A Dissection of Discovering a New Artist

A Dissection of Discovering a New Artist
Part I

Friday, July 26, 2002

Hold on to everything
While you’re holding on to my hand,
Like the bones of your face
That are holding your smile
While the bones of your feet
Hold the land that is holding this city we lived in
     Sitting with renowned Austin artist Brian Keeper and closet poet/infamous movie buff Mike Haile in the garden of Cafe Mundi in East Austin last Friday night, I noticed a girl I knew from last year arrive with two friends. I met her on December 31, 2001. She was the best friend of Charity of “penises turn me off” fame.
They took the table near the door to the coffeeshop and, though the two girls Annie was accompanied by seemed to look in my direction, she didn’t seem to take note of my presence. I decided it was best not to approach her in case ill-feelings might remain from the consistently unhealthy state of my past relationship with her best friend. Brian, though, did express greetings on his way into the coffeeshop one time.
Not long after Brian’s return, Mike expressed a desire to get high. I walked with him to keep an eye on the surroundings and talk to a cat that was sitting on top of the car next to Brian’s. We meowed back and forth for a while until the cat finally came down to the hood for me to pet it. On our way back to the table, Annie came running through the parking lot demanding to know what I’d been up to and a hug. Both of which I was happy to supply after I stubbed my cigarette out. I invited her to join me in checking out the roof of the building.
Above, she said she thought I was on my way out and that she wanted to talk to me before I left. I told her that we were waiting for a band (I mistakenly thought Flashlight Fiction was playing that night). We talked about what was new in each other’s lives and what wasn’t, what had happened between her and Mike (the guy from Ruta Maya (now Halcyon) she was dating while I dated Charity, not the well-spoken cultural critic Mike Haile with whom I was sharing a table at Cafe Mundi) and her and Charity, we briefly touched on the fucked-up situation that was me in a relationship with Charity, I told her how only recently I’d thrown out her number thinking I’d never call her again, and we spoke of other things. She didn’t hold a grudge and invited us to meet her and her friends at The Vibe later for Grupo Fantasma‘s show.
Back we went to our tables and half an hour later while I once again spoke to the cat while Mike took hits, Annie queried from across the parking lot if they’d see us later. “Most likely,” I believe I replied.

What if when we’re born,
They lock the gate and toss the key
Behind the sign that says that work makes free,
All I can say is that I pray that isn’t me, not me.

Award-winning New Orleans jazz/R&B musician John William was already at Lovejoy’s when we arrived. We joined him at a table.
. . .
A couple of hours, three or four gin and tonics each (excluding Brian), eight free packs of Camel cigarettes, a few thrown stirring-straws, a hidden Merit cigarette in an American Spirit pack owned by Steve (the “I can only smoke American Spirits” lighter thief) and zero women later, we headed over to The Vibe.

I get nervous when I start to feel obliged

After a suitably drunk girl bummed a cigarette from us and (drunkenly) turned down a pack of free cigarettes from Mike, we purchased strawberry daiquiris and headed outside to the stage in the courtyard. We found Annie and her friend, Leah (don’t kill me if I spell it wrong, she wasn’t wearing a sign!), on their way out of the dancing crowd.
I illegally bought the underage Annie a matching daiquiri. We stood around talking about writing and photography and Brian’s newest art show. Mike and John got antsy and decided to head back to Lovejoy’s. We finished our drinks, Brian did another portion of the Xanax he’d been rationing out to himself all night, and the girls wanted to dance.
So we danced. I mean, Brian and I went into the crowd with Annie and Leah in front of us and danced. Or, anyway, we moved around a bit.
Later rather than sooner, I needed a cigarette and Brian was about to be crushed by a tall white guy in a black shirt, so we headed to the back. Annie and Leah weren’t far behind.
“You dance like a white girl,” I told her.
“Yeah, well, you dance like a white boy,” she replied.
“Damn right I do.”

He got a smile as wide as the road to Hell,
Wide as the road we’re on,
He wrote the song they sang when Rome fell,
It goes, “Put on your rock ‘n’ roll shoes, come on,” come on.

We stood around talking for a while. I bought a beer each for Annie and myself. Leah was surprised to discover that I knew of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM/Annapolis, MD. She was even more surprised, I’m sure, to know that I’d applied there. And she was probably most surprised to hear that my application essay was twelve pages long where hers was only six.
In the meantime, Mike had returned sans John and was saying he’d been accused of groping a girl at Lovejoy’s when he put his hand on her shoulder. It’s time to leave the scene when that happens.
We all talked a bit longer about art and music and all that stuff. Brian and I walked them back to Annie’s car. She gave me her number again written on a CD cover with the warning, “CAUTION: DO NOT THROW AWAY.”
We walked all the way back to the parking garage at Fourth and San Antonio and went back to crash at Brian’s Steck condo.

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