Holy Joe’s

The picture in the following post is not safe for work. It was absolutely necessary.

Last night at Holy Joe’s the sky melted and outer space came in through the ceiling, the colours varied like the milky way, dark reds and purples, swirling lazy against the black paint.

“We’d like to thank Holy Joe’s–even though it’ll be closing soon, which is, you know. Too bad.”

If a place is closing, the thank you is in question, because what is it good for when everything is gone?

“Lead singers are dicks. I hate lead singers. They’re always so cocky.”

“He’s cocky, but he’s good. He has good stage presence.”

For the first song the bass was turned up too high and the bassist is trying to fix it while the lead singer talks to the crowd.

“Did you like that bass? I like it like that, so loud that it makes you jump, like something’s going up you, like this.” He straightens and hops. “Jesus, what’s the crackling noise? What are you doing over there?”

(Shaking head, muffled) “I’m just trying to fix the–there’s something–”

“That’s really awful. Hey–I like spilled half my beer on my shoes up here–does anyone want to buy me another? No? I’ll pay you back… Please? No?”

The music is really good.

I turn to Jeremy. “For some reason being here at Holy Joe’s, seeing this, makes me want to write a feature movie.”

“Me too–I’ve been thinking that too.”

“The atmosphere… it reminds of the speeches scene in Rachel Getting Married. It’s so intimate.”

“Yeah!–it does remind me of that.”

I have been thinking about this the whole time we are here, the room is transcendent, I want to make a movie with this music at its heart, a scene like this, which means something to the movie, which cradles it like the outer leaves of an artichoke, layer by layer. I thought the same thing on the cruise, days ago, they had a talent show for the crew members, someone who worked in one of the duty-free stores, I forget what his name was–I think it was Jorge, he was from Chile–he sat down on a stool in the middle of the stage, bent over an acoustic guitar, sitting in front of a microphone, and he played his song, and that is the first time I have thought that I would like to make a movie with a poem like that at its centre, something you can’t quite wrap your head around, but that means everything, and is maybe impossible in prose, becauseĀ  music is inexpressible. The name of the song meant “The Day Will Come” in English, he said the Spanish name, but I couldn’t remember it. There were no words, the song was slow and beautiful, he wrote it himself, for three minutes the ship stopped, and him cramped up into his stool, a “C”, us all around him, the guitar at the centre of the “C”, it really was the heart of the theatre, of the whole ship, it felt like, to me, sitting in my seat next to my wife, though I could hear some of the retirees coughing. But I had been thinking about that song for days and so it took an effort to mention the movie finally, shouting it to Jeremy over the music, because by then the poem had become a part of me, and I thought it was beautiful.

After the set was over we linger for a while and they gradually lower the music, turn up the lights by degrees, people put on their coats, a girl comes over to Lisa, “Are you from *? You work at the *, right?” the bartender is waving a scarf first “Which one of you ladies left this elegant wrap?” then a bracelet “Is somebody missing a nose ring?”, people start to leave, the sound guy turns off a television with bitterness, annoyed that we’re still there, a girl across the room who looks familiar, who also looks like the Mona Lisa, who is going home with the band, the lead singer, she’s staring at us, her face beatific, the bartender makes one final announcement, and finally we go.

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