Photographs Of My Brother
There’s a photo of my brother and I in Blooming Grove, Texas.We’re standing in front of a phone booth for no reason, really. I think we were leaving a souvenir and coffee shop type place. I’m wearing my dad’s Blooming Grove trucker hat. What I remember about Blooming Grove is that it was hot and that it was small. We rented a car, my dad, my brother and I. We bought two CDs somewhere that my brother picked out: To Elliott: From Portland and Envelopes:
There’s a photo of my brother and I on the hotel balcony where we were staying in Austin. My father took it right before my brother and I walked downtown to see the band: Fruit Bats. I’m wearing all black with Converse I’d bought for three dollars at The Salvation Army. We were all excited at the Salvation Army earlier that day because there was a senior discount for my dad so we got a bunch of cheap crap. April in Austin. I was not yet of drinking age, I’d just turned twenty actually, and we were in Texas to take a trip for my birthday. After watching Fruit Bats, we walked to a gas station to look for colored pencils so that I could chalk my ID to go to a bar. I used to chalk the 1986 to 1980. We couldn’t find any colored pencils, so we got a six-pack and drank it after the show at the hotel.
There’s a photo of my brother and I at The Knitting Factory on Houston Street. I’m wearing a polka dot shirt and have bleach blond hair and his arm is around me. He’s wearing a brown shirt and we’re tan. We’d gone to see Tilly and the Wall. I secretly wanted to be in Tilly and the Wall. I liked their insatiable energy and how they had a tap dancer for a drummer.
There’s a photo of my brother and I that my mother took in New York. There’s a Strand bag at my feet and we’re laughing. My mom and I took the train down to see Antony & The Johnsons and Coco Rosie at Town Hall. You all know how my mother and I feel about Rufus Wainwright and get this: he was sitting a few rows behind us! I’m wearing a skirt I got earlier that day at the Salvation Army, (is this a pattern?) on Bedford Avenue. There was a time that my mother, brother and I were all seduced by Antony & The Johnsons. Here is why, and here is also one of the best song ever written about death, in my opinion. Antony even moves himself to tears:
There’s a photo of my brother and I and our friend Noelle outside of his apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was the morning after we saw Bright Eyes at Webster Hall and Noelle is wearing her new Bright Eyes t-shirt. I’ll spare you the Bright Eyes video.
In the mornings, after these shows and little sleep, my brother would rise at eight a.m. and leave for work at The Strand, leaving me to explore Brooklyn. All of those shows, those bands, those experiences, those mornings alone, were pushes toward me wanting to move to New York myself.
There’s a black and white photo of my brother on the afternoon that I moved into his Williamsburg apartment. My mother took it. I am the thinnest I’ve ever been—he’s thin too but he always is. We are both wearing stripes and I am eating a green apple. I remember my black and white tank top. I remember there was a thunderstorm. I remember my pink and white polka dot sheets I brought with me. I remember I fell asleep with a red marker in my bed that first week and ruined them. I remember I continued to use them all summer. I remember my mom and I went to Beacon’s Closet while my brother went to get a key made for me. I remember my mom and I were stuck under some building laughing, not really knowing where we were. My mom left that evening and my brother and I went to see Coco Rosie, Spleen, and Antony and the Johnsons at The Warsaw in Brooklyn. Here is a beautiful Coco Rosie song:
I used to wear flats to the shows and carry heels in my purse to change into when the concert began so I would have a better view. We went to so many concerts the month I moved in. I moved in June 2nd, and come August, my brother mused that there hadn’t been a night yet in which we stayed home. Summer in a new city. Summer in New York City at the age of twenty. If I let myself, I could mourn that summer. It’s hard to let go of. It’s very difficult to articulate for me—the feeling, that is. Joan Didion says it best: It would be a long while because, quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again.
My brother lent me his copy of Slouching Towards Bethlehem and I copied sentences from it down into my journal, wanting to know how it felt to write something so powerful. Here’s what I have to say about New York City: It looks different before you live there. When you do live there, it’s hard to look anywhere else. And after you live there, it will never look the way it did before.
It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends. I can remember now, with a clarity that makes the nerves in the back of my neck constrict, when New York began for me, but I cannot lay my finger upon the moment it ended, can never cut through the ambiguities and second starts and broken resolves to the exact place on the page where the heroine is no longer as optimistic as she once was. When I first saw New York I was twenty, and it was summertime…-Joan Didion
We saw The Metallic Falcons. White Rabbits. Doveman. The Islands. White Magic. El Perro Del Mar at The Bowery Ballroom. Here she is from that very night covering The Velvet Underground. Listen to this one, it’s magical–I remember choking up.
There’s a photo that my brother took at Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn on Valentine’s Day during my first winter in New York and I am watching Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, standing behind Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio.
Here’s a video of Miles playing one of the free shows at McCarren Park Pool. July 2007. I was there alone. It was raining relentlessly. I was wearing a red sweatshirt that said MARLBORO on it. That morning, before the show, was the morning I jumped into the East River.
There’s a photo of my brother and I at Cakeshop on the Lower East Side that was taken with a disposable camera. We were waiting to see the band, The Ballet. I’m wearing my Brooklyn Interview outfit—a black and white dress from H&M and lace vest and my arm is around him and I’m barefoot. There’s a photo of my brother at a bar on North Sixth Street for a songwriting contest where my brother played his song California. There’s a photo of my brother and I drunk at Kellogg’s Diner on Lorimer Street. There’s a photo of my brother and I in the living room in the house we grew up in. It was the day after New Year’s Day, and I’m blowing into a harmonica that I don’t know how to play and he is playing guitar.
There’s a photo of my brother and I on the side of the road from when we hitchhiked in the hot sun for hours upon hours from Berlin to Denmark for Roskilde Festival in 2009. I am wearing a pink tank-top and sunglasses and he is wearing a yellow shirt. We look sweaty and exhausted and worried. At Roskilde Festival, we saw: Lucinda Williams, The Fleet Foxes cover Fleetwood Mac, Kanye West, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, I’m From Barcelona, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Finnish band, Paavoharju, to name a few.
There have been zero photos taken of my brother and I since the photo taken on the side of the road.
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