Flying over to England the plane was filled with glamorous women with glossy long highlighted hair, expensive jeans and suitcases too heavy for their scrawny arms to lift into the overheads. I kept imagining that if the plane went down all that would remain would be hair products, bobbing up and down on the surface of the Atlantic.
I slept for a while after watching “The Kids Are All Right” for the second time. I loved this movie – Annette Bening’s performance is right up there with Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner’s Daughter and Paul Giamatti in Sideways for having me on the verge of tears throughout the entire film – awe and emotion, “how did she do that?”
The first time I’d seen the movie was on the way over to the US, back when I was still almost young (ie one month ago). Then, the main question in my head was how I’d survive touring with a hideous cold.
Now, heading back overseas, I was still trying to process all the things I’d seen and done on the trip.
It was screens that I remembered, that kept flashing in front of my eyes: the screen of my ersatz iphone, the EZ Pass LEDs, hotel and motel flat screens. The laptop on stage, laptops in cafes. People in the audience for the Hanukkah show looking at Facebook on their iPhones – why? Movies in movie theatres, chosen not for their merit but because they happened to be playing at the right moment – and how movies are filled with laptops and iphones now, as part of the action. Just as I used to enjoy watching movies from the 40s and 50s for the vintage clothes and apartment furnishings, I now find myself enjoying dumb romantic comedies from the 80s and 90s for the lack of technology – who cares about plot and dialogue, just see how the actors manouevre with phone cords and shoving coins into payphone coin slots, offices where people flip through rolodexes and file cards, slide folders across arid desktops.
Public bathrooms, where everything is automated now – you don’t have to touch a tap or a soap dispenser. Wave your hand for a paper towel. And in all the rest rooms, or hotel bathrooms, you never really know what you look like, only that some mirrors are forgiving and some are brutal.
Have I been away awhile, or have servers in restaurants become even more aggressive in their “I’ll be taking care of you today” insincerity – shamelessly working the tip, only to disappear midway through without a word, replaced by another “team member”? We count sometimes no less than six people to deal with in order to eat lunch at say, Bravo – a chain Italian restaurant. By the time we pay the bill, I feel like we should have a brand new set of friends for life. But we walk out to not even a robotic “thanks and come again” because the team has moved on.
At the same time some of the lowlier service workers, at Walgreen’s or Shoprite, seem sincere and sweet in comparison to the disinterested, disdainful and often downright hostile people (well, women – always women) in similar jobs in France.
Did I mention the shows? We had audiences, and fans! Attendance is down for everything but it still feels worth it (though the balance sheet would argue with that – when, how, will I ever figure out how to make a living?). They really rub it in at the airport, charging $60 per extra bag, which takes a Russian American/British Airways attendant forever to process due to the combined computer systems – while you wait there’s a stack of magazines full of exotic expensive homes and sleek motorcars to buy. Where are the rich people? I just see families with taped-up cardboard boxes and shrink-wrapped luggage begging to get out of paying the extra $60. Us included (“waive the fee! waive the fee!” we chant for the 45 minutes it takes to accept our payment).
The Newark crew were whooping it up as the carry-ons rolled through, cracking jokes and helping us get the guitars safely off the belt. Where were the full-body scanners we’d been promised? All I saw were ads for Zappos.com in the bins to be passed through the xray machine. The security guard waved me away when I asked if we needed plastic bags for liquids and gels – “Aw, they don’t do that no more.” The rules change daily. No wonder the fashion brigade looked so fabulous all through the flight.