Tuesday, July 26, 2005

See Ya at the Rock Concert

This piece made me miss Tim Taylor all over. Tim and I had been friends since 1986, since both of our senior years of high school in Dayton, Ohio. We saw each other throughout college, mostly in Cincinnati, and when Brainiac began touring in the mid-90s, they stayed with me a couple times in San Francisco. I remember one great show, when they played with Jesus Lizard and Girls Against Boys at Slim's. What a fantastic triple bill that was. Michelle Bodine was in the band at that point, (later of the now-defunct Shesus), and spent most of the night at my house trying to get David Sims of Jesus Lizard to stop his incessant hitting on her.

Fast forward to another episode in 1995 - In Amsterdam, walking up to an elevator in our hotel with Shellie. We see a guy standing by the elevator, and I say to Shellie "Wow, that guy looks like Tim Taylor." Lo and behold, it WAS Timmy Taylor. In our hotel, all of us far from Ohio, Brainiac touring with as a support act to the Amps. Tim just grinned at Shellie and I, and said "Hi girls. Are you coming to our rock concert?" None of us ever got over the world-is-a-very-small-place quality of that encounter.

And then two years later - I had since moved to New York, and Brainiac had tons of buzz surrounding them. Rumors were flying that spring of who they were signing with and when. Through various friends, I heard how Elektra was wooing them heavily. I turn around from the bar one night at the Lakeside Lounge, and bump smack into Tim. Neither of us are suprised to see each other, and again with the grin, "Hey Susan. What's happening?" Casual as ever, finally due to be signed to a major, brought to the bar in a limo, and still the same Tim.

Three weeks later, I'm in Dayton for Memorial Day, and I see the report of Tim's death at the age of 28 on the local news. He was the first friend my age I lost. Having to go to his memorial service was a heartbreak. Realizing that his life, good spirit, humor and talent was cut short was even worse.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

My Favorite Hour of the Week

I'm almost embarrassed about how much I enjoy Rescue Me and continually go on about it, but there's simply no denying how much I look forward this fantastic show every week.

Produced and written by the brilliant Denis Leary, and Peter Tolan, his partner from their prime-time show "The Job" a couple years back, the razor-sharp writing of this show's second season on FX gets blacker, funnier and more emotionally charged with every episode. The real-life salty, witty, and often politically incorrect dialogue benefits from a 10pm cable slot that finds me laughing out loud or cringing in horror while replaying scenes several times.

Focusing on Leary's character, Tommy Gavin, and how his life has changed as a NYFD veteran in the two+ years after the events of 9/11, "Rescue Me" presents Gavin and his fellow firefighters as terrifically flawed human beings, who sometimes find themselves doing heroic things. This year's season finds Tommy trying to fake his way through quitting drinking; searching the country for his kids after his wife has fled with them; dealing with his father and unexpected new family members; and all the while he's receiving surreal visits from Jesus and his cousin/best friend who died on 9/11. Tommy's a guy you should hate with all his flaws, piggish and self-destructive ways. Yet Leary has come into his own as an actor, way beyond the ironic comedy routines he was once known for, by portraying Tommy as a guy who's just trying to survive, always almost cracking apart beneath the brash swagger.

Certainly firefighters shows have been done to death, but this is one that is leaps and bounds beyond what you are used to seeing on TV. The easy-on-the-eyes players (Dean Winters, Daniel Sunjata, Steven Pasquale) sure don't hurt it, either.

Tuesdays, 10pm on FX (Channel 58 in Brooklyn's Time Warner). First season available on DVD.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish...

New York Magazine is carrying a terrific article about the origins of fish in New York City. Where it comes from, how to get it, and why your fish will never be as good as Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar.

(Sure - this photo's from a Korean fish market. But a cool photo, no?)