it can be gridlocked, BUT THERE ARE ONLY THREE LANES! But my mother lives on Park Avenue, on the Bridgeport side, the main artery from Sacred Heart University to the beach, and…I never have to wait to enter traffic, I can pull a U-turn, it’s positively sleepy whereas in Los Angeles traffic is so bad that everybody employs WAZE and even the backstreets, thank you Bruce, are bumper to bumper.

You don’t need a jacket at night.

Oh, you might wear a fur during the SoCal winter, but the truth is my first year in California I wore my jean jacket, when that was a thing, all winter long. But during the summer? You always have to bring a wrap. Not only for the overchilled movies, but for the nip in the air, whether it be on the Westside or the Valley. I just locked the car and strode across the parking lot a half hour shy of midnight and I was revelling in the lack of a need for a jacket, this is the summer I remember.

You can be rich or be an artist, take your choice.

Today we went to the Rockefeller estate in Pocantico Hills. I never knew Tarrytown had such a long downtown, I never knew White Plains had high rises, but I do know the Rockefellers had tons of money. Did I ever tell you I went to college with Eileen Rockefeller, David’s daughter? Not that we were best friends, not that she’d remember me, but we did have some conversations, I remember she had a loom in her dorm room. And as a matter of fact, in the basement of the house on the hill, where Nelson’s art collection is, they have tapestries of Picassos. That’s the stunning element of Kykuit, the artwork, both outside and in. Anybody rich can build an edifice, maybe even a golf course, assuming they have enough property, the Rockefellers had 4,000 acres, but do you have the taste to acquire great art? Nelson liked to think he had talent because he knew where to place sculptures, but being inspired to create the work, that’s the thing. Today every artist wants to be a Roc-A-Fella, but the truth is you never can be. Dr. Dre may have reached a billion, but he cannot compete with Zuckerberg and Bezos, never mind Gates and Buffett. But money is no match for art. Steve Jobs is nearly forgotten, he won’t be remembered but Picasso will, the Beatles probably too, that’s the power of songwriting, that’s the power of melody. So, do you want to leave your mark or accumulate cash? Those are different paths, what it takes to get rich is cunning business skills. Do you know any truly rich people? That money was not easy to earn, they had to compete, kill a few people along the way, not that they are not smart. But we understand business, we can see the path, but art is incomprehensible, and the greatest art is about testing limits. Me-too is nowhere. We’re interested in those who challenge conceptions, who test limits, who take us to new heights, like the aforementioned Picasso as well as Motherwell and Calder and Warhol in Nelson’s subterranean collection, never mind the Brancusi and Maillol outside…

Progress happens.

There’s a carriage house, with carriages, you know, the horse-drawn kind, that’s how John D. got to Kykuit. But then the automobile came along and soon no one will own a car and then at some point the car will be superseded, by what, I don’t know. And I know you’re in future shock, and I know you lament the loss of the past, but the truth is the future keeps on coming down the track, faster and faster, and those who adapt win, and are happy in the end. That’s how you know you’re too old, when the tech and the changes overwhelm you, you’re done.

Everybody wants to talk about Trump.

Last night I went to a dinner party with seven women, most of the conversation was about Trump (and the death of a synagogue!) Tonight I was at a restaurant and the owner couldn’t stop talking about Trump, wondering how many illegals were working at the President’s clubs. The restaurateur says the truth is America runs on immigrant labor, workers who oftentimes pay taxes, even though they never collect social security.

You can see world class talent in Fairfield.

It used to be another suburb, no one commuted to New York, I won’t say my hometown was a backwater, but if you wanted to see a show you had to drive to NYC, or maybe New Haven, now we have the Fairfield Theatre Company, with two rooms, one a 700+ cap and the other 200. Furthermore, it’s not a dump. That’s right, too many clubs are warehouses and nothing more, no amenities and dirty toilets, even backstage FTC was first class, surprised me, but not as much as…

Australian bands can PLAY!

Castlecomer, that was the band playing in the small room, to not a big audience, another rock band trying to make it. But hearing them perform through the walls, I could tell their music was good, and almost all of these unknown bands are bad. The drummer… The pounding was powerful, it drove the music forward, but when we emerged into the venue I found the frontman to be doing the act of someone performing to thousands. That’s the mark of someone who’s gonna make it, someone who closes the few in attendance knowing they will never forget them.

Castlecomer played 500 gigs before they were anybody. The frontman was an attorney who gave up the practice to write songs, because really you can’t do both. He wrote “Fire Alarm” the night he quit his gig. It attracted attention, the band flew to SXSW and were courted by labels and are now signed to Concord. “Fire Alarm” has 6,000,000 streams on Spotify, which means the band is not making any money, but they are getting attention, building a fan base. And if you see them you’ll be closed. But rock in the States is a backwater, there’s little room for new stuff on commercial radio, and it never crosses over to the mainstream, yet I enjoyed sitting there listening to an unknown band perform, reminded me of the way it used to be, way back when, in the seventies, before Netflix, when being home was a drag, when you had to go out, and there was no deejay playing records, there weren’t even any sports bars, you listened to bands. Now only the hard core is interested, the looky-loos, the casual fans, have moved on to other pursuits, but the hard core remains, and from this hard core emanates a rebirth. Only takes a spark to start a fire, but people, fans, communicators, are the oxygen, they make the whole thing go, they make it blow up.


And the truth is although it’s the same country, the east coast is very different from the west. It’s beautiful, but somewhat calcified, kinda like Europe, there’s a ton of tradition, but it’s hard to break out of, whereas in California, the west, it’s new, everything’s being invented for the first time, there’s more freedom. Then again, some great art comes from those reacting to the status quo.

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