Lunch in Denial
It was raining when I got to the café, I checked inside and Record Label Dood wasn’t there yet so I went outside and stood under an awning and smoked a cigarette. Williamsburg was packed with pedestrian traffic. A madness of umbrellas bobbed down the streets. All the shops were open and I could see customers milling about inside. Browsing through record bins, shuffling through racks of thrift store shirts, waiting in line for their tofu dogs and sweet potato fries.
One guy was in a café window across the street, facing out, painting on a canvass. Another guy was on the other side of the street, picking up his dogs poo with a plastic bag turned inside out like a glove on his hand. I wonder if the guy in the café window was painting a portrait of the guy picking up the dog poo. Then I wonder when the hell Record label Dood is going to show up. Then I check my watch and sigh in exasperation.
The rain is falling soft but heavy. Record Industry Dood walks up under an umbrella and opens the door, half smiling, half nervous. I had already clocked where we would sit and I slide in my side of the booth professionally, as if this is always where I do business. A waitress comes and takes the dirty dishes from our table. Someone had a scone and a coffee earlier but I guess they weren’t hungry or were in a rush because most of the scone is left and the coffee cup is still half full.
I take off my backpack and jacket and lay them in the bench next to me. He lays his jacket on top of mine. The waitress never returns but she takes glances at us while she’s clearing tables. After a minute we get the picture and get up to order from the counter. I leave my jacket and bag but grab my phone and wallet just in case.
My mind is as foggy and as gray as the sky. Last night I tied one on real nice. Drinks were free because I was with the band. Whatever that means. I took half a xanax and ate a large slice of cheese at 1am. I mixed Rum and Coke with Scotch and Soda and malt liquor and a sly grin. The performances were good. Some were better than others. I forget the rest. I guess they bored me.
I saw this old friend that I want to do some work with and as I was screaming in his ear how great it was to see him I spilled Newcastle Ale all over the arm of his Denim jacket. I saw this French girl that I think is solid people and I gave her air kisses on the side of each cheek. I frowned at the bartender when she charged my friend with a drink and she gave the following round to us for free. I left her a good tip and ducked out at 3 because sometimes enough is enough.
Record Label Dood orders a pot pie and I order a ham and cheese sandwich. As I’m reaching for my wallet he puts his hand on my forearm and says, “No. I got it,” then he looks down to the floor and shakes his head as if he’s ashamed I even attempted to pay. I shrug my shoulders and walk back to the booth.
We go through a typical array of topics. How great dance music was ten years ago. How the club scene in New York just isn’t the same. He has heard of a new gay club that is supposed to be good. Its not a meat market, he says, and they play good music. It’s named Mr. Black. I say thats a clever name, I should check it out, I’ll bring my girlfriend.
Then he is telling me about a compilation he wants to put out. A compilation of his singles catalog. He is saying that he wants to move up from singles and start putting out full-length cd’s. He is saying he thinks its time. He’s telling me he thinks he’s ready.
I take a large swig of ice water. I begin to explain to him our model. I describe the potentials and limitations of our operation. I divulge the details on how easy it is for us to lose money. How safe we have to be in order to succeed. How young we are in this business. How knowledgeable we are in this business. I reveal the mission of our business. I clarify to him how we pick and choose the labels we will work with. I break down the aspects we are looking for in a partner. I politely deflate the idea of us bringing on his project. But I don’t hide that I’m interested. “We are always looking for good music,” I say
He nods his head quietly. He stirs the ice in his soda. I can tell he regrets paying for my lunch
Is anyone going to mix it? Who is the biggest artist on your roster? You should have a name to attach to it. An identity to define it. Consumers need this kind of thing. I tell him all this. I tell him that he can’t just put out a compilation of records from a label nobody knows of. And if you do, you can’t put it in the Compilation section of a record store. That’s just like killing it. It’ll be stillborn. A release thats dead upon birth.
That’s the graveyard of record stores, the compilation section. I tell him this.
He looks up to me and smiles. He looks at his watch then out the window behind me. My plate is empty, his only half cleaned. I tell him to send me a cd. I say I’ll email him my address. He says no problem and slides into his coat, he is standing up by now. I get up and put my jacket and backpack on. It is still raining outside. Williamsburg is still buzzing with twentysomethings in tight pants and shaggy bangs huddling under colorful umbrellas.
“Well”, I say, “I’ll talk to you soon. Don't forget to send that cd.” He nods then we shake hands. “Thanks for lunch,” I add. I walk out into the rain with my hood over my head. I can hear the subway train rumbling beneath, a siren sound to go home.
Ms. Bees Knees is catching on to the hyphy movement. Being from the Bay, you cant deny that shit. You should tell her a secret. It'll be cathartic. Also, it sounds like Snooze went partying and tied one on real nice. All her shits missing. Someone please find it for her.