My boyfriend's in a band, he plays guitar while I sing Lou Reed, which might sound funny, since I'm a girl and he's dead. We're opening for Banana Cover, a Velvet Underground cover band, whose Warhol counterpart wears a wig and sleeps behind his sunglasses. He's not really in the band, just a foreign exchange student from Ohio. He carries a large camera around his neck hoping to get Instagrammed. Andy's (we call him "Andy") girlfriend Nicole, who goes by Nico, is a bulimic performance artist who will regurgitate Campbell's Tomato soup onto canvases. She had a show called Jackson Pollock in a dream last night, which she told me about at the bar over some Manhattans. I sucked the maraschino cherry and Nico asked me if my boyfriend's knob is small like that. Dick jokes are tiring, so I just swallowed.
"I'm miserable," Nico says.
"It's only 8:49, show's at 9:00," I say. It's actually only 7:49 p.m., daylight savings.
"I mean like, in life." Her girly drink seems dyke, as in having the specific ingredients, but looking a bit off.
"I know, but, like, just try to hang in there? It's Friday."
It was actually Thursday, but days don't mean much these days. These days I seem to think a lot about the things that I forgot to do.
I know that's a Nico song, and we're all relentlessly reappropriating everything here. The idea, I guess, is that since there's no truth, the faux- or half-truths are left as prey to be slowly mutilated, churned into something distant yet oddly personal, almost angry. The facetious cover bands, personae, quoting of songs, outfits, and that one horrendous 5x5 ft. abstract expressionist-styled painting in the largest room of everyone's apartment—as if art's ultimate purpose was to hold hostage a blank wall and serene mind, and to impose onto it something so awful to look at, that the aesthetic violence turns inward, painting the landscape of one's mind with uncommunicative splatters of paint. And maybe we are all emotionally bald Rothkos with a metaphorical razor over our wrists, immediately scrolling to the bottom of a Guggenheim application to "Contact Us," as if the implicit phone number might make us feel human again; that another human being, likewise once naked before our expulsion from Eden, could simply pick up the line between M-F 9:00-5:00 p.m. and tell us to go online instead.
"It's 9:11 now, the drums aren't even here," Nico says, looking past heavy eyeliner onto a small stage spotted with one pink spotlight, faintly peppered with languid orbs of refracted light spawned by the dusty mirror ball mounted to the ceiling as a kind of patient moon to any earthly feelings.
"It's actually only 8:11, daylight savings. Sorry."
"Fuck me," she says, a little too audibly. Some men look her way.
I'm churning out novels like Beat poetry on Amphetamines. The fourth Manhattan tilts my world by 4°. I'm tearing into my Moleskin like a precocious child whose liberal parents have been somewhat negligently supportive of their daughter’s writing, penning this "true story," which I'll need to transcribe later on and possibly submit somewhere. Freedom is being able to ruin your life with delusion.
Banana Cover cancels last minute, and since we don't really play any instruments (our band is 4’33”, I know) we decide to cancel too. They end up playing Lana Del Rey's new album, which has the effect of a horse tranquilizer. The songs sound like they’re from the past, in that sad way one recognizes their disappointing past in a song, a smell, or just a feeling, the consumer cordoned off from the present moment and forced to experience it with artificial nostalgia. They pumped her lips with kisses, but she only pouted.
Nico says something about killing herself and disappears to the curb outside, a supposed itinerary soon betrayed by cigarette smoke and giggles. Wanting to be next to someone, anyone, like an existential mirror, I follow her out.
“I thought you left,” I say.
I try to laugh but nothing’s funny. A nearby haggardly pigeon manically jerks its head, in lieu of anything else to do, as if trying to be the early bird for tomorrow’s worm. We kick the air, because we are disgusting, and it flies away. We stand in a loose circle lowered into our phones, somewhat deadened by the respective yet identical blue lights, each turned by the emanant glow into living cadavers. Zombie movies are more sad than scary because their violence is indiscernibly lonely; they could only want to be near us, limping with a broken leg, arms out for a leper's hug. Maybe we're all dead, and looking for members. A myriad of notifications sound aloud, creating this kind of harmonic loop of yonder: the texts, and likes, and reblogs, whose personal frequency one may feel competitive, hence bad, about. Inside, the laughter sounds like an art installation, like if someone played 1,000 sitcom laugh tracks at once, in a pristine gallery with an orchid at the reception, for the sheer sake of making someone insane. My boyfriend texts me a bunch of emojis, those tiny jewels of pretend feeling, something about being late, or not coming, or jacking off to a frowny face, or eating cake in Paris, or two poodles next to a bomb. I text back a bowl of ramen, careful that it means nothing, but could mean anything.