It began with some jokes. That’s how the tension was shed. Whenever there’s a dire situation draped with an uneasy composition, possessing the cold responsibility to dictate a gloomy outlook for those involved, a restless tension looms methodically in the air.
Humor tends to curb these dire symptoms, but most of the time it just prolongs the inevitable. Sometimes that bittersweet laughter is all you have, though, because it’s a sign of acceptance. It’s the acceptance of the foulness; the eventual acceptance of all the bullshit; and the irrefutable acceptance of defeat.
It makes sense, but only when you remember that humor’s cynical eye is the only one that can see the harsh truths. And its mouth is the only one that can consume the poignant taste of irony and spit it back out into the world, like a giant middle finger defiantly screaming out “is that all you got, motherfucker?!”
On Thursday, March 20th, Goodbye Blue Monday hosted an open mic comedy night. It was the first of a four-day fundraiser full of musical and eclectic artsy performances for the iconoclastic venue, which has been notably recognized as one of the first spots that Vampire Weekend played. It was on the brink of closure, owing the city nearly 7,000 dollars in fines. If the funds were raised they’d remain open for a short period of time before they’d have to try and renew their lease, another obstacle yet to be cleared.
Eventually, the jokes were put away to make room for some music. The second night of the fundraiser stood erect accented with the moon’s illumination and the hands of time had not yet reached the pinnacle of the final hourly mountain of the day. I had about an hour of a Friday night to enjoy before Saturday would walk into our regional zone to clock in for its weekly shift.
I stepped through the worn, metal façade that was adorned with an array of flyers for the obscure events that occur on a weekly basis. As I peeked my head inside of Goodbye Blue Monday my eyes were greeted by a lone stranger taking donations at the door, but my ears were met by the familiar sounds of the spellbinding vibrations of “San San,” a hypnotic melody with a repetitive, yet soothing chorus sung by Dooll Chao, an experimental filmmaker and member of the Brooklyn-based indie band Space Meow.
I made my donation, wondering if it was a futile effort and if I’d ever lock eyes again with the stranger I was handing my money to. I was given a ticket for a raffle that would take place later that night as I surveyed the immediate area, which left little room to make long, walking strides. As Walter Wlodarczyk, a photographer and guitarist for Space Meow mentioned, it was the most packed he had ever seen the place, an observation shared by many that night.
Known for hosting anybody and everybody, no matter the style or amount of experience, I knew I’d witness vagaries amongst the musical acts. The abstract art that decorated the walls, however, seemingly mounted on top of one another in organized confusion, is the ostentatious prima donna on this parade of insanity.
From the cardboard head sculpture staring you down near the bar to the silverback gorilla spawned from aluminum foil, the artwork cohesively surveyed the patrons inside of Goodbye Blue Monday. Some appeared ready to attack the venue’s inhabitants while other characters, civilized by wisdom and humbled by experience, spoke amongst themselves, sharing stories about the lives they lead inside of those paintings, existing in their own worlds—inside the bare mind of the artists who gave birth to them.
On edge and without sleep; that’s how most New Yorkers live. However sober you may be, the New York lifestyle is a drug. And the New York state of mind? That’s a series of complex realities. The combination can skew the memories of a frivolous weekend. Only the vigorous warriors with the zeal for severe punishment are willing to engage in battle, well aware of how Fridays melt into Saturdays that eventually evaporate into early Sunday mornings.
My Saturday disappeared, clearing the way for Sunday where I would find myself, once again, inside of Goodbye Blue Monday. I listened to a predominantly white reggae act and the words we are the human race echoed throughout with the instinctive guile of flowing water. The atmosphere was now ripe with the venerable abandonment of regulation for the imminent rave that was to follow.
When I hopped on the train to make the long trek back home, Goodbye Blue Monday had just been a few hundred dollars short of its target and I was confident it would reach its 7,000 dollar goal—which it did.
How did I know?
I like to pay attention to the subtle signs of the universe, which it flippantly disperses from time to time, but is rarely ever noticed. Although, when you have the luxury of sitting on a nearly barren subway car it’s hard not to notice the people on it, especially when one of those people happens to be a giggling homeless man counting his change while fondling himself. I’ve always believed the universe has always had the best jokes.